Nothing like a little gender nonconformity to add to the world's awkwardness, is there? I thought I'd list a few butchiness-induced (and sometimes just lesbian-induced) awkward moments that have happened to me or to friends of mine in the past few months:
Okay, your turn--and I know some of you have some good ones: what awkwardness has your butchiness (or even your lesbianness in general) created recently?
via Creative Commons
I bet we've all experienced at least one of the following:
(1) Being told we don't "belong" to a group we think we belong to.
(2) Having someone assume we're part of a group with which we don't actually identify.
(3) Hearing someone else identify with a group to which we belong, and being annoyed because we don't consider them a part of the group.
Where does identity "policing" come from? And why, in the LGBTQ community,* of all places, does it seem to happen so often? I was pondering this the other day and came up with a short list of possible (no doubt interrelated, and no doubt often subconscious) reasons:
As I've talked about before, I'm no fan of identity policing. Nonetheless, I can understand the impetus behind it, and I bet I've unintentionally engaged in it. I hope I've caught myself, questioned myself, and asked where the impulse was coming from.
Of course, identity policing and boundary-drawing doesn't just happen in the queer community. It happens with regard to age, race, class, and just about every other social group we can think of.
Nor do I mean to suggest that identity policing always arises from bad motives, or the intention to exclude others. I suspect we'd all agree that it's important to have social and psychological spaces where we can understand ourselves, question our assumptions, and feel at home with people we believe are like us.
What do you think about all of this? Have you ever seen, experienced, or engaged in identity policing? Do you think it exists in the queer community?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.**
* I was recently a guest speaker in a queer studies class in which several of the students suggested that calling LGBTQ folks a "community" is false and s
** If you feel the urge to write, "Why do we have to label ourselves at all?" or "We're all human beings," or something similar, please read this first.
I'd love some advice. While I was at a tailor recently, he assumed that I was male. By the time he asked for my name I felt that it wouldn't be safe to reveal that I wasn't, so I quickly made up a guy's name. I didn't have any issues, but I felt uncomfortable with the situation, and a little scared of what would happen if I'd ever revealed that I'm female. I've read your post on when to femme it up, but are there times when you have to try and pass and hope no one figures it out? Should I have approached the situation differently, or was flying under the radar the right way to go? Have you ever had an experience where you've had to do this?
Wow, scary incident. It sounds like you did the right thing: followed your gut and did what felt most safe in the situation. At an "uh-oh" time like that, I don't think there's a right or wrong thing to do; whatever keeps you safe is right. Something else to consider: make up some excuse about why you have to leave immediately--stomach flu, friend to meet, whatever--and get out of any situation where you don't feel safe. Leave the suit; it's just a suit. And when you come back, bring a friend (or have a friend go retrieve the suit for you). I'm very big on trusting my gut.
Even when it doesn't feel unsafe, a tailor's shop can be especially awkward. Here are a few things I've done in the past:
What do you think, dear readers: did Bridget make a wise choice? Have you ever had a situation where you had to try and pass and hope no one figures it out?
Hiya friends: I know a lot of you are headed to Pride in the next few weeks. If you've been to a few Prides before, you know that there are certain things you'll see over and over... chaps, free condoms, exes...
With this in mind I re-tooled a classic game for your enjoyment at Pride. Gay Pride Bingo! First one to get five in a row in any direction wins. I made two game cards, so you can play with a friend:
If you actually want to *play* Gay Pride Bingo, here are printable black-and-white versions of the game cards: Card #1; Card #2. I'll give out multiple PRIZES (one each month) to someone who sends me photographic evidence of a Gay Pride Bingo win (i.e. all five squares in a row).
Does anything on these cards sound familiar to you? Is there anything else you feel like you always see at Pride?