Did I cut it all off just to look “more queer?”
“She scissored the curls away, and – toms, grow easily sentimental over their haircuts, but I remember this sensation very vividly – it was not like she was cutting hair, it was as if I had a pair of wings beneath my shoulder-blades, that the flesh had all grown over, and she was slicing free…”
–Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet
Around the same time that I started coming out to friends, I cut my hair short. The timing was coincidental. I mean, I think it was.
I’m a pretty femmey girl. Well, low-femme. Not as low as Ali’s “mole-people femme” in Transparent, but I mean, it only takes me ten minutes to get ready in the morning. I wear converse a lot. But I’m never going to be mistaken for butch, by any stretch of the imagination.
Let me back up. I was in one of my therapy sessions in the long dark winter before I came out. My hair, coincidentally, was also long and dark. I was talking about feeling invisible in my queerness (you spend your whole life hiding the queer thing from everyone you’ve ever met and kind of yourself, and then you get pissed that no one sees it. I know, I know). I sighed and said, “I just always wanted people to…”
“Think you were straight?”
“No! The opposite! I just wanted someone, anyone, to sit down with me and say ‘oh honey. I see you. You shouldn’t be dating guys.’ But no one ever did. No woman ever asked me out or took me under her wing, and after awhile, I started to feel crazy. I started to feel like I was making it up.”
She smiled. “But I mean, people don’t really do that, out of the blue, in real life. It’s kind of up to you.”
If you want things in life, I was realizing, you have to ask for them. So I started to tell a few close friends. And I signed up for online dating. Online, I could check the Gay box: everything was (over) simplified and very clear. I asked girls out. I went on dates. I felt like an impostor at first, but I got over it.
And I cut my hair. Because I felt like it. But I still don’t look very gay. I just look like me. Which, let’s face it, is all I’ll ever be.
How do femme women do it? How do they become visible without wearing that Nobody knows I’m a Lesbian t-shirt? Is it all in what you say, what you do, how you do it? I spent so many years hiding. I am still a kind of private person. Not Jillian Michaels “I wish I was normal” private (I’ll walk around holding hands with my girlfriend), but definitely someone who won’t out herself to strangers unless it comes up. So outside of online dating, how exactly do I go about this? How does one live visibly?
I know I’m new, and I have a lot to learn. But…how does a person live out? What does it mean to be visible? Should I still be feeling all this guilt for passing? And did I only cut my hair because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, so I subconsciously tried to live up to another stupid paradigm?
Thank goodness it’s cute.