When my mum gave birth to me on the 10th of February 1993 I bet she had no idea what I’d become. Maybe a vet or a lawyer or a doctor. Maybe a police officer, a paramedic or a teacher. But probably not a lesbian.
Being a lesbian is not a full time career. It takes me minutes a day to scroll through afterellen.com and catch up on lesbian and bi life in the media and it takes even less time for me to look like a lesbian. I always look like a lesbian, or, at least, a stereotypical one.
I have short, often spiky or ruffled hair and tend to wear a lot of shirts, trousers and, if I’m treating myself, ties. I scream lesbian. (Not literally, that would be a bit odd.)
I have been blessed with fairly large breasts. I’m not boasting, they’re just there. Whilst I have no problem with them except for their considerable weight, they seem to pose a problem for other people who try and guess my gender.
I am called sir at takeaway drive throughs, restaurants and swimming pools. I am told that “the men’s toilets are next door” in cafes and theatres.
Some say I bring this on myself and I can understand that. If I hated being called a man so much I would surely make myself feminine? Yeah that makes sense, I get why people would think that.
But here’s the thing. Until I reached 18 when I cut my hair and started to become who I knew I was all along I felt like I was living a lie. I looked in the mirror at my long hair and didn’t see me. I saw someone who was just trying to conform to avoid confrontation. Well fuck that, I am better than that and I am stronger than that.
As you can imagine, I hate gender stereotypes. Boys like blue, girls like pink. Boys have short hair, girls have long hair. Boys where shorts and trousers, girls wear dresses and skirts. Today I am wearing entirely blue, including some blue striped jeans, and am deciding what to do with my newly washed short hair. This does not make me a boy, this makes me a girl.
I also feel like when I’m walking around people judge me purely on the fact that I look like a man and am “OBVIOUSLY A LESBIAN!” (as I frequently hear shouted in my direction). I am a daughter, grand daughter, friend, enemy, ex, work colleague, volunteer, aggressive driver giving you the finger (as in my middle finger, this is not a sex reference!), lover, admirer of cats, photographer, drunken karaoke singer, the person that tells you that you’ve dropped your wallet and the person that holds a door open for you, the person who slips over in public and laughs hysterically at their own stupidity. I am a lot of things as well as a lesbian.
But some people can’t seem to see past this. Let’s say that I work at a hotel, I don’t but it’ll do for the purpose of this example. A couple of months ago we had a coach load of people visiting who had never been to the hotel before. They were meeting up with a company that often come to the hotel. As this was an important occasion I had donned my usual function clothes; a pair of black trousers, white shirt, floppy (FEMININE!) black tie and a black waistcoat (that doesn’t really fit, that reminds me – I need to get a new one…). Within minutes I was having jokes about my sexuality and gender made right in front of me. Now this is at work, a place where I usually feel comfortable to be who I am; thanks to my colleagues who have literally no problem about me being gay. What I found most insulting was that our usual customers were using my gender and sexuality as conversation topics as they never usually mention it at all. Thankfully, it was all dealt with and I received an apology.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: unless you know who I am or what I deal with on a day to day basis or know what gender I am or what sexuality I am or what kind of person I am don’t assume anything. Because when it boils down to it, I am a human and nothing more.