I seem to be confusing some of the teachers at work.
"You’re gay but…you wear…dresses?"
"How can that be?"
"Oh…I see. You’re…you’re one of those lipstick lesbians."
That’s not me.
Yes I love my dresses, and mascara, but I also love my tattoos, short hair and combat boots. Whereas I can’t stand high heels, hair spray and ironically enough…lipstick.
So am I still a lipstick lesbian? Even if I’m not following the dress code?
If you wear checked shirts and baggy jeans paired with a crew cut, people tend to put a big mental label of “BUTCH” on you.
Are you a stone butch? Or a soft butch? A dyke? A baby dyke? A boi? A stud?
And then we all throw our hands up as we drown in a sea of labels.
But even though the list of labels seems ever growing and never ending…it still doesn’t quite seem to be enough. Until we have as many queer-categories as there are queer-people in the world, our personal labels will be as long as Starbucks orders. You know, the ridiculous “Venti, half soy, non-fat, dry cappuccino with organic chocolate powder” kind.
So what would that make me? A chap-stick, half femme , tomboi lesbian?
And it’s a double edged sword this label malarkey.
For some, it’s brilliant that there’s such a wide vocabulary to describe what can often be a complex dynamic of sexual and gender orientations. A pansexual, feminist, gender-queer femme can describe themselves so that others can get a grasp on who they are.
And for others it can be a right pain, because there really is no label for them. Or the length of their label is so absurdly long that it would be easier to have it pre-written on a business card.
So I tend to wear the nice little vague label of “femme” and be done with it, because it fits me best. Like a pair of pretty shoes that rub at the heel a little you wear them because they’re easy and go with nearly all of your wardrobe.
But “lipstick lesbian” is a step too far in the land of personal labels for me. But there’s no way I’m going to try and explain the complexities of LGBT sub-categories to a group of straight laced Catholic teachers, when I hardly understand it myself.
I’d put the basic rule down as “to each their own”. If you like labels and feel like they clarify who you are and help people understand you a little better?
Well, love or loathe them, LGBT labels are a part of the community and people are going to slap one on you whether you feel it fits you or not.
So you can fight labels tooth and nail or just brush them off your shoulder, we all know really that self expression is too complex to describe no matter how many new words we come up with.