I never spent much time in the closet; I spent most of my life in denial. In high school, I was just as self-conscious of every girl, but on top of making sure I was seen as popular and funny and smart and athletic and pretty, I obsessed over making sure I looked straight. There was never an incident where I was “falsely” outed; there wasn’t an overwhelming homophobic environment at my school; it was a delusional fear that I had created from my heterosexual hallucination.
I worried about hugging my friends for too long or saying something “weird” to my teammates, and I woke up every morning and planned my outfit around not looking gay. Instead of accepting the lesbian that I saw in the mirror, I did everything I could to mask her. I created ridiculous rationales as to why I couldn’t wear certain articles of clothing as if people would read them as clearly as rainbow body paint. This is an abridged version:
1. A watch
Men wear watches and women just ask men what time it is. Lesbians don’t talk to men, so they need to wear watches in order to know what time it is.
2. A ponytail
Lesbians never have time to do their hair. They’re too busy liking girls!
3. No makeup
4. A sports bra in gym class
Everyone knows that only lesbians are athletes. Just because I play sports after school doesn’t mean I have to sweat through my mega push-up bra (that I’m wearing because I am a 16-year-old girl and we are the only ones who actually purchase these torture chambers). If I actually tried, then maybe I’d beat a boy. And boys don’t like when girls beat them. And I want them to like me.
5. Shorts longer than a quarter inch
My inseam needs to be just shy of risking a lip slip because boys like looking at girls’ butts and I do what boys like. I don’t look at girls’ butts though. Because I’m straight.
6. Bare nails
You know who else besides lesbians don’t wear nail polish? Dudes! And what else do they have in common? They like girls! Not me though! I paint my nails pussy pink to let everyone know I am NOT interested in women.
7. Oversized shirt
This may be the style now, but when I was in high school, everything had to be tight. Like white on rice. Or me on boys! Because I’m straight, remember??
8. Dress pants
One time I had to wear dress pants to a funeral and I felt like a powerful woman. Like Bette Porter from The L Word. Who is a lesbian. Ipso facto, only lesbians wear dress pants.
When I was in high school something inside me told me that being lesbian meant being masculine, and being masculine meant being ugly. I was the only person who saw the lesbian that I was trying to hide, but I still rejected her. “That couldn’t be me,” I thought, “I barely fit the stereotype. I HAVE to be straight.” This black-and-white style of thinking didn’t let me see the rainbow of opportunities that people could be (hehe, get it?). I could be girly and gay just like I could be manly and man-loving. There was no one “look” that determines someone’s sexuality.
Even after I came out, I am still not recognized as a lesbian unless I am kissing my girlfriend in public, and even then, people are still convinced that we’re just putting on a show. I had the opposite dilemma; when I went out to gay bars, I tried desperately to “look gay.” Had I learned nothing? I feel best when I’m not trying to look straight, gay, or anything else but myself.
I still have a very feminine style, but after getting over my irrational compulsion to look a certain way, I’ve been able to pull off some looks girls would only dream to. But more importantly, I’ve worn clothes my high school self would have been mortified over. Which is fine with me, because she was kind of a judgmental bitch anyway.