Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Watching That Girlish Figure

[thanks Sydney Burgess]
What's up, fig-spreaders?

Who wants to hear a delightful childhood story?

Mmkay here we go:

One time, when I was about eight years old, I was doing my routine weekly inspection of the top shelf of our bathroom closet.

The top shelf was so high that you had to climb up the other shelves to get to it.

The climb, though tactically difficult, was worth it.

That's where all the most interesting things in our house were.  

On the top shelf of the bathroom closet, there was:

1)  My mom's perfume collection from when she was young and used to travel.  

The collection was a massive, jumbled box, all glass clinking together and peeling Sanskrit labels and delicate crystal stoppers and decades-old essential oils dripping stickily onto the bottom, slowly leaking.  

Patchouli and lavender, Chantilly and Shalimar, sandalwood and Chanel.  
The best one, though, was a little suede drawstring pouch.
When you opened it, a cut-glass, jet-black vial slid out onto your palm, and on the front, in fancy gold cursive, was my mom's name.
It smelled like violets and mystery. 

2)  An odd, metal machine that you strapped to your hand and plugged into a wall.  

Mom said it was "for massages" but it felt really awesome when I put it on my crotch.

3)  A flat brown box that had 100 eye shadow shades inside, including a green glitter color called "It's Poison, Baby" and a gold glitter shade called "24-karat Bold".

4)  Some really fucking sharp tweezers, a wobbly hot water bottle that smelled like new tires and felt interesting when you draped it on your face, and some sharp, pointed wooden sticks that Mom called  "orange sticks".  

They neither smelled nor tasted like oranges, no matter how much I sucked on them.

5) An endless, ever-changing array of jumbles, odds and ends, and dangerous/private stuff Mom thought we didn't know about.  

There was new stuff up there all the time.  

Keeping up was exhausting.

This time, as I blindly groped around up there, my hand landed on something small and cylindrical.

I grabbed it and jumped down from the shelves.

It was cool-looking.  
A plastic-and-rubber thingy.

It kinda looked like a big version of the shots they give you at the doctor's.
[thanks Chelesa P.]

I pulled out the stopper.  
It made a satisfying popping noise.  
I pushed it back in.  
The stopper slid smoothly down the tube, pushing out a jet of air.


Obviously, this was an ideal thing to put water in.

[thanks Hush]
I filled up the big syringe-y thing under the tap.

I shot it, experimentally, a few times out the screen window.

It shot an even, clear jet.  


Surprisingly far.

I was laying on the bathroom floor, using the plastic syringe to squirt streams of water into my mouth, when my mom came in.

Mom:  Krissie, don't just lay on the floor like that, I almost stepped on you!  


What are you doing?

I showed her.

Me:  See, I have really good aim.  Watch.

Mom:  Where did you get that?

Me:  Top shelf.

Mom: Do you know that's for enemas?

Me:  What's an enema?

Mom:  Give that to me right now.

Mom never actually told me what an enema was, but I figured it out in college, when I got a job at a group home.  


Y'allfags, the mysteries of childhood often solve themselves as we become adults.

But not all answers become clear.  
Why do they call it an orange stick, anyway?

It's just like lesbians! 

As we grow into our lady-bonkin' ways, the sometimes-mystifying behavior of lesbians, as a people, often explains itself.
But, just as in life, there are some questions that will never be answered.
When will lesbians stop wearing visors?  When?  When? 

I think the topic of femme invisibility is one of those prevailing lesbian mysteries, don't you?
[via robotsnhearts]

Sluts, I got a lot of emails last week about femme invisibility.  

A lot.


Apparently there's about a million femmes and girlydykes out there who are sick and fucking tired of not being noticed.

[thanks Cate Uys]

And to them I say:  OMG gurrrl I so feel you!!! <3 <3

Let's have us that cozy lil' rant, shall we? 

Alright.  If you've never heard of it:

Femme invisibility is a lesbian phenomenon in which a feminine-looking lesbian has difficulties in convincing the dyke world at large that she's gay, or being seen by other lesbians at all.  
[thanks! cloudcovers.tumblr.com]

This can come in lots of forms.

A group of butch dykes at a homo dance club who think a femme is a fag hag and won't talk to her.

A boi in class who thinks a femme is really cute but doesn't approach her because she looks straight.

A lezzie bartender who ignores a femme's drink order because "she doesn't belong here, the straights have their own bars." 
It fucking sucks.  

And it's been a problem for a long-ass time.

Ever been flirting heavily with a motorcycle dyke in a lesbian bar for half an hour, only to have her sigh wearily, get up, chuck you under the fucking chin, and say, "You cute little straight girls. Always messing with my mind" and walk away shaking her head?

True story.

Ever try to get into a dyke dance night by yourself and have one of the girls working the door say, "This is a lesbian night, you know that, right?

Isn't it fun. 

What exactly do I need to do?  
How could I be gayer for you?  

How, oh how, can I prove myself worthy of your exacting, pure lesbian standards?

[thanks Cate Uys]

Homos, the queer community has expanded exponentially in recent decades.  

We queers pay so much lip service to being inclusive that the stringent policing of rigid boundaries within the community always takes me by surprise.

We, of all people, should understand that there's more than one way to be gay, right?
[thanks Dylan]

And yet - homosexuelles often have a preconceived notion about what lesbians "look like," and anyone who doesn't fall in line with that gets denied access to the lesbian club.  

Straight until proven gay.


Perhaps I could walk around with a girl sitting on my face.  

Might help.

But even then, you know, I do wear dresses.  
I'm clearly not to be trusted. 
[thanks Janelle Taggart]

Just for the record, this is the Basic Lesbian Stereotype:

a) Short hair
b) Men's clothing/baggy stuff/sportswear
c) No makeup
d) Short, unpainted nails
e) Very minimal jewelry
f) Flat shoes.

So that's how Lesbian looks.

Thank god we cleared that up.

Let me just toss out all my dresses and heels and tight skirts and perfume and lipstick and lacy slips and nail polish.  
[via curveappeal]

Oh wait, no, I don't want to.

These ideas about what a lesbian "looks like" have got to go. 

Not only are they outdated, but they're screwing with people's opportunities to get laid, and that must not be tolerated. 

There are so many out queers now.  

We all look so different.  
How can this still be happening??

And the worst part of this?  

Lots of lesbians love femmes.
[congrats Emily!]

I mean, really fucking love them.

The girlier the better!
Get that manicure!  
Wear those heels! 
Match those bras and panties!
Buy that $34 conditioner, then get your good-smelling ass over here!
[via gutterwhore]

Femmes are beloved by plenty of dykes.

Femmes are thought to be rare.

So how come I got hundreds of letters this week from femmes telling me how tired they are of being ignored and unappreciated?
[via hellogirls]

And you know what else? 

I also get tons of letters on a regular basis that plaintively ask, "Where the hell are the femmes? How can I find them?" 
[thanks Raquel M] 

Don't you think it's interesting that we're all right here, looking for one another, blindly groping up on the top shelf and grabbing onto whatever we find?  

We're all right here!  

And the lesbians who love femmes!  

It's just seeing each other that's the problem.
[thanks Mona Anton]

As a femme lesbian, I, um, like queer women.
I only like queer women.

But queers - especially those who "look gay" -  think I'm straight.

If I'm by myself, lesbians look at me and then right through me, like they're waiting for a real lesbian to enter the room through the portals of my eye sockets. 

Interestingly, there is a time when lesbians notice me and read me, correctly, as femme.  

Annnnd that's when I'm with CJ, who "looks like a lesbian."  


I'm only gay and part of the club when I'm on a "real" gay girl's arm, and even then you never know, right? 

Well, I think it's bullshit. 
[Liz S. from zac-e-wannabe.tumblr.com]

I don't wanna borrow someone else's key to the lesbian club.

I want my own dammit key.

And why does it matter?  
Why do I care?

Because I love being gay.
It rules.

I'd love for other lezzies to instantly read me as 'gay.'  

But I ain't cuttin' my hair.

[Sara Lynn Sterling of brooklynshoutout]

And I do enjoy, with my femmeness, some perks.

Lesbians who look stereotypically dykey wear their sexuality on their sleeve. 
[thanks Ri]

They're coming out all the time, whether they like it or not - to strangers, on the street, at work, in meetings, at restaurants. 

Everyone assumes they're gay.

And while that makes it easier for us to find them and pounce, it has got to be exhausting to be so visible.

Femmes are, both terribly and wonderfully, invisible.  

We can choose when we'd like to come out. 

We slip in and out of social situations, have no problem getting hired for jobs, and don't get stared at on the subway.  
[thanks Krista Hargreaves]

When we walk down the street, we can be fairly certain that no one's thinking, "I'd like to take a baseball bat to that fucking queer's head." 

So we aren't constantly on everyone's gaydar.

But...what if we want to be?

[thanks Caitlin]

How can we get other dykes to see us?

How can femmes help other lesbians find us the way they naturally help us find them?


Non-femme dykes have made it fairly simple for us to spot them.

[via datzwhatshesaid]

But how should they know which ones of us like pussy?

While I find it incredibly frustrating to be excluded from the lesbian club, time and time again, I do understand part of the problem here.

1)  Other lezzers have no way of knowing.  
Femmes at work, at school, or at the club might very well be straight, born-again Christian girls with huge boyfriends and 11 hulking brothers.
[via meatheadcentral.com]

2)  And, while it's rude to assume that femmes are fag-hags... an awful lot of straight girls go to the gay bar.  
And they're welcome there, as they should be!  

But...they look like femmes.  
And that makes things tricky for lesbians who'd like to approach.

No one likes rejection.  

Everyone's afraid of being shot down. 
[thanks Lindsey O'Brien]
How can we make it easier?

I only have a few suggestions.

Femmes could try: 

1)  Coming out to everyone (as long as it's safe)
Casually dropping at work that you're a lesbian.  
Making sure friends know. 
Telling any and all dyke friends.  

Word travels fast through the lesbian gossip superhighway, and if one muffdiver knows you're a femme...guess what?  

Pretty soon everyone in town will know.  

Give it a few days.

2) Wearing something gay.
Tried, trite, and true.  

Funny, ironic lesbian shirts.  
Slap a teeny rainbow sticker on your laptop and go lurk at a gayelle coffee shop.  This has been working for Tawnya for years. 
We're sick of being invisible - we could try being more visible. 

Some queers are visible 100% of the time.

This just about being noticed.  
Yeah, some people think it's cheesy to have a 'woman' symbol button on your backpack,  but...what if a little cheesiness lands you the hottest girlfriend ever, who never would've approached you without seeing it first?
[thanks Kassandra Dower]

3)  You know that confidence thing that lesbians have?  Confidence goes a long way.  
Direct eye contact.  A little smile.  Nothing huge.

4)  Being brave.  
It's awful to always have to be the instigator, but everyone - I mean everyone - likes to get hit on or flirted with. 

Especially in front of their friends.  

If you see a hot lesbian, try talking to her.  

Amazingly and fortuitously, extreme awkwardness sometimes comes across as "cute." 

My entire dating life is summed up in that statement.
[thanks Samantha Tiews]

But it's not all on us.
It's not just the femmes' responsibility.

Dykes who love femmes!  Wake up!  
Look at us!  We're looking at you

See a cute, straight-looking girl glancing at you a little too often?  

Talk to her! Suss her out! 
Maybe she thinks you're cute, or maybe she's never seen a girl who looks like you before.

Either way, um, growth for all!
[thanks BismuthCrystals]
*Deep brefs

Y'allfags, I'm not sure if there's any real way to solve femme invisibility.  

I would love to be a clearly visible, femme lesbian.

However, I don't really know what else I can do.
[thanks! Tara by Mandy Dwyer]
I'm stumped.

How can we fix this?

Who's got a story about being an invisible femme?

Who's got suggestions for how to be more visible?

Maybe together we can crack this.


  1. I have also been talking about this recently. It's crazy that it's all coming out right now!
    Anyways, I, a pretty androgynous dyke, enjoy hitting on femmes all the time. Rather than assuming they are straight, I assume everyone is a little queer.
    Also I apparently am a gateway lesbian, and have dated a lot of girls who were exclusively straight before me, only to be exclusively gay after. So either way it's a successful way of viewing things. :)
    But not everyone sees this way and I have a lot of friends who suffer from the cruel effects femme invisibility and I think that your suggestions are awesome!

  2. I did cut my hair and nobody got it. Now I'm growing it out again. Phhht.

  3. So maybe this is because I live in a community where everyone knows everyone and everyone's business, so the fact that I came out 3 years ago pretty much means I don't have to come out much at all anymore...BUT I, as a femme, really don't have that much of an issue being recognized as a lesbian. In my city, if you're at a gay bar, you are fair game and probably at least bisexual. I really haven't found being femme to be a problem in the night club world. However, I do find it frustrating in every day life (at the coffee shop, in the mall, etc.) that I cannot be recognized as a lesbian. ESPECIALLY when there's a cute dyke around and I REALLY want her to know I'm gay too. *sigh* the best thing I've learned to do is just flirt or make eyes at her and then it usually makes itself clear.

    However, if I do choose to come out verbally to someone, I usually find it fun to surprise them. The shock that comes with hearing "I'm gay" is kind of fun to experience. I also definitely reap the benefits of looking straight at my job and in every day life.

    Can't there be some kind of code that only we lesbians understand? As far as I know, talking about the L Word and Tegan and Sara is the closest thing I can find. ;)

  4. They're called orange sticks because they're made from orange wood. From orange trees.

    Even though straights hang out in bars, I find that it's pretty safe to assume that someone's gay once you're in that setting.

    If she is straight, she's more embarrassed because she knows you made the logical assumption and, more likely than not, even if she is straight, she's feeling curious. You might not find a girlfriend, but you'll probably get a cute hetero-flexible make-out session.

  5. Umm, as a femme, what I did, was become totally obsessed with your blog, took note of the things that gay girls do (besides wearing flannel, cause .. who am I kidding I already owned flannel before reading ya!) and appropriated some of the things that I thought were gay signs that I also thought were pretty and could incorporate easily in my life and style. I did the asymmetrical hair style - but a la Victoria Beckham. I wear sensible shoes, but with dresses. I got expansions on my ears, but lots of pretty hanging earrings from Tawapa/Five and Diamond in SF (and I spend hours on mayaorganicjewelry but can't afford anything... humph!) I also got over my fear of hitting on girls and landed myself a super cute boyish geeky dykey girlfriend who just might be the love of my freaking life.

    But I also come out ALL the time, to everyone I meet, totally casual like it's part of the conversation but I bring it there on purpose. My idea was, if you're not ok with my queerness, I don't want to waste my time getting to know you... but in retrospect this helps (helped?) spread the word about my queerness too! Everybody wins!!

    Also some girl at work, who by the way is a lesbian (strict) told me I couldn't be bisexual because she doesn't believe bisexual people exist. I told her I don't believe god exists, but I've also never seen god. You can start believing in bisexuals, because you've met me. HAH! she didn't think that was cute or funny, but it outed me to the entire workplace officially, and also outed her as kind of a moron.

    1. You are so funny! I get that a lot ("she doesn't believe bisexual people exist"). I'm bi, and queer, and I love pussy and the love of my life is a man. That doesn't make me a criminal... or a unicorn.

    2. Whoop! I always tell people that we aren't unicorns too. Knowing that other other people say that is exciting.
      I also have this problem though. People think I look SUPER straight for some reason. I'm hoping that I can retry the image thing in college next year. I'm just worried cuz it's in a small town.

  6. Gotta say, definitely feeling the 'constantly coming out to everybody' thing. The other day my boss told me that as soon as I walked into the room for my job interview earlier this year he knew I was gay. When I go out in public with my ridiculously short, messily styled hairdo, loose-fitting jeans and mens' button-up shirts, I can physically feel the stares. Sometimes it's awesome, but then at other times you can sort of feel the hostility aswell, especially given that I live in a pretty provincial city these days.

    I've gotta say, I do love femmes, but it is pretty hard to pick the gay ones from the straight ones. I mean, if a femme started hitting on me in a club or something, I wouldn't just sit there wistfully thinking 'man, it's too bad you're straight'. I'd probably ask. That seems like a fairly logical step.

    But then again, I'm completely oblivious to any but the most blatantly obvious advances. My best friend in high school spent an entire year literally throwing herself at me and it took her finally giving up and saying that she liked me for me to realise. So if a femme was making eyes at me from across the room, I'd completely miss it. (Or catch it and just assume she was just being friendly.)

  7. Me, me, meeee! Argh so damn frustrating. Thank God I LIKE hitting on girls, but it's sad when I'm feeling a bit risky, go to the local alternative bar (no gay bar in my town - ex-soviet block country *eyeroll*) all prettied up and spend the whole evening isolated. It's downright stupid. Anyway, I think the confidence is one of the biggest hints that a girl's a femmy and not straight. Good article Kris, I was wondering about that matter lately too. :)

  8. I'm not a femme, I'm invisible because in my country, lesbians are either spokeswomen of a pro-gay feminist organization and are seen on TV, or they don't exist.

  9. I have the L word themesong as ringtone on my phone. I know it's not a pretty song but most lesbians know it.

    But I seem to dress more and more as a lesbian these days. I get recognised more and more. And maybe it's my confidence and the way I stare at lesbians I recognise as such.

  10. I feel like all femmes have a story about being an invisible femme.

    I often find that guys whocome over to flirt with me pop the little gay bubble I was trying to create. If a girl even sees a guy approach me she'll move on assuming i'm straight, although if she's kept looking for a few more seconds she's see me refusing him profusely.

    I'm just going to immediately yell BACK OFF I'M A LESBIAN from now on. So both of them will get out

  11. I really loved this post. I feel this exact way. I've even come out to people and had then tell me that they think I'm not gay because I look "too much like a girl" (turns out I AM a girl...)

  12. As an invisible bi femme who dates invisible bi femmes, I just have to out myself. Over and over. To everyone. All the time. I keep doing this until I hit the jackpot. I pretend that all this self-outing is doing some good by dispelling social stereotypes about gayelles and also making sure that all the straight people I know are exposed to some queer.

  13. All I talk about is how I want to look gayer. My gay and straight friends alike are sick of listening to it. But, as you put it, I'm not cutting my damn hair. My first date with my adorable boi-ish girlfriend she actually said to me that she wasn't sure if we were on a date "because I thought you were straight." UGHHHHH. but despite her reservations, she sent the email, she made the phone call, she tried. She is trying to make the term, "A.L.T." catch on- at least turnable. Even though I look femme, I was an A.L.T. You work at a feminist organization? A.L.T. You ride a bike? A.L.T.

    I hate my femme invisibility, but I love wearing some pumps to the gay bar. I figure if the gay looking girls think a straight girl would try that hard before going to dyke night than they just aren't smart enough to get with this.

    And, and, and. LESBIANS LOVE FEMMES. So, I put on my game face, I have a drink, and I rock my femmeness with pride. And luckily I can start making out with gay looking girlfriend in public to up my cred when I need a boost. And I announce, loudly, to everyone, at work, at school, in the streets, that I love pussy. I think it's paying off.

    Thanks so so so much for this validating post. I love effindykes!

  14. we need gay bars in dubai, lol

    A+ for the blog i love it

  15. The "gay only when accompanied by an obvious gay girl" trick can work when you're single, too. If you've been out for a while and have an established group of queer friends, chances are a good portion of them will look more dykey, and I tend to greet and hug my dykey friends the moment I step into a queer environment. And when you're out smoking or watching your friends smoke, talk about queer stuff. There's certain ways of coding your language to mark yourself as an insider of the queer community, i.e. things no fag hag would say.

    But sometimes you have to put in a LOT of effort for people to recognize you're queer, and (most) straight people take even longer to catch on. One of the things that pisses me off, though, is that when I come out to a group of straight people, they take my appearance as a "non-traditional" lesbian as a way to put down lesbians who DO look more obviously gay, as if blending in to straight culture is something to aspire to rather than just one of many ways to be queer.

  16. Back in the day, didn't all the lesbians wear pinky rings? I still think 'dyke' when I see one, even on a gay man. Maybe it's time to bring that back...

  17. What is harder than getting some dyke attention is trying to get femme dyke attention. Where are all the femme-loving femmes? life is too hard.

  18. I think we all need to go on the assumption that I did whilst at my small liberal arts women's college: QUOS or Queer Unless Otherwise Specified. Always. No matter what she looks like.

  19. Am I the only one who has no idea what "A.L.T." is in the comment by S? I know it's the term for a liver test, but I'm pretty sure that's not it.

    Just thought it'd be a roadblock to trying to get the phrase out, not defining it and all.

    Anyway, as a straight looking straight girl, I will say that when I am staring down another girl, even though I don't want to date her, I do think she's beautiful. So, worst case scenario is that you're not getting a date, just a compliment.

    1. She explained in her comment that it stands for "at least turnable".

  20. I sometimes feel like an intruder on your blog because I'm straight but want to know more about your community, I want to help any lesbians in my small town know they have an ally. I openly and loudly support gay marriage, protest against f--ked-up non-discrimination laws that don't include people in the LGBT community. I don't want anybody to feel alone, and I don't want to tolerate inequality for anyone.

    I have short hair and wear men's clothes and no make-up sometimes, and other times (mostly when I go out) I wear pretty dresses and high-heels and lipstick. I feel empowered when I look a little more boi than femme. That's just me being myself. I'm not trying to fool anybody into flirting with me or thinking I'm a lesbian (though neither would offend me, and I probably wouldn't even recognize flirting).

    What's my point? I wonder if I AM an intruder. Do ya'll get pissed when straight girls go to gay bars with their lesbian friends because there is nowhere else in the entire city I can watch a show as bad-ass as a drag show? Is it a waste of time if you and I end up talking for a few hours and have an amazing conversation if I don't make out with you in the end?

    I remember one of my lesbian friends being venomously offended when our (feminist, no-"fashion"-sense-whatsoever, makeup-less, practical-shoe-wearing, short-haired) professor said something about her "husband." My friend was irate because she thought this woman was a lesbian and I think she felt lied to, even though everything she thought was based on her assumptions about lesbians. Can straight women adore other women? Fuck yes, we can! Not all of us see other women as competition for men. Women are magical and smart and intuitive and beautiful in ways no man ever could be.

    I don't want to be an intruder. I don't want anybody to be offended if I dress like a dude when I'm not gay.

    I know this isn't what this blog is all about, but I always feel a little like some kind of intruder, sneaking around in the background and rarely leaving comments because I'm not looking to get laid, but want to understand more than I do already. *SIGH* I feel like a jackass.

    I liked Dylan's comment "I assume everyone is a little queer." Me too.


  21. My wife wore a black mini skirt on our first date and we have now been together for 17 great years. I am very butch (since birth) and often get the "this is a women's bathroom" from strangers. I guess that is one thing the fem dyke doesn't have to deal with. I think it is wrong that fellow gays give you grief. We do need to celebrate our differences. I would hit on you in a heartbeat, but I already have the fem of my dreams!

  22. The best thing that ever happened to me was a femme asking me, a butch, out. Not only was it awesome that she was so upfront, but it took away all the guesswork. Just go for it!

  23. start a tumblr and let the whole world know about it


  24. As a very gay looking (cropped hair, hatred of makeup/dresses/anything frilly, love of hiking boots and men's plaid shirts) asexual, I've become the go-to tool for my femme friends. They bring me to the bar, I get hit on, I inform askee that "i'm not gay, but she is." Eventually, word gets around the bar. Femme friend gets some visibility, I get to see a good drag show. Works out for everyone.
    Also, may I suggest pink triangle earrings? They might even go with your outfit.

  25. 1. Yes to everything. I forget that there are moments when it's..."easier" to be invisible. This is all wondrous/helpful.

    2. I AM FAIRLY CERTAIN that my clothes and hair and neon mouth are not 100% of the reason that I suffer from FEMME INVISIBILITY. I think sometimes...it's a face/attitude/energy thing? I think some women don't SEEM gay because of the way they carry themselves, behave, interact...not just the way they dress or grow their hair?

    I don't think I project the common queer-esque confidence. I might be tattooed and wearing construction worker boots, but I think it's MORE than the pink skirt that throws the "image" askew. SOMETIMES I just think it's my face. Childlike, innocent, awkward. It just doesn't look like it belongs in a vagina.

    In truth, my incestuously familiar community feels varied, and the femme-butch dichotomy is not so prominent these days. Bra-less, trans, t-shirt, hipster, edgy, whatever...it all seems to flood together. There can be some NOVELTY to femme-ness; when I whip out some RocketFlare Red lipstick from my sports bra, it can be a bit like I came to the wrong party. And sometimes that delights me.

    But I would say there's an ENERGY that goes along with my FEMMEness. And it's not a prepschool pearl-wearing, heel-tapping energy. It's a shy-ness. A (perceived) "innocence." Why does this go against the queer stereotype? I see plenty of sweet-looking baby dykes who look PLENTY and believably gay. And I can't say what the difference is. But it feels like my awkward-supersmiley-at-first-quiet-and-eccentric energy is not super HOMO-seeming, objectively.

    And it's not so bad. But it's certainly a big part of what makes me INVISIBLE to queer women and TOO VISIBLE to straight men.

    3. Rainbow sticker. On my computer. ASAP.

  26. Dear EJ,

    more people like you in the world would be awesome.
    I don't find you intrusive at all.
    Please keep watching those bad-ass drag shows with us. That is all.

    Warm hugs.

    ps I fucking love femmes. But I live in such a small town that everybody at the gay bar knows everybody. And the femmes sadly are straight or fag hags. But believe me after reading this blog, the minute a new femme walks in, I WILL hit on her :)

  27. I can't say I'm a femme (I kinda feel like a tomboy and I like these feeling), however at work I do have to Suit-Up and since my heritage has given me really curve lines I do look very femme.

    I always smile, and always look straight in to the eyes, but have no luck on girls; however guys always think I'm flirting with them.

    My strategy is come out as often as I can by "small chats" for example at coffe breaks when they ask me what I did over the weekend, i answer "went out to a gaybar" or whatever gayish thing I did.

    I loved the idea of having The L word Theme as a ring tone.

    Saludos desde Mexico.

  28. Ugh, I totally relate to this post so thanks for putting all my inner grumblings into cohesive words!! Even when I say "my girlfriend and I...." people assume I mean friend that is a girl (even if the sentence ends "....went to bed early last night" swear. to. god.).

    So what to do, what to do.... I stick with the small hints of gayness. Little rainbow stickers, etc seem to work a little. But I have to say, the best trick is confidence and flirting to show that, hey Im here and guess what? Im gay too!!

  29. i JUST wrote a story on my blog this morning about the horrible femme invisibility incident i had this weekend, DURING MY CITY'S PRIDE.
    short version: gay girl followed me around and kept telling me i was straight.
    long version: http://likeloveadore.tumblr.com/post/9888397095

    thank you soooo much for this especially-relevant-lately article krista <3

  30. Heehee. I started wearing around a pin that says "Fuck Femme Invisibility"! That gets a lot of mileage :D Now all I need is one that says femme-loving-femme...


  31. Krista, you're such a fucking mind reader sometimes. I am a freshman in college (school just started last week) and femme invisibility is a problem for me right now. I have to go around announcing that I'm gay, and I know it's going to take ages for any other gay girls to approach me, if they ever even do.
    A few weeks ago at a gay club back home, a gay girl working there told me the reason nobody was asking me to dance was because I don't "walk gay, talk gay, or look gay." Well guess the fuck what, gay doesn't come in any certain package. We're all so different. And Krista, you're exactly right: us femmes have to step it up and be more obvious sometimes, but other lesbians who aren't sure if a femme's a lesbo have to step it up too! Don't leave it all up to the femme in question, because you might end up missing out on meeting a great girl.

  32. also also ALSOOOO
    get an autostraddle t, right now! and wear it out in the streets!


  33. i was always not girly but i'm also not into looking like a guy. so i cut my hair in like a cute way kinda? like it's emma watson-esque. i'm kinda like a chapstick dyke i guess. but i loooove femme girls, i just don't wanna get made fun of if a girl is straight! i pretty much only hit on girls if their facebook profile says "interested in women". (i'm under 21 and can't go to bars yet)

  34. I have this unfortunate combination of traits where I have super femme hair and don't really dress gay (although I've been trying to add little dykey accessories- I bought a flannel! I wear rings! I wear my belt buckle to the side!) but at the same time, a lot of my friends are male. If I'm hanging out with straight male friends, people assume we're dating or about to. I CAN'T TAKE A STRAIGHT GUY WITH ME TO A GAY BAR FOR MORAL SUPPORT. THAT'S JUST RIDICULOUS. UUURGHHH. EVEN IF I TAKE A GAY MALE FRIEND, THEN I'M A FAG HAG!

    But. I've never worn make up. But even that doesn't help, I look foreign so that just gets put in the "foreign women are hot, they don't have to wear make-up" (that's a Krista quote, y'all) category.

    I just can't win. I need super-dyke feminist friends. Now.

  35. @ Chi

    I'm a complete tomboy. All of my clothes are from the little boys'/men's department and I like to wear my hair short and asymmetrical. I like leather cuffs instead of shiny bracelets and my friends say I give off a "tough dykey vibe" :) STILL, I get approached by men A LOT! I don't know what it is, but I seem to attract guys, which amuses me. Maybe it's that men do feel the lezzie-vibe, but are too competitive to give up on a chick, who looks like she exclusively enjoys pussy? We'll never know.

  36. Invisibility stories? hooo boy.

    How about the time I dated a girl who months into our relationship said she thought I really liked boys? (Things didn't last much longer there.)

    Or the time at a dyke bar, new in town, with no friends, a straight man glued himself to me, for the entire evening. He said he "knew lesbians" and that I couldn't be one, and would I kiss him? The moment of shock and spluttering confusion that resulted from this question was taken as a "maybe" and he declared I was probably not gay. Thanks to Dude with the Official Dyke Gaydar, the night was a bust.

    And at pride, at marches, in random conversations... "you don't *look* like a lesbian".

    That said, most of the dismissals I've had come from outside the queer community. I'm on the... lazy? tomboy? end of femme, so maybe I'm more "believable"?

    The dismissals from other queers hurt about a thousand times more though because... they should know how it feels, right?

    And all this makes me appreciate even more the femme-as-hell lady who walks right up to another femme and says, you're really pretty, do you want to get coffee?

  37. As a femme lady who is mostly into other femme ladies, I often find myself in a femme invisibility double-bind. Like, where do you even start? It goes like this: she's hot. She probably isn't gay. But maybe she is gay! But even if she is gay, she probably doesn't know I'm gay :(. But maybe she is gay, and she does know I'm gay! Or maybe she knows I'm gay, but she isn't gay. Or vice versa? But WHO KNOWS OH GOD THIS IS THE WORST.

    1. THIS. So much this. Add on a heaping helping of "But what if she's gay, and she knows I'm gay, but she doesn't know I'm trans*? Or what if she's gay, and she knows I'm gay, and she DOES know I'm trans*?"

      And I frequently wear shirts like "All the cool girls are lesbians" and "Good girls go to heaven, LESBIANS go down!" and throw my rainbow-flag pin on purse or lapel, do everything I can to shout it out: "I like girls!"

      I flirt openly with any femme-looking girls who catch my eye, waiting for the "Thanks, I'm flattered but I'm straight" and hoping for the "Oh? Well then, let's have some fun!"

      Still hoping...

  38. I just need to complain about every last queer fuckyeah[]Tumblr that posts images of hot dykes. Because those dykes, the ones visibly appreciated, are always andro/boi-ish looking, and pretty damn cute. But being on the queer internet makes me feel like I'm not part of the gay community, because the accepted dyke look never looks like me. As much as I love and follow this blog, which led me to many others, and much time spent ogling glossy pics of genderqueer babes, I think the images online are part of the problem. Femmes do have passing privilege, and I think that's why genderfucking gets so much praise online - because they're doing something unacceptable, whereas femmes remain safe, and have their looks validated by mass (straight) media all the time.
    I don't have many solutions to offer, just ranting. I guess what I do is loudly talk about fisting or Vogueing and say the word "lesbian" loudly in public places, and I try to surround myself with queers as much as possible (even though I do want my own damn key!! That was spot on!)
    Sometimes there is a jarring difference between a high-femme and a straight girl, though. Overly exagerrated femmeness looks very queer, and straight girls don't usually go that far. I guess its that middle-ground of safe femininity where queer women are made invisible. Perhaps the answer then is... Don't be safe? Take risks with your appearance? Wear that queer button and sew on a queer patch. Wear wayyyy too much bright red lipstick and 50's dresses, with an impressive updo. Exagerrated femmeness is hella queer!

  39. While I do get the femme invisibility thing a lot, I did have a random straight male coworker totally see me for what I am. He's only explanation was that it was obvious, but clearly that's only to him. My best friend who questioned me about my sexuality has admitted on more than one occasion that she doesn't think I'm really gay which I find really offensive.

    I recently went out with a bi girl who is the artsy grunge type that definitely doesn't put out the vibes. It felt more like we were hanging out rather than on a date.

    I do subtle body language things like the dyke nod and not crossing my legs (added bonus: way more comfortable for my knees) unless I'm in a skirt. However, I highlight my hair blonde and I think that kills my best efforts.

  40. Femme Invisibility Story:

    As a newly-out babydyke, I was at Pride for the first time with my (very gay-looking) friends. We ran into a coworker and her partner. After talking for a few minutes, her partner said, "Well, it's always great to have supportive straight friends." I agreed enthusiastically...until I realized she meant me! I was so surprised, I couldn't even react. I just pointed at the "mmmmm, lesbians" sticker stuck to my cleavage and gaped. She still didn't get the hint.

    I cut all my hair off, but I still look femme as hell in my pencil skirts and make-up, and I don't plan on changing. Maybe I will buy one of those cute little rainbow stickers...and attach it to my forehead!

    1. Now I'm wondering if our fantastically bubbly, friendly, short-haired femme manager at work is gay, or just amazing at being femme-y with short hair?

      She wears skirts and awesome heels and such, and I -think- she's straight, but I also think she's single...

  41. @ Anonymous
    I agree with you. They probably do approach you in some ways because of the challenge. I've tried nicely telling guys I am a lesbian (hence my new decision to yell at them) and they often take that as a big wrong hint to try harder.

  42. I've heard that apparently in England, lesbians have solved this problem by have a "secret" code that says hey! I'm Gay! And that code is.... SMITH COLLEGE shwag. Now obviously that wouldn't work here because there are plenty (ok, a few) Smith Alumnae who are straight, but I like the idea of some different clues. Pinky ring? Pink triangles? HRC tats? I like the HRC stickers because most queers know what it means, but most bigoted assholes don't.

  43. Thank you so much for this!!

  44. A few years back, I decided all femme presenting women who's sexuality even crossed my mind are queer. It's not fool proof by any means, but I'd rather err on the side of more gay ladies than fewer since lots of people assume I'm straight anyhow. There must be balance somehow.

  45. As a more 'noticeable' lesbot who only loves the femmest of the femmes. I just want to say one simple thing. At a gay bar everyone is gay or at least not a big homophobe. So assume everyone is gay at the bar and go for it. If they are straight then they are probably still going to feel good about themselves (everyone loves to be hit on) and also aren't going to make a big deal about it....why? Because they are at a fucking gay bar. They knew what they signed up for. This is all we femme lovers have going for us so let's a least can ideas inside these gay gay walls.

    And if anyone cares (and its highly unlikely you do) my photos are up at shootout.tumblr.com not brooklynshoutout.

  46. Yep, chopped my hair off and a butch at a lesbian dance asked my friends if I was "really gay."

    So that led me to wonder: how much pussy do I need to eat for me to finally be considered "really gay?"

    Just askin'

  47. I think I kinda rock the femmy vibe becauseI'm not totally femme. I smirk, I do the rumple in my very choppy hair, I do the nod. I grin brazenly at queer girls.

    The things is, I have a STRAIGHT best friend who looks WAY QUEERER THAN ME. She has mad coloured hair, she wears crazy clothing and that means fishnets and DMs are her staple. I get the feeling that SHE is my key, and she HATES being associated with gay people because (fair enough) she isn't one. Lots and lots of people around my college assumed we were together too... How do you make it clear that even though you're a femme walking with a really dykey girl, you're not actually WITH her? Arghh..

    She's supportive and not at all homophobic, but she isn't a big fan of the fact that there's a lesbian culture. I love being gay but I don't talk about it much, because she calls the lesbian norm "a creepy cult" and doesn't know why people make lesbianism into a club. I guess she doesn't get it. But anyways, I would totally draw double venus signs and stuff all over myself to make myself a little more visible, except that she's so disapproving and it makes me feel way awkward. :/ As a result, I'm 18 and am yet to have a girlfriend, even though I've been out 5 years now. Sucks.

  48. I don't think gayness or lesbianism or any other culture should be the exclusive clubs that they are; however, that comes from one place: oppression. You never hear people talking about say, "white culture." You know why? Because white people do not have a history of being oppressed. However, people who do- blacks, gays, feminists, hispanics, so on and so forth- do have their own cultures. It is not out of a desire to exclude. It is out of a necessity to be among people like ourselves where we have the freedom to be ourselves without fear.

    As a butch lesbian, no matter how wrong, how much of a character flaw this might be on my part, NGL, I sometimes resent the heterosexual privilege that more "heterosexual looking" gay people enjoy. I can't hide among the bigots. And, even femmes don't intend to hide, or don't hide at all..you still look more like the heteros think you should look, so they are at least a little bit more ok with you than those who are more stereotypically gay.

    Furthermore, the stereotypically gay people are met with disdain from not just straight people, but from other gay people who think of us as some kind of detriment to the cause(I am blogging this myself later today, as it just happened on my own social networking website), so we don't even get acceptance in the areas where nobody should bat an eye.

    However, all that being said... this exclusive club stuff needs to stop. How can we expect acceptance from the straights, preach that people are people no matter what, to stop discriminating, when we cannot even do it ourselves?

  49. Krista! Great article, one of your best this year!

    This got a bit lengthy so scroll down for TLDR version if need be.

    ATTN FEMMES: I have a blog that pertains to exactly THIS and femme/femme everything, and various other queer and nyc related things (+fashion & music).

    It is JUST getting started so bare with the lack of content for a minute. Will be updating constantly.

    My goals are:

    1. To brainstorm with others on tactics we can use to overcome this, announce we are femmes into femmes (though it is not exclusive to anyone!), AND start groups all over that network with each other IRL. I live in NYC so that will be my main group focus but I NEED ya'lls participation. So plz follow me, message me, and collaborate!

    I've seen some GREAT ideas in the article, and in these comments. I liked the button and pink triangle earring ideas but those would work with maybe only 10% of my going out outfits :/

    I have lot's of ideas myself that I will share in upcoming blogs posts .

    THANK YOU KRISTA for being so very relevant to my interests at the moment. I am certainly noticing talks on the subject all over the internet right now since school is just starting back up. I think this summer with NYC's gay marriage passing has REALLY helped us lgbtqa people realize that it's not about "labels" anymore. "Looking gay" is I think, one of the most crucial ones that obviously, a lot of us are just totally over and want to live our lives how we see fit and not have to "look or act" the was our "community" wants or expects us too.

    IRL in NYC this, despite the thousands of Queers, is a STRUGGLE for many of us femmes. There are the Maggie C events that help, but there's always the straight attendance that is always going to throw an extra little stick in the wheel.


    TLDR; Check out and follow my blog, and contact me about Femme invisibility, femme/femme dynamics & VISIBILITY, and networking with other femmes in your area in a safe and non super open to public (ie your person fb with your exes and family on it) way [unless that doesn't apply to /bother you].


    Tumblr ask, or Email me for more discussion or to volunteer to start a group in your area, or if you'd like to join my NYC group:

    dancingonflowers -at- gmail (dot) com

    FB & google+ groups coming soon. Facebook's new comment sharing options have made me think how to pull off a FB group a lot better since we don't always all want to advertise that we are "looking" (even if just for friends) on your personal fb's to everyone on there.

    I also have a meetup.com group coming.

    This seriously made my week/month/queer life Krista.

  50. I love this blog. I also suffer from femme invisibility. Even with prolonged eye contact, a smile, and a little gay head nod I get looked THRU! Drives me in insane.
    The only way I got my Boi is we both flirted like there was no tomorrow. We played cards she put one in her lap I grab it. Said I'd rock her world if she wasn't busy later. We have now been together for about a year.
    So really you either jump on the nearest lezzie or wear a rainbow and carry a sign that says " I eat pussy cum sit on my face" - at least around here you would need to.
    Again I love you effing dykes!

  51. we need a secret hand signal. that is the only solution!

  52. I'm femme (would say 'lipstick lesbian') and I'm invisible too, furthermore I like femmes, so not only other lesbians don't notice me, but it's hard for me to recognise if girls I'm attracted to are lesbians...

  53. No one eeevveerr knows I'm gay. Even when I'm in a dyke bar everyone assumes I'm the straight friend. Boo. I combat this by throwing out "MY PARTNER" constantly.

    I think the best way to combat femme invisibility is to just go up to the girl you want to be visible to and flirt with her. Rainbow stickers are a great idea but they wouldn't look good on most of my bags.

  54. thank you thank you for this.

    and for those still pissed as hell, let leah piepzna lakshmi singh be your guide with the FEMME SHARK MANIFESTO:


    also, Persistence, the new femme-butch anthology is so so good. and there is always Mad Femme Pride (thank you Atlanta) and the Femme Conference where this digital conversation can go analogue-dialogue in real time with other femmes and our allies, also acknowledging ways that femme itself can constrain when we police the borders against trans-women, faggy boys and fatness. there is so much work to do, and as they say, work is love made visible so come on out of the woodwork darlings there's plenty of femme room for all.

  55. I am a femme who likes femmes as well. A couple of months ago I had to really convince a femmey girl to go out on a date because she was afraid of our duel femme invisibility. She said "When we are walking down the street holding hands, people are just going to think that we are best friends". Its good to remember that not everyone is into the butch/femme relationship! Dating/being friends with someone that looks more butch should not legitimize someone as queer, saying you are a queer should be legit enough.

  56. I always identified as "high-femme" until a couple of years ago when my ex and I broke up. During those years I always felt invisible, as if I had to defend my presence in night clubs, gay coffee shops, etc. No one ever believed that I was a full on gay-mo. And I'm seriously gay.

    These days I identify more as andro-femme, because I'm really enjoying toying with gender identity and I see the femmes in my community responding to MY change in my gender identity and it's been really interesting to watch...and feel. I'm super shy, and don't ever hit on anyone. I've never asked anyone out - mostly out of fear, fear that comes from my previous high-femme identity and always being questioned or being told I was probably more likely bi-sexual than gay. As if only a crew cut and cargo shorts = gay.

    These days I'm more likely to make eye contact in a direct way, and sometimes a little smile, but I'm still really shy and more to the point, I'm really gun-shy. I like that you're bringing this topic up - I'm enjoying everyone's responses.

  57. This. Is. My. Life. I like cardigans, my wardrobe comes almost exclusively from Banana Republic and I love lip gloss. Then when I'm out with my girlfriend people tell me how great it is that I'm "inclusive" and have "diverse friends." Whenever we go out together, she always gets hit on because she looks super gay and all the homos say it's nice she brought her straight friend. I think I'm going to start a Femme Club in Chicago. We'll all go get mani/pedis and braid each other's hair.

  58. Thank you so much for writing this, oh my goodness. Last week i spent approx. 2 hours in the college library researching femme in-/visibility online and in text. The only thing I learned was there are a HELL of a lot of femme queers (like myself) just begging to be noticed individually and in society as well.
    Because I dress oddly anyways - even in this hipster era - pencil skirts with tiny sweaters, full-skirted dresses, curled hair, etc. I get noticed and/or complimented 10+ times a day.. I'm not vain, I actually don't like the attention. I'm wearing what I love to wear and what is most me, but it's not the attention I would actually want. In my head it's like I look so counter-culturally 'feminine'(not whorish or overdone) that it should be freakin obvious, but it's not. I just want an adorable girl to realize I am a lady gay and I enjoy ladygay activities! On the bright side I do make quite a few gay male friends because they love my outfits, go figure.

    ANYWAYS, since my depressing-ish research sesh I've just been coming out everywhere. In lab I'm like BUT CAN GAY PLANTS PERFORM PHOTOSYNTHESIS? (they can) My upcoming speech in communications is about LGBT parents. It's interesting, I haven't gotten much bad feedback.. I like it.

    Sorry to go on and on so.

  59. I present as... an alt-girly, sometimes boy-y, hipster/dyke haircut mishmash, sometimes very femme-y, sometimes I bind my chest. In terms of presentation, pretty par for course with all people in my scene - queer or not. Different days bring different invisibilities.
    A fun story of people not wanting to make assumptions about sexuality and getting it all wrong:
    A new girl started working at my coffee shop. During our first shift together, cleaning, we did the "get-to-know-you" game, and I blathered for half an hour about how my girlfriend had gotten into a film festival and we were flying across the country I was so proud of her etc etc. We moved on to her boyfriend, chatted about some other stuff, and she asked me if there were any boys in MY life...

    I think I gave her a blank stare for about 30 seconds, asked myself what the hell we'd been talking about the entire shift, and slowly launched back into, "my GIRLfriend..."

    She seemed like she felt uncomfortable about her faux pas so we moved on and I let it go. Three full months later she came out with an admission that she was so terribly embarrassed about the situation after our shift ended, that she didn't want to seem closed minded but didn't want to make any assumptions about me, that kind of thing. It was sweet and funny and exactly as I thought.
    In my experience, more so now than when I was younger, I don't encounter as much femme invisibility as femme dismissal from queers.
    I have encountered pretty disgusting reactions to femmes from within my city's queer community - or rather, the radical-punk queer community. Meeting a group of dykes for the first time, wearing a black dress and lipstick, got me the most cutting looks and a drunk girl who shouted in my face about femme privilege. The experience was offensive and degrading and certainly not unique.

    It seems to approximate a judgement on a femme's personal politics, not being brave enough to live and dress against societal norms, and getting an unfair 'easy ride' by not experiencing the same oppressions as more visible queer women.

    Iven E. Coyote, a butch poet/author/storyteller does a wonderful piece on femmes that I think y'all should watch -

  60. Oh my - that Ivan E. Coyote youtube video made me cry right here at my desk. Thanks so much for posting it!

    I agree with everything in the post and the comments. One day I want to wear a dress and heels, and the next I'll wear suspenders and a bow tie with oxfords. I effing hate labels and categories. What am I? A "femme dandy?" A "dapper femme?" "Tomboy femme?" "Clear lipgloss lesbian?" I am...me. I am not "the girl" or "the boy." I am not a "bottom" or a "top." I will always be feminine and I like that, but I hate that I get relentlessly hit on by men and that my mom still thinks this is "a phase."

    One of my favorite quotes: "Asking which person is the man and which is the women in a same-sex relationship is like asking which chopstick is the fork."

  61. As a bi femme girl who likes all types, PLEASE - JUST COME UP AND FUCKING ASK ME OUT.


  62. As a recently discovered bi femme girl, i think be femmes are even worse off than femmes in some regards. it seems like if you like both genders, then you are sneered at or laughed at, and being a femme certainly doesn't help b/c you're not noticed even more! for me personally, i don't look at gender, i look at who i am attracted to. i don't pay attention to if they're male or female. i pay attention to the way they make me feel and my attraction to them.

  63. ha! i mean bi femmes in the first line... :p

  64. I was in that boat. I've never quite figured out how to get over the femme invisibility barrier myself as I'm painfully shy unless I'm piss drunk... and then not so charming. I somehow managed to land the femmiest and hottest piece of tail imaginable, but it took sitting in a gay cafe for months on end hoping someone would hit on me.

    However, my girlfriend (as I said SUPER FEMME) could teach classes. This girl does not give a crap if you're gay, straight, a nun... She has the confidence to hit on any lady that she deems gorgeous enough. I've seen her approach some Brazilian dancers in an exhibition and ask them if they were into girls because she thought they were hot. On the RARE occasions that a girl claims to be strictly-dickly, she will spend the evening trying to convince them otherwise... and is often successful. In short, if you take a page from her book: have no shame and hit on her until she gives in. :D My hero.

  65. I'm in the process of coming to terms with my sexuality right now and am finding it really difficult because I have trouble seeing myself as a lesbian. I am super femme but this poses two problems from me 1) Having my friends really doubt my gayness, because its all quite new and I hooked up with guys really recently and 2) exactly what this blog post is about, no one knows I'm gay!

    I'm glad I found this article thought because it made me feel less crazy, and gave me a name to the problem I've been struggling with.

  66. “Femme invisibility is a lesbian phenomenon in which a feminine-looking lesbian has difficulties in convincing the dyke world at large that she's gay. . .” I have experienced femme invisibility, and it is frustrating. However, being a fem can work to your advantage. Wouldn’t it be great if the women we were interested in had some sort of sign that let us know in advance if they are wacko? Well, that sign does indeed exist. Any lesbian who demands proof you are **really** gay or who accuses you of really being straight is wearing the big “PSYCHO” sign. I have never met a lesbian who thinks femmes aren’t really gay who isn’t also bat-shit crazy. I’m thankful for femme-doubters because I know to avoid them at all costs.

  67. I've been struggling SO MUCH with this lately. I'm so glad you posted about it. I can't tell you how excited I get when I get the "Why yes, I also enjoy pussy" smile/nod from "gay-looking" women.

    My girlfriend wasn't sure I was gay until I pointedly told her I was into her. Being invisible just makes me feel so lonely sometimes.

  68. "Ever try to get into a dyke dance night by yourself and have one of the girls working the door say, "This is a lesbian night, you know that, right?"

    To which the correct response is. "Yes, and with any luck I'll be strapping one on within the hour."

  69. A friend of mine posted this to her tumblr and I'm really glad I clicked on it.
    I had no idea there was even a phrase for it.

    I've been hearing the words "What? I didn't know you liked women!" for my whole life.
    I feel better now I know I'm not the only one.

  70. The girlier the better!
    Get that manicure!
    Wear those heels!
    Match those bras and panties!
    Buy that $34 conditioner, then get your good-smelling ass over here!

    A-EFFING-MEN!!!! love femmes fucking love them!! be brave ladies come tlak to me and i'll talk back!

  71. oh and i'll be sure to talk to you too!!

  72. I have been talking to my roommates about this recently. I used to wear the uniform (plaid, jeans, sneakers, the lesbian haircut, etc.) then I realized I didn't feel right. I am pretty androgynous BUT I love wearing dresses, heels, carrying a purse every once in awhile. I like girly things and I also like girls. I went to a dive bar in my city a few nights ago. A friend invited me, it was karaoke night, I didn't know. The entire bar, no joke, was filled with lesbians that I know, I at least knew half of them. They were all wearing the uniform and there I was in a seafoam green lace 1950's dress, tights, dress shoes, ribbon in my hair, gold purse, mascara.


    I know half of the people there, waved at a few friends who then stared and immediately turned away. WTF? I know these girls, Ive hung out with them before and suddenly I was invisible.

    I didn't know what else to do, I said "Hi" to one good friend and the friend that invited me and left. I know if I was dressed like them I would have been part of the group but suddenly I was excluded, and invisible. I have no idea what to do to fix this. I wish there was a clear answer.

  73. I used to go to a private school with a big, proud, active queer community, which intimidated the hell outta me as a queer-though-not-quite-gay-but-definitely-gay-enough!-type femme. My problem was never coming out to my straight friends so much as coming out to a queer community at large, for fear of being rejected due to my utterly boring style and background (going butch, or hell, even cutting my hair, would likely get me disowned). For all that, I definitely agree with the terrible and awesome aspects of femme invisibility.

    I came out to very few people during undergrad, simply because the queers were such a big, scary presence for me. Now I'm getting a higher degree in a big ol' midwestern state school. The FIRST TIME I saw obvious queer ladies, my straight friends encouraged me sweetly to go talk to them and come out to them. I was terrified, but went to ask for a cigarette. Again, the girls' confidence totally threw me for a loop and I awkwardly coughed out over my cig, "so uh, I noticed that you're, ya know, you're here with a uh certain group of girls?" -- and the LOOK this girl gave me was perfectly indicative of how straight she must've taken me + how offensive I was seeming. I almost ran, but managed to mumble "hey hi hey there I'm queer and I was looking for some queers to hang out with sometimes?"

    long story short: YOU'RE RIGHT AWKWARDNESS WORKS. I am totally accepted by the LGBT community at my new school and currently on the way to organizing a group for graduate students. so get down with your shy-ass femme self, even (especially) in conservative-ass places!

  74. To all of the kick ass, beautiful fierce femmes out there...


  75. Wanna know my story of how I simultaneously got a gf and also did a "in your face" to my local gays? well... I slutted it up.
    I was SO angry at how life was unfair, and how I felt unrecognized for being girly, and why did the girl I like not like me, and then I found a girl who liked me, that I didn't like back? ARGH.
    at the next gay event.. I got wasted. REALLY wasted. And proceeded to make out with 4 different girls. And shamelessly hit on the rest of the girls there. Liquid courage, its a beautiful thing.
    you see, I threw away all my cards, I told myself if I couldn't find someone meaningful, then I may as well have some reckless fun.
    And I did. Until.... I grabbed HER ...and she didn't let go. But she wouldn't let me kiss her, either. After 3 tries, I was frustrated, and she laughed and told me I looked cute... I was thinking, this girl is... different.... Eventually, at the end of the song... she did kiss me... on her terms.
    After I grabbed my stuff to leave, I went up to her and said, 'you should take my number' something I've never done before. And shockingly, despite my antics that night, she did take it. And used it the next day too to ask my hungover self out to brunch. Later, I found out I DID try to get with her earlier that night,... TWICE. Both times she rejected me. Good thing she gave me a chance on the third try, and that I don't recall the previous failed attempts... The rest is history.
    Now, we love to laugh at our 'how-we-met' story :)

  76. Oh I've been waiting for this article!! Gosh it's so frustrating! I've cut my hair and the response I've had are things like "I thought you were just a straight girl with a cool haircut" and even if I say I like girls I get questions like "So.. are you bi? bicurious? Or are you really gay?" x_x

    But yeah you're right, the only way I get anywhere is by approaching someone else first!

  77. Story of my goddamn life. No one believes me, even if I do come out. None of my homo friends believed me straight away. People keep telling me it's a 'phase' (a life long phase??? ...okay then), or I just haven't met the 'right guy'. Um. I DON'T WANT TO MEET THE RIGHT GUY. I only want to do girls. ONLY. Alas, I am too shy to ever make the first move so, I just never get anywhere, basically. It doesn't matter if I'm in a gay bar or what. Le sigh.

  78. That rant felt so good! I needed that desperately. Now I'm going out to buy rainbow and pink triangle paraphernalia and plaster it on everything I own. Gay, gay, gay.

  79. I have this problem too and I'm SO FUCKING GLAD my friend showed me your blog because I seriously thought I was the only one with this issue. I know that's stupid to assume, but it gets fucking lonely!! Ya know??! BAAH.

    And with all this hipster style shit going on, I seriously can't tell anymore who is gay. I can't. All these girls I think are queer turn out to be straight, consistently. It's like there are no exclusively "gay styles" anymore. Everyone at my college [art school] looks the fucking same. And of course I get the shocked looks and reactions from people when I tell them I'm gay, and every other week some new guy will hit on me, and I never know how to gracefully slide into our conversation "by the way buddy you're barking up the wrong goddamn tree."

    I just turned 21 and went to a gay bar one night and was convinced every femme there was straight, because they were hanging with gay boys and really didn't seem to be paying me any attention. I'm shy and have never made the first move, but I guess I'd better start or else I may never have sex again. I mean really, I should be having sex right now instead of bitching about this. FAAHHHCK

    But seriously, thanks for shedding light on this problem. I feel a little better about it now. <3

  80. I think it's funny that femmes often focus on other queers as the ... perpetrators, so to speak, of ignoring femmes. Maybe it's because I'm in a committed relationship, but I feel just as alienated, if not more, when I'm invisible to straight people. The fact that people, especially MEN -- on the street, in straight bars (there is ONE lesbian bar in DC, so it's hard to be exclusive), at friends' parties -- assume I'm into men just because I have long hair or whatever is hugely alienating to me. It's like, fuck you, why do you think you know anything about me? And with hetero men, it's like, how dare you assume I'll want you? Sexist assumptions about female desire and sexuality are a big part of it, I think.

    And by the way, any andro/butch who tells me I should just come out all the time is going to get stomped on with spike heels. There is no denying that I'm safer, so long as I keep my mouth shut. But invisibility is a form of oppression. I'm not hiding; this is who I am. Except that who I am is QUEER, and anyone who doesn't see that is shutting out a huge part of me. So it's a twisted bargain, that I get to escape gaybashing in return for my selfhood. And who knows how safe I'll be when I do come out? Homophobes hate surprises.

  81. Okay, seriously, I loveloveLOVE pretty feminine girls. And my gaydar for the gay ones is seriously lacking. :C Pretty girls in dresses are my favorite, I wish there was a way to just KNOW.

    One time, a male friend asked another friend of mine "What about feminine girls? Like preppy looking ones?" And she, also into girls, said, "No, because they're all straight."
    And I just kind of looked away awkwardly.

    I guess everyone should just start wearing rainbows until we can think of something better >:C

  82. Ha! You think your invisible now? Try being a Lesbian Horror novelist, and attempt to get published!

    You want stories with lesbian protagonist? You want monsters, horror, noir, romance?

    Guess what...I wanna give them to you.....but I seem to be invisible.

  83. This is right on the money. But then again, you usually are. This is something me (femme) and my girlfriend (androgynous) talk about a lot. Recently, a blogger posted "A letter to a young butch" and many responded in the comments that they wished for a similar letter, for femmes. I wrote the following letter, but she refused to post it, even in the blog's comments--isn't that ironic, considering the letter is about femme invisibility?

  84. Letter to a Young Femme

    At times, you will feel invisible in the queer community. What makes you feel pretty—wearing hot pink gloves to do the dishes, showing up to the party in your new little black dress, powdering your nose—these feminine qualities may make you feel like other gay ladies don’t see you. But remember that others in your community will see you: you will turn heads, you will make butch girls wet. Do what makes you feel pretty. Don’t struggle within your femininity, relish in it.

    Retouch your lipgloss when you go to the bathroom. Your date has been looking at your lips all night, she will notice you took the time to be extra pretty. Invest in lipstick that doesn’t kiss off when you make out with your girlfriend.

    Your high heels are sexy, feet that hurt are not. Make sure you can wear them all night, invest in comfortable shoes, and put gel inserts in them.

    Having long nails is beautiful, try to communicate to your manicurist you need to keep a couple a little shorter. Clean under your nails.

  85. Even though you may feel invisible, butches, bois, femmes will notice you because of your lipgloss, high heels, long nails—the effort you put into your femininity and the confidence you gain from it. Men will notice this too. Men will cat call you when you walk down the street with your girlfriend, especially if she is another femme. Sometimes it will be flattering and respectful, sometimes it will make you blush in embarrassment, sometimes it will make you redden in anger. Be safe.

    As a femme, you will often pass and people will assume heteronormative stereotypes on you. Sometimes you will want to politely educate them, sometimes it’s just okay to let it slide. It might be hard to know when it’s okay and when it’s not; depending on who you’re with and where you are. It’s okay to correct someone, it’s okay to pass; it’s not okay to berate someone, it’s not okay to put yourself in danger.

    You are going to have to come out again and again, don’t feel like you are obligated to come out again and again. Yes, it’s a privilege to “pass” and it’s okay that you do. Some of your sisters will never pass or never be able to not be out, and they struggle with it too.

    People will ask, “Why doesn’t a pretty girl like you date men?” Have a myriad of responses, i.e. Because men already have too much.

    Help your butches and bois groom. Tell them being butch isn’t about being hard and scraggly. Bring them with you to get your eyebrows waxed. No polish mani-pedis are pleasant too; make them feel comfortable going with you to these “girly” places. Getting pampered is a nice feeling for everyone, not just femmes. Tell butch girls how you find them sexy—if you like a freshly pressed shirt and tie, let them know. Tell femme girls how you find them sexy—if you like their fishnets and stilettos, let them know.

    It’s okay to mess with gender roles too. Strap it on, lift weights, pick up your girlfriend. Women will love to be fucked by you and brush your long hair out of their face. Even though you strap it on, you can still be wearing the sexy push-up bra and thigh high stockings—women will fall to their knees to worship you. When you pick up your androgynous girlfriend at the queer dance party and spin her around, everyone will smile at both of you.

    Having a strong, fit body is healthy. It doesn’t mean you are starving yourself skinny. A cared for appearance does not make you heteronormative, it means you respect yourself and your body. Being curvy and dressing to accentuate those curves is always appreciated too.

    You don’t have to care about sports or cars; you can care about lipgloss and lingerie and it doesn’t make less of a person or any less gay.

    It’s okay to think other femmes are hot. Couples do not have to be butch/femme. Just because men find two femmes together hot, doesn’t mean that you can’t think it’s also hot. You can act on your own desire and not be acting for male pleasure.
    Read books about being butch so that you can communicate with them and know your struggles with gender, identity, and sexuality may differ but are still struggles and celebrations. You should know about butch struggles, and make sure others know about femme struggles. Make people want to celebrate femme femininity.
    Know that you will meet many shades of gender and sexuality, and that you may not look like everyone else at the bar, at the club, at meet-ups; and it’s okay if you prefer to keep your hair long, your body hairless, your nails in a French manicure, your face in full make up with fake eyelashes. Not only is it okay, but you look beautiful and carry your head high.

  86. Ever since I put a hoop in my nose, I get asked about 65% less, "Wait, are you gay?"

  87. Before I came into my more masculine-of-center self and still had long hair, people told me that I didn't have a "gay face". Several people. Haha, um, what? Still don't know what that's supposed to mean...

  88. The asymmetrical hairstyle is difficult for Asian girls, because about 90% of Asian girls currently have some asymmetrical version of side bangs/side parts, etc. To stand out you have to have punk-ish hair, and I'm not punk-y style-wise. Wearing rainbow gear just seems forced and sort of like you're a new or overly-obsessed-with-being-gay gay and also sort of not appropriate in some settings. Sigh. Also, it is easier to make the first move if people realize you are gay. Sounds weird, but true...startling people's expectations when you're already out on a limb is tough. It's so much easier to ask out boys than girls, because we've all be raised to believe that boys are desperate and socially inept. This is all very frustrating. I guess what's left is talking about being gay, which is harder to do if you're bi...works in less naturally because I can still talk about boys and be genuine.

  89. femme who likes femmes here. doubly screwed for reals.

  90. I have "boi" invisibility.
    I want Butchy women.
    But I look like a cute little boi-dyke.
    And Boi-dykes usually chase skirts and heels.
    And I haven't met many kings who want a prince, y'know?

    Well I want to be chased by some steel toes and coveralls.


    Femme invisibility does suck, I see my poor friends hopefully eyeing up girls, silently whispering "I'm gay! I like pussy! I swear!"

    So I wing man.

  91. Maybe you could design some awesome Effing Dykes bracelets that say "queer" "curious" "straight" or one your awesome nicknames like "gayelles" or "faglets", etc. :)

  92. During WWII in the UK a lot of women worked on the ambulance and night safety teams. Generally these women were strong, short haired (more practical), and... well, hello, women in uniforms.
    Lesbians could never know who was actually gay or not, and these were times when you still had to be quite shush about it all. They came up with wearing a small ring on their little left finger as a way of recognising other ladylovers.
    Nowadays that's less foolproof, but we do have the thumb ring and the little finger is still a slightly queer ring finger choice.
    I think it's in the small details. Get the ring, the rainbow bracelet, the female symbol on your bag, the odd beanie hat. It's what gets used here (in Paris - ie femme Mecca) and generally works :)

  93. I think the solution is to move to Melbourne, Australia. Femme is totally appreciated here.
    But I'm totally in support of general/subtle signs of gay. I wear little dresses, lipstick and a LOT of clevage, but I've got my lesbian boots and my head is 1/2 shaved. Straights just think I'm weird. Lesbians think I'm hot. Everyone wins!

  94. What about boi invisibility??? The reason I rarely ever get hit on is because people assume I'm a pre-pubescent child! I'm almost 20!!!

  95. There are pros and cons to being a butch lesbian. There are pros and cons to being a femme lesbian.

    The confidence of butches is overstated. A lot of butches are actually self-conscious. Baggy clothing is a sign of trying to hide inside one's clothes.

    I'm not butch because I wanted to be visible. I'm just butch and I had to learn how to cope with being visible.

  96. I SO SECOND JULIA ROSE'S IDEA!!! we need updated gaycesoories. the only thing i have are my revel and riot tees. show us your accessories krista! : D

  97. I LOVE my femme-ness! I'll rock the shit out of dresses, heels, make-up, cute undies, etc. NO one ever thinks I'm gay. I can't even count how many times I've heard "You don't look gay", "Are you sure you're gay?", "...But how gay are you?", "I would have never thought you were gay", or "You're the straightest girl in the world."

    Story Time:
    My first night out in the Castro. SUPER stoked. I'm thinking club, so I'm wearing heels, jewelry, make-up, completely dolled up. I got hit on by NO ONE. In fact, I felt really really uncomfortable (I know now that I was far too dressed up for Q Bar). If I were in a straight bar, I wouldn't have been left alone. But not a single person glanced my way... and I was looking hot!!
    Flash forward months later. I get a last minute call to meet a friend at the same bar for a beer. It was right after softball practice (so geyh) so I had on no makeup, glasses, looser fitting jeans, hair thrown on top of my head... And I got sooo much play! It was almost silly. When I try- nothing. When I don't try- everything.

    I'm not a fan of that concept tho! I love dressing up and looking good and although I own baggy jeans and flannels, those aren't my daily fashion staples. Although I love a cute boi or butchy lez who can rock menswear, I don't want to have to wear that to get some gay attention! What is the most infuriating is when I come out to men who are hitting on me. They refuse to take "No thanks dude, I'm into chicks" for an answer and think I'm trying to throw them a line to get them to go away. One guy literally told me "I don't believe you. I think you're lying." I don't care what you think! And I don't need you to believe me because I'm really, really gay... and I fucking love it!

    I'm lucky enough to have a smoking hot girlfriend who is a sporty-femme but at first she didn't even know I was gay. She had her suspicions but she needed verbal confirmation. And trust, she got a lot more than that :) But now I get to deal with gross guys tripping over themselves to watch us makeout. No, threesomes involving peen are not an option. Blegh.

    I find solace in the belief that all women are at least a little gay, so thank goodness for that.

  98. Ladies, can we all just take a moment and slap ourselves in the face?

    Really?? Must we complicate dating even more?? It's hard enough to find that special someone that loves us and you love in return. Yet we have to add even more labels and unnecessary discrimination...

    We all need a little more COURAGE. I know it's hard, the pain of rejection is one of the worst feelings.

    I'll let you in on a little sales secret (and isn't dating really just selling yourself?). The average salesperson is successful about 1 in 10 tries. The best ones, 3 or 4 in 10. Each rejection isn't a failure, it just means you're closer to your goal! So keep asking, for each girl who says no, you are one girl closer to finding one that says yes.

    On a similar note, I too suffer from femme invisibility. I've come up with two cures (and I've only been out for like 6 months ladies):
    1. I wear a rainbow bracelet, which I've been told by a very dykey girl said to her that I was a lady lover. Other than that, I dress so that I think I look hot. I ask myself 'would I ask me out?' if the answer is yes, I'm good to go, and knowing you look hot goes a long way.
    2. if I'm unsure if a girl is gay, I go up to her and ask. 'So are you one of the straight girls that frequents gay clubs, or one of the gay ones?' - Tried that one recently, ended up with her phone number. This has been said many times above, but it is so flattering to get hit on or asked out. Stop worrying if you're coming off as desperate or creepy or thinking that you aren't in her league, you won't know until you do something.

    What DanniDoll said above is right - it's about people being attracted to people. Not types, not genders, not any of that bs. I recently went on a related rant on my blog: phisherqueen.tumblr,com

  99. I am a femme in a town full of lesbians. But NO ONE knows me. I suffer from femme invisibility so bad! Even the lesbians that know I like girls don't see me as a lesbian. I don't make it better for myself, because most of my friends at the gay bar are gay men and/or drag queens... So I know I look like a fag hag. But GUESS WHAT! I AM A FAG HAG... who happens to like vagina. I may start sporting more rainbows because I love to be girly and I dont wanna change!

  100. Ugh. I hate it. I don't even think I'm femme....I'm actually on the down-dressed side for straight culture....but compared do our assumptions of lesbians.....I don't think I read as gay at all.

    Which means coming out over and over to everyone I meet.....and then having that awkward thing where guys continue to hit on me, asking if I've ever had sex with a straight man.

    I think the best I've done by myself is to honestly tell a girl, "I have a crush on you." It's flattering, cute, and gets the point across. Not only am I available, but I'm interested.

    But I sure would like it if the people who came onto me on the street were the ladies, rather than the fellows.

    Please feel free to hit on me next time you see me :)

  101. My girlfriend's best friend is constantly asking her if she's sure I'm really a lesbian, because I'm "too pretty" to be one. Which is not only completely ridiculous, but completely insulting to my drop dead gorgeous lady!

  102. FI makes me want to punch someone every single day. "Straight until proven gay"--exactly. Even though all of those answers to FI are admittedly sub-par, the best one is to just come out to everyone. I went on a "GLBT studies" trip to Berlin for a month with 15 fellow students, only two of whom straight. I assumed (incorrectly, obviously) that they all knew I was gay. But surprise surprise, only my roommate, whom I'd known before the trip, knew for sure. I had even said at the start of the trip, in front of the whole group, something like, "As a young lesbian..." One of the more outspoken lesbicos with us shocked me when on the, like, second-to-last night, as we were all getting ready to go to the club, she admitted she hadn't been sure if I was gay or not.

    Really. REALLY?! After a month?!

    FI is tough. Too feminine and I end up having to come out all the time, to everyone. But too, it is as much of a burden as it is an answer to FI :(

  103. I read this post yesterday and commented, and LAST NIGHT this guy kept coming up to me and saying I didn't look gay and that I had to prove that I was. He kept asking me to explain why I liked girls, as if it can be quantified! Funny how these posts always sync up with stuff going on in my life...

  104. I'm pretty straight as far as I know, and I perfectly fit the stereotypical lesbian image. Works both ways, folks.

  105. This came up in a Savage Love advice column a while ago, and the advice was for "non-stereotypical-looking" lesbians to wear green buttons, as in green=go, "go ahead and hit on me." I always wished it had caught on, b/c.. I dunno, pink triangles/rainbows/silly T-shirts are a little... I dunno.. almost too overt/obvious. and I like some tasteful subtlety :) which I guess is probably why I never get laid. hmm...


  106. I experienced this for a long time but so much has changed in the last couple of years in Sydney because of the Sydney Femme Guild.

    Organised Femmes are a force to be reckoned with and we've done some amazing things and are now invited to be part of other GLBTIQ events such as Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Leather Pride parties as well as our own events.

    I've had gay friends tell me they assume every Vintage looking girl is a High Femme so it's the reverse now with straight women being read as dykes cause they look so damn glamorous :D

    Femme invisibility is well on the way out! Though we do have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding of Femme Diversity as the High Glamour, High Femmes do attract most of the attention and can make others wonder if they're "Femme enough".

    Our motto is Visibility, Solidarity, Celebration!

  107. I'm super femme and I work for a conservative family so that means no visible gayness. No piercings, tattoos, slogans, etc. The most frustrating part for me is not that I have trouble finding lesbians but that I constantly have to come out in really awkward situations. Straight, ignorant people always see me as an ally. When I'm standing in line at the grocery store and there's a queer family in front of me and all the people behind me are rolling their eyes, pointing and gawking I get grouped in with them. They try and include me in their hateful banter or judging stares. Short of saying "I'm not with them!" to the couple in front of me, there is little to be done besides smile and give them a supportive nod. It's similar to when someone yells out a racist slur to a person on the street and all you want to do is shout "That's fucked up!" There's an automatic othering that takes place when you are an invisible lesbian. I don't like to be seen as the enemy by those I support and I hate that I am seen as a kindred to those that seek to oppress me. As soon as I get a different job I swear I'm tattooing dyke on my arm.

  108. Femme-loving femme here. Funny how we are all complaining how we want to be noticed as lesbian and therefore will automatically get asked out by other lesbians. Only a few people actually mention being active about asking others out.
    EffingDykes can we please have some suggestions on how to do that? Silly patriarchal society training us to sit around waiting to be asked out. I don't have a CLUE when it comes to hitting on girls! Also could define flirty vs friendly?

  109. So my suggestion is pretty shallow compared to some of the comments here so far, but I latched onto something that was mentioned here a few posts back as a pan-lesbian signifier: asymmetry. I didn't get the haircut (I work in a law firm) or start wearing my belt-buckle to one side (wtf?) but I did start wearing odd earrings. Femmes, I think we can make this happen as a probs-not-a-straight-girl indicator. Although I don't expect it will work against sleazy, non-believing boys.

  110. it's been said on here several times before but I'll say it again: the only way to not be invisible is to go up and talk to the girls that you're interested in and be persistent and try over and over again. it's very hard whether you're shy or outgoing but at least you're in control and putting yourself out there. Subtle fashion tips are a nice idea but not foolproof or obvious enough since there are plenty of straight people out there that like asymmetry, pinky rings, short hair, etc.

    be yourself, wear what you want to wear, and go after what you want. people are people, who we are attracted to is out of our control, don't automatically assume someone won't like you and don't feel guilty or bad about it.

    end rant, good luck out there!

  111. I specifically am responding to a weekold comment re: genderqueer women all being androgynous/boi-ish. I'm a femme, queer very out and proud woman and I am a bit more visible in my community for several important reasons:
    1) I am not shy about voicing my affection for women or hitting on/approaching people I find attractive (usually butch/boi/tomboy/FTM)
    2) I have a couple of (possible?) visible signifiers of my queerness as well as my proclivities, including a forearm tattoo and multiple piercings with carefully selected jewelry
    3) Most of my friends are queer and I spend time in public, at all of the regular establishments, with them (grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, bars, libraries, art shows, bicycling around, etc etc)

    Where I experience my invisibility is as a Femme who identifies as genderqueer. Many, if not most, people who I come out to as genderqueer cannot align a femme presentation with the possibility that I don't identify solely with my cisgender/birth gender or that I see gender identity as a fluid container that shifts rather than a box that confines. This doesn't disturb me greatly as I have mostly felt like I don't "fit" anywhere, in this world, ever, but I do fit with my queer community and chosen queer family. Regardless if they get it or not, I will continue to be who I am and over time I believe the assumptions we all make about one another will start to dissolve through the courageously ongoing act of living authentically.

  112. Could the above commenter "Miss Pepper" (or whomever else reads my comment):
    please elaborate on what such "carefully selected jewelry" would signify aura of queerness?

    What kind of necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, and other general accessories are visible signifiers of queerness?


  113. I'm an in between. Somewhere in between femme and boi. I have short hair, but I wear jewelry and skirts and dresses. I'm have over 50 hours of tattoo work done, and big stretched ears. Its honestly 50/50 how people read me. I find straight people seem to get it, and other dykes just think I'm a hipster girl or something. I've started just taking the lead, but I'm mostly attracted to bois and butches, although other "hard" femmes are hot too. Really though, it would be nice to get hit on at a queer event for once. I don't always mind being the initiator, but it gets exhausting!

    Still though, its weird that I'm recognized more as queer by the straight community than by my peers.

    *slaps rainbow sticker on laptop*

  114. sigh. Invisible femme here. No one really notices I'm a flaming homosexual until I either tell them, they see me with my girlfriend either in real life or on Facebook, or if they overhear it. Other than that, I am apparently a straight girl who has a hidden love for other girls. I really hate when people say, "Oh, but you don't look gay." when I say I am. Like. Do I need it tattooed on my forehead or something? I didn't realize I had to look like a boi to be considering a lesbian. It just frustrates me.
    And I see cute girls (mainly bois <3 ) all the time and some I make eye-contact with, BUT NO. THEY DON'T APPROACH ME. Ugh. Why is there no cure for thisss? I'm gonna stop now fjskljf I probably won't stop complaining if I don't~

  115. so i moved to a new city, and went to PRIDE, and went to check out the table for the local lgbtq center. the first thing they said to me was, "so, are you an ally?" eeeeeee.

  116. Ok, yes. I hear you. BUUUUTTT. Do you know how HEARTBREAKING it is to crush on a girl only for her to end up being straight? Even girls you *think* are kiiinda gay aren’t really gay until they cross that line.

    And I’m sorry. Lots of hot straight girls like to fool around for the night and then laugh about it in the morning. You even wrote an article about it. Remember, “sport fishing”?

    So really, you should be mad at other femme straight girls who fuck with our hearts (and our
    pants). You even said yourself that you have a self-preserving policy against crushing on straight girls. Same here. Most of the girls I’ve ever liked have looked straight. That’s why it’s so hard. I’m really not attracted to bois, but I’m afraid of getting hurt by straight looking girls. And humiliated. And rejected .

    And it doesn’t help that the gay community is sooo slutty! Oh. My. God. Even if you do have a connection with a girl, you can’t tell how long her attention span is. It’s so frustrating!!

    Even you said, you femmes get to choose when you’re “out” and not. It’s really up to you to be the courageous initiator or go ignored forever.

    (and yes, awkward is totally cute, all the time : )

  117. how difficult is it to be the shy femmes who's totally into shy femmes?!

    let me tell you it is the hardest damn situation i have encountered in my whole freaking life!

    my straight friends dress "gayer" than i do. when i go out with my best straight friend everyone asks if she has a girlfriend and if i have a boyfriend, ALWAYS!

    the only way i ever get the girls i actually want is by chopping off my hair b/c it makes me super outgoing, (haven't quite figured out why), and it makes me look just gay enough. but my new jobs disapproves of the crazy hair i had in college. i hate this. ahhh!

  118. Thank you for this post. This resonates deep for me. I'm a femme who for the most part is attracted to other femmes. This makes things especially difficult because my queerness isn't exactly visible and even though I'm a femme I have no idea how to spot out other femmes. And straight girls don't make it any easier because they like to get all touchy feely and up close and personal so even if I do meet a girl and she seems like she could possibly maybe be queer, I can never be certain and I'm too afraid to ask since I'm not exactly out to everyone yet. :/ And I don't want to change the person that I am just to appear more "gay". UGH. FOREVER ALONE.

  119. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q7IzwUa_kI&feature=player_embedded

    everyone just needs to see this.

  120. I'm probably what you would call a chapstick lesbian. I went and did service this weekend with a group of dykes. There also happened to be a couple of straight people at the same project. Long story short... One of the guys ends up giving me his number, when I was there to meet WOMEN! Gah!

    A butch friend of mine told me I should probably invest in a rainbow bracelet...

  121. For the first time ever, I spent the final weekend of Toronto Pride hitting up all the events and things. (In fact, I followed a crush from home there, but that is an entirely different story for an entirely different therapist). My friend Danielle (I call her the "hub" because she is a the center of the largest lesbian community I am currently aware of) brought me to the Dyke March and afterwards I got to meet about 20 of her closest gay and lesbian friends. It was like a scene out of Rent; all of us sitting along both sides of a really long table in a off-beat bar downtown toronto. All of the lesbians at the table were in relationships with other lesbians at the table, and while some of them were femme like me, I somehow stuck out like a sore thumb. Later that night I went out with my gay boyfriend Anthony, his actual boyfriend Brad and a couple of his straight girlfriends. In no time Anthony and Brad were off having their own drama and I was left to hang out with three very cool straight girls. To them, I was like an alien amongst humans. Questions galore about what my type was, what my experience was, my coming out story, all of it was now under a lens. Even later that night, after pitchers and body shots with the straights, I found myself newly rejected by the person I'd followed, essentially for not being lesbian enough. Wandering the main stretch alone, I came up to a beautiful and radiant drag queen (henceforth known as my Fairy Drag-Mother). I took the opportunity to ask my Fairy Drag-Mother for advice on how to show the world that I am not straight and F D-M told me the following: Don't bother trying to be someone you're not, especially not if you're doing it for someone else. Be proud of who you are and let your true colours show. That, and a little more cleavage*, should do the trick."
    *At the word cleavage, F D-M pinched the v-neck of my t-shirtand tugged it down a couple inches.
    On my way back to Brad's condo, a really cute girl walked out in front of me, told me I looked like someone she always wanted to know, kissed me, took my phone, entered her number and walked away with a wink.

    Thank you, Fairy Drag-Mother for saving my Pride weekend.

  122. You know, I think people just need to be more open minded and accepting. I'm from Toronto and I'm not sure what is different from Canada to the States, but in my city at least I have not encountered this issue. I'm a boi-dyke, but many of the lesbians here are femme and they're hot and no one ever questions whether they're gay or not based on how they look or dress. If they say they're gsy, they're gay. If they're at the gay clubs/bars, chances are highly likely that they're gay, and they're fair game for being there. I'm not going to let someone's appearance deter me from getting to know them because I might not be sure of their sexuality. It's worth finding out if you ask me. The worst that can happen is rejection and honestly it's not that bad. If you get rejected, it likely wasn't meant to be anyway. There's no harm in trying.

  123. This is the first thing I've ever read that you wrote. You're an awesome writer and great thinker and this is one of the best posts by anyone I've ever seen! Going to follow you all the time now!

    I definitely agree with the four bits of advice you gave.

    Thanks again!

  124. To Tattan. I agree we totally need gar bars in Dubai. Too bad they are illegal huh?

  125. Post something new already you lazy sloth. pun intended.

  126. I'm thinkin' Grndr is working for the boys...wouldn't it be nice if you could get a little ping on your gadget taking the guess work, and potential embarrassment out of the equation?

    I thought this to myself earlier this year and found that there is such an app but not many gals using it. Yet.

  127. I wear a rainbow bracelet and hope that people get it. I'm not really extremely femme, I just have really long hair. Most people can't seem to see past the haircut, though. Weh.

  128. The 'big hulking brother' has killed my ladyboners for at least a week. Okay, well at least until that uber-fagette in my linguistics class smiles at me again.

  129. I'm seeing this subject quite a lot lately and I think it is deffo time for us femmes to be noticed! I've always been a femme, never transitioned to dykey and back again. I've always had trouble getting noticed as a lesbian and most likely always seen as a fag hag. Im not however into the dykey lesbians, I'm into femmes as well. Making it even harder to meet other girls! BUT luckily I did meet a fellow femme, and we are now engaged! We have a blog about our long distance relationship: www.whatwegandidnext.com

    Femme invisibility needs to be tackled, but how??

    M x www.whatwegandidnext.com

  130. This is more a note to the fellow readers. Some of us don't LIKE hitting on the bois & butches. We're old-school! Very, very old-school. We want a "masculine" type who will pursue us, ask us out, pay on the first date, open doors, pull out chairs... all that stuff that most lesbians (especially in Chicago) seem to find offensive. We've got all these lesbians who say they love femmes, but then they either disregard/don't recognize when we're right in their paths... or they treat us like other bois/butches. If you want a femme, & you have a femme in your path that you find attractive... snatch her up & treat her like a GD femme! Chances are, the girl making eyes at you the ENTIRE bus ride? Not straight. Straight girls do the Glance N' Giggle. We femmes will usually adopt a slight smirk, or do the eyebrow quirk, or keep sending little smiles your way. If we look at you & get stupid flustered, that's also a good sign we're buying what you're selling. If we're getting nervous, playing more with our hair, you notice a heaving of the bosom... ANY of that, chances are we're at least bisexual if not 100% gay. But when ALL the signs are pointing to "I want you!!!" & you still can't tell... then that's on you, you adorable, thick-headed butches/bois.

  131. This post...I swear. It basically sums up my entire experience as a lesbian since I came out because literally EVERYONE THINKS I'M STRAIGHT except for when I'm with my girlfriend. Most people who meet me and find out that I'm gay say a variation of "...but you're so girly!", and that's including my parents. It's so so so so SO frustrating because if I go to the [singular] dyke bar in my city without my lady I'm assumed to be a hag and while I'm not in the market for a lady, it gets super annoying when others don't seem to think I really fit there. Just because I like my make-up, skirts, dresses, and cute flats or heels doesn't mean I don't love me some women.

  132. I've been saying for years that we all need a decoder ring to wear. Something that says..

    "I'M IN THE CLUB! I got the toaster to prove it."

  133. Dear girl holding the stuffed Appa in the picture with the Titan AE poster.

    Are you in California? Are you legal? I want to get burgers with you and talk about comics, because that's what a date is to me.

  134. my now-girlfriend facebook friended me and then proceeded to like EVERY GAY THING EVER on facebook until i casually came out to her. then she started flirting with me.

  135. So......the beginning of this post may or may not have led me to believe I would be reading about anal sex or some derivative thereof...but femme invisibility is good too!

  136. Or well, not "good" at all, but you get what I'm saying...

  137. I've gotten into some serious relationships with these, so called, "invisible femmes" . more than a few..yes.(& more than a year) and , so far - two that i know of - has come out as , hasbians. meaning, theyr'e pregnant, married to man, or have a kid now - the old fashion way.
    i love femmes , .. but, i think some definitely arnt real lesbians.
    take ani difranco. saw her last friday - and i really don't care to hear about her husband and kid. i missed her when she was a government man hating dyke singing angry things. i should of seen her 13 years ago when i first fell in love with her more funkier and righteous babe side of her.

  138. mostly, i just work the phrase "my girlfriend" into conversation as often as possible ~ an annoying amount, i assume. but i want to be noticed on my own, too, and that tactic doesn't work when i'm single, anyway. i'm going to have to get a rainbow something or other that i think is cute enough to wear often or else i'll never be out of he invisibility closet.

    aldo, i'm surprised you didn't speak on the other, non-queer side of invisibility... hetero men are SO. MUCH. MORE. obnoxious than dykes who ignore me. they flirt, find out a girl is a femme dyke, say "wow that's really hot" and continue flirtation as if femmes are just biding our time til the right dick comes along! #Fumes i want straights to know i'm gay, too.

    (i'm sure a member of the commentariat covered this as i'm weeks late seeing this post but whatevs.)

  139. i'm a femme who loves femmes...the best(worst) is on valentine's day, when everyone in the restaurant looks at us with pity, like "aww look at those two girls who couldn't find boys to take them out" little do they know we are planning to go home and fuck til sunrise. where are all the femme loving femmes??

  140. As a femme who likes femmes, I have dealt with this invisibility a lot. Gay bars are the worst...its impossible. I always thought there should be some sort of bracelet code. You know, like the drink bracelets you get at some bars? One color for gay ladies, one color for straight ladies, another color for taken-and-not-looking ladies. You could just pick your bracelet at the door. It would make it so much easier!!!

  141. I think the worst thing I ever had happen to me was at work.
    Which was, at the time, running my university's LGBT Centre. So it's eight at night, and I'm the only one in the office. I hear a knock on the door, and that isn't unusual (a lot of people come by after hours if they're nervous). I open the door and there's this really cute chick, alt lifestyle haircut, the piercings, definitely pinging my gaydar.
    "Hi! My name's Ava, how can I help you?", I ask her. She looks around uneasily. "Ummm..hi. Are you alone?"
    I say yes. She goes, "So... is there anyone else I could speak to? I need to speak to a volunteer."
    And I'm thinking to myself, "Aw, nervous baby-lez is nervous. Aw." So I reply, "Well, there are volunteers during business hours--but I'm the Coordinator, so I'd be more than happy to assist."

    And the change was -instant-. She pulled away, her lip curled into a sneer, and she replied in a horrible tone, "Oh. I didn't know they were letting -straight- girls run this place."
    I was flabbergasted. I mean, yeah, I'm femmy, but wow. So I said the first thing that popped into my head: "I'm not straight! I've seen more pussy than an Animal Shelter."

    Which may not have been the most work appropriate comment--but I was so taken aback.
    So. Story.

  142. So. I'm in love with a girl who just told me all of her stories with men. but she seems realllly interested in our friendship. she just found out that I'm a femme, seemed open though says she doesn't like girls. BIG FAT BUMMER lol. she is totally a femme, she problly just doesn't know it yet. wat do i do? she's fucking hot

  143. Me! Me! Meeeeeee :D
    Okay, it probably doesn't help that I haven't actually outed myself, but those that know me well have always known. I'm constantly checking out other girls, cutting my hair short, and wearing hoodies, but I'm a makeup wearing soprano that isn't even 5 feet tall. I am an uber-femme pixie of adorableness and it would never occur to anyone (except best friends) that I might not be oogling a football player but instead the nose-pierced ironic-unicorn-shirt-wearing cutie behind him.... And that makes me sad...!

  144. We need to bring back the pinky ring!

  145. Is there a pinky ring thing?

  146. True Stories: Androgynous Dyke @ lez bar where I was CLEARLY with a number of lezbos. A.D. "You dress like u like dudes." Me "Well u dress like a 14 yr old boy. Does that mean you like 14 yr old girls?" Majorly Old School Dyke "You're not a REAL lesbian because u like glitter." Guy @ work, "Why do all the women here dress like lesbians? I mean, except you. You r CLEARLY not a lesbian." Yes, I like glitter. And wearing sexy little dresses & heels & having a mani-pedi & using product in my hair. But I also LOVE muff-diving & finally found (just celebrated 1yr anniversary) a Tomboy Girl who LIVES my femme-ness. But it took a LOOOOOONG time & I'm still distrusted & questioned. What will it take? The Lesbian Gang Sign. Take ur left hand, make the shape of an L, thump ur right shoulder area just above ur right breast w/the "L." Lesbian Gang Sign. Then we'll all know who's "in the club." Thx 4 this post. :)

  147. So Saturday night an acquatience of mine came out to me and said she wanted to break up with her BF because she actually wanted to date girls. She said that she was nervous though because she never gets hit on when she goes to the gay bars (she's femme AND goes with her BF). Luckily I had just read this article so I was armed with lots of useful ideas for her, including brushing up on blogs like effing dykes and autostraddle :) she's gonna take her laptop and hit the coffee shop! Thanks for the perfect article and the perfect time!

  148. I am a genderqueer transboi who finds femme queer women to be the sexiest thing ever...ever. They are absolutely my kind of woman, so I usually approach them. But sometimes... I'd like to be chased. Please?

  149. I feel the frustration completely. I'm a bi femme and not on the market, but seeing the out-and-prouds walking around town makes me feel like I can't be part of this really fun and exclusive club.

    I don't want to have to flirt to get recognized, but I want to be able to exchange smiles with other ladies without it coming off as weird or forward. I smile at people in geeky shirts because we're obviously in another of those exclusive clubs. Why can't it be the same way?

  150. My mom had a similar stash, only in the bottom drawer instead of top shelf. Thanks for the memory, haha.

    Please, please do not toss out all your dresses and heels and tight skirts and perfume and lipstick and lacy slips and nail polish. Kthx I love you the way you are. In fact, you're inspiring m'dear. Dammit though, I need to put my rainbow pin back on my purse, eh? I enjoy my closet of flannel and hoodies, but omgay, yesterday I wore a cute dress and I loved it. So, there! I loved the comments on this one especially. Mwah ladies!

  151. Love the post - misogyny and femme invisibility is something that queers need to be very mindful about confronting in our own communities. There is lots of great art on this - check out The Femme Show... and befriend the femmes! @thefemmeshow & https://www.facebook.com/thefemmeshow

  152. When I still had long hair and was more femme than I am now, I would have "tomboy" days that would be my way of checking everyone's gaydar (to know whether or not I was, too, a mo). Now my style is more tomboy-femme than anything, I dress down dresses with boots or wear a big jacket or something to "androgynize" my femininity because that's what style is about, right? Showing the spaces between the lines.

    I think beneath every different style of lesbian, there are unwavering trends - the smirk, the up-and-down-I'm-totally-checking-you-out look, the tendency to neutralize gender-specific outfits... and I think femmes are becoming a lot more prevalently noticed because of this.

  153. I just outright grab tits. Most straight girls I know are fine with me groping them because "That's just the way she is" even knowing I'm gay. When you're running around groping this girl and that girl... well no one will assume you're straight, nor exclusive with the girl/s you were groping. It's worked for me when showing that I do, in fact, love tits. Straights are usually in denial about how femme I am and brush it off as me being quirky, so no really odd looks either. Somehow my balance works for me.

  154. I never realized it but what you said is so true!! I grew up in an extremely accepting household. I dated guys not out of a need to convince them but to convince myself. I told My family I was BI and they didn't even blink... ok well my mom did think it was a phase for a little.. but I noticed a huge increase in confidence. Then I figured out that there was no way I was bi that I was 100% dyke and my confidence increased even more!! I adopted a Hi I am me you will either like me or you wont mentality and I couldn't care less if you don't. I got so many more girls after that I was blown away!

  155. I definitely agree that it is all about attitude.

    I am the straightest looking femme I've ever met (I don't own pants or shorts, am never seen without nail polish, love doing my make up and hair) and usually go out with a crowd of gay men coz my awesome butch/boi friends can't/won't dance...yet despite looking like the biggest fag-hag ever, all it takes is a cheeky wink and lower lip bite aimed at the cute boi trying to work me out and we're on...everyone likes being checked out ;)

    Also, being quite tall, I have found that ditching the heels for ballet flats and the lipstick for eyeshadow has helped me pick up bois and butches instead of femme.

    But for those femme loving femmes out there I always recognise a femme in pin-up girl make up/headscarves/pin-up girl outfits as a fellow lady lover, something to do with the confidence it inspires, I think.

    And if all else fails, a lovely gay man as wingman works wonders and allows the cute boi to ask him if I'm gay, rather than coming up to me with the pick up line "are you sure you're a lesbian?" (FYI, not a pick up line, just rude. Flirt a little, work it out).

  156. we need some kind of code so we can ask people if they're gay without having to just say it, so it's not awkward if they're not.

  157. The double bind is a killer. It's hard to have gaydar when you're a girl who has always worn dresses and also tried to look up other girls' dresses for as long as you can remember. Especially when you cannot relate to lesbian subcultures, beyond being a woman attracted to other women. When you're a feminine girl who's into other feminine girls, you might as well just resign yourself to a life of born again virgnity. I've had lesbians talk down to me like I'm a naive straight girl, I pretty much only get hit on by frat boys and the indie rock version of frat boys, and it took my own mother 5 years to believe that I wasn't mistaken or confused after I told her that I was gay. I keep thinking that there are other girls out there like me, but I've found very few of them. We need to be less invisible. Not all feminine girls who like girls want to be stigmatized as "femmes," like we're the exception to the rule. It's kind of alienating.

  158. As a "femme" though really dont see myself as one, I get hit on by men at gay clubs and that annoys me. Its like the difference between men and women, I am in a gay club and men still dont feel its an issue chatting up girls and everyone's game, it must be an ego thing, at least in a gay club its easier to say "sorry I'm gay" and not have the sleazy threesome remark than if you're in a straight club.
    I found alcohol is pretty damn useful in overcoming nervousness and being the first to talk to people if you're not getting the attention you want, that and developing a longing look, it's either seducing or creepy having yet perfected it.

  159. whats even more frustrating is when I come out as bi to friends or people Ive meet, coz of the way I look (imagine curvy asian in shorts/singlet) people assume I 'outed' myself for attention and not actually bi. Then creepy guys all jump me demanding threesomes coz 'I'm bi'. I'm a bi femme, and I have self respect and expectations lol

    1. I cannot tell you how much I loved this comment, I've just discovered this blog and was reading it cautiously because I'm bi and I was worrying that anything I learned from it might not apply because I'm bi and not gay =/ I agree with what you're saying i hate when guys assume threesomes are in and don't understand that I don't do them. I guess I've gotten so used to ppl telling me ''there's no such thing as a bi girl you're just selfish'' that I needed to hear /read SOMEONE proudly say they're bi so there! =) that's all i'm done. lol

  160. Yeah, I got this, I just came out not long ago and EVERYONE was like 'really?' or 'are you sure?' or 'I would never have seen that'... I've even got 'there is no way she is a lesbian'... What the hell? Seriously?

    So... what do I do? Because I guess I'd class as a femme but I'm not girly... at all. I have long hair and occasionally (I mean really occasionally) I will wear a skirt or even a dress (massively rare). But I don't do make-up/ nails, I don't dress pretty/ sexy, I don't fuss about my hair etc, and my typical favourite outfit on a casual day would be some combats and a boys t-shirt... I don't even fit in.

    Please help... what do I do?

  161. I'm a teen and a lesbian (and a femme) and when I'm ready to find a hot dyke I'll just wear a rainbow bracelet. It's logic.... Just wear some item that shows your sexual orientation and it's all good :P

  162. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'm a femme and love other femmes- talk about not being noticed AND not knowing who to hit on. This has helped so much, especially just knowing that other people have this problem. I have just recently started going to LGBT meetings on campus and going to the local gay bar and in both places i kept getting looks like, "What are you doing here?" I'm going to go out and buy a few rainbow t-shirts now! THANKS!!!!

  163. Winks are good. Almost all the lesbians I know femme, dyke, or that inbetween stage that's adorable; tend to wink at a girl they find attractive, and frankly it's super cute. Though, I personally can't wink which is frustrating. It's a good clue.

  164. Hey! Was looking for the enema post, but can't find it. Any help?

  165. Thank-you for your blog. I'm a bi femme & confuse myself enough about who I'm most attracted to in clubs/parties/circles, not least when there are dozens of open relationships around that i'm not sure i want to join... So I wouldn't be surprised if I'm hard to read!
    I find that being out to most of my friends, and also having an OKCupid profile helps! - i often use it (or facebook info) to check out others I've seen about town.. Word spreads. X

  166. I was a bartender at a lesbian bar and wore a t-shirt with a fucking rainbow on it one night and the girls still assumed I was straight. I MEAN COME ON.

  167. Almost every time I have told some one I'm gay, their reaction was "Really?? You don't look gay." I mean, srsly? I guess I'll invest in a lumberjack flannel or something, jesus

  168. I'm a fairly femme bisexual, keen on other bisexual or lesbian ladies who are femme/kinda femme, kinda butch, and I soooooo don't have a handy lady-loving circle of friends here in Melb. Maybe I'm going to the wrong places but I really don't get noticed by women. #one day I will have money for doc martens to wear with my dresses then everything will be beautiful

  169. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  170. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'm a femme and love other femmes- talk about not being noticed AND not knowing who to hit on. This has helped so much,

    gclub online


  171. After I broke up with my ex I spent a lot of time wishing that I could just turn the clock backwards. He helped me do just that. In fact our relationship feels like the break up never even happened. We have never been this happy or passionate, all thanks to Him. The most happiest part of it all is that we celebrated the christmas together. All Thanks Goes Dr.Obodo!Contact For Help

    Email: templeofanswer@hotmail.co.uk
    Whatsapp: +234(815)542-5481