Looking Lesbian today
Lesbian opinion: Ever been told you were too pretty to be LGBT? Amy Ekins looks at identity pressures within the LGBT community.
I want to start out by assuring you I am aware that I am no means an authority on LGBTism. Nor do I aim to represent the LGBT community. Basically, I want to have a very self-involved rant. So with that in mind, my dear Mooks, read away!
FACT: I, Amy Ekins, am LGBT. Now take a look at my profile picture. I know that you wonderful readers don’t judge people on appearance, and wouldn’t judge how a person identifies themselves. If I say I am LGBT, then by-gosh LGBT I am.
Sadly, not all people are the same. I’ve heard some silly comments in my time, mainly from the male of the species: “Can I turn you?”, “Can I watch?”, “Are you sure you don’t just need a good [insert four letter word of preference here]?” The answer to all of the above, incidentally, is no.
Some people think that they’re being complimentary, mainly girls who say the following: “But you’re pretty, you can’t be LGBT”. Don’t get me wrong, I like being called pretty. I like it a lot, in fact! But why is appearance sexuality dependent? Do all virgins walk around wearing shrouds and balancing halos, while the rest of us carry a whip and nipple clamps for inevitable emergency sexploits? Well unless I didn’t get the memo, no. But for some reason, LGBT are supposedly butch. To whatever degree, whether they’re G-Star enthusiasts or close shaven headed, this is the image conjured up by an alarming proportion of the population when you say LGBT.
When I did the obligatory coming-out, aged sixteen, I didn’t actually know another LGBT. I just knew that I was one, and that was A-OK by me. So, when I ran away to the dazzling lights of Geordie-land aged eighteen, it came as something of a shock when at every turn I found LGBT questioning my identity. Was I not just curious? Was I sure it wasn’t a phase? Was I bi instead? These women were supposed to be my sisters, not my critics. And it hurt. It hurt more than any other comments I’d had. To be honest, I’d never really had any negative comments. My friends were cool with it. People at school were surprised, but I never had a single harsh comment. Not to my face anyway. And this is in a Catholic school, dudes!
My own little theory about the comments I’ve experienced is that other people need conformity to feel safe. More often than not it transpires that my critics are not yet out themselves. So maybe they need to group and gang up to assert an identity? The worst experience I had was on LGBT dominant night out, when I was treated with neither enthusiasm nor distaste, which was fine by me, but when heading to the bar I overheard discussions on why was I there, what was I playing at, and how they could ditch me. Horrific. I left, went back to my flat, and cried. However, I vowed that I wouldn’t let one bad experience lead to snap judgements. Because I’m not a judgemental person. Which is probably why other people’s judgements stung so much.
In a world where the LGBTQ community is vastly outweighed by the heteronormative, it makes no sense to me to bully a fellow queer. Particularly given that women are still caught in patriarchy’s grasp, you would think LGBT would have even stronger obligatory support. Well, that’s not what I have witnessed. I think more women need to speak up about this issue. Because it is an issue; why should a 21 year old woman put up with being picked on or criticised almost every time she is introduced to a fellow LGBT? Whether you’re a dead ringer for KD Lang, or Katy Perry is your doppelganger, I ask of you this: Don’t judge. Be compassionate. Someone else’s sexual identity and appearance is no threat to your own, so let them be. And most importantly, don’t let the bastards grind you down, even when you’ve had your identity dissected. You are you.