Step 1: You must own a flannel shirt. Multiple if possible. Red and black are preferred. It has to be plaid for it to count.
It’s the basic lesbian must-have. All other assumptions of lesbianism are made off of this.
Step 2: On days when your various flannels are in the wash, wear a button up. You must button it up to the collar
or it also won’t count.
Step 3: Own some sort of neck-related clothing. Bowtie. Regular tie. Ascot if you want, but that’s really more of a
gay guy thing. Note: if attempting to go above and beyond, wear with suspenders to accentuate neckwear.
Step 4: The hair. The hair is special. Short. If you don’t want to go to the typical pixie cut, at least keep it short on the
sides and long in the middle. Your bangs must flop over your forehead in just the right manner. Just enough for some
cute girl to sweep them away. It’s not a necessary step, but the secret lesbian cults may waitlist your membership without it.
Step 5: You have to own something rainbow. The most discreet, also the cheapest, is the rainbow rubber bracelet.
However, other rainbow substitutes are acceptable. For instance, rainbow ties, rainbow shoelaces, and rainbow capes.
When I first started assembling my gay wardrobe, I went a bit out of order. I started with step three: ties. I suppose I could’ve started by owning a flannel, but the thing is, some straight girls still wear flannels, even in this day and age where it is clearly an item for lesbians. The tie, however, is strictly men and lesbians. I wanted to be as out, loud, and proud as possible back then, because I needed to prove that I belonged in the LGBT+ community. Little known fact, if you don’t prove yourself, they will not give you the Official Gay ID Card.
Having to prove yourself to a group that prides itself on inclusivity may sound ridiculous, but this unspoken rule still exists when a person has to prove themselves in order to achieve membership. If you’re a girl who doesn’t play softball, a boy who doesn’t say “YAS QUEEN” at least three times a day, or you’ve never faced discrimination before, then are you really a part of the community?
It’s why terms like “Gold Star Lesbian” (a lesbian who has never had sex with a man) or “Gold Star Gay” (a gay man who has never had sex with a woman) exist — they imply that one person can be “better” at being gay than another. It’s why television is rife with worried lesbians afraid that, because their partner is bisexual, she might go off and cheat with a man because she misses that sweet, sweet dick. If you can’t check enough “queer boxes” there’s always this lack of belief that follows you.
So, there I was. Me and my collection of ties. Obviously, I couldn’t wear them very much as a high schooler, but on dress up days they came flying off of my hanger. I would show up in a nice blazer, some black pants, a button up shirt, and a tie. I looked amazing, by the way. But the thing is, I never felt amazing.
"I would show up in a nice blazer, some black pants, a button up shirt, and a tie.
I looked amazing, by the way. But the thing is, I never felt amazing."
The problem had to do with what they don’t tell you about the lesbian wardrobe. There are things you must wear and things you must not:
Must-Not 1: Dresses. They’re just not butch enough. They’re a bit too feminine and femininity, like long hair,
is for straight girls.
Must-Not 2: Heels of any sort. Once again, it’s a bit too femme. Plus, they don’t go particularly well with our trusty
tool belts and Home Depot membership cards.
Must-Not 3: Necklaces. First, they conflict with the necessary bowtie/regular tie/ascot look that we’ve established as a
must. Second, didn’t you see High School Musical when Troy Bolton gave Gabriella that necklace with a ‘T’ on it?
Necklaces are for straight men to give to straight women when they don’t know what else to buy them. This would be
heterosexual cultural appropriation.
So I’d walk into school, making absolutely sure I wasn’t commit any of these faux-pas. But my shoulders were hunched and my head down, hiding my tie and the way my blazer fit well, because all I really wanted to wear was a pretty dress, some high heels, and a necklace to match. But if I was going to prove my gayness, that wasn’t an option. So I took a deep breath and kept walking into school every dress up day in my blazer and tie (or button down and snapback on casual days) because that would prove to everyone I was “gay enough.”
Throughout my high school career, I owned about 10 ties, two snapbacks, two (very extra) rainbow dresses, several plaid shirts, about five button-ups, and a unicorn onesie (because, I didn’t mention this before, but the unicorn is definitely a gay symbol too. I did love some of those clothes, but I also grew to resent them.
On one hand, I desperately wanted to look like a lesbian. I wanted to make it known that I was part of the LGBT+ community (and that, ladies, I
was on the market,) but on the other hand it felt uncomfortable and far too loud. But, this is the price you pay to be gay. It’s like the offertory at church: You can choose to not put money in the dish, but everybody will give you the side eye if you don’t.
"On one hand, I desperately wanted to look like a lesbian. I wanted to make it known that I was part of the LGBT+ community (and that, ladies, I was on the market,) but on the other hand it felt uncomfortable and far too loud."
This forced idea of what a lesbian looks like doesn’t fall on just one person or one group’s shoulders. It is perpetuated by everyone. Hollywood seems somehow physically incapable of creating more complex and nuanced LGBT+ characters who look different, and media reflect it as well. In a Buzzfeed article asking: “What Does a Queer Pop Star Look Like in 2016,” they try to categorize singer Halsey as someone on the “straighter end of the Kinsey scale” or “classic Lez-Bro, masculine leaning” because one look, one attitude, is considered ‘gayer’ than the other. Straight people who are not part of the community and don’t yet understand every nuance, tend to base their gaydar on a series of: short hair, tattoo, butch. And, of course, people within the community support it too.
Plenty of women absolutely love the Lesbian Wardrobe™, and that’s wonderful. More power to you! It can’t be expected that women loving women just stop dressing a certain way because, as disempowering as it was to me, it’s so empowering to others. Sometimes, stereotypes come into being because they’re applicable to a large proportion of said group, but despite how helpful they are for some, they can be harmful for others. If you’re sitting down and feeling hopelessly helpless, never fear! The problem is solvable.
Forget the stereotypes. Forget the check boxes. The gay agenda is long. There isn’t any time to be hurting ourselves by enforcing this need to check enough “queer boxes.”
So, I’m fixing my article.
How to dress like a Lesbian, amended*
Step 1: Wear whatever makes you feel like the confident woman loving woman you are, whether that means kitten
heels or snapbacks. Because the real way to look like a lesbian, is to look and feel like the confident badass you are.