girls! boys! or whatever!

so last night i went with one of my roommates to a party for the lesbian magazine she writes for. it was interesting because even though i know plenty of lesbians (i’m a girl scout after all) this was a different sort of cultural experience altogether. the first thing that seemed strange to me was the presence of gay men and drag queens at the club. i’ve always assumed that after high school gay-straight alliances, gay men and women sort of part ways because their “scenes” are so different. okay, maybe this is really close-minded of me but besides the lesbians i know in real life who i’ve mainly hungout with in the (practically) all-girl setting of camp, television would have a person believe that lesbians, gay men and drag queens were all VERY separate social groups like hipsters, cowboys and the extremely wealthy. the l word? queer as folk? will and grace? obviously, one shouldn’t draw too many conclusions about reality from the fantasy product-driven world of television but for a provincial girl like me there aren’t too many other places to get knowledge of this intriguing and foreign culture.
i guess the truth of the matter is that the three groups weren’t mingling much and the majority of the crowd were lesbians. at one point i started talking to and then about, one of the drag queens and realized that i was having a profound pronoun dilema. here was obviously a man, he was tall, had a deep voice and some very cut arms. he was also much more friendly than any woman wearing such high heels should ever be to a girl with pink barrettes and a sweatshirt and while he looked perfect, he looked like a perfect man wearing a wig and very well designed make-up. but there! he was wearing make-up! and high, very high, heels! and a dress tighter than my swim suit! if you were to take these things by themselves, he was a lot more “she” than me. in fact, if you get down to it, so was the gay man i also struck up a conversation with, who’s eyebrows were so sculpted that they may not have been real and who described for me the process of glued in hair extensions and who later found a spot in the bar and danced all by himself, much better than i can dance.
then of course, there were the women. one thing that was interesting to me is that amongst all these women, everyone seemed to know that i am straight. i’ve always been suprised that people don’t assume i’m a lesbian because i care so little about dressing up or even showering or shoes or other girly things. i guess that is another really incorrect stereotype that i’ve let myself buy into. first of all, i doubt ANYONE at the party had hygiene as bad as mine. highly unlikely. and even some of the more butch women were wearing more make-up (any) than me. and there were plenty of girls smaller, cuter, giggly-er, sweeter, than me making out with other girls. which isn’t, i’m sure, very hard to imagine. but the strange thing was that amongst these purely anatomical men and these lesbians of all sorts, even without any real make-up and with holes in my stretch pants, i felt much more feminine than i usually do. usually i don’t feel feminine at all. it reminded me of africa, how suddenly i became white when, before, i had never thought of myself in terms of skin color at all. it’s interesting how parts of your interior identity are only brought out in relief against other people’s exteriors. i guess that’s why the pronoun thing can be hard for me because it seems too confusing to switch pronouns like outfits and how can a person put on a wig and be she and go to work later, without it, and be he? there are parts of us that have nothing to do with whether we do or do not shave our legs, you know?
anyway, this is san francisco, interesting things day and night. like yesterday too, i saw a man leading another man around by a chain attached to his dog collar. and there was leather. a lot of leather.

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