Christ almighty, it’s been busy around here.
This past Sunday, after three years of work…CJ graduated from her masters program.
She’s had a big thesis show up for several weeks.
Her whole family was in town, and we had people here every weekend.
Now, between you and me, this CJ-graduating scenario is a really, really good thing, ’cause it was staaaaaarting to feel a bit like I was dating a warm ghost.
Troof – for the last year here in Chicago, I was making friends – good friends! people I hung out with on a regular basis! – who didn’t actually quite, um, believe in CJ.
And why should they have?
CJ never came out with us. She could never go dancing. She never made it to Sunday brunch.
She resided on another plane of existence altogether, in a magical fairyland called “Skewl“, where she worked 22 hours a day in the capital city of “Mystudio.”
The commute back to Earth meant she had a hard time making it to dinner.
CJ was basically a myth, like giant alligators in the sewers or your buddy’s “girlfriend at summer camp.”
If you saw her at all, it was considered quite lucky – it was said you could make a wish on her if you caught her and quickly huffed the printer’s ink under her nails.
Sure I had a girlfriend.
Coming directly from her studio, CJ would slide into bed with me around midnight or 1 a.m., when I was fast asleep, and rise silently at 4 a.m., grinding coffee in the bathroom with a towel wrapped around the grinder to muffle the sound.
Then she’d snuggle briefly with me, tap on her laptop at the kitchen table for awhile, and then slip out my door like a cat, heading back to the studio before 6 a.m.
In this last month leading up to her thesis show, she didn’t sleep at all, ever, and I had to teach her about the miracles of blush so she would look more human-ish in color and less like she was going to suck out people’s souls on the train.
I’ve been doing all sorts of CJ-graduating-related things, and family-type things, and writing-type things, and out of nowhere, I’m suddenly finding it hard to balance all my writing projects at once.
It’s great – I write full-time during the day for my job at Groupon, and I’m a staff writer at Rookie magazine, and…. then there’s my one true love, this gayass mess.
But in April, I got overzealous and pitched one too many article ideas for Rookie and spent every night after work (where I write all day) coming directly home and writing some more.
There’s been Red Bull in the fridge for quite some time.
And suddenly it’s all over.
I turned in my last article for this month’s Rookie issue and CJ walked across the graduation stage, cute lil’ tassel swinging and very, very strange, Hogwarts-ish hood wrapped around her neck.
(No one told me about the weird medieval outfits you wear at higher-education ceremonies. Deeply creepy, y’all.)
I just – I can’t believe she’s finished with grad school.
The whole reason we moved to Chicago – over!
Just like that!
And you know what?
Lil’ Miss CJ may be graduated, but you have…..
A POP GAYDAR QUIZ!!!!!!
Ohhhh, so you thought no one would notice if you weren’t keeping up with the readings for class, eh?
Everybody close your books and put them under your desk.
Take out a No. 2 pencil and a sheet of paper.
This quiz will count as 92% of your LadyFag 1001 class grade.
(The other 8% of your grade will come from knowledge of the hot members of the U.S. Womens soccer team and a detailed, hand-drawn diagram of how you’re six dykes away from having slept with Shane.)
You have five minutes. Begin.
This is Kate.
Kate likes girls.
Kate wants to dress in a way that screams, “I eat pussy!” to everyone around her.
Using your gaydar knowledge and experience of society’s stereotypes about lesbians, help Kate (who is not a high femme) go shopping.
#1: Find the stereotypical lesbian boots.
#2: Find the stereotypical lesbian purse.
#3: Which keychain likely belongs to a queer woman?
#4: Point to the jacket most likely to hang in a gayelle’s closet.
#5: Final, Most Important Question:
WHAT DO ALL OF THESE ITEMS HAVE IN COMMON?
OK pencils down!
Well! That wasn’t so bad, right?
At least up until the last question?
You knew most of the answers up ’til then, didn’t you?
You clever mo! You get a beer for your efforts!
Here are the answers:
#2: Trick question! Most dykes hate carrying purses.
However, they dooooo like messenger bags if they haaaaave to carry stuff, so the correct answer here would be C.
#4: A (But the jackets are debatable, as all bets are off when it’s fucking freezing out.)
Now, how ’bout the last, most important question?
WHAT DO ALL OF THE ITEMS HAVE IN COMMON?
Get it, mos? That’s the answer!
Simplicity! and Functionality!
I have a new theory, and it amasses lots of stereotypes about lesbians into one big gaydar clump:
Lesbians, as a totally generalized group, like things that are easy to put on, designed to be functional, and uncomplicated.
Wasn’t that a simple, sweeping statement?
Don’t tear into me, faggettes, it’s just a hypothesis at this point!!
Here’s why I’ve been thinking about this lately, mos:
The other day, I was waiting for the Red Line train on the Belmont El platform, and the train wasn’t coming for 11 more minutes, and my phone had died in the middle of a tense Doodle Jump game, so I was pacing around and playing Spot the Ghey. (Which is not exactly hard at the Belmont stop – that’s the Chicago Boystown stop, aka the Gayborhood.)
It was so easy – there were tons of dykes waiting for the train.
Dykes coming home from work, dykes heading up north to go to night classes at Loyola, dykes flooding (accident but it stays) the platform, getting on and getting off (hah!) to go to the clubs in Boystown.
Spot the Ghey wasn’t even offering a challenge.
As I leaned against a metal pillar on the El platform, idly looking at a perfect specimen of boi-ish cuteness standing across the tracks, I wondered:
What is it about her that makes me think she’s queer?
Really – what was it?
I mean, tons of straight girls have cute short haircuts, just like lots of lesbians do.
And tons of straight girls like to wear the exact same things – the same bags, shoes, shirts, and hats – as we queermosexuals do.
Why did I think – nay, feel nearly certain – that this girl was a lezzer?
The train was coming. Suddenly, her friends came clattering up the stairs to join her.
A little pack of four girls in their 20s, all of them looking soooooo gay.
Why did I think they ‘looked gay’? What did that even mean?
In the moments before they stepped onto the train, I quickly scanned them – there had to be a clue; some connecting fiber that winds us lesbians together in a strong stylistic way that straight people don’t always see.
Like a graceful and sophisticated spider that can walk on its own web strands without getting stuck – only it knows which strands are smooth silk and which strands are sticky death to step on – I wanted to learn the secrets of style gaydar.
So I checked out the group’s shoes:
varied flat soles; sneakers and boots.
I looked at their hair: short and long styles.
No help there.
I looked at their shirts and glanced at their bags and puzzled and puzzled AND AS THE TRAIN LEFT THE STATION IT FUCKING HIT ME:
The thing all their styles had in common was functionality and simplicity.
While their shoes had of course been completely different, all shoes had been members of the Highly Functional Footwear club.
There were no little doodads on the toes of their shoes; there were no extreme decorations or complicated boots to be seen.
Fussy Mary Jane sneakers with sparkly elastic straps? No.
Cutesy furry boots with lil’ pom pom tassels?
I mean, people have been joking about “lesbian shoes” – Earth shoes, clogs, Crocs, Birkenstocks – since the dawn of minge-munching, but really:
what do all those shoes have in common?
I’ll tell you.
They are extremely functional shoes.
But the girls at the train stop weren’t wearing classic “lesbian shoes”; those girls looked stylish as hell, with an underlying sort of… sturdyishness about their outfits that made me suspect they could easily outrun someone chasing them.
Was it just that I thought these lesbians had a tomboyish quality?
Was that what was setting off my gaydar?
‘Cause there are boatloads of femme dykes in the world.
I thought and thought.
The bags the group sported were of the haul-shit variety – one messenger bag and one backpack.
No leather purses dangling with tassels and hardware.
There were no bags in sight that could possibly be called “adorable.“
Everyone’s hair was even functional, in its own way.
Rumply and short or curly and wild – it looked like every one of those girls could have gotten out of bed and been ready to go in 10 minutes or less.
No matter if it was true or not, that’s how it looked.
Functionality and simplicity appeared to be the hallmark of this group of supposed-dykes I was studying so hard.
And now that I’ve noticed it, I’m kiiiinda startin’ to see it everywhere.
I was just at FKA, a monthly queer dance party here in Chicago, scanning the room, and…the outfits!
There were so many casually perfect, simple outfits!
A girl who looked particularly good was wearing a holey, drapey tank top (no bra, thank you jeebus fuck I love summer), a pair of tight, paint-splattered green pants, and these kicker army boots.
Plugs in her ears, two or three big, visible tattoos, annnnnd she was done.
Her shoulders gleamed with sweat.
I loved her.
What did she – just finish having sex, throw her clothes on in the dark, and come straight to the dance?
And did she want to have more later?
The flat boots allowed her to move.
The shirt-and-pants-and-that’s-it outfit screamed functionality.
You get what you get and that’s all.
And really, boobs are their own decoration.
You sluts snorting with derision at my hypothesis?
Alright: think about any straight bar on a Saturday night.
What do most of the women look like when they’re “dressed to go out”?
The tight short dresses with the shoes so high you hafta hobble!
Uselessly-little purses that match, excess zippers everywhere, sequins on t-shirts, buttons that are just for decoration, subtle highlights, fake tans, Spanx, shimmery body lotion.
Stuff that hollers: “I’M A GIRL! I LIKE THINGS MARKETED EXCLUSIVELY TO GIRLS!”
It’s a lot.
(Plenty of stylish straight women don’t do any of that shit, but there are enough that do to fill bars the world over.)
Of course, we have also have high femmes in the lesbian community (I am one, haaaay), but…it feels different, somehow.
It doesn’t usually look forced – maybe because femmes are looking at what Cosmo wants them to wear, listening to what some of their queer sisters want them to wear, and then saying “fuckit” and consciously choosing their sexy, even if it causes them to often go unrecognized among their own queer community.
I mean, no one – queer or straight – ever thinks I’m a homo when they first meet me.
They just don’t see ma ghey.
But they do see me in a fuzzy red angora sweater decorated with a sparkly rhinestone pin.
What I’m saying is: this post isn’t really about femmestyle.
But go anywhere that lots of lesbians are, and you start to see a clothing pattern that encompasses most dyke styles:
That’s why we like carabiner keychains.
That’s why we stereotypically gravitate towards, um, moisture-wicking outer layers.
We, as a people (‘cept for femmes), seem to abhor it.
I hypothesize that lesbians, as a vast, stereotypical group, don’t like ruffles, or bobbles, or visible foundation, or clothing we can’t move in.
We’re actually kind of rude about anyone who does like it.
Now, for real, y’allfags – I understand that not all dykes like functionality for their look.
I most certainly do not have all functional shoes.
And I’m not saying you’re not gay (how could anyone definitively say you’re not gay? And why would you listen?) if you glory in extreme eye makeup or take longer than 15 minutes with your hair.
I am proposing a vast, sweeping theory to add to the lesbian gaydar collective.
And while I know there are plenty of homogirls who love nothing more than to put on a hundred accessories before going out, look in the mirror, and put on juuuuust one more….
that’s not most of the lezzers I see around every day.
Think of some of the queers you know – do they gravitate towards flat, comfy shoes?
Do they tend to wear straightforward outfits, like hoodies, t-shirts, and pants with pockets?
In your daily life, do you see a lot of lesbians wearing shirts with complicated straps, or with long-ass talon-nails, or sporting ridiculous fucking headbands on a Tuesday morning?
No. Those things are not functional or simple.
They are in. the. way.
Do you know what I mean, faggettes?
Am I just seeing things?
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Krista Burton is brand-new to Chicago. An ex-Mormon from Minneapolis, she writes a blog called Effing Dykes (www.effingdykes.blogspot.com), which is about activating your lesbian gaydar. She spends most of her time staring longingly at enormous dogs, riding her shiny orange scooter around town, and trying to bake gluten-free cake that doesn’t taste like gluten-free cake. She’s a staff writer at Groupon, and loves girls, inappropriate footwear, and hip-hop songs with filthy lyrics.