DeAnne Smith and the Unfashionable Utopia of Yore

Um. Okay. I’ve been staring at my computer screen for forty-five minutes trying to figure out how to start this. In that time, I’ve also eaten a bowl of muesli, looked up the town of Yamba on Googlemaps and thought a lot about my feelings. None of those things, though, have brought me any closer to knowing how to broach this subject. It’s a tender one. What if I’m unintentionally offensive and Laneia has to edit me? I feel kinda sad when that happens.

Maybe I should start like this: We are all beautiful snowflakes.Each and every one of us is special and unique and miraculous and different. Some of us snowflakes will stick to the ground, some will turn into men, and some will get peed on. All of us snowflakes have different journeys and all of those journeys are right.

I don’t want to crush any of you beautiful snowflakes. I say this with kindness and gentleness. I really love you all. But um, if you’re one of those beautiful snowflakes that’s hip and fashionable, could you cut that out, please? I’m saying it nicely. I know I’m being totally selfish here, but I don’t like it. I want you to stop. Please stop.

I know, I know, you have plenty of support for your fashionable and stylishways. And if it weren’t for you, mainstream culture wouldn’t know what to do with us dykes. It’s just that I can’t keep up with the pressure. I resent feeling like I have to. I want to go back to the time when simply calling myself a lesbian meant I was excused from being stylish. Oh, that was a glorious time! Imagine, if you will, a time filled with turtlenecks and center-parts and brown corduroy overalls. Manicures? Pedicures? Cute underwear? We didn’t even know what those things were!

Fashionable lesbians have ruined everything. Wait, does that sound harsh? I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Let me communicate with I-statements, like I learned in therapy. I feel like fashionable lesbians have ruined everything. I mean, if I’m going to be perfectly honest about this, sixty percent of the reason I even turned gay was because I thought I’d only have to own two pairs of shoes. That’s the version of gay I signed up for. I figured I’d get some boots and some Birkenstocks and I’d be set for life.

Being unfashionable was the major selling point of lesbianism for me. Quite frankly, the sex-with-ladies part was an added bonus.

It used to be okay to be gay and unfashionable. It was accepted. It was celebrated. Some of you young’uns won’t believe this, but there was a time when, as a proud lesbian woman, you could leave your house in white tennis shoes, a fleece sweater vest, and an oversized fanny pack and STILL PICK UP WOMEN. No one faulted you for your lack of fashion; no one cared. When I came out lo’ those many years ago, the only accessory a girl needed to have was a Swiss Army knife. If you felt like getting fancy, you might upgrade to a Leatherman and one of those belt holder things. They were simpler times. Wrist cuffs? Artistic plastic rings? Handbags? We didn’t even know how to pronounce those words!

There used to be one way to be a lesbian. If you were a lesbian, you were unfashionable. You didn’t question it. You loved flannel because your foremothers loved flannel. You didn’t love it in a retroironic hipster bullshit kind of way. You genuinely fucking loved flannel. No, it didn’t fit right. It never fit right. But you loved it, because it was the one material that could be a shirt, sheets, pajamas or a hand-sewn menstrual pad. It was comforting and it was versatile. You trusted flannel. You built a life around it. Form-fitting? Girly? Hip? No one would have ever accused flannel of being those things! No one would have accused flannel of being anything because we didn’t even have adjectives in those days! The only adjective we knew was “comfort!” We didn’t even know how to correctly turn nouns into adjectives! Those were simpler times, I tell you, simpler times!

shout out

 

If I knew it was gonna turn out like this and I’d be forced to start caring about fashion if I wanted to stay in the game, I would have just stayed straight. Seriously. I would have stayed straight and joined Greenpeace or moved to central Oregon or started an organic winery or done whatever I god damn needed to do to justify wearing the outdoorsy, functional clothing I enjoy. It was never supposed to be like this. We’ve gone too far, lesbians. Too far.

You young, hip girls have ruined the unfashionable utopia of yore. And what’s worse, you don’t even realize how easy you have it these days, with your clothing choices and your celebrities and the fact that mainstream culture almost kind of acknowledges your existence. When I came out, we didn’t have a Ruby Rose or a Samantha Ronson or a freaking Ellen Page. We had to make do with a closeted Jodie Foster, the movie Fried Green Tomatoes and fantasies about Darlene from Roseanne. That’s all we had! And it was good enough for us!

Clearly, I’m too emotional to wrap this up neatly. I’ll leave it to you to discuss in the comments. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here, strapped into my Birkenstocks, using my Swiss Army knife to clean my exposed toenails and hoping you guys still like me. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, dear readers. I really don’t. BUT I HAVE FEELINGS TOO.

Avatar of DeAnne

I care a lot about my hair. Unrelatedly, I say short, funny things at www.twitter.com/DeAnne_Smith.

DeAnne has written 20 articles for us.

147 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    omg, THAT’S A BIRKENSTIOCK?? i’ve always heard about them in jokes, but cheezus those are fugly.

    but i’ll bet they’re comfortable, unlike these heels i’m wearing now at work that have required me to go through FOUR Hello Kitty Band-Aids today alone.

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    I have a bone to pick with you, DeAnne Smith. There is absolutely no reason why burlap could not be made into a shirt, sheets, pajamas or a hand-sewn menstrual pad. You can make a tent out of burlap and lesbians love camping.

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    I am an older, unfashionable lesbian and I’m completely on-board with your feelings. I thought I’d be able to traverse through life in a baseball hat, jeans and a t-shirt. You know, standard dyke attire. WTF happened?

  4. Thumb up 0

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    Ah,the 90s. Can’t say i miss them much,but Fried Green Tomatoes is a really good movie. As for fashion, would you really wanna wear high waisted jeans again?

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      high waisted jeans have been “in style” again for a couple of years now, soo…

      but honestly, now more than ever people can wear whatever they feel suits them best a get away with it. and who cares about fashion anyway? not i.

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      High-waisted jeans are the best damn kind of jeans there is and I’m jealous of all the men I know who never had to go through a decade only being able to find pants that barely covered the ass/desperately trying to find really really really long t-shirts so sitting down didn’t display the asscrack to anyone walking by behind you. UGH.

      high-waisted baby, all class.

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    For years I’d been suffering under the delusion that my cute sneakers made up for my frequently flannel/plaid unfashionable ensemble. Then I made friends with some kinda bitchy fashionable gay boys. The delusion is gone, the flannel has stayed.

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    This article was very, very funny. Even though I cannot bring myself to part with my pedicures, handbags and heels, I think you should continue to own those Birkenstocks, girl. Cause baby you were born this way or whatever.

    Maybe invest in a toe nail clipper.

  7. Thumb up 0

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    I based my entire wardrobe around plaid flannel for a few months after coming out. I loved it. Then my brother informed me that plaid flannel was a style choice, not a life choice, and I needed to expand, so I did.

    Moral of the Story: I think the pressure comes from the outside rather than from within.

  8. Thumb up 0

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    You know, I feel pressure to not try to be fashionable. Like when I was a kid and people expected/wanted me to be straight/act like a girl I wore a shit ton of flannel and had a bowl cut ’cause that’s what I liked… but I also knew that other people didn’t like (and I got reprimanded for using the girls’ bathroom…awesome)

    And now that I’m out I still just want to wear whatever jeans actually fit my tiny self and little boys’ flannel shirts and sneakers/boots/sneakers (sandals are gross, all the time, any kind, I hate toes) but I feel like an ass doing this ’cause now I look like I’m trying to be an ironic hipster and that’s terrible. Far worse than obvious dyke, which is fine/convenient/unavoidable for me.

    I love how my fashion sense (lazy, bought at goodwill, oversized shirt/decent fitting pants) has become fucking fashionable. I can’t get dressed for like six bucks anymore without looking like a bunch of dumbasses who emptied their trust funds to look like my broke/lazy ass.

    So now I’m inclined to clean it up just to look like less of a pretentious fuck. I mean, this shit is complicated and stupid.

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      (sandals are gross, all the time, any kind, I hate toes)

      I hate toes too. I don’t like seeing other people’s feet. Especially if it’s the workplace or out at a restaurant.

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        I feel like an essential part of not being naked is covering the feet. Shirt: optional. Shoes: please. And those peek-toe pump things? WTF WHY IS YOUR BIG TOE STICKING OUT OF YOUR EXPENSIVE SHOES AT A CREEPY ANGLE? Usually when one finds a hole in the shoe it is time to replace or repair it….

        Is there such a thing as a reverse foot fetish?

        I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone… eh. Maybe.

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          Go team anti-feet! You never know by looking at someone what their feet my look like. Then you see their feet and look back at their hands, and the resemblances stick out. Always creepy.

          On oversized-flannel-decent-jeans coming back into style and thus making you refrain from wearing them. I’m totally against de-hippifying just because your trend is suddenly set. The trend will pass and I’ll still be sitting here, wearing my oversize flannel and wondering if I’m gay.

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    Occasionally I will dress in quite a dapper fashion, but I don’t consider myself fashionable on a daily basis. I would rather wear Crocs or VFFs instead of heels. I hate ironing collared shirts…so they usually just sit in my closet unworn. I clean my toenails with my Gerber pocket knife!

    I used to read Vogue like it was the Koran, but post-college life has left me undeniably lazy.

  10. Thumb up 0

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    sometimes i feel fashionable, but most of the times i feel like a slob. i don’t think fashionable people make wardrobe choices by looking for whatever “looks clean”.

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    on a general day I wear no bra and my mother’s ll bean flannel shirts from the 80s. they all seem to be too big but with short sleeves, and I don’t understand who are these people with large torsos and really short arms.

    so maybe all this ill fitting flannel secretly is designed by/for aliens?

  12. Thumb up 0

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    1. Not only are those Birkenstocks, those are the EXACT model of Birkenstock I bought last week. And I love them.

    2. The Laneia and Riese simultaneous post: Awwww.

    3. I had no idea so many of you were so sensitive about toes. And I’m sorry for upsetting you. If it makes you feel better, I was joking. Okay? I was joking. It’s not like I clean my toenails.

  13. Thumb up 0

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    yesterday, i was too exhausted to put in effort, so i wore to school the same oversized, hideous yarn sweater that i wear to bed every night. didn’t bother combing my hair. i’m fairly positive i could have been mistaken for a cave troll.

    nevertheless, i got at least six compliments on the “outfit” within the first few hours. being a lazy, sloppy mess is apparently acceptable. i feel like this might really be my era. if i can wear ugly, oversized men’s button-down shirts and no makeup and have it somehow be fashionable, then dammit, i’ll do just that.

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        i feel like we’re all at least a little bit attracted to that one chick who just doesn’t care. it’s amazing how some people put in so much effort to look like they’ve just crawled out from under their beds. you save way more precious time by putting on whatever and letting it say LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS I GIVE naturally. then other girls find you, and voila, all that precious time you saved is spent autostraddling! flawless victory

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          I have a complete fetish for flannel pajama pants rolled up to mid-calf. It says, “I just rolled out of bed, and am keeping these mud-free so that I can crawl right into bed when I’m done with this.”

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          I love this comment.
          And, I completely do the “roll up the flannel pajama pants” thing. I mean, who knows when the opportunity to nap will arise?

  14. Thumb up 0

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    I’m borderline hipster, oh gawwwd. Although I will always prefer comfortable trainers/sneakers (Converse, Vans, Dunks, Hi-Tops) and brogues to heels, I still own 6 pairs of heels (and have no plans to stop buying them shhhh).

    Also I’m an art/fashion student so I blame that/believe that it is an acceptable excuse for my hipsteryness. AND I OWN THREE FLANNEL SHIRTS AMD TWO PAIRS OF FLANNEL PJS, AND ONE OF MY PAIRS OF CONVERSE ARE MADE OF CORDUROY PLEASE TAKE ME BACK

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    I empathize with the lesbian comic I saw on one of those Logo One Night Stand specials…

    I’m the sporty lesbian who wears anything Columbia, North Face, Merrell, Patagonia, etc.

    This of course means lots of dri fit material/goretex and sensible/comfortable shoes.

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    Phase 1: (7-10) My 2 pairs of shoes were Airwalks or Chucks and birkenstocks.
    Phase 2: (11-14) My 2 pairs of shoes were Timberlands and Dr. Martens.
    Phase 3: (14-23) My 2 pairs of shoes have been moccasins and chucks.
    Yet, most people still don’t know how gay I am.

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      i know what you mean. it took all my self-restraint not to buy a pair of timberlands when i last went shoe-shopping. i settled for a pair of knee-high motorcycle boots instead. when i think about it, i have to admit that they were still pretty gay.

      of course, this means that i now wear them all the time.

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        Timberlands/Dr Martens/knee-high motorcycle boots are the best. We can totally wear these and still be fashionable! Boots are like, my entire shoe collection and I would call myself a “fashionable” (/femme) lesbian.

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    Oh, Darlene Conner, how I love you. That smirk! Is swooning like a thing that actual people do? Because I think I swooned looking at that picture.

    Now this could be my dumb, teenaged ass speaking from a place of not knowing any better, but I think I’d be OK as long as I had Darlene.

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    this article does not resonate me with me because so many lesbians dress the same, and they dress like SHIT. grey skinny jeans with converse, too-tight tee, and a bandana? this is not hip you guys. this is how tween skater boys dressed 8 years ago. hipsters do not dress like that anymore. theres a lot more jcrew and oxfords and brown leathers going on in hipster fashion right now than there are bandanas and all chuck taylors. like seriously bandanas? what is this lollapalooza circa 2003?

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    Well I for one, am a little hurt. Fashion is my industry, my life. And I hate being told constantly by these stoic Bay Area lezzies that I look straight and thus unapproachable. I don’t wear flannel, and no I don’t own a bandana. This article is like, the story of my life. Should the fashionable lezzies not get love? Haven’t we rid ourselves of these notions that we have to be unfashionable, a “butch” has to be with a “femme”, and lesbians can’t be faithful? I mean, does one have to be unfashionable to be considered lesbian? Can the sparkle in her eye when she’s checking out another girl be enough? Or can we be bold enough to openly flirt with women we’re attracted to without checking out her shoes first to make sure they’re beat up birkenstocks or worn out chucks?

  20. Thumb up 0

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    Shit. Are cargo shorts not ok? ‘Cause I live in Florida and I’m not about to rock flannel and skinny jeans on a 94 degree day. All I’ve got is t-shirts and cargo shorts here, guys. Can that be the new hipster trend? T-shirts from Goodwill and guy shorts? Someone hop on that for me.

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    I like how there are close to zero fashionable lesbians here in Maine… none that I know of at least. And thank the good lord and baby jesus there aren’t, because the Justin Bieber look (tight pants, “scene” shirt, gangsta hat, and high top Nike kicks) just doesn’t do it for me. That’s what people think is fashionable these days.. right?

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    I just wanna say can’t fashionable lesbians and unfashionable lesbians co-exist in peace? There’s all kinds of lesbians just like there’s all kinds of everbodys. Personally I like to borrow from all parts of the fashion spectrum. If you love your unfashion, work it. I’d take any of you on a date, I just care about your heart not your clothes. ;)

  23. Thumb up 0

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    You didn’t hurt my feelings and I get it- turn up at some place, there’s lots of (what you identify as) hipsters, they’re in packs oozing coolness each brooding with their buttoned up flannel, pint in one hand and keeping the hair that’s supposed to be on the opposite side of their recently shaved side in place with the other. I know, it’s hard to look at them in the eye without feeling a teeny weeny bit inadequate but can i say that this whole ‘i hate hipsters/lesbian hipsters’ vibe that the world’s adopted is confusing when you plainly, like clothes.

    I live in central london, i’m 17 and have seemed to of aquired some possible ‘hipster identified clothing’ e.g. (one outfit) barbour waxed jacket, creepers, jean shirt and some smelly skinnies. But i am no hipster. And i’m bloody well sure of it.

    The two reasons people hate them; either…

    -’Way too up to date, too fashionable for me, too much of an image i can’t relate to or can’t properly identify and define.’

    or

    -Their horrible bullshit mentality of ‘i won’t be conversating with you my dear, i mean you wear socks and sandals and for that sole reason i’m adamant we won’t have anything in common.’

    DEEP DOWN YOU KNOW ONLY ONE OF THESE IS A GOOD REASON TO HATE THEM.

    you know first perceptions amount to nothing. Hating them all in one go is bizarre to me because what exactly defines a warm blooded hipster? Are you steering clear of that girl at the bar because of her clothes or because of her brain?

    MOST OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE IDENTIFIED AS HIPSTERS BY RANDOM PASSERS BY PROBABLY HAVE NO IDEA SOMETIMES.

    chau
    p.s. nude is wonderful. could you imagine if everyone in this world was always naked? you could fall in love with a ‘hipster’ and have no idea

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    Agree. They’re my age, early 20s, and I’m so disappointed. They look like straight girls that want to be groupies for rockers.
    So maybe it’s their view that the female body must ONLY be a place for adornment… maybe that’s what bothers me….
    That is what bothers me.
    *cough* west hollywood Shanes *cough*

    I prefer the no-nonsense gays. Dressing themselves like humans, not like a product. It’s still ok to shop at Urban Outfitters. It’s not ok to wear accessories on every appendage, walkin’ ’round lookin’ like a modern raver who needs a pacifier.
    *cough* west hollywood Shanes *cough*

    Dressing all sexy and leading with your sexual foot wont be as empowering when you’re all old and looking for a job, you guys. Then you’ll just be creepy.
    And look like you’re trying too hard, which will probably make people suspicious of your character.

    oh and Nerds forever!!

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    I guess like everything in my life, my lifestyle choices including clothing is very fluid and mixed.

    I can be a super girly girl with bright red nails, short dresses, heels and perfume and feel very sexy for my girl dates. Love it when they hold the door for me and they look excited that I dressed up special for them. Its cute how they can’t stop looking as if to soak up every last bit.

    But I also have my loose jeans, flannel shirts, Birkenstocks (not just one but 3 pairs), hiking boots and baseball caps. I love just hanging out in these clothes or getting some coffee with friends, grunged out. Totally non pretentious and relaxed.

    Why not have it all? Why do we have to be one or the other?

    Sometimes if I sense that a girl I want to date would be put off by me dressing up, I accommodate and dress down. But if I sense they would like to be treated special and would be thrilled to see me dolled up, I will spend the time it takes to do it right. Its my treat for them.

    The dates ultimately are not about the clothes its about connecting with the person, good conversation, getting to know them and exploring. But if the clothes help put me and them in a good frame of mind for that, its the right thing to do.

    I guess its my long winded way of saying I am keeping the red heels, birkenstocks and hiking boots. I’ll just not try to wear it all together…….

  26. Thumb up 0

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    I have been forced to come to terms with the fact that my two default settings are “19th century dandy” and “Emo boy circa 2004″ and that right now I only have enough money to rock one of them.

    Vans and skinny jeans and hoodies are still okay, right? Right?

    *sadface*

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    I have to agree with some of the fashionable lesbians who spoke up, I mean why do we pigeonhole ourselves to flannel and birkenstocks and then down lesbians who love to dress in something other than that? Why ladies? Why? Instead of supporting each other and being the fabulous multi-faceted women we are, we bash each other?

    Like, really? I mean, I’ve been wearing high heels as long as I can remember, that doesn’t make me any less real than any other lesbians. I just love the way I look in heels. And you know what? That’s ok, it’s not “unlesbian” to want to be beautiful or dress up for the woman you love or any other reason you decide to dress up! Why do we segregate ourselves?

    At the end of the day, I love the female form. I love finding new curves on a woman’s body, love kissing her soft lips, love the way my body turns to fire when the right woman touches me(though with this belief that fashionable lesbians are ruining everything, it’s no wonder I’m single). Bottom line: whether my lady is wearing Chucks and RayBans or a cocktail dress that makes me drool, she’s still my lady. She’s the heart, mind, soul, and body I want to curl up to. Are we really going to pigeonhole ourselves to this standard?

    P.S. I don’t have a swiss army knife, I have a leatherman. But I still love looking and feeling amazing.

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      Beautifully said. I am 100% with you. One of my favorite all time quotes is from Portia de Rossi – one girl who can really dress up or down depending on the occasion –

      “Everyone is their own kind of lesbian. To think there’s a certain way to dress or present yourself in the world is just one more stereotype we have to fit into.”
      Portia de Rossi

      I guess that is my credo.

      Your line about the female form resonates with me as well. I love looking at the female form and I love the girly curves. Why would I think my dates would be any different?

      I will always have my hiking boots, Berkenstocks and yes my sweet red high heels together in my closet. That’s just the kind of girl I am.

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      I get you, and I totally agree with you 100%. However, it was a joke. DeAnne’s a comedian and humor is the basis/medium for all the pieces she’s done on AS so far. You can tell though, from the beginning of this piece (Maybe I should start like this: We are all beautiful snowflakes. etc.), that she was sensitive to this, and that she doesn’t really think all the fashionable lesbians are ruining the world.

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    Question: Is Burberry gay man’s flannel? Is it plaid or a print?
    Clearly I have never had any fashion sense.

    Random comment: My mom brought home a dress and a flannel shirt for me once, this is why coming out is so hard, mixed signals everyday.

    Another Random/semi related question: Do so many lesbians choose the health professions (myself included) because we can go to work in our pajamas/scrubs? That’s why I did.

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    Hahaha, oh my gosh, yes. Where I’m from, no one really cares what someone else wears in general, and I’m moving to a big city soon full of lesbians and it’s like, they’re so fucking fashionable. They don’t need the short hair to be lesbians. In a way it’s nice because they’ve moved beyond the lesbian clothes identity, but damn it.. SOME OF US HAVEN’T. You are a genius.

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