Lily’s College Lesbianage #6: Lesbians Are Scary

Hello all! Today’s post is my first attempt at writing this blog on a biweekly schedule. Granted it’s probably been about three weeks since my last post, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

The past two weeks have been pretty eventful, inspiring me to come up with a variety of topics I’ve been VERY excited to write about. The problem is that my successful writing life only exists in one place: within the confines of my mind/imagination. I’m extremely observant in social situations, constantly making witty commentary to the audience in my mind (in turn the audience applauds me for being wonderful, laughs, buys me stuff, etc.). But once I actually sit down to write? Not much comes out.

The actual quality of my writing is questionable (prose, syntax, grammar — the important stuff), and the content often only makes sense in my mind. This is probably why I don’t write  as often as I should.

This is also why I want to thank you all for reading and for at least trying to follow my thought process. You are awesome!

Much of what I thought about writing for this post doesn’t necessarily have to do with college but has more to do with everyday world questions.

For instance, “why the hell are lesbians so goddamn scary?” And “why don’t girls hit on me but guys hit on me even when I tell them I’m gay?”

photo by Ellen Von Unwerth

A couple of weekends ago, I somehow managed to go out two nights in a row; a huge deal for me as “going out once” generally renders me comatose for the rest of the weekend. I’m convinced I already have the body of an 80-year-old.

So it was during this tiring weekend that I started thinking about the Scary Nature of Lesbians.

“Girls are scary no matter what their sexual orientation is — we size each other up whether we mean to or not.”

The first night proved to be a very stereotypical Columbia/Barnard freshman outing at a couple of… um… liquid-serving gathering places. It was all very heterosexual. A couple of guys asked me to dance and some others wouldn’t stop talking to me even when I mentioned that no, I do not have a boyfriend — I date girls. I don’t mind talking to these guys and will admit that they do a lot to boost my ego no matter how much I imagine I might still find them unattractive even if I was straight… but it gets old pretty fast.

However, lest my slowly growing ego expand past Friday night’s initial boost, the events of my second night out managed to completely shoot me right back down to my bell jar of insecurity. This is ’cause Saturday night was a lot gayer, and a lot more of what I like to tell myself is “my crowd.” This makes it scarier.

Actually caring if the other people in the room like you or not makes being in the room so much scarier.

We visited two different locales during our night of alternative fashion, and at both places, no one seemed even slightly interested in me — but they were extremely interested in the girl I was with! Okay, fine. This will teach me not to let my ego become a hindering pain on my still-developing personality, but it still doesn’t change the fact that lesbians are really, really, scary!

via bobster1985 @flickr

The second place we visited that night was more of a lesbian “gathering place” and the minute I walked in I felt… weird. Girls are scary no matter what their sexual orientation is — we size each other up whether we mean to or not — so being in a room with a bunch of women who are most likely looking to hook up with other women? Well that just takes the experience to an exponentially greater level of absolute terror.

But I’d walked in confident enough from the night before. Then when I realized the girls weren’t hitting on me but instead hitting on the girl I was with, I lost my confident stride.

And then I learned something even more frustrating: apparently, I look like “the straight friend.”

Perhaps I’m overthinking the situation. I guess I live in this constant fear that my sexuality isn’t being taken seriously, probably because guys keep hitting on me despite my disinterest in their entire gender. So that’s part of why I’m terrified in these situations.

Look, I know it’s totally politically incorrect to say this, but guys just seem so much easier than girls. I’m sure they have real feelings and are very smart creatures, but they don’t scare me.

Guys don’t seem to be looking at me in a way that suggests that they are:

a) trying to figure out if I’m gay
b) wondering if I’m a threat/going to steal their girlfriend
c) judging my outfit/hair choice and finally
d) deciding whether their feelings include wanting to have sex with me, wanting to be friends with me, or just wanting to look like me.

I’m pretty sure straight college guys aren’t wondering where I got my shoes or what my sexuality is. But perhaps the reason guys are so nonthreatening is because I have no desire to sleep with them. I’m not trying to impress them. I’m not frustratingly trying to “prove” my sexuality to them.

photo by Ellen Von Unwerth

In my womens-studies-heavy curriculum, I often come across readings about the horrors of the “male gaze,” but let me tell you — there’s something to be said about the “female gaze,” too. It’s different though — whereas the “male gaze” is associated with power disparity, the female gaze is just kinda … judgey! Maybe all of us lady-loving ladies can make a uniformed effort to stop looking so scary! Or really all women in general should just stop judging anything & everything that we can find to judge in other women.

My idea may be idealistic and undoubtedly hypocritical but we have too much shit to deal with in the world, we might as well at least try to love one another. It’s strange how being close to a woman can be such a rewarding experience — but until you get to that point, it’s really anything but.

The remainder of the last few weeks I haven’t spent thinking about scary lesbians included my birthday, my birthday party, cats, and snow!

Question: Why isn’t snow fluffy and soft like it looks but actually cold and wet? It’s deceiving and mean. It’s lucky it’s so goddamn beautiful or we would  have found a way to get rid of it already.

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Lily has written 33 articles for us.

91 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    People always think I look mean and judgey when, in reality, I’m just incredibly shy and awkward. Maybe everyone is just socially inept and weird and it presents as scary. Even if that’s not true, I’ve tricked myself into thinking it is when I’m in situations like yours.

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    The actual quality of my writing is questionable (prose, syntax, grammar — the important stuff), and the content often only makes sense in my mind. This is probably why I don’t write as often as I should.

    You are much better than you think. Write more, please.

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    You are right, a room full of lesbians vibrates tight because everyone is, theoretically, sexually available to everyone else, sexually available to everyone else’s partner–and in many situations, highly likely to be exes with a number of people in the room. Constant exposure to this is why we become sort of invincible and also rather tired. Very well said.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    I can so relate to this. All of it.

    Where I am, in possibly the most gay friendly city in Kentucky, trying to get in with the lesbians is like trying to get in the door of a very hip, exclusive dance club…and there I am standing outside arguing with the bouncer, “YES THIS ID IS REAL, NO I DON’T HAVE 42 TATTOOS AND METAL IN MY FACE AND MY HAIR IS A NATURAL COLOR, BUT I SWEAR I BELONG HERE!!” If you don’t look like a suicide girl you’re assumed to be straight, and nobody will even bother trying to converse with you. My friend who matches the previously stated uniform is apparently always being asked what she’s doing bringing a straight girl out with her. And even after being told that I am in fact a Big Gay, the judgyness of the other lesbians is still blindingly apparent.

    Obvs, I have lots and lots of feelings. Why can’t we all just be one big happy gay family? Would the Mean Girls-Rainbow-Cake reference be too much at this point? Because that’s totes how I feel at this moment.

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      Oh my god yes. I don’t have an alternative lifestyle haircut or facial piercings or menswear and I’m not a hardcore retro femme either, so I always feel like the awkward tag-along, because everyone assumes I’m straight.

      I also have lots of feelings, which is how you can tell I’m gay! (minus the lady-humping, natch)

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        Ok, this is in the same vein (and I’m about to reveal just how goddamn new I am to all this), but how are we supposed to tell who is gay and who is not? I totally get that we shouldn’t be judged on looks alone. But like, what’s the protocol? I’m absolutely scared to hit on someone in this state because they might not be gay, and not that some redneck will instantly knife me for doing so, but there’s always that chance. This past weekend, I wanted so badly to ask a girl out that I saw in a cafe in Nashville…and I kind of got that vibe from her but I chickened out when I couldn’t be for sure. So like I said, what’s the protocol here? Someone needs to help me out hahaha

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          As some one who has lived her whole life in Tennessee,let me say that almost no one makes it obvious down here. I tend to go by jewelry and accessories. Also, it’s pretty non-offensive to compliment a cute girl on her clothes/jewelry/accessories. Sometimes that will trigger an explanation that just might be gay. Other than that, I really don’t know how to find lesbians here without possibly opening yourself up to some ridicule or harm. Not to scare you. I swear we’re nice.(NEVER assume the farm girl or the sporty girl are gay. Never.)

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        YES THIS. The first time I went to a gay bar was with 3 of my friends – I was the only queer one. Who gets hit on? Not me, that’s who.

        Sometimes I feel like holding a sign that says “I LIKE GIRLS I LIKE PEOPLE I JUST SUCK AT FLIRTING REALLY”.

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          There’s this thing I call the eyefive. It’s like an eye high five for lesbians? Kinda like “Hey, I’m gay… You’re gay?!” understanding look. Then again, it’s not full proof. I think we need trendy bracelets or something.

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    This column makes me so happy because I can always relate to EVERY single thing you say! Everyone always thinks I’m the straight friend. Always. In other news, I’m applying to transfer to Barnard next year, so if I get in we are totally hanging out. That probably won’t happen, but you never know! Anyway, keep writing.

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    Aye, don’t do your writing skills down, I think you’ve managed to quite a few nails on the head here, with considerable wit and panache.

    While I often complain to myself about always going to regular bars (my various circles of friends are predominantly straight), there is something comforting about not having to make any effort there. Whereas when we go to gay places, which should be “my crowd” there’s a certain amount of pressure, though maybe that comes from the novelty of being the gay one (mixed with the embarrassment of watching my otherwise-lovable straight male friends gawping at lesbians).

    Even when I’m out with all-gay mates, the scariness is there. A lot of it is down to that judgey female gaze you mention; there seems to be such palpable suspicion between lesbians. It does bug me, but not enough to stop me dancing like a lunatic.

  7. Thumb up 2

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    SO TRUE.

    I go to a rather queer women’s college myself and am also in a kind of women’s studies heavy curriculum; while we definitely learn about men judging us all the time, I have to admit that girls are WAY SCARY. Seriously. I don’t really engage in relations with anyone (male, female, or otherwise) so the pressure’s off for me… but I still know exactly what you’re talking about. I think the female gaze is way underrepresented, because women are secretly checking for all of these markers that decide if you’re acceptable. Guys just seem to want to make sure you’re actually female and alive.

    Also, I agree that your writing is fine and you should write more often.

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    It’s a lesbian bar thing. That may be your hiccup.

    And speaking from experience, the few girlfriends I’ve garnered from the bar, have been TVW. The Very Worst. I’m sure a few girls have met their “life mate/partner/lady *MEGACRINGE*” at the bar. But generally speaking, in my opinion, that’s not a great “how you met” story. If you want indiscriminate sex, then the bar is your oyster…because it’s full of them.

    You basically have three gay community options in college:
    1. Gay bar.
    2. Gay sport (ie. Softball, Rugby, Roller Derby (if you’re lucky)…Basketball and Volleyball tend to be more iffy.)
    3. Gay club on campus.

    The problem with the gay bar is just like you said: they’re unsure about you. Are you REALLY a homo or just friends with a bunch of them? It’s open to anyone and unfortunately, straight girls have begun to populate our places of partying. “OMG LOOK AT THAT DRAG QUEEN! I LOVE HIS HEELS! I’M GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW!”

    Gay sports are tricky. Most of the time they’re gay, but closet cases. It’s a challenge. Tackle at your own risk.

    Gay club. Okay, I’m not an activities person by any means. However. This can be a successful place. “Why” seems like a silly question, but it’s necessary. Sure these groups are open to straight people, but they generally don’t come. Going to the gay club makes you look like you’re actually gay. I mean…no music or alcohol is involved…hardcore homos only. You don’t necessarily have to go on a regular basis as a member. You could do like I did. Go once. Spot your prey. Stalk for a little bit. Ask her as a random to proofread a paper on gay marriage. Date for a couple years. Realize she’s crazy. Dump her. Start over.

    I’m almost 25 and I wish I could tell you that lesbians get less scary by now…but they absolutely don’t. I think it’s just inherent. Just start grazing waists when you have to squeeze by girls at the bar and shoot them a sex stare.

  9. Thumb up 1

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    When I saw the picture on the front page, I though the girl on the right was playing the violin…

    You could tattoo a rainbow on your forehead or only talk using the L word/Teagan and Sara quotes (but in a couple of months, every not-completely-straight-girl ever will read autostraddle, so it won’t be a problem…).

  10. Thumb up 1

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    So been there. I’m also a fresher, albeit on a different continent, and I hate being the ‘straight’ friend.

    Is there an LGBT soc you can join? I found it impossible to meet people in clubs last term, but having an environment where everyone is queer and accepting in a coffee shop meant I could make a pile of gay friends who weren’t necessarily ‘scene’ as so many gay clubs/folk are. And in true homo style I now have a massive (possibly reciprocated) crush on one of them.

    It really depends on the night as well, I find ‘queer friendly’ places to be best, the atmosphere leans more towards making friends. Strange that it should be so, I think homos who are more accepting of straights are also more aware that not everyone who is gay pings ‘gaydar’.

    And less of the self depreciation. You’re good!

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      I’ve definitely met a good amount of gays here who I like very much…I think I just felt like complaining about that one particular night because my ego was completely shot down (which in hindsight is probably a good thing sometimes).

      I totally didn’t mean to sound so self depricating though! But I see now that that’s how it seems. You’re right, I totally need to stop doing that! I’m stopping riiight…now!

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    The last picture is one of the most adorable I have ever seen.

    I always look forward to your posts because A. they’re awesome and B. I identify with them so much. A few nights ago, I was actually wondering when your next blog would be up. I’ve also been in I-miss-New-York mode lately, so this helps a little bit.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    I used to find going to lesbian bars terrifying. At least in straight bars you don’t care so much about whether people think you are cool. I used to get really frustrated when I went out that no one would approach me, but then my friend pointed out that I was sitting in a corner sulking about how no one would talk to me. I was the girl who looked like I was being judgey and closed-off.
    Really the only way for those of us who are not as socially inclined as we should be to feel comfortable in these situations is to do it more often. It gets easier. Now I have several places where I am familiar with the venue, which helps to feel at ease, and I also am starting to see familiar faces which makes it easier to talk to people. It is also easier when you go with a group of people because then you have a support group also it makes you feel really cool that you have lots of friends.

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      You have to remember that there’s a lot of straight girls at gay bars too. Which I have a lot of feelings about, and maybe there is an article of just me ranting somewhere in there, but ANYHOW.

      I’m always terrified that the girls I find cute in the bar are straight and are going to get all upset when I try to buy them a drink, and it does not help that I’m not smooth anyhow.

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        Jen, you should talk to* said cute-girl at the bar.

        Worst case scenario, she’s straight and you just gave her a compliment. You can’t take that kind of rejection personally, because not only is the girl straight, but she also doesn’t know you personally. So no harm done :)

        *please note i said “talk to” not buy her a drink. Drinks are expensive and she might be straight, in which case harm is done. To your bank account.

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        i’ve often been in groups with straight girls in it going to gay bars. Though it’s no good for potential love and marriage or anything else, trust me they are going to the gay bar because they believe, as we once did ourselves, that they will get hit on by lots of lesbians and get a big ego boost. (this will then help them get over their boyfriends or whatever.) They wouldn’t go to a gay bar if they didn’t want to get hit on. They may not give you your money’s worth for that drink, but I don’t think they’ll laugh in your face. A lot of the time they are probs looking for a meaningless sexual experience with a lady which is fine if you’re not hunting for anything serious.

        But y’know, that’s just my experience?

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          My experience thus far has been a bunch of straight girls going to the gay bar because they think it’ll all be gay men, so they won’t get hit on. BUT, I see what you’re saying as well, I’m just bitter.

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          The one time I got hit on at a gay bar was by a drunk gay man. He kept reaching for my boobs and saying “don’t worry! I’M GAY!” Doesn’t make you any less CREEPY, dude.

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          Me too, except they think I’m a young guy. I had the last laugh recently, because the dude put his hand on my chest to rub it, and SURPRISE, THERE’S A TIT THERE, hehe.

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          im straight(ish)… although when asked, i say “what’s the difference?” anyways, point is, im not a lesbian and i go to girl bars (and read autostraddle)… not to get my ego stroked, but to go where A) a lot of my gay/bi chick friends want to, B) where i like the music & to dance and C) it’s not over priced & pretentious & packed with LA d-bags.

          is it supposed to be closed to the public? no. and if/when a girl approaches me I smile, make their acquaintance, and introduce them to my gayer girlfriends. no harm/no foul. are we really in the way at a lesbian bar? is it that fragile?

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          One of my gay guy friends has a straight girl roommate and she goes out with him all the time!! and she gets hit on by guys,a lot. I think straight guys do go to gay bars in search of those straight girls looking to just dance. With that being said, what about the Bi dudes? I’m sure they aren’t all that welcomed in straight bars.

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          Well I personally think that is rude. And you should think about the fact that we live in hetero-normative society and the girl bars are one of few places that we don’t expect girl trolls. So go somewhere else. Seriously, it’s that simple.

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          And I personally find your response rude. Sometimes it’s a lot safer to be in a girlbar than it is to be in a “hetero” bar (even if only perceptually). And hey, sometimes the music IS better, the scene IS better. Not everyone goes to a bar to pick up. Are you suggesting sexuality checks before getting in? Super invasive.

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          I personally think I can understand where both of you are coming from, everyone is entitled to have their own feelings about it and a lot of it has to do with where you live and so forth.

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          Yeah I agree with Riese on this one…I can definitely see where you both are coming from and everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

          I’m sorry I haven’t been writing back much but the internet in college-land has been rather awful lately!

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          agreed. i think it’s fine for straight girls to go to gay bars. they just have to be prepared to be hit on, and not rude when it happens. i mean, we deal with being hit on at straight bars.

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          i am *always* just the straight friend. unless i am with my (straight) BFF and then she is assumed gay and i am assumed to be her straight/this is a phase girlfriend. ACK.

          i have found that people who are the most skeptical and judgmental of my gay card are my fellow lesbians. i once had a queer friend inform me “i just consider you a straight girl who dabbled.” i’m not very confrontational, so i laughed it off but i got angry after thinking about it for a few days. i realized how harmful we(non-hetero-people) can be to our own community. i think THAT is the saddest thing- we have already overcome enough prejudice and hate that i would think we’d be the last to point fingers!

          back to the original point,in the gay bars: i wish instead of feeling like everyone is assuming i am straight until proven gay, it was assumed gay until proven straight! or you know, people didn’t assume either way.

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      I agree with Julia completely – going more often makes the whole situation much easier. Once you’re comfortable in the surroundings you’ll find yourself more comfortable with the people there as well. Going with friends is good too because if you’re just there having a good time you’ll be so much more approachable.
      And if you’re interested in someone and not being approached – approach them! You’re adorable – and no guts, no glory!

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    I so get taken as a straight girl all the time!! It sucks … yeah, I have long hair, wear makeup, like skirts and dresses, but I’m also gay as a gay thing!! I get hit on by guys often, but no girl seems to come near me!

    Admittedly, I’m not a huge clubbing person, and tend to be out at parties with friends or more quiet bars, but then, maybe I also have the problem that the FAR majority of my friends are straight.

    I also run into the reverse problem, as I tend to be attracted to girls/women that present in a more straight style femininity (not that I think tomboys or butches are unattractive! just they’re not my cup of tea) … the downside of that is that the women I then am attracted to, tend to be straight :(

    Oh, and totally love the dresses!! I have one that is kinda like the dress on the left.

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    On my birthday a few years back, my friends & I — including my BFF Haviland and the bisexual girl I was kinda-dating — went to lesbian night. The girl hadn’t been to a gay bar before and was shocked by how hostile it was. She’s a model & looks “straight” I suppose (long hair, tight clothes), and despite her & I not being obviously together at all, she was sorta annoyed that no-one talked to her, flirted, or even was friendly. Whereas when we’d go out elsewhere, guys would hit on both of us even when we DID act “together.”

    Her surprise then reminded me of how much I’d been surprised when I started going to lez-bars. I thought it’d be just like straight bars; random ppl would chat you up, but they’d be girls. But no. Just as you described, Lilyflower.

    MEeanwhile at that same b-day, Haviland was randomly friendly-talking to whomever, and they were all nice. She just approached ppl. Obvs she’s beautiful, which I’m sure helped, but gradually I realized that even if you’re not beautiful, most girls are so happy/flattered that a girl is talking to them that you can’t really go wrong making the first move. Worst case scenario is they reject you, then your life goes on just as you were. So that’s what I started doing and I think it’s a win-win.

    Seriously everyone (21+!) should just drink A LOT, and talk to everyone. Act like Shane even if you don’t look like Shane. Kerpow! (See also: Be Confident.)

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      you’re definately right, one should go out and talk to other women – not that I am really brave when it comes to that.

      but I remember when I was with my ex, who’s girly but has been tomboy-ish looking her whole life, how she’d tell me that there was a time when she didn’t think any woman would ever like her. I will never forget the shocked look on her face when I was like “yeah, totally, me too, I’m not the only one!”, as I was and still am this… supposedly cute, curvy girl with long blonde hair. not to flatter myself here, whenever I am talking about me like this I just have to think of Smack the Pony’s Lesley, that’s what my video dating tape would look like in fact! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTRTXhX0ee4)

      back to the point. she told me then that “women like her” would really be flattered if they’d be hit on by “women like me”. and that the tomboyish, obviously gay looking women are always those who are supposed to hit on the girly ones, but really, they would like us to talk to them.

      so, yeah, it’s hard for me too. I mean, whenever I see a bunch of lesbians I think how they are way too cool for me or whatever. and I’m not cool, I’m awkward and have stupid dance-moves. but hey, huuuuge breasts, too. ;)

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    I’ve always said that being in a room full of lesbians is like being a tuna in a tank full of barracuda. The Heart song notwithstanding. This, paired with the female “judgey” gaze annoys the crap out of me/scares the crap out of me.

    Here is what I do: I go to a bar where I know there will be a lot of people I know or I bring friends with me. Then I hang out with those people. I drink. I dance. I give other girls the appreciative gaze and smile from across the room. I dance some more. I contemplate dancing close to/with girl I previously eyeballed. I choose not to. I make jokes with friends. I go home.

    If I want to meet a girl, I generally stick to the intarwebs or coffee shops, or bookstores, or meetup groups or whatever. Bars = not a fun place to try to meet women.

    Lily: write more. You rock. I validate you!

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    Ha, I also thought the spanking woman was playing a violin – didn’t notice she wasn’t til I read the comment! I think that picture could be used for some kind of psych test (I’d sign up!).

    Also, great article – your observations are spot-on.

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    My first time at a bar I was hit on by a gay guy. I was just brand-spanking-out-of-the-womb out and when I told him I was a chick, we both had these horrified looks on our faces.
    Bar life has treated me much better since then, but it can be really intimidating. Nice post!

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      I completely understand this problem. Almost every time I go to a queer bar, I am either accused of being a guy or hit on by gay men which makes approaching fellow lesbians a little hard. It just kind of sucks that while being yourself you still don’t feel comfortable in the queer community.

      On a completely different note I loved this article. It was written so well, I love it when I read something and can immediately identify with the writer and what they are talking about. Rock on.

  18. Thumb up 1

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    dear lily, please don’t ever cut off your flowing locks or anything so that girls will see you. obviously you wouldn’t because you’re too smart for that but i’m just sayin’. i think a lot of gay girls are scared and so it’s really easy to say “oh, she’s not gay” when what we really mean is “i would like to talk to her but i am a baby.” write some more, kay?

  19. Thumb up 1

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    the lezi hair cut, totally makes sense when you read an article like that.
    all i hear is how every lesbian is awkward and shy in bars, i have a theory that i myself may look scary in bars, mostly because i may be trying to compete and look ‘cool’ with the other scary lesbians. I have a suspicion that there may be some deep embedded biological gene that women posses that translates to our lack of skill at finding a partner – or more modernly, unable to pick up in bars.

    also, i find it easier to talk to who i think is the straight friend. so that comment is a cop out by whoever said it.

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    aw, dang girl, i feel your pain. i’m always totally fun and carefree when i know the crowd is heterosexual. but as soon as i go to any sort of gay dwelling, whether it be a cafe, a club, a bar.. i am instantly tense. annoyingly, i too often come off as “the straight friend”, or “the straight girl who wandered in here by accident”. ughhh. makes it so much harder to meet people.

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    I get so excited every time you have put up a new article!!

    anyway…I’m bi and very very femme, and find men much more intimidating than women because I feel immediately with most women I meet and can really tell what they are thinking and feeling by how they act. I think being uncomfortable with people you are attracted to is a people thing in general…lesbians can be scary but I think people are just scary. And being femme to me is a positive thing because then people can be shocked when I say I like girls and its usually an immediate conversation starter. Use it to your advantage! And you dress awesomely, thats supposed to be a turn on. lol

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      and as a side note

      So I’ve basically discovered the key to making people attracted to you. You have to not care whether or not they are. Thats why people get into relationships when they aren’t looking for them and meet more people that want to date them when they are dating someone then when they are single. Okay this is my theory based on no evidence, but from observation of people at clubs/parties/colleges people act much cooler/funnier and tend to sweat less when they are trying to impress people. thus making them more attractive. And all of a sudden you’re a heart throb since you don;t care to be. Unfortunately, I’m too self conscious to test this plan for its effectiveness.

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    so… I encounter this ALL the freaking time! The straight girl at the gay bar that no one ever talks to… even after I cut off all my hair (grows like weeds so I thought I’d try an experiment to see which would work better with the ladies. yeah same results).

    So… as some other people have said in the comments I’ve just managed to get up the courage to talk to more people.

    You’re a beautiful girl I’m sure anyone you talk to would be flattered.

    Anyone have any tips on proper approach? cause i’m never quite sure what will seem creepy or not… I have a fear that I will seem like the creepy guy at the straight bar if I tell a girl I think she’s pretty

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    My sister is facing your diliema. I have to be her f-ing cheerleader to get her to talk to girls. I always say the only thing they can say is no and then you move on. It has nothing to do with sexuality its just girls in general.I agree with you on that note.

    I went to a lesbian club three times and no one said anything to me or looked at me. So i figure I must be ugly as hell or look like the straightest girl on the planet. Shrugs. I shouldn;t care, but my ego does.

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    ok what i don’t get is that practically everyone who commented on this article says that they can relate. and so can I! So if alll of us girls can “relate”…then why can’t any of us seem to find/meet one another when we are in fact out at night in a bar. drives me nuts

    so does this mean we can start that trend of wearing a purple bracelet on your left wrist if you’re gay? thoughts?

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    Wow, I mean, you just wrote down what I feel. I’ve never been to any gay/lesbian bar or gathering place before, and frankly, I feel nervous and scared when facing other lesbians. My friends around me are mostly all straight, and I feel more at ease with them because I know them well. I look butch, though I don’t really like to say I’m butch, and that tags me as lesbian (people will guess that you are) in my country. And I’m telling you, it’s the same “gaze” problem thingy! I usually look at other butch with interest and refrain from looking too much, but the other party usually stares at me like she’s analyzing what I wear or my hair or who I’m walking with. It makes me uncomfortable and I wonder why does it have to like this? Another thing is, a lot of young lesbians in my country tend to look for good-looking and masculine butch. They like to keep looking like a couple that consists of a so called boy and girl role. I’m not saying that everyone is like that, but that’s what it seems like and many people have mentioned this problem in my country. All this just makes me even more afraid of “my crowd”, and find this situation depressing.

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    It seems like everyone keeps saying the same thing, that no one approaches them at bars. So wouldn’t the obvious answer be go up and talk to a girl you like? Especially if she isnt with a crowd of people its not too difficult.

    I completely agree with the whole men are much less intimidating. most of my friends of guys, i find them sooo much easier.

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    I think any lady that is in gay bar is fair game. I think you, Lily, should just talk to women. You stated your obvious reason for not thinking “guys” are scary, it’s because you don’t want them! I have 15 year old niece(str8)and I can not pay her to talk to a guy. She tells me that I am so fearless in talking to guys and I tell her why…I don’t give a damn about guys. Which she knows because she lives with me and my lady of seven years. Anyway, we ladies, just have to get over our shy ways and ask very bluntly within seconds of meeting… are you lezi/bi/str8? If they say str8, then say see ya sucka! And tell all of you lezi/bi friends to stop bringing str8’s to the bar.

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      I agree. I find it hilarious that the wallflowers in this thread are annoyed at lesbians who check out other girls at a lesbian bar. Oh, the horror. How dare she. Get off your ass and approach her…damn, you lot are lazy and insecure. Some of you sound like future cat ladies.

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      I second greenluv1322’s comment. Trust me I’m as awkward and insecure as the next girl — and hey, once upon a time I used to be afraid to approach guys, just ’cause I was insecure, but at some point when I was like 16 or something there was a switch where I was suddenly totally okay with it and would approach anyone. Girls weren’t that easy, but it comes in time.

      You just have to face your fears. That’s the only way to make them go away!

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    Can I ask which bars in NYC you hit up? As a Brooklynite, I can tell you that some of it could be the place/atmosphere and the crowd it draws. Manhattan clubs are far more “judgy” than the weekend queer parties in Brooklyn. I rarely (read: never) go to Manhattan for an “alternative” night out anymore. It’s something to try as a new transplant to the city, but Henrietta Hudson’s gets old REALLY fast. It’s too bad you weren’t here for Cattyshack in its heyday. That was a damn fine lez bar.

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    Here’s another strategy that could be useful: is anyone doing some sort of community service in the bar? Tech/stage managing, or giving out condoms/health info, or anything other than dancing, drinking, or bartending. If they are, go volunteer! At the very least it gives you an excuse to chat up to people (if you’re like me and need a reason to talk to someone besides ‘hi i think you’re hot eee’).

    I just signed on to volunteer with the resident Lesbian Health Action Group, who give out health information at events including the monthly lesbian night party. Next week will be my first go as a vollie (I’ve gone to the party as a regular person before). It’d also be my first time going with super short manly hair, let’s see if that works XD

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    Ha! This article and all the comments remind me of the year I came out as a wee little babydyke and entered Meow Mix (RIP) one night wearing a cute top, stiletto heels, etc., and my hair was almost all the way down my back. The scary bouncer took one look at me and said “Do you know what kind of place this is?” (Of course I knew – I’ve watched every Kevin Smith film, including Chasing Amy, where the bar was prominently featured.) I’m not even particularly girly. It was just a Saturday night, and on Saturday night in NYC, you get dressed up. Duh.

    Inside, the women were all sporting asymmetric haircuts, and looking like they owned the place. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Well fuck this noise, I said. After a brief period of agonizing whether I should give myself a big ol’ dyke makeover, I decided that I would simply stay true to myself and just meet people through the internet, which worked – until (don’t hate me for saying this) The L Word came out, and suddenly, it was acceptable to be gay and have long hair and look like all the other women in NYC/LA.

    But women are still judgey, no matter what style you prefer, and – I agree – the (literal) female gaze is tons more frightening than the “male gaze” they speak of in academia. (A couple of weeks back I was in Cubby Hole and this other Asian chick was giving me the sour-faced up-and-down look, which is known in Asian-American circles as “The Asian Girl Stare Down.” See link – it’s a systemic problem: http://twitter.com/gracethespot/status/8227386924 ) It’s funny – I simply just can’t relate to all that talk about the male gaze being oppressive, because the male gaze just doesn’t have any power when it comes to me.

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      Wow, I totally understand “the asian girl stare down”, since my country is Asian, lol. No matter straight, bi, femme, butch, gay, lesbian… it doesn’t matter. That kind of stare makes me nervous and self-conscious of things I’m not too confident about.

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        Asian Girl Stare Down, FTL!

        Yeah it was pretty bad when I went to college. I’d go Asian clubbing with my friends, and when one group of dressed-in-black Asian girls would cross paths with another group, it would be like West Side Story.

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    Thank you so much for writing this column. You’ve highlighted a lot of the issues I’ve had as a gay freshman at a women’s college (Simmons ftw!). It’s great knowing I’m not alone.

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      Thank YOU so much for reading this column. It truly goes both ways because knowing that you have felt some of the things that I have written about feeling lets me know that I too am not alone. It is awesome, you are awesome, yay for awesomeness!!

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    I go to a university where it feels like there are six lesbians on campus. Literally six.
    Recently, I had one of my dykier friends cut my hair into a faux hawk so I could look “gayer,” because I just don’t on my own. I know three fifths of you just wretched in your mouths and are screaming You shouldn’t change who you are just to try and fit in, but here’s the skinny: I get sick of being hit on by guys. It used to be flattering, but sometimes they’re mean about it and will aggressively question my sexuality just because I look feminine-ish.
    Thank you, Sir, but I’m pretty convinced I’m a muff muncher.
    Also, since Autostraddle hasn’t marketed the “hey look I’m a lesbian” bracelet and we don’t have decoder rings (yet), I needed something. I guess I picked hair. And it’s just hair. I haven’t sold my womanhood or traded away my soul for pussy-In fact, it’s been nice. I’ve met some solid queers, no one’s questioned my sexuality, and I think I wordlessly came out to my grandparents. It’s been like a gay vacation, sans Rosi O’Donnell.
    Sometimes looking gay isn’t the cardinal sin. We are, in fact, gay.

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      I know what you mean and it brings us back to the topic of this roundtable: http://www.autostraddle.com/what-does-a-lesbian-look-like-autostraddle-roundable-17702/

      There’s also many other things involved though. I’m an almost 26 year old professional. I’m also a lesbian. I really wouldn’t want to have to sport a faux hawk in order to be taken seriously when in a lesbian bar.

      Annoying as it is to get hit on by unwanted people and as long as it’s not in a creepy way, it’s not reaaaally a big problem. I mean, you can’t help it if you’re hot. The thing is, every woman in a gay bar should be assumed queer regardless of how they look like. Period.

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      I honestly agree. In fact… I can’t help but feel like the culture is different at a predominantly white or predominantly er, brown party. For example, black lesbians don’t really use the fauxhawk or the ducktail as a lesbian identifying hairstyle. In fact, ladies with natural hair (i.e. me), especially dreadlocks are considered possible lesbians as most gay black girls do end up locking their hair.
      Also, the fashion sense of what’s gay or not is a little different. The androgyny is less rock or punkish and more of a hip-hop thing…
      I’m going to stop now before I sound too general or stereotypical, but these cultural differences really do interest me, especially because what works at one type of party or bar doesn’t neccesarily work at the other kind.

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    Awesome piece, Lily. =D I assume you’re under 21, right? (considering you’re a first year and all) I was wondering if you had any suggestions on good spots that lady-loving-ladies in the ridiculous 18-21 age gap should go to? In the nyc area, of course.

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      Hi Alex! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you…but yes I am in that unfortunate age bracket.
      I’m not exactly “in the know” when it comes to these things. It really wasn’t until this semester that I started to actually sometimes leave campus to go out on the weekends (I’m not a fan of walking, the cold, loud people…you know, the usual). The particular weekend I wrote about here was very out of the ordinary for me…BUT I have been told that Brooklyn has a lot of all ages type parties. Which probably means a lot of hipsters, techno music, and dancing? I’m not 100% but not gonna lie–that all sounds like fun to me.
      Let me know if you find anything!

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    1. There’s such thing as people.
    2. People are different orientations.
    2a. You choose how you feel about this.
    2ai. There is no viable reason to be unhappy about this.
    3. People aren’t mind readers.
    3a. It is useless to be mad if people assume/don’t assume you are a particular orientation.
    3ai. You choose to discuss/not to discuss about your orientation.
    4. You are a person.

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    I know this is ancient (in terms of internet posts) but I just became a member and I needed to comment because THIS. THISTHISTHIS.
    The first time I saw this I had just come back from visiting a friend at a gayish school where I did not “get with any biddies” because I was not drunk enough to be confident/was not a mindreader.And this article helped me articulate why I have trouble with girls.
    Secondly, I notice you are in the city. I am also in the city. Assuming you are under 21, where exactly do you hit up? I have friends willing to go to the gay bar, but we cannot find one that doesn’t card.

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      It’s never too late to comment on an article! Also I love getting the emails sent to my phone that tells me someone has commented–it makes me feel popular, obviously.

      Anywhooo, yes I am under 21 but I have not been doing much going out lately. I don’t know of any gay-type places that don’t card I just know that Cubbyhole never seemed to notice/care that I am not a 26 year old brown-eyed girl from Los Angeles…

      Good luck!!

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    I’m so glad I’m not alone in my fear of lesbians. None of my guy friends understand it. “But you seem so natural when you’re telling off/talking to straight guys. Why are you so shy about talking to women?” “Yeah, but!!! I don’t want to have sex with them! Rejection is scary, you guys!”

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    I just made an account on here simply so I can say that as I was reading this my brain was screaming THIS IS MY LIFE. Not looking like a stereotypical lesbian makes life harder when it comes to going out on the scene, I’ve found that once you make gay friends and get to know more people it gets easier. Only being attracted to women who don’t look like stereotypical lesbians makes life doubley as hard. Oh the perils of being more femme :P

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