DeAnne Smith and the Lesbian Invasion

Normally, I don’t mind being a “typical” lesbian. In fact, I enjoy it. The no-nonsense wardrobe, the no-nonsense hair, the no-nonsense fear of impending carpal tunnel syndrome. I like being your everyday, run-of-the-mill queer. I like the fact that every item of clothing I own is either black or plaid. I like having short nails. I like pretending to understand Tegan and Sara lyrics. Oh, and the whole sex-with-girls thing ain’t half bad either. (C’mon, wrists, we can get through this!)

'snice, park slope via yelp

There are certain places, though, where being a lesbian just feels a little too cliché. My current haunt, King St. in Sydney, is one of those places. As is Mile End in Montreal, or Park Slope in New York or any vegan cafe in any city anywhere.

Hey, and please don’t get sensitive and misunderstand what I’m saying here. Don’t take it personally. Because if you take it personally, I’ll need to explain myself and the more you look at me like that the more defensive and flustered I get and now I’ve chosen the wrong words and yeah, I said that, but I didn’t mean it LIKE THAT. And now we’re caught up in this processing cycle, where whatever I say to try to clarify my point of view only seems to make you more and more hurt and I don’t understand why and for some reason you can’t hear what I’m saying, and now we’ve moved on from processing to actually processing the processing, and why is this happening and how can we fix it but then we realize we’re getting our periods and oh, of course, it all makes sense now and oh, how we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh. (After we’re done crying.)

So, you know what I’m saying, right?

I like being on King Street and in vegan cafes, as much as any self-respecting lesbo likes hot girls and substitute soy options. (Which is to say, A LOT.) But when I’m surrounded by a bunch of lesbians that look like lesbians that look like me, I feel kinda weird. I’m forced to confront a nebulous mess of emotions, contradictions and tingling sensations that are best described as– say it with me– “Feelings.”

I think my girlfriend sums up the strange feeling of unease that comes with being on King St. when she says, “It’s weird being, like, the fourth lesbian couple to walk into a restaurant.” I agree, but I can’t quite articulate why. (Which doesn’t mean I won’t spend the rest of this entry trying to.) One would think that being surrounded by “my kind” would make me feel relaxed and at home and like one of the gang. Instead, sometimes when I see another and another and yet another androgynous girl with sweepy bangs, funky glasses, a chunky watch and a graphic t-shirt, it just makes me feel like a cheap carbon copy, an inferior version of my own self. I feel like nutritional yeast flakes to actual cheese, Elizabeth Keener to Catherine Keener.

I worry that it comes down to internalized homophobia. Luckily for me, I’m somewhat distracted from worrying by the fact that I just had an opportunity to use one of my favorite phrases in the world: internalized homophobia. I love saying “internalized homophobia,” because I feel like it makes me sound academic and intelligent and feminist and like someone who would be really good at Scrabble and a certain kind of intuitive lovemaking. Any time there’s a chance to work “internalized homophobia” or “excoriate” or “paradigm” into a conversation, I’m there.

What was I saying? I’m cognizant enough of my own internalized homophobia to be wary of any subconscious tendency to excoriate the modern urban lesbian paradigm. (Helloooo, ladies!) I like us, and I like that we have so much in common, at least superficially, just because we all like mackin’ on other chicks. In some ways, it’s reassuring to see someone rocking the same style and feel a part of a larger community, a family, a massive sticky swarm of pulsating gayness oozing languidly into every crevice of the city.

But it’s still weird. The other night, my girlfriend and I were, in fact, the fourth lesbian couple to walk into the restaurant. Maybe my self-consciousness results from my projection of other people’s reactions. I imagine it goes something like this: With the first lesbian couple, it’s like, “Oh, that’s cute. How neat.” With the second lesbian couple, it’s like, “Wow, this is getting interesting.” With the third lesbian couple, it’s like, “Okay, guys, we get it!” With the fourth, it’s, “Seriously?! What the hell is happening? What is this?” In fact, I think it’s comparable to my reaction to watching “Solid Potato Salad” by the Ross sisters, which follows the same exact emotional progression from “Hey, this is cute” to “SRSLY WTF.”

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So, ladies, I ask you, WTF? Help me make sense of this. Answers to any and/or all of the following questions are welcome.

Have you ever felt kind of cliché in a lesbo-heavy ‘hood? How do you deal with it? Do you even know what I mean? Is that how straight girls feel all the time? What’s your favorite academic-sounding word? How can I avoid carpal tunnel syndrome? How come people nowadays don’t harmonize with their sisters and wear matching outfits and yell out “hoy hoy” in the middle of songs?

And, most importantly of all, what ever happened to the the 3-person, face-to-crotch cartwheel? It looks like a really efficient form of transportation.

DeAnne Smith is a hilarious and famous lesbian with a website and a twitter account.
Feature image via Maro Hagopian, living f*cking legend for real. Educate yourself.

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

DeAnne has written 22 articles for us.

149 Comments

  1. I thought this was great!! though as one whose look ,i guess, translates as femme to most women i always feel like the non queer. Like when I walk into a coffee house and i see all the ‘snatch hounds’ sorry had to use it…. I always feel like ‘no, im not going to cut my hair for you. Or im like im not giving in to the beiber fever!’ –with my small yet might clinched fists when secretly im like damn that girl got some sweet style! I mean i live in san diego aka: Man Diego and when i see more than one set of queer ladies im like ‘WTF?!’ wheres the bus….. like where can i get on…. i mean really… Are we gonna do this… please mas mujeres por favor! ^_^ but yea

  2. wow. I autostraddled my entire day away, which is totally awesome. I think i’ll stick to the theme and watch some L word before muffdiving into dreamland.

    and my favorite words?

    mojito and smorgasbord.

    I know they aren’t super smart sounding, but they’re fun to say.

  3. DeAnne, I feel exactly the same in Newtown. And on Oxford St.

    I was watching the video thinking “oh its not that bad”.. and then I saw the ending and now I can’t get the image out of my head.

  4. I read the phrase “3-person, face-to-crotch cartwheel” before actually watching the video, but my jaw literally dropped when I saw it.

    Anyway, I honestly tend to feel more cliché around hipster boys than I do lesbians. Which has more to do with internalized hipster-phobia and probably some gender issues than internalized homophobia. :/

  5. 1. Clearly this author has never stepped foot on a woman’s college campus…slug much? 2. “There are certain places, though, where being a lesbian just feels a little too cliché.” SERIOUSLY? isn’t this what everyone is fighting for? the normalization of lesbianism to the extent that it could possibly be considered cliche? 3. you can’t have your cake and eat it too. > “I want to be out and stereotypically lesbian and I want to have the world be ok with that, but I want to be the only one who can do that.” really?

  6. -Have you ever felt kind of cliché in a lesbo-heavy ‘hood?

    No, since I’m not really of the same strain of lezboness.

    -How do you deal with it?

    Find the outcasts and talk about what interests me.

    -Do you even know what I mean?

    Yes, absolutely.

    -Is that how straight girls feel all the time?

    No, because they are not aware of the dynamic that’s taking place.

    -What’s your favorite academic-sounding word?

    “Hadopelagic.” It refers to the deepest areas of the ocean.

    -How can I avoid carpal tunnel syndrome?

    Go outside more.

    -How come people nowadays don’t harmonize with their sisters and wear matching outfits and yell out “hoy hoy” in the middle of songs?

    I’m not sure.

    -And, most importantly of all, what ever happened to the the 3-person, face-to-crotch cartwheel? It looks like a really efficient form of transportation.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it sounds good.

  7. “i feel like it’s something we are all awkwardly aware of feeling.

    and why dont we ever like acknowledge each other in public???

    sometimes i wanna go around hi fiving all the lesbos i see and be like “yyeaaahhhh girl whats up??? thats right i like pussy too! give me five on the back hand side.””

    This got me thinking seriously about making eye contact with and dyke-nodding every lesbian I see.

  8. I don’t think you should feel bad about worrying about the fact that you worry about the implications of being, as you say, the fourth lesbian couple to walk through the door.

    But your article reminded me of a phrase used in a Flannery O’ Connor story; “Everything that rises must converge”. In it an old white woman from a good family who finds herself living in a neighborhood that has slipped from upper crust to lower middle class worries that, when she goes out, she will “meet herself coming and going.”
    She decides it is better to take a fashion risk than face this phenomena. It is a plot point in the story that, while she is having a very racist conversation on the bus, she turns around and sees a black woman wearing the exact same hideous hat.
    I think there is some connection between the idea of “meeting yourself coming and going” in that story and some of your concerns in your post. I won’t drag out the entire meaning of the story but I would recommend having a look.

  9. I like this. If it were a warm chocolate mudslide I’d totally roll around in it.

    “the no-nonsense fear of impending carpal tunnel syndrome” made me laugh out loud.

    Anyway, I totally get the weirdness that comes with being in a “lesbo-heavy ‘hood'”. I can’t quite articulate why though. I’ll have to ponder on this more or take notes when it happens.

  10. Your writing is pretty much the best thing.

    This hasn’t happened to my girlfriend and I, but then we haven’t much integrated into what little lesbian/general GLBT culture there is in Calgary. The closest I can come to your experience is having a lesbian waitress realize that we’re holding hands in the vegan restaurant and perk up as if life is a little better, which was kind of awesome, actually.

    But… I can imagine that it’s a weird thing to experience! I think that it’s a little less due to internalized homophobia and more because as a minority, (usually invisible until the hand-holding begins, or the tell-tale fashion items are clued in on,) we — or at least I — are always on the lookout. People stare, and we kind of get used to it, so we stare back to make sure that all of that staring is the usual slack-jawed ‘wait, something is different,’ and not the sort that means, ‘that hand-holdin’s about to get you into trouble!’ And seeing other people who are in the exact same boat as us, it’s weird. It’s when we go from being the ogglees to the ogglers that that sense of “wait… we’re not alone?!” kind of surfaces, and because that happens relatively rarely, (at least where I’m from!) there’s little chance for us to process that feeling. Not knowing what to make of it of course can lead to some iffy feelings of suddenly not knowing where we stand.

    I’d say, just make the best of it. Smile and nod and move on, or make friends, I s’pose.

    Also, regarding high-falutin’ soundin’ gibber-jabber, my favourite is sesquipedalian loquaciousness… though it’s not so much academic as it is self-referential and incredibly nerdy.

  11. antithetical

    compartmentalization

    hyperbolic

    I have definitely had the experience of being in a neighborhood where there are so many lesbians (most neighborhoods of Seattle, Crown Heights, Brooklyn) and mostly I just find it distracting. I feel like I look like a straight person gawking at queer couples, but actually I’m just checking out their outfits and how attractive they are.

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