What I Wore: Navigating the Heteronormative Patriarchy, Pt. 11

Welcome to What I Wore, a series where I explore fashion as shelter in traditionally heteronormative and patriarchal spaces.

Airport Going to A-Camp

This was going to be my last interaction with the heterosexual agenda for an entire week and I needed to keep my eye on the prize. Still, that would be difficult when there was chance of manspreading. I needed a powerful feminine presence to steady my resolve. What better way to achieve that “not today” look than going full Absolutely Fabulous? I went with a pink shirt with a cocktail glass, a faux cheetah print coat, and some reflective sunglasses inside.

a rare What I Wore live from the scene

The man sitting next to me on the plane: waited for me to put the arm rest down, gave me the entire arm rest, his legs never came close to my side, and he even kept his crossed hands in his lap for the entire flight. For a brief moment I was so happy I was able to own space that I thought, “What if I just reached over and held his hand?” as he slept, which I realize is VERY weird.

Success rate: 5/5

Airport Leaving A-Camp

I wanted to assimilate on this day in order to soften the transitional blow. I decided the best way to do that was to dress both as a straight man and a straight woman going to the airport, and so I wore a sport jersey and leggings as pants. Just as minimal effort and attempt at an aesthetic as possible, you know? Then also, a paper hat I’d gotten that very morning from the Jelly Belly factory with everyone’s favorite photographer, Molly Adams, to encourage the idea that this was just a joke and I wasn’t actually returning to this world.

The thing about wearing a paper hat with a Jelly Belly logo on the side in an airport line though is that a lot of people look at you. Almost everyone looks at you? And after a sustained period of this staring you become very aware of who’s looking at you, and reader, you’ll find that in an airport, it’s a sea of straights.

Success rate: 2/5

The Day After Camp

To nurse the emotional comedown from returning to the real world after spending seven days with only queers and exactly one Trudy, I wore a shirt with iron-on letters that read “GENDER TRAITOR” and paired it with a millennial pink skirt because I’m soooo clever. Do you get it. Of course you get it. But for straight people, overlapping these kinds of concepts is new territory, and I wanted them to feel as confused as I would be having to exist among them.

This did feel like a bit of a risk wearing a shirt in Trump’s America that said “TRAITOR” in all caps regardless of what word preceded it, but otherwise the static I thought might be increasing in volume in the heads of those around me gave me the piece of mind I needed to keep me fully present in my big gay body.

Success rate: 4/5

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Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


  1. On Saturday I had my first foray into a hetero club in over a year, and within 20 minutes I had a heated argument with a man who was harassing my friend. Not sure if he was so aggressive with me because I looked gay or coz I didn’t look gay….

    However I feel like had Erin chosen my outfit for that night, said man would have just been like “ok I’m sorry I’m bothering you guys, let me show myself out”.

    I definitely need this kind of wardrobe help….lol

  2. great looks, and thank you so much for that live from the scene photo what a treat!

  3. “I wanted them to feel as confused as I would be having to exist among them.” perfection

  4. This serie is the best thing that has ever graced the internet.

    “Dress both as a straight man and straight woman going to the airport” I’m dead. ?

  5. I sat between two six-foot-six men on the plane to A-camp and had a dream/nightmare that I reached out and held both their hands! What is it about well-behaved men on planes?

    Your style inspires lols/admiration/gentle envy as per usual

  6. Does watching Two and a Half Men (and LAUGHING at it) in the seat next to me count as manspreading?

  7. This is the best installment yet. Also I love “chance of manspreading” and I think we should all describe the patriarchy in meteorological terms henceforth.

    “Today’s forecast: clear, with only a 10% chance of male tears. Expect increasing gaziness and the possibility of thunderous mansplaining later this week; don’t leave home without your umbrella shield and earphones!”

    • On a day with a major sports match:
      Today’s forecast brings a 98% chance of mansplaining said sport, and manspreading in every possible location. We advise you either stay home and weather the storm, or camouflage yourself as one of them in the hopes of passing undetected.

  8. I have a deep and burning need for outfits 1 and 3. I could live my whole life in outfits 1 and 3.

  9. “after spending seven days with only queers and exactly one Trudy” made me snort

  10. This column always comes to mind when staring at my wardrobe. I think, “What would Erin wear?”, which could sound especially obnoxious being that my name is also Erin.

  11. The comment about THINKING about holding the strangers hand in the airplane sounded like things that spin in my head. I went to Boston Pride yesterday and there was a cop that was standing there “policing”. He was wiggling slightly and had a small smile on his face. I ran over to put a whistle lanyard around his neck and he smiled with TEETH. I wanted to kiss his nose. I didn’t but I thought about it. Side note: All the other cops resisted the lanyard. He was the only one to allow it.

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