What I Wore: Navigating the Heteronormative Patriarchy, Pt. 2

Welcome back to What I Wore, a column about fashion as shelter in traditionally heteronormative and patriarchal spaces.

Extended Family Gatherings


As the only queer identified member in a pretty large southern and religious family (not counting gay uncles who moved out of state decades ago), I represent a very exotic, unstable bridge to another world whenever I return home for birthdays, weddings, new babies (so many babies) or holidays. This is a fairly new development for some of them, so it’s understandable that they’re still reconciling the image they had of me five years ago, their assumptions of what gay people look and dress like, their hopes for me based on “potential”, and the actual image they have of me now. That being said, I love to mess with them.

In their eyes I got two things right with this outfit: long hair without much body or movement and shoes with tall heels. So, wearing an oversized, shapeless shirt with cotton lounge shorts as the main ensemble is no doubt frustrating for them. Also horizontal stripes?? You’re doing nothing for your figure! Maybe she doesn’t know about things like that, because of the gayness. To ensure a mixed conclusion to that query, I make sure the wings of my eyeliner are so far-reaching and symmetrical that life for them no longer makes sense.

Success rating: 5 out 5

The Straight Bar

Usually it follows that you build accessories around an outfit, but when you want to draw focus away from the clothes that might attract the wrong people, you build your outfit around your accessories. And there is nothing more terrifying or confusing to straight men than black lipstick. Pair that with some dusty sneakers and a unisex jacket straight out of Ally McBeal, and any appeal that flowing pearl skirt had is voided.

Success rating: 4 out of 5



I think the reason so many straight families go to brunch is because it’s like date night without having to get a babysitter. Fair! And while I respect the game and know many lovely straight families exist, add being affectionate with your girlfriend into the mix and you just never know what those little rascals are going to say!

To a casual viewer, this might seem like a down home, girl-next-door outfit. Oh, just some casual slip-ons, a jersey top, cut-off jean shorts and a baseball hat. I’m basically Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights. Hey y’all! But then it’s like, oop, nope, that’s just a bra. Mesh, the gayest fabric, combined with overexposure is enough to steer any straight family away from your table. Also, I wear that Atlanta Braves hat ironically, (I wrote off the Braves when I was nine after meeting one of their star pitchers, Tom Glavin, in a Boston train terminal where he proceeded to ruin everything I held sacred – THE BRAVES – when he sighed and stood next to me in a picture like he was being held at gunpoint) so if anyone would have been like, “Hey, Atlanta, nice,” I would have gotten to be like, “NO, INCORRECT.”

Success rating: 4 out 5

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

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


  1. serious outfit game! I def ID with the “exotic, unstable bridge to another world” feeling

  2. your outfits are dope & the gay quick quips are an added bonus. So much respect for not giving a what, especially coming from the South!!

    • my mom explains horizontal stripes as the flattering stripes and vertical stripes as the unflattering stripes but i’ve also heard the opposite and if i cared i would be really confused so it really helps that i’m not terribly worried about it

  3. in in a serious horizontal stripes phase atm. fortunately I’ve had no one try to explain to me that they’re unflattering. I’d have to explain to them that they were wrong as horizontal stripes are the best.

  4. “Mesh, the gayest fabric,”
    This is so glorious and also makes me want a ranking of gayest fabrics with explanations of which part of the rainbow claims them best. I’ll start:
    Crushed velvet – ostensibly closeted Oscar Wilde era homos
    Leather – Anyone in chaps
    Pleather – Vegan dykes on bikes (/scooters)

  5. you are doing the lord’s work with this column

    and by lord, of course, i mean freddie mercury

      • i really want to bring this concept into my life. because as a bisexual who loves fashun, when i say that i identify as bi, people are always like “well you don’t look gay!!” as if we have (and i quote derek zoolander) ONE LOOK!!!!

        so i continue to confound by combining trousers with flannels and leather fitted caps and crop tops. i feel this #look makes people question both my sexual identity and my taste level—just the way i like it.

  6. Listen, the braves as a team were my biggest childhood heroes and I’ve since learned that they were nearly all major jerks, but today is apparently Tom Glavine’s Birthday! My grandmother was just telling me they were supposed to interview him during the game but it’s rained out or something. So unhappy birthday to you, Tom Glavine.

  7. I never know what to wear to family events either. I’m the only queer, too. I’m usually masculine presenting, have been since childhood whenever allowed. BUT I don’t want another chat about whether or not ‘I am making some sort of statement’ or whether I was aware lesbians are allowed to wear women’s clothing because ohmygod stahp please. Additionally, when I attend a thing with my partner, who is usually femme-presenting, I feel extra weird because I’m suddenly assigned as the husband and people like.. appraise the value of the piece of property I have brought along if you know what I mean? IDK. It’s so gross. I can’t deal with that at all.

    All this is to say that I was driven to wearing a skin-tight dress made entirely of gold glitter and mesh to the last event as a sort of deranged challenge to everyone to say anything at all. No one said anything except my partner who said my ass looked amazing. 10/10 would recommend.

  8. You may have just convinced me to take the plunge and finally buy black lipstick.

  9. Strange things happen to my style whenever I visit my home town. All of a sudden I’m at the cemetery wearing a hoodie with bear ears and it’s All Saints’ Day and a voice in my head demands to know WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?? I don’t know. I turn into the brightest peacock as if by reflex. It’s like I want to confirm and raise all of their suspicions. I become the walking billboard for nonconformity. Glam punk usually does it. :)

  10. I love your adventures in Navigating the Heteronormative Patriarchy.

    I stole your ‘navigating the hardware shop’ look from Pt 1 a few weeks ago to wear dog show handling. And my dog won so yay.

    Unfortunately have a straight bar event coming up, so will be hoping I can get enough courage to pull off one of your looks.

    • saying “I stole this look to go to a dog show” is the highest compliment I’ve ever received

      • Now I’m grinning like an idiot.

        Here is my dog Zora looking smug after her win, she is sitting on my jacket which I had on over a black dress with white unicorn rocking horses in the print and black army boots:

  11. This particular Straight Bar look is slowly becoming my Look of Choice when going to things ever since I discovered that I actually love intimidating lipstick about a year ago. Dark purple, blue, black…I want it all on my face because it means that gross straight dudes will leave me alone.

    This series is the best.

    • Yes, all it has to be is not a red ( y’all pink is a shade of red just fyi) and their minds break.

  12. Ooh I did better than just horizontal stripes today.

    My dress today for Easter has not only 3 kinds of horizontal stripes with texture. It is also shapeless as fuck, like giant shin length sweater vest and I wore a short sleeved men’s undershirt from a Walmart six pack under it like I would an actual sweater vest.

    For the final nail in the heteronormative coffin I paired that with dull brown leggings, ankle boots worthy of a beatnik and a hair accessory that I could give concussions or puncture wounds with because if I’m going to do something on the feminine side it needs to have the potential to hurt.

    Break Hearts/Minds/Faces is my model of femininity.

  13. I LOVE this and I LOVE you even more Missy! You’re fan fuckingtastic and everyone who knows you knows that!

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