Thursday, 31 May 2018

But you don't look gay?

Hello, my name is Annabel (Belle) and I am 22 years old. Since the age of 18, I have openly identified as bisexual or gay depending on the day of the week and the state of my eyebrows. I can quite confidently say I am attracted to both men and women, and now feel no shame because of it. 

When I started to question my sexuality and indeed come to terms with it, I asked the question that I think most queer people ask: do I look gay enough? Here I was, 18 years of age, long dark hair, big boobs, dressed head to toe in black and seldom without red lipstick. I looked more like a tragic vampire emo goth than someone whose sucking dick and eating pussy.

Then again, what does a lesbian or bisexual woman look like? In my head, it was someone with short hair, a nose ring, smaller boobs, and an overall masculine style. It was not someone who preferred the pinup to the button down. This stereotype stuck in my head as I did what any blossoming queer did, and scrolled through Tumblr. If you type lesbian into the search bar (with safe search on) women pop up with beanies and undercuts-nobody who looked like me. 

It caused a lot of anxiety because I thought, 

"if I can't convince myself I am truly bisexual, then how will other people believe me?" 
Indeed over the years, I have been met with incredulous looks and "but you don't look gay..." Well no, because 1) I am not 2) what is it to 'look gay?!' 

Femme invisibility is an issue that many women who identify as LGBT+ and femme go through; it is the constant having to come out, having to justify our sexuality and having to almost prove that yes, I like to wear lipstick and kiss girls. I have what some may say is a privilege, I look 'straight,' or what one may perceive a stereotypical straight person were to look like.

Perhaps that is the problem here, we are hung up, as a society, on stereotypes. Lesbians have short hair and wear tartan, bisexuals are greedy, straight girls wear dresses. Defy those stereotypes and be a monogamous, dress wearing, lipstick-loving bisexual and people start to get confused. 

A friend and I are currently running an LGBT+ plus themed bookstagram challenge on Instagram and one of the days is the "gay glow-up". Now if you have ever come out then you know exactly what I am talking about. It is that moment when you come out and start dressing in a manner that you believe to be more apt for your sexuality. I tried to dress more 'masculine,' and in a way that would send out the message that I like pussy and I cannae lie! I felt uncomfortable with my own style because like many I wanted to justify my sexuality and one way of doing this was through my clothing.

How we present ourselves, however, is a part of our personality. I wear clothing that tells the world the message I want to put out. Whether that is femme, butch, casual, pinup, retro, goth, who cares! Our style may show parts of our personality but that does not correlate with our sexuality. It is fluid and can change from day to the next. Sometimes I sit at this computer to type in full vintage regalia and other days like today, the most glamorous part of me is my chipped red nail polish. 

It is often hard to separate style from sexuality and yes for those of us who have just come to terms with our sexuality it can be a very healthy way of embracing it. However, don't always let the labels define you, you can still be very gay and rock a red lipstick; exactly like you can be very straight and live in tartan shirts. Coming out of the closet and pulling clothes out of a closet are two very different things lets keep it that way, shall we?

Belle is the editor behind The Hairy Potato; she describes herself as a Pinup Potato and proud Intersectional Feminist. Although by day she works in social media, her passions include writing, reading and finding fashion that will make her stand out. Rarely seen without her red lipstick, this mid-century maven is always ready for a debate with a glass of whiskey and a slice of pizza!


  1. Ooh, what's your Bookstagram challenge called? I have a Bookstagram - and would love to join in if I can!

    It's so stupid about the "looking gay" thing. We're all humans. Can't we just look how we want without it having to signal that we're gay or straight or anything else?! People are so daft sometimes 🙊

    Rhianna x

    1. I'm so sorry I just saw this! My bookstagram is Lunamoonbooks! And agreed-it is utterly absurd that people put so much pressure on how you look!

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