How to be a Lesbian in San Diego

We’ve got Hillcrest. We’ve got Gossip Grill. (Ok we lost Bourbon St.) It’s not too difficult to be a lady lovin’ lady in San Diego. Yet the girls are shyer, here. They are more difficult to spot amidst so many straights sportin’ hot-weather-ready short hair and music-scene-festive side-cuts & undercuts. Maybe it’s because I’m decidedly femme, but the issue I most struggle with is invisibility. I’m fighting the pervasive assumption from the old rich yuppies that run this city & its media (thx Fox news) that I don’t even exist, and then I have to go ahead and love long hair and girly clothes and ridiculous shoes.

1. The Easy Way

The simplest way to be gay here is to cut off your hair and wear plaid.

how-to-be-a-lesbian-haircut-plaid

2. SD Lesbian Uniform

Of course, plenty of us don’t want to do that. That is why we have an alternative uniform, the Basic SD Femme. Carefully select clothes that you could wear to the gym (but probably don’t because they’re your going out clothes), wring your hair into a messy but tight bun (do not use those tutorials you saw back when you used to read Seventeen mags; this bun needs to look like something a man would try to make), and then add all the makeup you want.

Oh, and flip flops. San Diegans always wear flip flops to the bar. Which I hate. Please stop. Bar floors have puke residue, and cigarette ash, and spilled drinks. Protect your toes. Wear a cute and ever-so-butchy pair of slip-on deck shoes instead.

sd-femme-lesbian-uniform

Thing is, I don’t want to wear this uniform. I don’t go to the gym (so why fake it), I don’t want to wear flip flops if I’m not at the beach, and I don’t want to restrain my glorious mane. Yes I have donned this uniform and yes it probably got me girls’ numbers, but that is beside the point.

3. Lipstick

To survive being a (femme) lesbian in SD, I had to get proactive. I had to learn x-ray vision. I brushed up on all the signs I learned from Effing Dykes; the asymmetry, the chin nod, smirking, gettin’ vibes. I don’t remember if this was an Effing-D thing, but one of my favorite “rainbow” flags is lipstick.

gay-femme-lesbian-lipstick-drawing

  1. Even straight women don’t really wear lipstick for men. They wear it because it’s hot. Lipstick is armor. Lipstick is alpha performance of femininity. Lipstick is “I know the secret and precious world of Barbies.” Lipstick is “I could be famous.” Lipstick is “so what if my boyfriend doesn’t like it because it means he can’t kiss me? I’m sexy af.”
  2. Queer women take that attitude one step further and pick a color that is just a little off-putting. Garish, even. Orange-red that ever-so-slightly clashes with her skin tone. Bluish pop-pink. Neon fuchsia.

If a woman is wearing lipstick, especially if it’s nothing but lipstick (no foundation, little-to-no eye makeup) and it could be described as “bold,” your gaydar should go *ping.*

4. Gay Eye Contact

Gaydar isn’t just sitting on your figurative instrument deck, passively scanning all that surrounds you and emitting a soothing bell noise whenever it finds a match. Gaydar is something you do. The best way to use it is to try some prolonged eye contact. Just look her in the eyes, and try to send her the telepathic message, “I know you’re gay.” She’ll then know you know she is gay and will telepathically respond, “I am super gay.” Here’s me, initiating eye contact with you:

note the upturned chin and smirk

note the upturned chin and smirk

A straight woman’s reaction will look something like this:

gay-eye-contact-comic-straight-1

gay-eye-contact-comic-straight-2

 

She doesn’t understand why you’re kinda staring at her awkwardly, so she looks away almost immediately.

A queer woman, however, keeps on looking back:

gay-eye-contact-comic-1

gay-eye-contact-comic-2

gay-eye-contact-comic-3

 

Or, for the extreme version:

 

Why does a party lifestyle blog need feminism?

Why does a lesbian need feminism? Why does a lesbian going out to a gay bar during San Diego Pride week need feminism? I mean, I’m categorically sexually disinterested in men, I’m in an environment which should not have friction or competitiveness or predation between women and men, and this week is, in theory at least, all about solidarity in our minority status as LGBTers. So you’d think I could take off my feminist hat and just enjoy my Adios, right?

Actually, my interactions went fairly well last night. The only example I can truthfully give is that a friend-of-a-friend started to tell a story and stopped at the word bitches, “Sorry, I always say that word. Anyway these bitches…” So, at least he was aware. Fuck though, I hear the most misogynistic crap come out of the mouths of gay men.

Part of me wants to give them a break. If the world has been trying to force-feed you women on a platter like they’re juicy delicious burgers (every Carl’s Jr ad, ever) and you finally want to express your right to want something different in life by proclaiming, “ewwww vaginas,” who can blame you, right?

I’m full of empathy until gay men I’ve barely met spin me around like I’m a little doll (ok, sometimes I like that because my shoes are awesome — but it doesn’t matter if I like it; he should get my permission first) or whistle at me in a drive by or slap my butt or (and, of course this happened) touch my crotch. They basically do this because there’s some sort of agreement between gay men and straight women that she can treat him like a little pet –hashtag gaybestfriend!! — in exchange for a boost in confidence from his (male) approval, and he can…well I’m not sure what he gets out of the arrangement but I’ll have to talk to my gay male friends and get back to you. Perhaps the social mobility through her straight world? Anyway, whatever the deal is, I think it’s a weird and kind of fucked up relationship. And it certainly doesn’t work for me when I’m assumed straight and so desperate for validation from a man that I will accept it gladly from one who isn’t even sexually attracted to me. More willingly, even, because I’m not expected to “pay out” for the favor.

Even when I attempt to retreat from the pressures of the straight world — when I try to go somewhere where I’m not going to be bombarded with cheesy pick-up lines or creepy staring — even at a gay bar, my interactions are still colored by the gender roles which filter and mutate into my environment. Sure, I’ll be able to relate with a gay man on many points about our shared queer space. But there are still going to be moments here and there where his viewpoint as a man means he’s going to trample over me. I will grant a few jabs because of my femme privilege — in that I blend into the straight world so easily and by choice of appearance or whatever he might not. But, I think there is a point where a negative attitude against women goes beyond the objection to the oppressive straight culture and into just mirroring sexism from that same culture. There are moments where I am made the object of a joke, or I have to witness a drag performance which is overly mocking of women rather than gender roles in general, or I’m actually molested, or I see other women treated this way. These things remind me of why we need feminism.

Just because it is to a lesser extent does not mean it should be ignored. Party environments can of course amplify misogyny — hello booze and hook-up culture. But environments which are expected to be safe can still host some of my most uncomfortable moments. Even a party thrown by a particularly enlightened bunch of hippies. Not every moment is going to be puppies and rainbows, but as long as the risks are so dire (rape, violence against women) I’d like to not be reminded of them. Not when I’m trying to get drunk on blue liquor, especially.

And that’s just the gay bar. Like I hinted at before, booze and hook-up culture makes for some pretty desperate maneuvers (and upsetting behaviors) at any party. All I really need to say is I live in a world where telling a man that I’m a lesbian does not turn him away; it turns him on.

There is no escape from the restrictive narratives which police gender. There is no escape from the entitlement that many men feel they have in regards to women’s bodies. Not even parties, and especially not parties in a lot of ways. People are trying to get drunk and fuck, after all. So long as I am surrounded by people who are trying to have sex with each other, and our larger cultural example of how to negotiate around sex and gender is so broken, I am going to be a witness, collateral damage, and/or a target of sexism. And I’d like to help fix that. So I can drink in peace.

What did I snap last night? I will never know…

I am hangoverAs I am writing this, I am hungover. I am hangover. Hangover is a philosophy, a way of being, in which fears and anxieties are either muffled, too heavy with the poison in your blood to run rampant over you, or they are amplified with the urgency of vomit.

Currently, luckily, it is the former right now.

I have missed this inner peace. My mind is quiet, because the party monster’s reign is now over. I move slowly, I am dim. I no longer rage with the fires of the night and the overwhelming need to make out with women who are probably very straight but like the attention, I can tell, because you are laughing too loud and you keep looking at your friends and you’ve only felt me up like once this last hour.

BUT I am plagued by one thought. And that is, What did I snap last night?

Yeah, I went to Flick’s last night. I only had 3 drinks! 3 very “my bartender missed me and also I am at Flick’s” drinks. Also I think they were running out of orange juice.

what did I snap last night

This is what you already saw today if you are my snap friend.

Aside: You guys, you guys, you need to make #whatdidisnaplastnight a thing. I am begging you.

I am telling myself that the majority of my snaps looked like this:

snapchat too hot to handle

Actual snap. Sorry my sweet snapchat bestie, I know I made this just for you, but it is the only evidence I have. Because I clicked the download button. Because I am a narcissist.

But I know in my heart there was at least one like this:

snapchat too drunk to handle

Disclaimer: This is a snapchat re-enactment. That is not my drunk handwriting. I always write that bad.

I am forced to contend with the realities of having Facebook at my drunken fingertips. I am now part of the reality where my work life and my social life intersect in one device. I am an idiot who thought it was a good idea, while drunk, to delete the threads from my boss and my coworker so that I wouldn’t accidentally text them, and now have only black holes rather than hard evidence to appease the anxious feeling that I may have sent one of them something at 3am. I didn’t. I’m just paranoid. So very paranoid.

FYI Handcent SMS has a privacy box that forces you to enter a passcode before you can view texts by specific people, and I DEFINITELY had the time to get around setting that up TODAY.

The hangover is not my only consequence. What happens in my Vegas doesn’t stay in my Vegas when I always have an internet-connected camera in my pocket.

I have also chosen to put my real name on my writing. I have to hope this choice will make sense when I reflect back on my life, that I am right that society will continue to grow toward more honesty as privacy becomes harder to protect and more and more people add to the digital scrapbooks of their lives. Privilege check here (femme, financially secure, white, thin, etc.): it’s easy for me to be ok with decreasing privacy because I have the luxury of being able to live life openly — I have support networks and quite a lot of societal approval for my lifestyle, even with me being gay. Not everyone is so lucky.

I teeter between the reality that my personal experience is lost enough in the fire hose that is social media that I am safely invisible, with the fantasy that I’ll be so famous my “wild” behavior will be permissible. I have to balance the assumption that my boss doesn’t have the spare time to Google my name with the belief that she wouldn’t care if she did anyway. She was young once. She knows.

I used to think (and still kind of do) that my “hangover anxiety” comes from all the dopamine and serotonin and other fun brain chemicals I “used up” the night previous. I am worn out so I am too weak to fight off the anxiety. I also realize I am worried about what I may have done, how I may have bulldozed over someone else’s feelings because I desired the drunken spotlight. “You have no regrets if you never remember,” might be true, but I have a vivid imagination. I know myself, what I can do. So, I chase after the tails that squirrel away from me in the darkness, that disappear into the void like snapchats.

I have to admit, though, a smartphone can be very helpful for my lifestyle.

Beer fridge reminder

If this seems particularly lazy, please know that I meant to say freezer, but under the pressure of having to talk continuously into the mic thingy or else it cuts you off I slipped up and said fridge.


In my new tradition, here is your Flower the Skunk moment of the week:

Flower the Skunk Wish He Said (but Didn’t)….

IMAG0487_1No, your friend is right. You do not get to say the N word. You do not get to say it in a joke, you do not get to say it with a “z” at the end. Nope. You are a white girl and I am a white girl and neither of us get to say it.  This is not a freedom of speech issue, this is a you are making yourself look fucking ignorant issue.  No one is commenting on your post because you have made us all feel uncomfortable.