this Lesbian’s Lament

I’ve had this gripe before and while sometimes the annoying burn is just a smoldering of ashes the smallest bit of kindle can set the flame ablaze once more into a roaring fire.  What is that smoldering ash, you ask?  Stupid heterosexual men and their cat calls.

Yesterday I was leaving work walking down West Broadway in SoHo and an older man yelled out, “Yeah, baby those are some sexy lips”  to which I responded, “Really, dude?  That’s rude, fuck off”  and then he yells, “Yeah, you’ll get fucked, bitch!”

Hmm.  How to respond?  My immediate reaction was to whip around and march over to him sitting on his milk crate and remind him that he was an utter ass because his remarks were not only sexist, rude, and unwarranted but that they were lost on me because I’m a big ol homo.  Furthermore, any woman walking down the street deserves the respect and courtesy of enjoying her walk down a street without getting harassed by old fuckers like him.

I just don’t read lesbian outside of a lesbian venue.  There’s nothing about me that reads overtly straight either in my opinion.  Outside of the work environment I opt for a relaxed and casual style of dress that is usually not a dress.  If were to run into me on the street I’d be wearing skinny jeans like every other New Yorker, a graphic t-shirt, either Havianas or Jack Purcells, over-sized ear phones listening to Le Tigre, Tegan and Sara, Fiest, Sleater Kinney, Tracey Chapman, or Rent.  I carry a giant white leather purse, wear over-sized sunglasses and usually have a scarf wrapped around my neck-winter or summer.  My natural hair is always a mess on top of my head and you’ll never, ever catch me wearing makeup unless it’s purposefully, like for Pride or some girl dancing when I want to femme it up a bit.  If a gay girl, or girl I perceive to be gay walks my way and she’s hot I’ll make eye contact over my glasses and shoot her a smile.  I’ve often turned to keep eye contact until it becomes inappropriate and continue on my walk.  No one is ever going to scream homophobic slurs at me unless I’m holding my girlfriend’s hand (which has happened)so basically I’m a  homo-undercover.

I had chat with one of my best friends, Dez, last night over $3 Vodka drinks at Fat Max on the LES about this very issue of looking “gay” or “not gay”  Dez screams lesbian, no,  she screams dyke.  She’s got the hair, the tattoos, the swagger, the plaid shirts, low-slung jeans, awesome sneakers and bike messenger bag.  It is no secret that Dez, my former Friend Crush, is amazing and I love her to no end.  She’s a producer for a major animation studio,an animator, biker, (single),and all-around best hugger I’ve ever met.  Walking down the street with her I can feel my gay go up at least 20 notches and I’m comfortable with the world knowing that there are two dykes walking down the street.

Her gripe is quite different from mine, there’s nothing she can do about her blatant gayness, it’s there for the entire world to see.  She sees it as a hurdle to overcome, especially in the work place.  Almost a strike against her.  The likelihood of her getting called “sexy lips” on the street is pretty slim.  Rather, the likelihood of her getting harassed for being gay is higher.  So who wins?  There are things I cannot hide from the world.  I am black and I am a woman.  With these DD’s there’s no binding that’s going to cover my gender and no make up on the planet that’s going to disguise my color.  My sexuality, on the other hand, is covered up in the general public’s understanding or comfort level of what it means to be a lesbian.  To the general public lesbians are butch and those of us who don’t are somehow, not really gay and therefore subject to public harassment. 

If I pass as not gay is it my responsiblity to try to educate all straight men who cat call about women’s rights, equality, and general respect?  If I come off gay is it my responsibility to educate all homophobes about identity, equality, civil rights, and respect?  Those questions can’t be answered because it’s almost always impossible to level with an ignorant person, which is why when the asshole on West Broadway screamed, “Yeah, you’ll get fucked, bitch” I chose to ignore his disgusting and hateful remarks and instead imagined doing him physical harm.

**I just took a break from this post to retrieve my laundry and had an older Rasta man make kissing noises at me as I passed him.  **

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Are you LeSbIaN enough?

What does that mean, really?  I’m not so sure either and it’s not really my questions.  I was trolling around AE last night.  Something I’m doing less frequently because the more I read comments by subscribers the older and older I feel.  Is there not a Lesbian Website that isn’t completely overrun by high schoolers?  That’s another rant.  So I was trolling around the Forums and Comments section and noticed a Topic/Thread in which the poster complained that she didn’t feel as if she were “gay” enough.  She went on to list reasons why she felt that way; doesn’t like sports, can’t fix things, hates Tegan and Sara, thinks shopping is a religion, etc.  I actually  read through the entire rant straight through to comments and after reading a few logged off and sat back, baffled.

Let’s just keep in mind that I’ve only been out for a two years and there are times when I wish I appeared “gayer” which I can define momentarily.  I don’t, though, feel like there’s any “way” to be a lesbian.  That’s the beauty of being a lesbian, it’s just something you are like black, or big-breasted.  This person’s Lesbian Check List read like a bad episode of the L Word coupled with every stereotype in existence about Lesbians.

heading back to OH-IO

Yesterday my father purchased my round-trip tickets home.  I’ve committed myself to over 5 days in Toledo and I’m a little nervous about that.  The last time I went home was for my grandfather’s funeral.  I was there for a long weekend.  The combination of family stuff coupled with the short amount of time and my undeniably adorable nephew made the time seem to fly by.  There wasn’t enough time for me to realize that I was smack in the middle of, well Middle America.  Land of churches as far as the eye can see.

Have you ever been to Toledo, Ohio?  Have you ever heard of Toledo, Ohio?  You may have.  We have a few claims to fame.  The newest, and some would consider most notable is Katie Holmes.  I actually attended high school with the girl prodigy turned Scientologist.  We also have Jamie Farr-he has a golf tournament in Ohio dedicated to him.  He was also on the TV show M*A*S*H which I never watched as a child.  Most of the glass in the United States is made in Toledo.  If you look at the bottom of any of your glassware in your cupboard I would venture to guess that half of them has a small script capital L inscribed.  That L Stands for Libbey.  Libbey Glass is made in Toledo, “The Glass City”  A lot of Jeeps are made in Toledo, too.  Toledo has its own minor league baseball team as well as a hockey team.  Toledo has a lot of malls, too.  And a lot of churches.  The street I grew up on as a child, Collingwood, has on average two churches per block in certain parts of the street.

Folks in Toledo are pretty conservative for the most part.  They’re pretty Christian, lots of them are Catholic.  There are pockets of Muslims and Jews and a fairly large “Hispanic” culture.  I use Hispanic in quotations not to make small of it, it’s just that there’s no defined Cuban, El Salvadoran, Dominican, Mexican identity celebrated there-most ethnic groups tend to be all lumped together.  This is why for a long time I have refused to refer to myself as “African American.”  In Toledo black folks and white folks use “African American” just like “Hispanic”  those who are black are “African American”  when you move to NYC and have friends from Ghana you soon realize that they are African Americans.  Or on the other coin you meet a black girl from Jamaica or the DR an accidentally refer to them as African American and are quickly reminded that they’re Caribbean or black Latinas.

When I first moved to New York I was shocked by the need to label.  Since my African American post 1920’s Literature class in college I stopped calling black people “African American” and started calling us black to the dismay of many classmates.  So coming to NYC I was shocked that my answer for my racial identity wasn’t sufficient to the mass majority of people who wanted to know.  They’d ask “Where are you from?”  and when I said Ohio they wanted to know where my parents were from and their parents.  I realized they weren’t looking for states but a rather a county of origin.  A country I unfortunately couldn’t give them.  Like so many blacks in the US-living outside of the very culturally diverse Metro New York area I have no idea where my “people” are from.  For all I know I could be Jamaican or Dominican.  When you’re a black person and a descendant of slavery your identity is completely lost in the lack of paperwork.  We can look, we can try but the task at hand will be very difficult.  I’ve been told that I have “Chinese” eyes (from folks in Ohio, of course who still refer to most people of Asian decent as Chinese).  A New Yorker would be more direct-you have Korean eyes, or Japanese eyes.  I don’t think my eyes look Asian at all but that’s what I was told as a kid…I know I’m bashing my home town.

Truth be told there was nothing blatantly fucked up about my childhood.  There wasn’t anything overtly horrible or racist that happened to me.  (although there are a lot of confederate flags on bumpers there)  That said I would never in a million years even consider spending more time there than necessary.  Like going home for the holidays.  I usually try to limit my time there to 5-7 day periods of time.  Like next week.  5 days.  If you pray, pray for me.

I have a crush on Staceyann Chin

Yup, that’s right.  Wicked mad crush on Staceyann.  It’s not the way she looks, although she’s very beautiful it’s not even her bangin’ body, which is bangin’.  It’s her memoir, “The Other Side of Paradise” that I started reading this week that has made my crush on Staceyann Chin what it is today.  http://www.staceyannchin.com/v2/bio.html

I’m not that far into it, truth be told.  This really cute (possibly queer) girl at Greenlight books in Fort Green sold the hard cover to me.  I’d been eyeing it for a month but was working on finishing “Wuthering Heights.”  I make a point to only have one new book in my possession at a time, otherwise I’ll drop one for the other and most likely not return to the first.  I just finished “Wuthering  Heights” and had about 15 minutes after yoga and before Tongues to get to the bookstore to buy “The Other Side of Paradise.”  My book store crush asked if I knew anything about the author, that she’d been wanting to read it.

“Well, she’s queer…” I started (to see if she was, too.  She gave me that knowing look.  Aha!  One point for Erika gaydar.)  “She’s a feminist and activist, she had a one woman show on broadway in the mid 2000’s…”  I went on and on spouting my Staceyann knowledge and she agreed that she’s buy it too, when she was finished with the book she was on now.  She also made mention to another author, Dorothy Allison, that I should look into when I was finished with “Paradise” 

innocent flirting at the bookstore.

I’m still in Part One and just wrapped up page 46 through teary eyes on the C Train.  I love when a book can move me to tears.  And it wasn’t just the book or its content but the way that a good writer can not only make you feel like you’re there with them in the text but their ability to make you feel what the protagonist is feeling.  In that moment of feeling like a helpless 7-year-old girl being ridiculed by her Aunt while her grandmother helplessly watches the abuse, I felt like I was Staceyann in that brief moment of prose. 

I’ve never had to watch a woman I love do domestic work, as Staceyann watched her Grandmother.  As I’ve disclosed many times here I lived what most would describe as a priviledge life.  Reading “The Other Side of Paradise” awakens so much of my race identity and the itch that was my memoir (lost in computer oblivion) comes racing back into my mind and the memories of my childhood come pouring to my frontal lobe.  (it is the frontal love of the brain that controls memory, right?)

My parents are both black so my race identity isn’t lost in that.  It is, however lost in my education, my speech, my back ground.  Here’s a little snippet, that “Paradise” has forced me to remember.

I remember being in fourth grade.  We’d just switched from the YMCA day camp to the Catholic Club.  I went from having a mixed race group of friends to all black friends.  I am and always have been a social butterfly.  I walked up to the girls who looked my age and asked their names.  Their names I don’t remember.  I do remember, however the looks they gave me.  The way that made fun of the way that I spoke.  The entire summer, even in the small cluster of friends I managed to make I was mocked and taunted for “sounding like a white girl.” 

Funny thing is, as I grew up and my parents continued to enroll me in predominantly white, upper middle class schools in which I excelled socially and kinda sorta academically my father became the taunter.   It wasn’t just him, though.  At family reunions cousins, aunts, uncles would look at me bewildered when I spoke.   I was told that I wasn’t proud of my color, I didn’t embrace it, I was trying to be someone that I could never be.   Looking back, I’m not sure what else was expected of me.  Was I supposed to ignore the rules of the English language in favor for double negatives and slang?  It’s not who I am.  I sound ridiculous trying to “talk black” whatever that means.  

 Now at 30 as a proud black lesbian when I see him he asks why I don’t relax my hair.   “You’d look more professional with straighter hair, Erika.”  “I was going to buy you a comb for your birthday”   A little ironic, no?

This blog doesn’t make much since.  It’s a stream of thought, ideas, and memories evoked by a special lady whose childhood was way more, dare I say, fucked up then mine ever was.  When I listen to the poems and prose from some of the women in my writing group-stories of mixed race childhood angst echo.  Stories of what it means to be a black Latina, what it means to have a white father who didn’t acknowledge your existence or a white mother who tried to mold you into a white daughter are experiences I can’t relate to.  On the other hand, what does it mean to be a black child and never really know you were black-or more accurately, never know what it meant to be black.

Mirs and I talk about race identity all of the time.  What it will mean for us, as partners, to raise black Jewish children.  Our future children’s Jewish heritage is just, if not more, important to Mirs and our children’s black heritage.  No one will know, looking at them, that they’re Jews.  But they’ll sure as hell know that they’re black.  We have to have answers for them.  We always discuss when you start talking about race, identity, religion, and the injustice of so many peoples in our society. 

When we talk about my black identity, especially as a child, I always have to think about it really hard.  Clearly, looking in the mirror I could see that I was black but what my skin color meant; the struggles of my people, were never relayed to me.  When I honestly think about it I’m pretty sure that I learned the most about the Civil Rights movement from a white nun in school.  I asked my parents, and was given a book on MLK. 

My mother had the most insight, she lived in the segregated south until she was twelve.  She would tell me stories about visiting her mother, a domestic worker, at her job and having to use the back entrance.  She told me stories of using separate water fountains.  And I would listen to them and her and appreciate her taking the time.

My father, on the other hand, never told me anything.  Like so many instances in my life his childhood, his experience of being a black man living in New Jersey during the Civil Rights movement is a mystery to me.  I could ask him now, sure, but for a person so formative in my black identity or lack thereof as he often reminded me his imput is completely obsolete.  It doesn’t exist.  But the scars of his constant ridicule is.

Clearly, another reason for therapy.  Or excess money so I can quit my job and spend all of my time writing my memoirs or a work of autobiographical fiction.  So, thank you Staceyann Chin for what is shaping into an amazing and inspiring memoir.

weekend in review

The weekend isn’t quite over yet.  I’m actually fresh from the shower and on my way to Brooklyn Bowl to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of my friends.  We met, by chance, on her bachelorette party in  March.  We’ve hung out sporadically since then.  Ironically, we went to grade school and high school together back in Ohio.  She’s a pretty chill girl, tons of energy-which kinda contradicts the first statement, I suppose.  She’s queer and she’s married to a sweet lady. 

Mirs won’t be joining us.  I think she wanted a day alone.  She didn’t say that, of course, but I think she’s relishing some personal time-which is an important part of our relationship-Establishing and Enjoying our alone time.  She’s planning on taking a bike ride to Brighton Beach this afternoon before becoming a slave to her studies.  I’d honestly ditch the bowling and join her but 1-my bike sucks and 2-we’re established that we’re enjoying our solo time.

Our date this weekend wasn’t really as private as I imagined, it was still pretty rockin’.  We hung out with Mirs’ Aunt and her two lesbian friends who don’t identify as such even though they’ve been living together for over 30 years.  While waiting for the E train at 53rd street yesterday we pondered them. 

I met the twosome for the first time last year when Mirs’ Aunt came to the city to take all of us to museums.  The ladies finished each other’s sentences, the put their heads close together to enjoy art and they bickered slightly and chided on another in that joking/loving way.  They never at any time walked too close or embraced or even touched for that matter.  Last year Mirs and I were only in the first few months of our relationship-that can’t keep my hands off of you gotta have you now stage.  We were subdued in our physical touching but the electricity in our eyes and longing gazes told another story completely.

A year later and the five of us were together again to visit some museums.  Mirs’ Aunt is an art expert, on the board of museums in Texas and can get us into any and every museum in NYC for free.  Yesterday we visited the Museum El Barrio and the Guggenheim.  This time, Mirs and I held hands more readily in the museums, walking down the street, under the table at lunch.  Her aunt talked openly about gays and lesbians in the art world and the two had nothing to say, really, on either subject.  Apparently Mirs’ Aunt, who’s been friends with one of the ladies since childhood, asked them point-blank, “Are you two a couple”  They adamantly denied it and have done so ever since.

So is it just strange to me, a newly out loud and proud gay woman in my 30’s to assume that two women who, upon appearances, seem pretty gay are not and just happen to be platonic life partners.  Or is it because they’re older and have probably had to live their lives in secret for decades that they’re too wrapped up in their past to embrace this newer, friendlier (at times) society that more or less accepts (or completely denies) homosexuality?  I remember when states started to allow gay marriage seeing newspaper articles or news shows about elderly men and women who’d been together for decades dressed to the nines standing on court house stairs declaring, once and for all, their undying homosexual love for one another.   Why not these women?  Perhaps it’s truth that they are just friends, who vacation together, live together and have been for the past 30 years.  Or maybe the closet is just cozy.

This is what happens to nice girls from Ohio who move to New York.  You become cynical, snarky, and judgemental.  But for the love of god, come out of the closet, already!!

A Butch in Femme Clothing?

This morning Leroy the Cat brought in another dead thing. If you’re counting this is four things.

1. The Blue Bird brought in while I was sleeping and Mirs was in Newark doing coding in kindergarten classes. I was all alone, the bird was injured not dead.

2. The Mourning Dove while we both slept. Sensory memory kicked in. I heard the deep growling breaths of the cat, heard the flapping wings of the helpless bird, Mirs had to take the poor near-death bird out back and, well…

3. Dead Mouse. Leroy makes this high-pitched meow when he’s got something in his mouth. We heard the noise, he was playing with it in the bathroom. Mirs threw it away.

and today. Laying in bed with a pounding headache from 2 shared bottles of wine Leroy made the meow. I got up from bed and saw the dead small bird and threw it away, washed my hands and returned to bed.

2 Hours later I was making pancakes for our hangovers with sausage and fried eggs and Mirs tells me that she loves how tough I am. That I picked up a dead bird without cringing to throw it away. Grilled us some veggies and meat on the BBQ last night. Carried her on my back out of the park to the car service that took us to the hospital when she sprained her ankle. I can build a camp fire, change a tire, and I don’t take shit from anyone ANYONE. She called me tough-she meant Butch. I like to top, I like picking her up, throwing her around. I like to wrestle. I do look really good (really good) in a tie.

So it would seem that I’m a butch, in Femme Clothes

Dykes (and straight girls) and the City

Mirs and I counted the lesbians we saw today while wandering around the Village. Let me first start by saying I saw Kisha today at New York Adorned when I was waiting to get my new tattoo. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=84441198

Yeah, her. She’s in the new John Legend video and in the Aggressives Documentary. Yup, that’s her. Kisha. She’s super cute. I saw her walk in with an woman and then walk out. 2 Lesbians.

There was a street fair in the East Village today. Lots of lesbians there. Walking through the Green Market lots and lots of Lesbians. Then onto whole foods. More lesbians. I lost count, really. The last place there were lots of lesbian girls-The Hardware store in our neighborhood, talking about organic potting soil, organic foods, organic lesbian sex. All in All, I’d say that we spotted about a hundred Lesbians in NYC. Granted that’s not a lot of lesbians and those that we identified as lesbians clearly “looked” lesbian. Still, lots of gay girls. It made me happy. Unlike last night. Okay, that was mean. I wasn’t unhappy last night (Kels) I had an AMAZING time and I cannot wait for another night out with the girls. Let me start from the beginning.

I went out last night to the Garage with some of my best friends from work. I love these girls. They’re smart, witty, pretty, and fun to drink with. It was my first time at the Garage. I got there about 30 minutes before the rest of the girls did. I settled myself down at the bar and ordered a mojito, sat back and got ready to enjoy the music. I put my Blackberry on the bar, cause that’s what you do, and sipped my drink. I was there long enough to notice two middle aged cross dressers and to get hit on by a man older than my father. Ugh. I played nice, ignored his comments and enjoyed the music.

“I see all you young girls with them phones,” old man started in again. “That’s why I don’t get em. you’re just sitting there, looking pretty, waiting on that phone to ring.”

“I’m waiting for my friends to come,” I said dryly.

The Girls showed up and we moved to another part of the bar to chat. After a few rounds I started getting antsy to get out to a gay bar. No offense to my straight friends, you know I love you, but after a while, I get a little bored. I’m not gonna lie. So we’re sitting there throwing back the drinks chit chatting about work and life when my particularly out-going friend starts with the lesbian sex talk.

She wanted to know how we lesbos did it.

“So do you just rub your stuff together?” she asked.

“Yeah, there’s that, “I answered trying to get off the subject. “I’m more of a penetration girl.”

“See,” she exclaimed. “You’re not really that gay”

Hmmm. In the split second it took for the words to escape her mouth and to enter my ear and register in my brain I decided where to go with this one. Should I delve more into the mysteries of lesbian sex or just cut her off here.

“No, I’m really gay, “I assured her. “Lots of lesbians like penetration, lots don’t. It doesn’t make you more or less gay.”

I then suggested that she check out Sugarbutch to get some different insight into the big, strange, queer world of lesbian sex. She seemed pretty satisfied and we moved onto another topic.

As the clock drew near 1AM it became quite apparent that despite there words and promises, I wasn’t going to get this group of straight girls over to Stonewall with me for Lesbo a Go-Go. I bid my adieu to my friends and strolled over to Christopher Street to check out the scene. Lots of gays all over the place. It felt good, comfortable, wonderful to be checked out by girls as I lurked outside the doors. I could’ve gone in but I had a sweet, wonderful, kind sexy girl waiting for me at home.

I come home later today to find a Facebook message from one of my friends from high school asking me when I realised that I was gay-or was I not really gay, but just madly and deeply in love with my girlfriend.

Hmmm. How to answer this one. It was about a three paragraph answer-honest and direct. She’d prefaced her inquiry with, “you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to” I appreciated that and I love this girl-she’s super sweet, definitely not a homophobe, she just wanted to know. So I told her and now I’ll tell you.

If I think about it long and hard I think I always knew I was gay. I was much more into pleasing my parents, though. I went to the right school, spoke well, was charming. I moved away from it all and found myself in NYC. I stopped relaxing my hair, went through a long hard depression and stopped worrying about what everyone else wanted from me, needed from me, expected from me. I stopped doing “them” and started doing “me” and girls.

Yes, I had girl crushes in high school, it was all-girls school, by the way. But there was also my boss at my first job, Netty’s Ice cream. I think her name was Jenny. She didn’t wear a bra-I saw her breast once down her shirt and I got the “feeling” in my stomach that I couldn’t understand. I liked it but it was “wrong”

During sleepovers in 6-8th grades my girlfriends and I would play really sexually explorative games. They’d laugh it off and we’d all go to sleep but I’d be laying there buzzing with excitement, wishing one of them would keep playing the game with me and me alone.

I watched this Documentary on Netflix the other night about sexuality. This man who they interviewed and works for Gladd said that if you ask a gay man when he realised out he was gay they’d tell you they knew at age 5. If you ask a gay woman when they realised they were gay they’d have answers ranging from 5-65. This man said that for woman it’s a progression. I don’t know if I would agree or disagree with his statement because it’s too broad. It seeks to lump all gay women and all gay men into these two categories and you can’t do that.

I do believe that sexuality is something that you’re born with rather than a lifestyle. For me, though, my homosexuality was something I wasn’t ready to come to terms with, wasn’t ready to admit until I stopped worrying about what the fuck the world (my parents) wanted from me and started to worry about what I wanted.

In terms of straight girls and their questions-I’m happy to answer them. I mean, if I don’t help give them even a little bit of insight into a world they know nothing about I’m sort of doing a disservice to the LBGTQ community as a whole. It’s about making people understand us, right? I’m clearly not going to change the world by telling a friend about when I realised I was gay or by helping another understand lesbian sex. I can, however, help change the minds, interpretations, and understanding of my life as a gay woman to someone.

100th post-kind of

Happy 100th Blog to me!

Happy 100th Blog to me!
Happy 100th Blog Ohio Lez-Girl in NYC
Happy 100th Blog to me!
and many mooooooorrrrrreeee!!
YAY!  So my last blog-Mothers and Daughters-was officially my 100th Blog but I didn’t realize it until it’d gone up.  So instead, I decided to celebrate with this 101st Blog.  But 101 isn’t as much of a milestone.  In life, yes, not so much with blogs.  So this is my re-do of my 100th Blog.
I even made a YouTube video to celebrate.  I was wearing a hat and there were balloons and I had special guests.  For some reason, the video didn’t load properly-well it did but there was weird sound problems and when I went to redo it, it didn’t load.  
So, I decided to write the blog instead.  The video came in at just about 4 minutes and I’m not sure how that equates in blogland.  I asked you, my readers, two questions.
Question 1-Do I look gay?
It begs the question-what do gay girls look like and there are millions of answers.  I ask because I was at dinner with my lady and our friend the other night.   I was saying how this certain friend should date women.  She commented that she was open to it.  I was a little shocked but Mirs said that she was “pretty gay”  I like to call these people-tweeners   …that’s a lie.  I would never say that.  I would say queer.  She asked me if I thought she looked gay and I told her if I saw her walking down the street I probably wouldn’t look-therefore, no I didn’t think that she looked gay.  She asked why and I told her it was what she was wearing, her style, and her hair.  Her hair was a little too “done”  By done I mean, that it looked like she worked on it.  I know lesbians that work on their hair, one friend in particular who is obsessed with her wavy shoulder length hair.  She likes to get compliments on it and gets upset if we don’t notice that she’s having a good hair day.  She has an effortless “done” look.  
My second reason was her nails-they were longer and painted.  I don’t know about you but long nails and lesbian sex don’t really go well together.  Lastly, I didn’t get the gay vibe from her.  That was the most telling-more than her hair, nails, or wardrobe.  She didn’t vibe gay at all.
So, do I project gay?  Do I look gay?  I want to look gay!  It’s pretty easy to spot a gay boy-I think.  It’s a little harder with the ladies.  Old stereotypes would say that a lesbian lacks style, has a short or cropped hair cut.  Last time I spotted a lesbian I thought was hot it turned out to be a 16 year old boy!!  I’m so glad I’m not a single lady out there trying to navigate the world finding the perfect lesbian mate.  I mean, you have your Rachel Maddow lesbians and your Ellen lesbians and you’ve got your Kate Moening lesbians, your Porcia lesbians, your Rosies and your Wanda Sykes.  Butch, butch-femme, femme-butch, femme, the list goes on and on.  And who says you have to mold yourself into one of those categories.  I love to throw on a tie and an oxford but I also like my new bright red lipstick and dresses.
When it comes down to it, I think I want to “look” gay because I don’t like wearing my red lipstick and my dresses and get harassed by men on the streets…
it’s hard out here for a dyke.
Question 2-What do you call your significant other?

Girlfriend, Lover, Partner, Wife…what’s in a name?  Good question, Will.  Does it matter?  Does one name have more meaning than another.  I used to have this thing where I would categorize sex-Making Love was sweet, soft, and tender.  Having Sex was a little bit more- and Fucking was hard core, sweat dripping, passionate sexual bliss.  But you can fuck someone you love and it can be tender and sweet and you can have sex with someone you don’t care about at all-and when you’re fucking the woman you love-you are making love, aren’t you?  
That’s kind of how I feel about what one calls their significant other.  I mean, Mirs and I are rounding the 10 month mark here in a few weeks and she’s definitely my girlfriend.  I don’t feel comfortable, though, calling her my partner.  Maybe when we’re under the same roof officially?  She’ll still be my girlfriend, obviously, but the word partner implies a partnership-we’d be sharing our lives together and all of what that means; the bills, the maintenance, the laundry, etc.  I mean, we do that now-but it’s out of courtesy of being in the other person’s apartment, really.  Eventually, I want to call her my wife-but only when it can be recognized outside of one state in the US.  Even when she’s my wife, my partner, my girlfriend she’s also my lover.  Lover, though, on it’s own sort of implies that it’s just sex.  We clearly have lots of sex, but because she’s my girlfriend, partner, lover there’s more to it, more to us, than the physical aspect of sex.
So there it is…two questions and my 101st blog.  Here’s to 100 (99) more!  Thanks for reading OH-IO*Lez-Girl*in*NYC  !  

What Makes the Dyke?

I work retail. I think I’ve said that before. The other day at work one of my co-workers came out of the fitting room and shouted, “Do these pants make me look like a Dyke?”
First-Umm, are you gay? Cause I think not, therefore you shouldn’t be throwing around derogetory language. This is the problem I have with people “reclaiming” words to make them their own again. I don’t really buy using words originally used in hatred and slander and making them “new” again in a community. Granted, the title of my blog has the word “Dyke” in it, and I’ve used it before in blogs, I generally don’t use it. Just as I refuse, as a black woman, to use the “N-Word” I cringe when I hear it thrown around by teenagers on the train, teenagers of every color. Apparenty, the term “Bro” and “Son” have been exchanged for “Nigga” for the youth of today. Really? It gets confusing, I think, when people start to slip in these words in every day speech.

Getting back to this co-worker and her use of the word Dyke. She comes out of the fitting room and she’s wearing a pair of army green cargo pants.
I ask her, “what’s so wrong with being a lesbian, ____?”
“Nothing, I just don’t want to look like one.”
Hmmm
“Well, with that giant arm tattoo and those pants…you may look like a lesbo. You actually look kinda hot, ____” I started to tease her

Then she goes on to say how she lives around a lot of “them” and knows what “they” look like.

“So what do we look like, _____?”
“You know, Erika” was her response.

Do I? Do I know what lesbians look like? I think that my gaydar is pretty good but do the clothes make the dyke (there I go again). I’ll use myself as an example.
Starting up top, I have a mop of newly cut natural black hair. It’s short and curly and sometimes I fashion it into these eccentric designs on my head with bobby pins, feathers, and scarves. I like to make a faux mohawk and I like big statement head bands. I don’t wear make up, because it breaks me out and I have pretty amazing skin when I’m not wearing it. I do, however, love eye makeup and tend to wear mascara and eye liner. In the summer months, I tend to go a little more crazy with colors on my eyes but the winter it’s pretty simple.

As far as dress goes, I don’t own a pair of cargo pants. Okay, I have one pair of cargo pants from Hollister from College and they’re my comfy pants. I don’t have a “style” per se. If I had to describe my style it would have to be a pseudo-preppy-boho-feminine hybrid. For example, I own more cardigans than can be admitted. Cardigans are awfully preppy. It goes back to my all-girls school high school and my catholic schools before that. Compounded by my seven years at J. Crew. Cardigans=Preppy. Then, again, cardigans have always been a staple of old men. While, I have my J. Crew cardigans I also have a handful of wooly old man cardigans and that’s a little boho and grundgy. I love skirts. I have full skirts that swish and sway when I walk and I have micro minis from American Apparel. This week I wore a skirt every single day and in the summer I like to be nearly naked in my dress-tiny skirt, tiny dresses, soft fabrics. When I wear jeans they’re usually straight or boot cut. I own one pair of heels and tons of flats, but I’m the most comfortable in my Jack Purcell Converse shoes.

To work yesterday I wore a short navy blue skirt from AA, Tights and flat green suede boots. A pink and blue striped oxford shirt a navy blue polka dot tie, and a pink cardigan. Did I look like a lesbian? Do I ever? Do I give off Lesbian to the world or just quirky dressed nappy-headed girl?

I’ve read a few surveys on blogs or in magazines like Curve of GO on how to identify yourself as either Butch of Femme. One I remember said that when dressing to go out to a fancy event, whether you pick a tie or a skirt/dress. Yesterday I wore both.

One of my gay associates commented that he liked my hair.

a few months back, towards the end of summer Mirs and I cut my hair. Well, we thinned my hair with thinning shears. I was comfortable with thinning shears because even with relaxed hair, I had the thickest hair known to woman. I would go and sit down in a new salon and inevitably the person doing my hair would make a comment about how much hair I had and pull out the shears. So when my hair got to this natural state it was still a lot of hair, though it felt like more. I was getting sick of going 24 hours after a shower and still having damp hair. We decided to thin it. What happened instead was that I cut it, in bald patches throughout my entire head.
see?—>

I spent a few months trying everything to cover it up and decided, two weeks ago, to just cut it all off. I did it myself, again and it actually looks good. Sorry, no pictures, yet.

So one of my gay associates commented that he liked my hair, I told him I felt like I wasn’t looking gay enough, kept getting hit on by guys, that hopefully it’d do the trick.

In a whiny voice, “Now do I look gay?”

I know ya’ll are reading this and saying. “Erika, do you like pussy? Do you like boobies? Do you see a smokin’ hot chick walkin’ down the street and even though you love your girlfriend do you appreciate that smokin’ hot chick walkin’ down the street?”

I’d answer “Yes, yes, and yes”

And then you’d all go “Then, you’re gay”

I know I’m gay. So what makes this straight girl think that she can tell what makes someone look gay or not. And why’s she so concerned about looking too gay. I’d see her walking down the street in those cargo pants with her big tattoo and know, immediately, that she was straight.

I think that looking like a lesbian is actually quite in fashion now. It’s fashion week, in NYC as we speak. I’m not talking about what’s coming down the runways for fall 2009, though, I’m talking about what I see when I’m walking through Williamsburg or down 5th Avenue. Women with shorter hair-styles, in asymmetrical cuts. Cargo pants are making a huge come back and men’s inspired women’s fashions have been the rage for at least two seasons. Shit, J. Crew’s catalogue is always a jumble-fuck of women in ties, suit jackets with denim, suits with converse sneakers.

So what gives? Why the need for this girl to make sure that she didn’t look like a lesbian? It’s cause she’s probably gay.

Okay, she’s not really gay, or at least I don’t think she is…but it’s still funny.