The Illusive “Lesbian” Hangout

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Summer in D.C.

Note: If you see an asterisk in front of a word, there’s an explanation at the end.

Are gay women not gay? I’m confused.

You can throw a rock and hit a “gay” bar in D.C. but it’s mostly male dominated spaces, and white men at that. Having frequented a couple of these bars over the summer, I can say I have never felt more out of place in a space. That’s not to say I wasn’t comfortable. I actually met some really nice and interesting young men all basking in their gayness and spreading love and good cheer, but I was clearly a guest in a space that wasn’t for me.

While I don’t consider myself a “woman” in the gendered sense of the word, I am biologically and generally recognizable as such due to the mounds on my chest and my wide, child-bearing hips. If biologically recognizable woman attracted to other biologically recognizable woman = lesbian, then I guess I qualify.

But the question still remains: attraction to the same sex denotes gayness, right? So, I’m just trying to figure out what the issue is.

Last week, someone wrote into The Read with a similar inquiry: “Where the femme lesbian hangouts at?” Listeners wrote in with suggestions, the main one being MeetUp, that app whose purpose is in the name, but nothing concrete. Yeah, the femme qualifier immediately shut me out, but the predicament, as far as I can tell, is the same for the *tradier/masc. girls.

I’ll note here that I’ve operated out of Mississippi for the majority of my life and the lesbians I know (all five of them) still move on the low and under the cover of night. A place where women who are partial to other women could gather openly was and still is largely inconceivable. But it’s something I crave. To quote the theme song from *Cheers, “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” Are we not allowed community? Are we not allowed public spaces to fellowship and chat? It’s not just that I want somewhere to hang out or have friends. Having a bar, or any safe space, to commune with people of like experiences and identities is a source of validation and validation, for people who rarely find it, is like life blood.

Despite popular perception, all us *dykes are not headstrong, ravenous pussy monsters. We are not all on the hunt for the next piece of pussy. I personally like to keep it real low key and to the untrained eye, I come off as shy. Sometimes I just want to chop it up and fellowship, maybe have some drinks or talk about my latest read and my inclination tells me that is true of a lot of “lesbians.” So in a community – *puts lips on mic* THE LGBT+ COMMUNITY – that is white-gay-male-centric, *dykes of color are left out in the cold to collect social scraps on apps like MeetUp and the one-off “lesbian event” that happens every other Saturday out of the month.

All this to point out that the LGBT+ community is still very segregated in regards to race and gender. For the folks not gifted with the privilege of being male or white or remotely gender conforming, we’re left out in the cold. And yeah, one could argue “iF yOu DoNt sEe YoUrSeLf iN tHe CuLturE, BuIlD YoUr OwN” but like most problems, it is systemic and a product of intracommunal racism and sexism, so miss me with that and let’s have a real conversation.

*Trady – a derivative of “trade”, gay (male) slang for an unclockable gay/ aligning with typical notions of masculinity

*Cheers: a television show you’ve probably never heard of if you were born after 2000

*Dyke: for the purpose of this blog, I prefer dyke over stud, connoting some degree of non-binaryness or gender non conformity

Series NavigationThe Art of Looking Through People >>

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