Dear Nic

Editor’s Note: This article was written in response to a submission by Nic Bill’s, titled ‘HO-ME-PHOBE – A Message to the Str8-Acting Silent Majority’, which can be found at this link: http://woroni-legacy.dev/comment/ho-me-phobe-a-message-to-the-str8-acting-silent-majority/

holding-hands

Dear Nic,

In Woroni you wrote that you “do not feel the need to continually flaunt [your] sexuality”, and I also share this attitude. This does not, however, mean that I’m not visibly queer. I don’t believe having short hair and a girlfriend, who I don’t hesitate to clarify is not my roommate, means that I am flaunting my sexuality as a bisexual woman.

Put simply: I have had a different experience, and mine is absolutely affected by internalised homophobia.

I’m growing my hair out. I’m excited about it. It’s not even going to be a huge change, but enough to make a difference and I’m god damn excited about it. I first had it cut when I was fifteen, sixteen maybe, in the holidays between years nine and ten. My hairdresser was an older gay man, who was probably happy to usher in a visibly queer identity for the awkward girl in the chair in front of him. He fucked it up. He gave me a mullet. I don’t know about you, but I’m still not good at being confident and forthright to hairdressers as they snip away at my hair, let alone when I was younger. So I walked away from that experience with an awkward haircut that I wasn’t able to shake until year twelve. A short haircut. A ‘lesbian’ haircut.

I grew up in a reasonably small place in Tasmania, and was remarkably lucky not to have had it worse. I appreciate that. Hell, I feel like I’m giving up and betraying my visibly queer brothers, sisters and siblings by giving in and trying to be ‘more feminine’ – whatever that means – by growing my hair out. At the crux of it, I just want to try something different, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there are going to be benefits from looking more straight. Yet, exactly like you said in your article, traits of perceived masculinity or femininity are not ‘gay’ or ‘straight’, but rather, just traits in general… But I don’t think you managed to stick to this wonderful sentiment as your discussion progressed, and I admit I haven’t either.

Having short hair but being a little more, lanky-nerd-music-student-bi than muscly-androgynous-or-butch-lesbian has made me resent those who fit into the latter group. This is hateful, and uncomfortable to admit, because it’s an ugly side of my own journey to self-acceptance that I’m still trying to shake.

There is a line that we LGB folk seem to recognise. That is, “I’m ‘queer’ in ways A, B & C but I’m not D so it’s chill.” In my desperation to not fit a stereotype I have been cruel, and wanted to distance myself from those who do perform the queer woman stereotype in the way they dress and act. I cannot provide the answers to all these uncomfortable conflicts, and there’s a lot more to be done within the community before we can do so. I wish only to question your desire for your fellow str8-acting bros to come out so you’re no longer stereotyped alongside the femme qualities you seem to dislike. I’d like to make the point that the weak wristed, lisping, yaaaasssss queens to whom you refer might well be performing these stereotypes out of internalised homophobia of their own – or they might just be most comfortable that way. Personally, I found the words you used a little condescending and upsetting to read. Perhaps that is not how you meant them to come across, in fact I’m sure you didn’t, however, I read them as the mirror of what I once felt, and saw them as similar in sentiment.

There is a lot of pressure to be a part of the ‘gay’ club, and if you haven’t had a privileged school experience (like you and I have), it is beyond reasonable to wear a badge and wave a flag in the hope of fostering pride within yourself. It’s not fair of us to condemn it.

In this open letter to you, I simply want to recognise that I am growing my hair out, at least in part, to prevent me from being labelled a butch lesbian or ‘the man’ in my relationship. This choice is motivated by the internal and external homophobia and biphobia that I have experienced for years – it just is.

Love,

Hannah