May 2019
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femmephobia and masc-centric attitudes in white queer circles

icon: "distance (two hands (from a brown person and a white person) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

I have a dirty little secret to share about the queer world: it's just as misogynistic as the straight cis world, and even more femmephobic. At least among straight cis people it's fine for one group of people (women) to be femme, but among queer people (at least, white southern queer people), being femme whether you're afab or amab makes you undesirable or simply rejected as not real / not belonging. A common disclaimer on gay hookup ads is "no fems." (along with "no fats" "no Asians" "no blacks" because white gay cis men are every bit as disgusting as white straight cis men)

When I was a brand new baby queer, fresh out of a marriage to a straight cis man, I was completely devoid of queer friends or indeed, pretty much any friends. I came into contact with this group of queers and I fell in love with their sense of interconnectedness and I wanted to be part of that group so badly. I tried so hard to be friends. I was wide open to learning and willing to do far more than my fair share of the work.

[But none of them wanted to be my friend...]
But none of them wanted to be my friend. They never invited me to anything and the few people willing to spend time with me didn't find my company appealing enough to ever try to spend time with me on their own initative. Every time I spent time with one of them (except once), I had to drive an hour in my rickety, 20+ year old car down to their house or a place walking distance from their house because that was the only way they were willing to even see me, despite the fact that most of them had cars and lived near a public transit line.

If it was one person or even two people, I would have said oh well, they just don't like me. But there were at least five of them I actively tried to connect with, to varying degrees, and they all reacted the same. As soon as they learned where I lived, their willingness to invest in me dropped to zero (and it was low already). And the reason I lived where I lived (same as now) is because I couldn't afford to live in the city. Because you have to either be well-off, or know people who are willing to split a house with you. So they rejected me in large part because I couldn't afford to live in their neighborhood.

I'm also pretty damn sure that a huge part of why they rejected me was because I refused to wear the queer uniform. As a person with large breasts, wearing skirts and sleeveless clingy tops is not up to queer uniform code. It's too "straight"? too "gender normative"? (I laugh at this idea because no straight person dresses like me)

Femmephobia is real, and intense, especially in white queer middle/upper class circles in the south (apparently up north, masc is the uncool presentation). I remember someone approaching me about being femme and I didn't know what that meant and thought they were calling me feminine and I got very upset, partly because it felt like them affirming that I would never be accepted by queer society. Now I understand what it took to approach me, and why they did it, and I wish I had understood and taken that chance for connection.

I remember feeling immense pressure to change my look. I bought a binder, put it on and hated it thoroughly, instantly, and never wore it again. I cried because I felt like it damaged me in the 15 minutes I had it on. ...Wow I had never drawn the connection between the pressure I felt from those queers (nearly all of them masc) and buying a binder... I feel so bad for baby-me, so worn down by expectations and so lonely for a sense of community that I was willing to betray myself in an effort to become acceptable. My breasts have been one of my favorite parts of my body since I grew them, but I was willing to give them up in order to be accepted.

Being rejected by the entire group broke my spirit. It was first chance I had at in-person community ever in my life, because I had never had that in my family or in school etc. And they rejected me because I didn't have money and wasn't "on trend" or at least, that was how it read to me. It's possible I was just too socially awkward or too blunt or too excited or too invested etc, whatever it was, I needed them and they turned me away. All of them (except for the one who fell into drugs and cut contact and the one who moved away).

Godde, if even one had made even the slightest effort to include me, that would have changed my world. Or if they just foisted me off on some other set of queers they didn't like, that would have been wonderful. but no one bothered. I'm sure there are other queer groups in a city of over 5 million but finding them feels impossible and I am so tired of being rejected and/or ignored and/or disrespected.

This is why I don't ever want to go to gay bars. I expect to find anti-femme culture there and it hurts worse coming from people who should be my community.

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esvoljtab ══╣aurora╠══
YEP. I feel this so hard. Did I ever tell you--when I cut my hair super short, I had more than one person tell me on more than one occasion that I "look so much more queer" and that I was "so much more approachable" ? Because of my HAIR? Which of course doesn't even cover how many times in the past (especially when I was younger) I was told, point blank, that I wasn't really a WLW because, I mean, look at me.


ETA: Oh, also. I was told (again, more than once, separately) that I looked "more Asian" or "less Asian" because of the length of my hair. I just can't.
Stitch - Oh noes
miss_ljv ══╣Stitch - Oh noes╠══
The difference between expectations in the north vs south is something I never thought of with regards to queer culture. As a MN native and dweller, I can confirm that femme is the accepted standard for both afab and amab; though, at least in the Twin Cities, masc is accepted to varying degrees depending on the desire (think Paul Bunyan here - MN's obsession with the lumberjack look for cis and queer is true).

I'm so sorry that you're experiencing loneliness and non-acceptance there. *hugs*
hana_broom ══╣╠══
Wow - this is interesting... I've been involved in different groups/communities based on different stuff, but I left them because I hate the stereotyping that occurs... I just really can't be bothered to get involved with any others!
shermarama ══╣╠══
Aargh, it's horrible when finding the right people is such a pain. I can only offer some cheer-leading for giving it another go, because out of 5 million people, surely, surely...? I'm in New Zealand, where the whole country is only 4.5 million of us... and I'm in the fourth-largest city in the country and that's, well, that's up to 250k depending what you count but it's still a bloody village by the standards I'm used to. The first queer group I encountered here was the obvious one, the Hamilton Pride group, and at the time that was mainly gay men; I'd sometimes be the only woman at socials. Many of the group were chatty and friendly, not obviously pushing me out for being female or anything (then again, I'm not very femme) but these were not the people I was looking for, and it felt really isolating. It took me several more months to find out there was a Lesbian Social Group (but they don't seem to have many queer / bi members) and a queer softball team (many bi / queer / trans members, cool, but I'm abysmal at ball sports and am not prepared to put myself through that to socialise) and a lesbian / technically queer choir (but male members never seem to last)... I think, eventually, I haven't found a group that's My People. But I'm still glad of what I do get out of the groups I do see (the lesbian choir has a lot of femme going on, and a whole lot of general eye-rolling to the patriarchy, but mainly just a whole lot of kindness and laughter, plus I really enjoy singing) and I suppose I think of how all these other people are just looking for their people too, the things that make sense for where they are now (even if they've not done much questioning themselves) and have brought them together. We're all just trying to find some buddies, I guess.
jeune_fleur ══╣╠══
I'm not super involved in the queer community, so I'm definitely surprised by what I'm reading. I can't believe it, tbh...
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.