Questions answered: You can’t be gay–you are too feminine!

You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers! Here’s the first one: “What do you say to someone who says, ‘You can’t be gay–you are too feminine!’ I am worried when I come out to my family and friends that this will be their reaction.”

Oh, how I understand this problem! I’m definitely on the feminine side of the spectrum, so when I came out, I did get this sort of reaction from some friends and acquaintances. Most people’s image of a gay girl is more like k.d. lang than Portia de Rossi. So it’s understandable that we have a way to go before many understand that there are as many different kinds of lesbians as there are people in the world.

Another complicating factor is that when you are a feminine gay girl growing up, society more easily puts you into the “straight” category. No one thinks to ask if you are gay, and you don’t know enough to ask that question of yourself, especially if you have no gay role models. You “look” straight, guys are attracted to you, so you think, “Hey, this must be what I’m meant to do.”

I believe that, in some ways, feminine lesbians have a more difficult time coming out to themselves than more obvious gay girls. While we don’t get the teasing and the bullying that those girls received, we are more prone to hiding behind the mask of straightness since it’s simply easier for us to pass–to ourselves and to others.

And this can lead to a lifetime of questioning, “So, since I don’t like softball, I can’t be gay, right? I love wearing skirts and lipstick, so surely I’m not gay? Of course I’m not gay, I’ve been married to a man!” Yes, you can be gay under all of these circumstances–trust me!

All of that said, once you have come out to yourself, you fabulous feminine gay girl, you know your truth and no one can take that from you! My advice to you is to anticipate that question and come up with a funny answer (“Guess I’ll have to trade my heels for sensible shoes now”), a question back at them (“That’s interesting. Why do you think that? Do you know many other gay people?”), or ignore the question completely by changing the subject if you don’t want to address it.

Choose your approach based on the person asking the question and how much you feel like discussing this in the moment. You really don’t need to justify your gayness to anyone else at all!

As a final aside, this is another reason why I think everyone should be as “out” as they can. The world needs to see that gay people come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. People who are questioning their sexuality desperately need role models to show them that being gay is not limited to the old stereotypes. Burly football players can be gay, lipstick-wearing actresses can be gay–break down those stereotypes and add your special style to the mix!

Feel free to tweet your questions to me @latelifelesbian or leave them in the comments section. I’d love to hear what’s on your mind!

13 thoughts on “Questions answered: You can’t be gay–you are too feminine!

  1. Claire brantley

    Whenever people say this around me, I always say there are as many different ways to be gay as there are to be straight. We allow for huge variation in being straight — you can be girly, tomboyish, or anything in between, and the same is true for our gay brethren and sistren. But I think you’re right, those stereotypes exist as long as we still have less-stereotypical gay folks in the closet. And I often thought maybe some of those stereotypes lived on because it helped folks on both teams avoid making a mistake … Unwelcome hitting on someone you thought played for your team, but really plays for the other team. But we’ve surely outgrown the need for that, if it ever existed. If you are interested in someone and it turns out they play for the other team, isn’t that the sweetest kind of rejection? It really isn’t you, in that case! Love your blog, Andrea! And, you, too, of course!!!

    1. Great insights, Claire! And I hadn’t thought about the “other team” aspect, but that makes sense. Glad that we are moving beyond that as people are more comfortable being “out,” but I can totally see how that made sense in the past. Thanks so much for your comment and your support!

  2. Amazing Sweetness

    Andrea, thank you so much for writing that blog!! I have come out to myself and I know that my own self acceptance is what’s most important . I will be prepared for people to say “you can’t be gay your too feminine” because I have a feeling that more people other than my sister may say that to me. Thank you for giving me some good responses to say. I couldn’t agree with you more that growing up and looking girly made it easier to repress or hide because you didn’t look like you could be gay. For me I just went along and dated guys like my friends were doing. I was totally clueless that I could be gay at that time. Because of my upbringing my therapist has told me that I really did loose myself, I had no sense of self. I am just starting to be in touch with MY own real feelings and emotions. It is a work in progress for me but I am determined to live an authentic life. I have made everyone else happy for years, pretending, sacrificing my own happiness it’s now time for me to embrace myself and live true to who I am. With that being said I want to give myself the time that I need to feel comfortable in new skin.

    1. AS, so happy to read your response! And glad I could help you out with some answers for your question. I totally relate to feeling of losing yourself and living your life for others. But it sounds like you are well on your way to living your life for YOU! Here’s to your best second half!

      1. Amazing Sweetness

        I am going out with a few friends tonite to celebrate a birthday. I think I will have a cocktail to celebrate this best second half of life!! I feel excited when I think about the future. It’s nice to now be able to actually FEEL happy, excited and hopeful. These are feelings that I haven’t felt about me or my life. I am very grateful for the awareness I have now. My C came into my life for a reason even though we are not together, It was a very big wake up call one that I just can’t ignore. Looking forward to more of your blogs, they are very helpful to women going through this. Thank you Andrea!!

        Ps- I am looking forward to the blog about ways to feel comfortable in your new skin :):)

  3. Rachel

    Yes! Being lesbian is about being attracted to and loving women. Period. It’s not about your hobbies or your haircut. A related topic is how there are misconceptions of how lesbians (or gay men) pair up. Surly if you are super feminine you will be with a very butch gal and vice versa. This must be the case because someone has to be “the man”, right? Nah—Again, there are as many preferences as people. Lipstick to lipstick, butch on butch, and, indeed, the stereotype loves. Lesbians have their types just like everybody else. All perfect.

    1. Amazing Sweetness

      Yeah, I’m am in the process of figuring out what type of lesbian I am attracted to. My Catalyst was sporty/feminine. I was very attracted to her from the first time I saw her. I am letting my thoughts and feelings guide me on this. It seems lately it is the more sporty/feminine women that catch my eye. I have a question though, how can you tell if it is not so obvious if a woman is gay? I don’t know the signs. Hmmm.

  4. Phoenix86

    I wonder how to tell, too. How do you find someone? Theoretically you have a one in 10 chance when you meet someone. Now that I know I’m not all alone and all of you are out there too, I think. Aybe there are actually more of us. But, how to tell, how to tell….

      1. Amazing Sweetness

        Oh Andrea we are just a group full of questions here. We will certainly keep you writing!!
        Phoenix86- It’s nice to know I am not the only one with that question, Lol. I think there are a lot more of us out there too. Sometimes I feel I have gaydar but I am afraid of trusting it. Alot of the time I just don’t know. The women who are more feminine/sporty is hard to tell by just the appearance. How are you doing Phoenix86?
        Thanks for writing about this for us Andrea!! We really do appreciate your knowledge and advice! 🙂

  5. Girlygirl89

    I’ve always loved to dress up , wear high heels to work and always wear make up. Everyone says that I’m a girly girl and I embraced it and used it as my user name lol. I recently came out to my mum, she was very supportive but since then she keeps on telling me that I’m not gay because I’m too girly. I tried to challenge her explaining that she’s stereotyping but she doesn’t understand. She still can’t believe I’m gay. I hope she comes to terms with it soon cause lately it’s like she’s blocked out the whole conversation. I’m seriously not looking forward to coming out to other people. But On the other hand I feel very liberated, although I’m finding it hard to find someone. I don’t trust my gaydar and people seem to think I’m straight 😦

  6. Miss Match

    I grew up with the stereotype image of a lesbian. They were either butch or were attracted to butch women. I was neither and it never occurred to me that I could be anything but straight. And when the rlx with my GF first developed., she commented that our rlx actually made her feel more feminine, as if it were some kind of paradox. My knee-jerk thought was “I’m not going to be the guy”.

    Ellen Degeneres said that asking who is the guy in the rlx is like taking a pair of chopsticks and asking which one is the fork.

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