mistaken identity

57fbf036df6d4b524319ce739cd6cd11When my friend tagged me in an article posted on Facebook and commented, “Jenny, I’m sure you can relate”, I was eager to see what the content was about.  And after reading just only the first few sentences, I felt a whoosh of feeling understood come over me.  Because I too struggle with a case of mistaken identity on a regular basis and it’s profound being able to connect with others who go through the same experience.  Lindsay King-Miller brilliantly articulates and breaks down for us in the article, “My Life as an Invisible Queer”, the vast amount of stereotyping we are all guilty of.  Women who look like men must be gay, right?  And visa versa.  Not the case at all.

I’m feminine and have long hair, I wear make-up and am girly so the amount of times people mistake me for straight is endless.  Once people recognize that I’m married via my engagement ring, I’m constantly asked, “what my husband does?” or “where my husband is” or any other question in the context of what we are discussing referring to my better half.  And I am automatically put in a position where I need to out myself and explain my orientation.  I think to myself how it would be easier just to go along with it, instead of creating an odd moment between myself and asker, but as an out and proud person, that would totally contradict everything I stand for.  So alas, I enter into many situations with strangers, aware that at some point sexuality will come up.  And it’s always about mine.  The discomfort mostly comes from knowing that the other person will be thrown off once I tell them that I’m gay, thus feel bad for making an assumption.  Perhaps a projection on my behalf, but an awkward moment is the inevitable.  It just happened to me recently when in Telluride.  I was at the oxygen bar (YES!  I went to an oxygen bar to refuel.  Those high altitudes are cray!), and the shop owner noticed my ring and innocently asked, “is your husband up on the mountain?”  Familiar with this line of questioning, I corrected her and got the typical, “oh, okay, that’s cool” response, which is always accompanied by a brief moment of silence.  People usually need a minute to collect their thoughts and put the pieces together.

Dina on the other hand doesn’t face quite the same case of mistaken identity because she more appropriately fits the stereotypical profile of what gay women look like.  People on the contrary always just assume she has a wife so don’t even bother asking.  Or I can’t tell you how many times Dina has actually been mistaken for a guy.  We have had full blown conversations with waiters and/or waitresses, them literally referring to her as, “sir” the entire meal.  Now, I know Dina does not have the most feminine fashion sense, but she is a woman through and through.  And it’s unfortunate that people cannot see beyond what she is wearing or how her hair is cut to automatically think they’ve figured it out.  I’m not mad or bitter about these assumptions.  I think we all fall victim to stereotyping at one time or another.  We are human.  In this article however, Lindsay begins a conversation around how none of us can assume anyone’s orientation based on what they look like.  Feminine women can be gay and masculine women could be straight.  And straight men could dress like women and straight women could dress like men.  The beauty of life (and living in this country, particularly) is that we have freedom of expression.  And as our culture evolves and moves forward towards increasing levels of tolerance and acceptance, we will only continue to come in contact with various demonstrations of individuality.  Now is the time to expand your mind, education and understanding.  If not now, then when.

This article is such an important message and helps raise awareness to something you may not have considered before.  I urge you to read on.  Do it for yourself, for your friends, for your family and for all of us that work every day at honoring our soul style.

Click here for the full read.  Linsday explains it better then I ever could have.  If I knew her, I’d thank her to the moon.

photo via pinterest

Add Comment

One Response to “mistaken identity”

  1. Rhona  / 

    Read the full article, but I must disagree, you’re explanation was totally on target.
    Jenny …..you are an extraordinary woman