Hi my name is Bianca, and I pass for a lesbian. And I like it.
Although I do identify as heteroflexible (in a nutshell: I like fooling around with girls but am not currently interested in pursuing a relationship with one...though never say never...) and have identified as "bisexual" in the years before "pansexual," I have never identified as a lesbian.
All it takes to pass as a lesbian: short hair. I am serious. Although I do consider myself an androgyne, my style is frequently femme: lipstick, nail polish, dresses, high heels. But as long as I keep my Wahl on the 3/4" setting, I will be read as a dyke.
And let's face it- I put out a queer vibe. I belong in queer culture, not straight culture, even if I like dick. And it's true that I've probably had sex with more girls than your average straight woman (though many "straight" women have a few sapphic skeletons in the closet...) I have written and published a fair amount of lesbian erotica over the years, though it was always based on my fantasies, not realities. I owned every issues of On Our Backs produced after 1998, I own several dildo harnesses, and I love fisting. Of course, in the years that I really wanted to date women, I never seemed to get lucky. And the relationships I have had with women have been emotionally exhausting, sexually frustrating, and full of the crazy. So I'm pretty happy with my genderqueer penis-lovin' girlfag identity.
I will be honest: I LIKE looking "like a lesbian." I like feeling like I "fit in" in queer spaces, at least superficially. Until the inevitable "having to explain being a girlfag and feeling super awkward and sometimes judged" thing kicks in. So is this a form of passing privilege? Passing for a kind of queer that's easier for people to comprehend than genderqueer (or "trenderqueer" as I've had the pleasure of being labeled by narrowminded assholes in the past?)
Passing privilege is usually framed in the context of femme women and others whose presentation makes them appear "straight," or bisexuals who will appear alternately straight or gay depending on who they're seen with. The idea is that those who pass as straight might have a better time getting hired for straight jobs, are hassled less in general, etc. But I imagine it is stressful in a different way to have people assume you're straight when you're not. I am very comfortable passing for gay when I'm not, but it does give me a sense of imposter syndrome at times, like I'm a spy or infiltrator.
What is interesting to me is it seems like Black women can wear my hairstyle (think young Whitney Houston, Amber Rose, Grace Jones) and not be automatically assumed to be gay. Grace Jones even wears men's suits! It's a totally different socio-cultural concept of femininity, and maintaining long, straight hair is a buttload more work for Black women who have curly hair than your average white girl (my hair looks terrible long TBH), so maybe rocking the short cut is partly pragmatic?
(Ok, TBH I'm not sure if this is a short cut or if it's slicked back. This photo is burned into my mind's eye because we sang "The Greatest Love of All" at my 6th Grade Graduation, and it's still a kind of awesome song because it's all about self lovin!)
And I guess for white women it was cool in the 80's. (I love the amount of short hair you see in movies like Desperately Seeking Susan, Liquid Sky, etc.)
FUCK YEAH, ANNE CARLISLE.
But at this point, I don't see a lot of straight white women wearing my haircut. And I'm cool with that, because it makes me distinctive (I imagine I would have been less so in 1983, so maybe my obsession with women with short hair has to do with being a New Wave lover and child of the 80s.)
And here's another thing that throws a monkeywrench in the gears- I enjoy being sexual with other "straight" (realistically heteroflexible) women more than with women who identify as lesbians. I think it makes sense- realistically it's all about the sex and we don't take it too seriously, so we're all on the same page. I recently went to a sex party that was all women, and most of them WEREN'T lesbians, and it was ridiculously fun. I know that the concept of a bunch of straight-ish women having a casual sex orgy would horrify some gold star lesbians, but seriously, what's the problem? I am kind of squicked by lesbian acts being performed for the entertainment of straight men (and I hate if I'm vibeing with a girl in public that it's viewed/treated this way). But there were no men at this party- it was strictly FOR US. Sexuality is weird and no amount of political correctness is going to fix that.