Every few weeks, I find myself naked on a table, legs splayed open, making small talk with a very attractive straight woman while she rips my pubes out.
I find myself awkwardly giggling, “no, still no boyfriend,” whenever she asks about my dating life. In salons, women love to talk about their relationships (me included) and it’s good common ground for when chatting about the weather gets boring. You see your beauty team often—talking about the rain gets played out. When these sorts of relationship conversations inevitably come up, I go along with the assumption of my heterosexuality. While I can unabashedly let a stranger wax my asshole, I somehow find it difficult to discuss my gayness with her.
“My boyfriend likes me completely bare,” she explained to me after I first requested a landing strip. “Why do men like that?” she mused. She eyed me. I was to respond.
“Totally! Yeah! Men!” I laughed. I tried to relate. There is something sacred about the bond between a girl and her beauty team—I mean, have you ever seen “Legally Blonde?” Most conversations are a sort of therapy session centered around dating, but the thing about being a “traditionally” feminine lesbian is having your sexuality assumed in these situations.
A lot of my beauty interactions are similar in that sense. I give advice to my hairdresser about her boyfriend, alluding to my fake “straight” experience.
My nail tech, who I’ve known for years, has no idea I date women. I even let her think I was sleeping with one of my male professors just because I felt too awkward saying I was gay. I laugh with my spray tan tech about how boyfriends hate the orange tan residue on the sheets. (Personally, I hate that spray tans make me smell like Ritz Crackers but I’m totally addicted to being bronze). At the dermatologist, when I asked for Accutane for my cystic acne (vom), my fabulously Botoxed dermatologist went on a long rant at how I absolutely cannot get pregnant while using Accutane.
“I’ll use condoms,” I promised, feeling uncomfortable. It doesn’t sting every single time, but having your sexuality constantly assumed can get exhausting. And whether a threat be real or imaginary, it can make you feel unsafe disclosing the truth. I can’t correct a straight woman about my sexuality while she has her hand on my vagina or is spray tanning my naked body because I don’t want to put these sacred feminine relationships at risk.
I’m not like this normally. I’m extremely outspoken. And extremely gay! I’m out to basically everybody, and am often very vocal about, well, everything. Sometimes I’m totally guilty of TMI. I explicitly write about my sex life online as my job (I am living my dream) and yet I get strangely shy—ashamed, even, to be honest—when I’m in intimate settings with straight women.
Maybe it’s PTSD from high school locker rooms (aka HELL for queer teens) where I’d concentrate so hard on the floor while changing I’d almost face plant. I’ve never felt attracted to a straight woman. I’m terribly insecure and anxious and would never be attracted to someone that wasn’t clearly into me. I don’t worry about falling for a straight woman. I worry about not fitting in with straight femme women or making them uncomfortable.
My fear of disclosing my sexuality also stems from the gynecologist. I’m sure you, fellow queer gal, have had a similar experience. When a gyno is too dense to understand how you are sexually active and have no chance of being pregnant—seriously? You can graduate medical school but can’t comprehend that women f*ck each other? But then when you meekly chirp “I don’t sleep with men,” from under your paper gown and your vagina tenses up and your back starts sweating (just me?) they act like you’ve divulged way too much information.
You said too much, they don’t want to know that, that was inappropriate I irrationally scold myself. I’m terrified of that same feeling with one of my beauty friends. I’ve been in these spaces and “passing” for years and I worry what would happen to my relationships if I was out. I rely on these women to keep me beautiful! I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.
A few months ago, I’d had enough. Though I was nervous, I decided I was going to out myself to my false lash technician (by now I’m sure you realize I have a beauty addiction).
“So, how’s the love life? Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked as she was applying surgical grade adhesive and giant lashes to my eyelid. I felt the glue sting. I forced myself to speak. “I don’t. I actually date women,” I squeaked. My heart beat faster. Now she’s gonna get weird and not want to spray tan me, I worried.
“Oh! Are you seeing anyone?” she asked, without even hesitating. In that small moment, I felt affirmed. I felt seen. I felt safe.
After such a positive experience with my lash girl, I decided to try again at Sephora last Friday. “I have a date tonight” I gushed while situating myself in the makeup chair.
“Oooh, what’s his name?” the artist asked.
“Her name is Suzie,” I anxiously blinked my long eyelashes.
“Tell me more!!” she answered, and all was well in girl world.
The more I out myself in situations where I was previously terrified to, I’m met with genuine support and interest. I know we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes coming out is met with danger and discrimination, but I’ve had good experiences when I’ve tried. Being traditionally femme is rife with its own struggles and complications, but it’s nice to know that the sisterhood is strong.
At the end of the day, we want to gossip about dating in salons, regardless of sexuality or gender. I’m going to keep outing myself to my beauty team. They see me ass naked, there’s no reason they shouldn’t hear my truth.