I have a confession to make: I’m one wildly-awkward, shy-as-hell, anxiety-ridden, eerily-quiet lesbian. I’m what the French would call a “lesbienne timide” (timid lesbian).
People don’t expect me to be shy, because oh, I don’t know, I write shameless articles about antidepressants and heartbreak and orgasms on the Internet for a living? Or maybe it’s because I have a tendency to dress in what I like to call “slut chic” (crop tops but with PEARLS) and I’m always wearing these loud Lucite bangles that CLANK, CLANK, CLANK against each other when I walk. (“Do I hear I puppy in our office?!” I once heard a former boss excitedly ask as I CLANKED by the conference room. “No. That’s just Zara and her jewelry.”)
But I swear to my higher power (Lana Del Rey) that beneath the loud jewels and the over-the-top eyeliner and the sparkly fishnet stockings and the heavy shoes is one cripplingly shy, 30-year-old dyke.
I’m a particularly meek version of myself when I’m at a lesbian bar. If you don’t think that lesbian bars can be scary, HA! You’ve never set foot in a real lesbian bar.
The lesbian bar is mecca. It’s holy. I’ll sell my first-born to thy holy lesbian bar, but it can be a very intimidating institution, dahling.
I remember going to this stupidly hipster lesbian bar in L.A. with a friend of mine when I was a gangly 19-year-old with baby-doll bangs. All these chic, insanely sexy girls in badass leather jackets and black skinny jeans were outside the bar smoking, apathetic facial expressions scrawled across their perfectly angular faces. The leader of the pack coolly strode up to me, cigarette tucked between her long, graceful fingers, hair all side-swept like Tegan and Sara circa 2007, and purred: “Is this your first time here?”
“No!” I squeaked, even though it was.
The lesbian queen of East L.A. took a long, hard look at me: a skinny teen wearing a terrible faux-silk-wannabe-grunge-dress, eyeliner haphazardly winged out the temples of her forehead, acne littered across her greasy adolescent chin. She snickered as she stomped away in her “distressed” motorcycle boots. I was officially terrified.
But I’ve said this before and I’ll say keep saying it until I croak, babes: Human sexuality is driving force of the planet. It’s the reasons building are built and wars begin and steel hearts are cracked wide open!
My desire to flirt and kiss (and have sex) eventually trumped my fear of the scary lesbian bar. So off to the lesbian bar I went. And I guess it’s safe to say, I was never to be seen again. Where’s Zara? Oh, we lost her to the lesbian bar, yeaarrrs ago.
“Zara come on women talk to you! You never approach them!” a friend of mine cackled the other day when I was bestowing our group with some of my “no fail” flirting techniques. “You’ve got it down to a science!” she cried. “I’ve been observing you for YEARS—I know all of your tricks.”
“That’s so not true!” I yelped. Why was I feeling suddenly defensive?
In that moment I was hit with an epiphany of epic proportions: Holy shit, she’s right. Without even realizing it, my shyness had crafted the perfect formula to ensuring a woman will get hit on in the lesbian bar!
So shy lesbians, who don’t want to make the first move, I see you and I am you. And I’m here to share my tricks of the shy girl trade. Follow these steps and you’ll never have to approach a girl again, ‘cause she’ll come to you, first.
Even when you’re by yourself. Especially when you’re by yourself. Which leads me seamlessly into my first point:
I know just the idea of venturing to the girl bar alone, can feel deeply terrifying to the shy entity, but think of it like this: At least you won’t have to force yourself to engage in small talk with a tired acquaintance you’re dragging along just so you have company.
Once I ripped the Band-Aid off and began strutting to the bar solo, I found I much preferred it. When you’re alone you can retreat into yourself without seeming “rude” and isn’t that the shy girl’s dream come true?
But that’s not the point. The point is that you’re much more likely to get hit on when you’re by yourself. Women are intrinsically turned on by confidence, and what in the world exudes magnificent confidence like a girl who has the nerve to sit at a lesbian bar, alone with her drink? I’m getting turned on just thinking about it!
Whenever I see a girl alone at a bar, I’m instantly intrigued. “Who is she?” I’ll whisper to my friend Layla.* Layla will be equally excited, “I don’t know, but she’s really sexy. I think I’m going to talk to her.” And the next thing you know we’re both fighting over who is going to talk to the mysterious lone lesbian holding court in the center of the bar.
And isn’t that ultimate goal? You want to be the girl my friends and I are fighting over! I want to be the girl my friends and I are fighting over too! We ALL want to be THAT girl right? The exotic Sapphic vixen everyone’s buzzing about?
And the first step to becoming her is simply to throw on your winter jacket and go out ALONE, grrrl.
Wear a Conversation Starter
Wear something that gives your suitors a bit of a lead. A little something that will give the curious women around you the perfect, non-creepy pick-up line. In other words: wear a conversation starter, h-o-n-e-y.
Now, my conversation starter piece is a delicate gold necklace with naughty little handcuffs dangling from the middle. Every time I wear it to the lesbian bar, some babe asks me about it. “Oh, that’s different—where is it from?”
“Oh, this old thing? Actually, my best friend got it for me for my 30th birthday.”
And BAM the tiny little matchbook of conversation has been STRUCK and conversation has SPARKED. In a beautiful ~organic~ way.
FYI: I’m not saying you all need to go out and buy yourself a piece of expensive bondage jewelry, OK? Just rock something a little out of the box. Maybe a pin with a snarky political quip? Or maybe just roll your sleeve up and show off those sexy forearm tattoos for once, babe. Just give the ladies something to break the ice, pleeaaase!
Wear Something Wonderfully Queer
Before I get into heaps of trouble, kindly allow me to disclaim: I think if you’re at a lesbian bar, it’s safe to assume that all women on the premise, are queer. I don’t think there is a particular “lesbian” way to dress. I don’t identify as femme, or as a “lipstick lesbian” or butch or anything really. (I prefer “mascara lesbian” but that’s another article.) I think style and sexuality are two very different things, trust me.
However, my more feminine presenting compatriots often tell me that no one ever approaches them at le lesbian bar because no one thinks that they’re real lesbians. I’ve also had lesbians confess to me once their a few cocktails deep, that they initially didn’t approach me because they thought I was just one of those groovy straight chicks that trolls the gay bars.
But you know what changed my life? My former editor, the legendary Emily McCombs bought me a cute, baby-pink, little pin early last year. It reads “Queer Femme” in tiny letters. I wore it the lesbian bar, and suddenly I was SEEN. Femme invisibility, what?
So don’t be afraid to chase the rainbow, babes. Get yourself a cute queer pink pin, or a little rainbow bracelet, or just scrawl the letters “L-E-S-B-I-A-N” in black ink across your forehead. Make it so there is no confusion about what team you’re playing for, tonight, kitten (purr).
Bring A Book (Especially Something Feminist/Social Justice-Themed)
This is an accidental trick I stumbled upon when I lived across the pond. I was sitting at a pub in London, lonely as hell, reading “The Glass Castle” when all these men flocked to me in droves!
“What are you reading, darling?” they all chirped. I, of course, shot them dirty looks and curled into the corner of the bar, because I’m not attracted to male creatures and find the boozy breath of an Englishman to be repulsive at best. But a light-bulb went off in my brain.
A few months later I pulled the same move at a lesbian bar. It was a success, ladies! First of all, if you’re feeling alienated and uncomfortable, just turn to your book. It’s the perfect crutch that you can always fold into when you’re hit with a bout of the ole’ insecurity.
But most importantly: a girl who reads turns everyone on. Books are the new cigarettes!
Extra points if you’re reading something that has themes of social justice or feminism. You’ll get to show off your prolific point-of-view the very moment that curious lesbian inquires “what you’re reading.”
Order an exotic looking cocktail
Order the weirdest, most wildly exotic drink on the menu. If it’s dive-y and there is no menu, ask the bartender to make you her signature cocktail. Bartenders love that!
When you’re sipping a strange, foreign-looking drink, everyone will be all over you.
“Oh, what are you drinking? That looks interesting.” To which you’ll bat your lashes and coo, “It’s the bartender’s specialty. It’s not even on the menu. Want a sip?”
Shoot sultry looks across the bar
Hey, sexy girl. Just because you’re panic-attack-level-shy doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do any work, now, you hear? As my posh English mother has advised me my whole life, “You’ve got to throw ‘em a bone, darling.”
Real talk: It’s easy for us shy folk’ to come across as icy—bitchy even. We can easily radiate “Leave me the eff alone, creep!” energy without meaning to.
You need to let the ladies know that you’re down with getting approached—and not just for friendly banter, but for flirty banter.
So what’s a girl to do? Eye-sex, babe. Shoot sultry looks at the woman who tickles your fancy. Bat your lashes, give her your sexiest bedroom eyes, and hold her steady gaze. And then dramatically look away.
Tease her. Because no one can resist a tease, ever. (Trust me on this one.)
Stay Off Your Phone
The great Stacy Lentz of the Stonewall Inn recently bestowed me with an excellent antidote: “I don’t come up to anyone who is on their phone.” I gasped. “Really?” She nodded her curly head.
This was a huge wake-up call for yours truly, cause I don’t know about you, but I’m always on my phone. The moment I feel insecure I pretend to furiously text (shh). However, when I really think about it, who the hell wants to talk to a girl who is buried in her freaking phone? I mean hook into your phone when you’re on Tinder, not when you’re blessed with a rare “real life” moment.
Plus when your head is down how are you ever going to be able to check out the sexy girls coming in and out of the bar, babes? And how, dear, how, will you be able to tell when the woman of your dreams is sexily walking up to you?
So put down that phone, throw on your bondage necklace (whatever your version of the bondage necklace is), grab your tattered copy of “Full Frontal Feminism,” show off your equality symbol tattoo, order a pop-colored martini and HEAD TO THE BAR SOLO.