Visibility and invisibility

I am not even a little bit sorry for how much I enjoy making straight people uncomfortable when I show up in their line of vision with my queer desire. I actively love forcing people to confront their unconscious assumption that I am straight. **Important to note here that I acknowledge the many privileges I have as a white, cis woman living in a large liberal city. This privilege allows these moments to feel exciting and useful rather than unsafe and terrifying.** Would things be less confusing for you if I took my hand off my girlfriend’s thigh while we sit next to you on this crowded train? Too fucking bad. These instances are also perhaps the only moments when being an object of (straight, cis) male attraction has felt to me like a useful advantage, a tool that I can use in dismantling heteronormativity in my own tiny way. You want me, gentleman at the bar with the pretentious glasses, but I want her. How does that sit with your fragile masculinity?

(The righteous strength and pleasure that I feel in moments like these is also why I love the word Dyke and identify with it loudly and often. Dykes aren’t consumable; we don’t exist for your pleasure; we aren’t safe; we don’t have pretty, sexy, porn-y sex that panders to your fantasies and provides ample protection for your ego. We are noisy, volatile, raucous and self-sufficient, and we have messy, dirty sex that leaves no room for you.) 

I have a more complicated relationship to this phenomenon of my invisibility being made visible when it happens within the queer community. The Queers I Have Known have seemed generally to be pleasantly surprised when they learn that I am a member of their ranks, either via explicit verbal declaration on my part or because my very butch partner showed up and put her arm around me. Pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless. Why can’t you see me, friends? Why is my feminine queerness a surprise to you? I fear that it’s because we’ve been taught that it’s safer not to see one another than to misjudge and attempt connection with someone who might do us harm. I fear that it’s because we’ve been denied from so many spaces that we didn’t know any better than to recreate the same gatekeeping practices within our chosen communities. I am sympathetic to this fear and I am guilty of this gatekeeping, but that does little to comfort me when I feel most invisible.

Kate