Looking for subtle ways to let people know that I'm gay
August 25, 2009 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Looking for subtle ways to let people know that I'm gay

My question is sort of the opposite of this one. I want people to be able to guess that I'm a lesbian by looking at me. A single lesbian. An available single lesbian who would love to be set up on a blind date with your cousin who just broke up with her partner.

I've been told that I don't really give off a "gay vibe". People are often surprised when I come out to them. More than one person has refused to believe me. I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong, but I'd like to change it. I feel like I would have an easier time connecting with other gay women if I made a more accurate first impression. Does anyone have advice for this sort of thing? Posture, body language, clothing, makeup, attitude, anything?

Possibly relevant detail: I'm short (5'4") and round (size 12). (I have this vague hope that someone will write back to say "Wear this dress. It will make you look like a lesbian." If anyone has a magic lesbian dress that comes in a size 12, I'm in).
posted by GraceCathedral to Human Relations (52 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Maybe put a rainbow pin on your bag? or maybe wear some jewelry that also has that motif?
posted by kylej at 9:36 PM on August 25, 2009

What does your hair look like?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:38 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

A "Team Vag" t-shirt?

Seriously though, if you're wanting people to know enough about you to be able to set you up on blind dates with their lesbian cousins, you're going to have to be more than subtle. People usually don't just randomly set up their acquaintances on blind dates (even heterosexual dates) without knowing that they're interested in the first place.
posted by amyms at 9:41 PM on August 25, 2009

If my cousin just broke up with her partner, the smartest thing for you to say to me would be, "hey, so I hear your cousin just broke up with her partner". This should be followed by eyebrow waggling. Nice and subtle, but pretty forward at the same time.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:45 PM on August 25, 2009

I don't think a dress will help! Knowing your age might help, and your general vibe- femmey? butchy? boyish? sporty? hippie? etc. What's your haircut like?

Wearing crisp men's clothing or menswear is one way for a woman to "look gay". I really like Rachel Maddow's style, especially off-air. She wears a lot of men's clothing or menswear-style women's clothing, usually pieces with very straight, unfussy lines. And she has a short, unfussy haircut (tends to be more blunt and less pixie-ish, for instance) and thick-framed glasses. I think most people would read her as a lesbian.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:47 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]

As a friend of a gay guy who doesn't "read" gay, I am responsible for putting it out there in conversation when he gives me a signal. Maybe you could have a friend do the same?
posted by emyd at 9:48 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My hair is about shoulder length and straight. I'm a little scared to try really short hair because my face is round, and I think very short hair looks better with pronounced cheekbones.

The stranger/blind date thing might be a bad example, but part of the impetus behind this question was that the other day a random woman on the train tried to set me up with her brother. It did seem a little socially inappropriate at the time, but it started me thinking.
posted by GraceCathedral at 9:53 PM on August 25, 2009

Best answer: Labrys, lambda or two intertwined female symbols jewelry. If people are trying to set you up with their male friends or relatives, tell them point blank that you prefer girls.
posted by brujita at 9:53 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

My hair is about shoulder length and straight.

Ah, that's what I figured. I understand your hesitance, but I think going short and blunt, like pseudostrabismus said, could be your magic lesbian dress. Fair or unfair, when most people imagine lesbians, the imaginary lesbians have short hair.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:00 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How about ditching subtlety? A few of my lesbian friends have made the same complaint as you, and what worked for them was simply being more direct. Maybe not "You! Do you have a hot lesbian cousin who needs consoling?" But letting people know that you're gay and looking (indirectly by just talking about the gay part of your life, like the last girl you broke up with) will probably do wonders for keeping you in the minds of others who might be looking for someone for their cousin.
posted by fatbird at 10:03 PM on August 25, 2009 [7 favorites]

I think amyms has the right idea. I wouldn't try to set up anyone, of any orientation, if I didn't know they were interested. That said, I've also had to fend off family members trying to set me up with people I wasn't interested in, so if you're looking for that kind of help, then I suppose a mini-makeover wouldn't hurt.

First off, always trying to look your best is a good way to subtly advertise that you're looking, regardless of your preferences. Get a sexy new outfit, but definitely something you feel comfortable in. The more fab or fierce you look, the more obvious it will be that you're trying to get some attention. If you're trying to project a less subtle way of saying "BRING ON THE LADIES" to people who may not be aware of your orientation, then , like pseudostrabismus says, short, blunt, and unfussy hair is the way to go. Sartorial choices should lean towards androgyny. Short nails, sensible shoes, and maybe a small, classy pride pin to eliminate all doubt.

But, really, there is no one gay "look". Wear whatever makes you feel the most amazing, and then go out on the prowl. That'll help you a lot more than hoping someone has an epiphany and wants to play matchmaker.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:08 PM on August 25, 2009

Best answer: Hmm, it seems like the ideal would be for you to keep being yourself, dressing and behaving in the ways that feel natural and comfortable to you, but with more dates. So maybe a first step is finding a way to bring more gay people into your life. Perhaps you already have a lot of gay friends, but if not it might be worth actively trying to go to gay events, join gay groups, etc to just expand your dating pool (and, if you really want to expand your visual presentation, maybe to inspire your fashion palate too). And as mentioned above, you could also make a more direct request of queer and straight friends and family members that they set you up with their charming/smart/cute/etc female friends.

In terms of lesbian signifier go, as far as I can tell a lot depends on who you're hanging out with. Like I tend to travel in a very gendered, butch/femme social circle, where gender presentation (masculine or feminine) tends towards the extremes. If I see a masculine woman, I generally assume they're gay, and if I see a super feminine person, I can also sort of safely assume they're queer too, because they're outside the standard in a sense.

But there are plenty of other queer scenes. I think for a lot of people a sort of sporty, "tomboyish", Teva sandals with painted toenails look also communicates "gay", and doesn't fall into the butch/femme binary very easily.

If you tend towards the femmie or femmish, but aren't into some heavy FEMME identity, I advocate being less subtle. For lots of messed up reasons I think the world, even the lesbian world, will continue to assume your straightness in many cases. How about a few little gay signifiers? A friend of mine actually has a very cute little pin that says "QUEER" in curlicue script. I think it helps her get dates. There are also the tried and true freedom rings, woman symbol jewelry, gay band or gay slogan t-shirts, stuff like that.

Another issue to consider is that this may not even about your queerness. I think everyone has times when they feel that no one is noticing them. Perhaps this is just a little phase that will pass quickly.

Good luck!
posted by serazin at 10:13 PM on August 25, 2009 [7 favorites]

Straight girl here, but shouldn't a thumb ring work? (Please don't throw tomatoes at me if I'm hopelessly wrong, out of date, etc.)
posted by bluedaisy at 10:14 PM on August 25, 2009

Labrys, lambda or two intertwined female symbols jewelry.

Yeah, that would be one I'd consider pretty reliable; certainly more reliable than stereotypes like short hair and combat boots.
posted by rodgerd at 10:18 PM on August 25, 2009

I've never dated a gay or bi girl who wore a thumb ring, or worn one myself, and I've been dating women for more than 20 years yikes.

Lesbians have this invisibility thing going on, and femme lesbians even more so. I've had lots of girlfriends who did not sport lesbian haircut A, so don't cut your hair if you don't want to - I used to have hair down to my butt, and I let people know by telling them, or by flirting with girls I liked (I now have lesbian haircut A. Sigh. But it works for me). Working in a gay bookstore and editing a glbt book review magazine helped, of course.

So, jewelry (a labrys, maybe), and flirting with women. Good luck!
posted by rtha at 10:30 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, in about the same length of time of gayness, I've also never even heard of the thumb ring thing. (Wow my grammar is getting weird - time for bed!)
posted by serazin at 10:35 PM on August 25, 2009

Just mention in a casual conversation which celebrities you find attractive. "Rachel Bilson is so cute, I would totally date her!" Of course, the way you say this will vary depending on how old you are.
posted by biochemist at 10:36 PM on August 25, 2009

Best answer: I want people to be able to guess that I'm a lesbian by looking at me. A single lesbian. An available single lesbian who would love to be set up on a blind date with your cousin who just broke up with her partner.

An important rule of life is ask for what you want.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:39 PM on August 25, 2009 [8 favorites]

Hey, I don't think you should change how you look, but more what you say and how you position yourself verbally. I say this because I know plenty of lesbians who like their gals pretty and femme. You don't have to prescribe to some hetro idea of what a lesbian looks like, just be yourself. I think if people know you're gay, you're going to get offers, so the best policy is just to be unequivocal. Advertise a little.

Actually, three lesbian couples I am really close to have a "typically" lesbian half (suit wearing, short hair sporting) and a wouldn't-know-they're-gay (fashion and femininity loving) half.
posted by lottie at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2009

Actually, women (of all sexual orientations) jokingly/playfully expressing attraction to other women is so common and socially acceptable that I don't think talking about your crush on a female celebrity or even wearing jewelry with interwined female figures is going to do it.

Ironmouth -- and those who've pointed out that no one's going to set you up unless they know you're looking -- are on the right track.

So, you probably need to bring up in conversation that you're single and looking. Once you've taken that step, isn't it a pretty minor and natural step to add something about your sexual orientation? "Of course, it's hard because there aren't too many other eligible lesbians out there." OK, is that ridiculously clunky? Sure. But it's effective, isn't it? Anyway, you'll tweak the wording so it feels natural to you. But I think you'll want to go further than just symbolism or subliminal messages.

Also, fill out your Facebook profile appropriately. If you're not on Facebook, sign up! You don't need to use it all the time -- just put the info out there.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:54 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: the other day a random woman on the train tried to set me up with her brother.

My lesbian friend (who is often taken for straight) seems to just use the same one response for this, though she just says in a different tone depending on the result she wants.

It's either a singsong "I don't like boys." with eyes averted and a shy smile.... or an icy "I. don't. like. boys." with cold eyes burning a hole through the victim.

The former comes across as "take me home yourself, cutie" while the latter plays out more like a punch in the kidney.

And in answer to the overarching how to signal question, she offers this to our thread via IM: "Don't fake butch if you're not, just wear a double-fem button and flirt."... meaning a ⚢ double-female symbol.

Seems pretty unambiguous to me.
posted by rokusan at 1:21 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Insert into your conversations something like: "My friend set me up on a blind date with this girl on the weekend, but she wasn't my type. Are there any good women left?"
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:46 AM on August 26, 2009

I was starting to think I had made up the thumb ring thing, but the Urban Dictionary backs me up on this one.

Having said that... if a lot of lesbians don't know that, then it's useless. So, never mind! I'll go back to my straight girl land now.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:51 AM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: A friend of mine, one of those "hetrosexual" looking lesbians who was tall, slim, long haired and terribly Cosmo type fashionable decided one day to invest in a silver bracelet with rainbow flags all over it. To those who never guessed she was gay this was the signal, and to her - dead fashionable remember - it was simply her take on the current fad of those silver bracelets very popular at the time.

So I'd look into what is fashionable in your style at the moment and can you get it with rainbow? As for setting up dates, let your friends know that you're single and open to blind dates. You probably need to whack them over the head a few times with that info.
posted by dabitch at 2:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a broad spectrum of stereotypical fashion choices you can make, starting with a crew cut and ending with boy shoes, but if that's not who you are -- and I really don't think you can find a suitable match employing a look that's not your own, because it will feel inauthentic and who likes that? -- I think you do what everyone does when they want to insert their sexual or relationship status into a conversation, the old disingenuous aside--'Oh, I hate calamari, my ex-girlfriend insisted on ordering it everytime we went to a restaurant.'

Rinse, repeat with better example.

Short of cleaning up and trying to be as attractive and non-smelly as possible, I don't think anyone should change too much about themselves in the service of finding a partner. It'll just get you the wrong partner.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also: maybe you don't know enough lesbians. You might be in a demographic situation where everyone assumes you're straight because they're straight, and it just doesn't come up often enough for them to not assume.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:14 AM on August 26, 2009

PS - leave your hair in the haircut you see fit you best. I had very short hair for 15 years and nobody ever mistook me for a lesbian (and I'm not, so I guess I send out a hetero vibe, what with wolf-whistleing after boys and all). The hair is not the magic signal you are looking for.
posted by dabitch at 2:15 AM on August 26, 2009

Agreeing with dabitch. When I had short hair nobody thought I was a lesbian. (Well, one woman, but I think that may have been wishful thinking). Don't cut your hair if you don't want to.

I think a piece of jewelry would be nice.
posted by miss tea at 4:00 AM on August 26, 2009

Another issue to consider is that this may not even about your queerness. I think everyone has times when they feel that no one is noticing them. Perhaps this is just a little phase that will pass quickly.

I can personally attest from current experience that this is definitely true (offering the straight-woman data point here, but I don't think that that's exclusive to straight women -- or women, for that matter).

You don't sound sold on the haircut, so I wouldn't go that way -- if a haircut just isn't "you," you'll just feel weird and you may end up wanting to not go anywhere anyway and it'd be counterintuitive. Jewelry sounds like a good option, as well as A terrible Llama's idea about dropping references to your ex-girlfriend.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:12 AM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: Also put some sort of sticker on your bike/car (it could be one of those subtle rainbow stripes or some sort of less-subtle "LESBIAN AND LOOKING" bumper sticker) so if you happen to not be wearing your magic jewelry/dress or are just not giving off the vibe that day for whatever reason your friends have another opportunity to pick up on the message.

You say you are looking for a "subtle" methods, but I think what you are really looking for are "less awkward" ways. It is awkward to just blurt out "I'm like women and do you know any other women who like women?" in the middle of a conversation, but even a non-subtle bumper sticker (pin, etc) lets people learn/process the info without having to react to it right away.
posted by mikepop at 5:29 AM on August 26, 2009

carry around / leave laying around a few of those freebie gay and lesbian scene papers?
posted by mary8nne at 5:39 AM on August 26, 2009

A "Team Vag" t-shirt?

Kinda partial to this one.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2009

This might sound counterintuitive, but if you have any plugged-in gay men in your circle of friends, ask them. Among Queerland's many delights is the weird sort of love-hate rivalry between men and women...and gay guys can be extraordinarily vigilant about what "looks lesbian," since they generally want to avoid it for themselves.

But mary8nne's idea is a good one, too. Right level of subtlety.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2009

Ok, maybe a something a bit more subtle than this. (NSFW)

Oh, this is pretty awesome if you're trying to pull gay geeks.

It doesn't sound like something you, or anyone else who isn't a mechanic, could pull off, but the Lube Shop down the street has a majority-female staff and if there's such a thing as a lesbian dress, it's grease-stained overalls and a stitched patch with your name on it over your breast.

If it's not obvious, I have a huge crush on the entire lube shop.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:13 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a dyke in my late 20's and I've been out since I was 14. In high school, I had long hair and loved dresses and lipstick. These days, not so much. One day, a male teacher who I didn't know very well took me aside and asked me if I was bisexual.

Like rokusan's friend, I said, "I don't date boys." He said, "Well, that's great. I have a cousin who just broke up with her girlfriend and I'd like to set you up."

I was totally thrilled and agreed. I am now the age that this man was when he approached me, and I'm sort of appalled at his irresponsibility (the cousin was in her 20's, I was 15). But at the time I thought it was fantastic. Anyway, he never did follow through, probably because he thought better of it.

This encounter sounds like exactly what you're after, right down to the hot-to-trot rebounding lezzie cousin. Looking back, I believe this teacher was able to pick up on my "Gay Vibe" not because I "looked gay", because to heteronormative high school faculty eyes I certainly did not. I think it was because I was openly and comfortably queer, and unafraid to out myself verbally. I was part of a small queer community, and members of the community were certainly more flamboyant/butch than I was. But I think people figured out I was queer by proxy.

So like other commenters, I believe it's not necessarily how you code yourself, though it might be interesting for you to seek some literature on the topic of queer coding. I agree it is partly about your community, partly about the topics of conversation you choose to discuss, partly about your own comfort with your queerness. It's who you hang out with, where you go, it all adds up. It's not one magic dress.

It's a pair of magic Birkenstocks. JUST KIDDING.

So I guess my advice is, if you're not already comfortably part of a queer community, try to meet more queer people, and let them rub off on you. And speak up! If people can't "read" you, you gotta read aloud.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [7 favorites]

I refuse to believe that the answer to this, as so many have suggested, is to make yourself look more like a stereotype.

It's not as if doing so will make girls notice you -- they already are noticing you, they just don't get that you're available. That's why you're going to have to brush up on your interactions with strangers and also get more comfortable flirting.

Ask people more questions. Rather than hoping to be asked certain things, you can make sure that people learn a lot more about you from the questions you're asking them.
posted by hermitosis at 7:37 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

this is probably my fave question ever on here!!

i get mistaken for straight all the time, and have slowly come to enjoy those interactions where you get to eff up people's expectations of what it means to be a queer/homo/lesbian, however you identify. it took me a while to develop a roster of retorts though, for sure.

some days, yea, it is annoying to be a covert queer -- ("i have to come out to someone AGAIN? that's like 5 times today!") -- but there are some moments where you will definitely leave people gaping in your tracks and/or with a cute girl's number that just make it totally worth it! being imperceptable can be neat sometimes. my more overtly gay friends have a different set of worries and problems. neither situation is objectively "better" than the other, just different. heterosexism, you work in mysterious ways!

barring a "i'm gayer than i look" tshirt or something -- i'd say the best thing you can do is flirt like hell, with girls you find cute, straight or gay. if no queer women had ever flirted with me when i was still straight, who knows if i'd have ever come around? (so to speak, of course.) just keep it light and fun! hell, flirt with your gay boyfriends. they're often really good at it, it's low-stakes, and it's good practice. you'll refine that gay vibe in no time.

references to ex-gfs is clever, and just straight up referencing your own sexuality is cool too ("i *love* being gay" is a good one! i'm not much for subtlety). i remember wearing my "the organ" tshirt an awful lot when i first started wanting women to notice me in *that* way....

do whatever makes you feel sexy, hot and awesome, whether it's a tie or 4" heels (or both). make eye contact with the people you find cute. initiate conversations. go on dates. find dates on the internet. join a queer women's org (activist, sport, squaredancing, whatever!). the people who need to know you're gay, the ones you *want* to know... they'll notice.
posted by crawfo at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: Do you hang out places where people might be more likely to assume you're gay? Pride events, gay bars, your local power-couple's weekly parties? Context is a huge help, most of the time.

(Also, learn to leer at women. You shouldn't do it all the time, but if you're not afraid to turn and watch a hot chick go by, someone will notice, even if the hot chick herself doesn't.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:52 AM on August 26, 2009

...the other day a random woman on the train tried to set me up with her brother.

I'm gonna assume that you'd rather be set up by people who actually know you and know what you are looking for in a date, rather than be set up by a random stranger. :-) If that's the case, the thing to do is to simply be open about your life with the people you know.

Back when I was (ahem!) younger, I simply made a decision to not change pronouns when talking with work friends about the people I hung out with outside work. If they talked about what they did over the weekend, so did I: They went to the straight beach in Ocean City, MD. I went to the gay places in Rehoboth Beach, DE instead. Skipping ahead of where you are, when I had a partner, I put his picture on my desk. Notice this: I didn't feel a need to make any "announcement" that I was gay; I simply was gay. And this was in an office where men typically wore dress shirt, tie, slacks or "business casual". There was no "gay symbolism" for my clothing, although I did have a somewhat retro moustache (still do).

Beyond all that, I really like serazin's advice above: Be yourself. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, and what expresses yourself. Cultivate your gay and lesbian friends and be active in the community. It might be that one of these friends will take you to the secret lezzie makeover salon, but more likely you'll run into or be introduced to a woman who really appreciates you exactly as you are, for yourself.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:58 AM on August 26, 2009

...try to meet more queer people, and let them rub off on you.

Sage advice.
posted by vbfg at 8:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Please, I beg of you, don't conform to stereotypes. They're ugly and confining. As said above, brush up on your flirtation skills, make it known amongst your network that you are--what's the word--actively single.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:28 AM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: I'm straight, and when I was taking a class on sexuality in college I got into the habit of using gender-ambiguous language for hypothetical relationship conversations and to refer to other people's relationships - 'partner', singular-they, etc. (I still do this, but I was getting into the groove of dropping heterosexual assumptions at the time so it may have been more pronounced than it is now.)

Anyway, I found out later that a few people who I met/spent time with (at my very liberal college) during that period assumed I was a lesbian or bisexual. No idea how this generalizes to other people's experiences, but if you're looking for subtlety this might be one way to raise the idea of non-heterosexuality in casual conversation.
posted by heyforfour at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2009

Please don't change what you wear, or how you do your hair, unless you want to! Sensible shoes do not equal "likes to do girls" in any real way (trust me, I'm not getting rid of the red heels or the girlfriend anytime soon). I'm also apparently in the minority of queers who sort of detest rainbow-covered stuff, but it does appear to be a bit of a signifier.

Aside from that, I'm in agreement with the folks who are suggesting changes in language and activities. References to ex-girlfriends, crushes on women (although everyone in the known universe seems to have a crush on Rachel Maddow, so that one might not help), an appreciative comment about the cute girl who just walked past, etc. Also joining a club or group or sport team would have the dual purpose of introducing you to more women, and giving you a reason to describe yourself as a lesbian--nothing like saying "come see me play in my lesbian softball team this weekend" to out yourself!

Good luck. I still find myself stuck in femme invisibility from time to time, and I've been out for decades.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:44 AM on August 26, 2009

Best answer: I've sort of got the opposite issue. I'm straight and people think I'm a dyke all the time. I guess I look stereotypically lesbian (short hair, stocky build, Keen footwear, no purse, etc) and carry myself in a way that isn't stereotypically feminine (I'm assertive, etc). I've considered changing my look to increase the interest of the fellas and to decrease that of the gals. But then I got the good advice, as you are getting here, to communicate my interest through my actions, associations, and words. In a funny way, I've come out as straight. And, I am always sensitive to the gals who are interested in me, letting them know I am flattered by their interest but that I am straight (and please spread the word). So, be who you are, just a bit more boldly.
posted by Pineapplicious at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great answers. I think I'm going to try a combination of approaches to start with:

- a subtle piece of jewelry
- less-subtle changes to language and activities

I'm going to hold the haircut option in reserve, and see how I feel about it a few months down the line.

I've marked a few favorite answers, but all of them had something interesting to contribute - I really appreciate all the advice!
posted by GraceCathedral at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2009

An alternative to the rainbow flag is the Human Rights Campaign equality symbol. While the rainbow flag symbolizes pride -- which is a good thing -- it also symbolizes flag-waving and activism. And those aren't bad things at all, but they don't fit every personality. The rainbow flag is also more widely recognized than the HRC logo. Which again, isn't a bad thing, but having grown up gay in a small Southern town, it's something I would feel a little reluctant to have on my car or person in situations that might not be 100% gay-friendly. (But then again, I'm cautious that way.)

The HRC logo is recognized more by the gay-friendly folks than by the public at large and, for me, feels like a safer thing to advertise.

As a side note: There's an Orbitz commercial on TV right now with four guys standing on a golf course. The guy on the far right has a polo shirt with the HRC logo on it. To me, that's a subtle, but very recognizable, nod to GLBT folks, saying "we don't discriminate and would be happy to take your money." If it were a rainbow flag pin, it would be a whole different message, and there would be boycotts against Orbitz for the decision. So this is the point I'm trying to make -- the HRC logo identifies you and is inclusive, but it doesn't scream HELLO WORLD, PLEASE NOTE LOUD GAY PERSON HERE.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:24 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

mudpuppie has a great point about the HRC logo. I see it a lot on cars. Queers will definitely know what it is; so will clued-in straight people with potentially-single queer friends.

I disagree that the rainbow flag necessarily symbolizes activism, but I'm in Chicago, not the South.
posted by desjardins at 5:00 PM on August 26, 2009

I disagree about the HRC logo. Both I and my boyfriend and I have it on our cars! I am very LGBT-friendly and pro-gay marriage, but pretty firmly straight.
posted by radioamy at 9:08 PM on August 26, 2009

RTFC; mudpuppie said "The HRC logo is recognized more by the gay-friendly folks than by the public at large ".
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2009

I asked my gay, girly wife about this and she said:
"here's already great advice in there, but I'd add: Flirt more. Keep wearing what you love, keep your hair the way you love it, and get a great tattoo that answers people's unasked questions where people can see it."
She was especially emphatic about the hair.
posted by smartyboots at 4:22 PM on August 28, 2009

Realize that you may have to just tell people and be blunt. I'm one of those deeply clueless types - such that friends would say to me "did you even realize that guy/girl was hitting on you back there?" (And no, I usually didn't, because it didn't happen often!) It also doesn't help that "girlfriend" has become a word that straight girls bandy around when talking about friends - so the clueless can't use it as a tip off. (A friend of mine was trying to come out to me and the poor thing, took a while for her to get it to sink into my thick skull what she was trying to tell me. Not that it mattered a shred, we were still friends either way. But soooo frustrating for her - happily we laughed about it later. A lot.) So short version - clueless friends may need you to just graciously pity them and be blunt. After you've been blunt and they still don't believe? Teasingly tell them they're rude - they should just believe you, as you know what you're talking about! If they think there's just one way you should look - well, they just don't know too many gay people. (Er, not that I know hundreds myself.)

If you're worried about missing out on finding someone to date because they won't see you as lesbian - well from knowing the lesbians I did, I'd say you should try to network. Granted I'm speaking from going to a small eastern college and then living in a small southern town - but in both once parts of the local group knew you were out, the word would gradually spread through the gossip network. In a nice way - it's usually how people would meet, socialize and hook up. In the process you just might bump into one of those "she knows everyone" types of folk - you know, the gossipy ones who make great matchmakers but talk your ears off. Not everyone's cup of tea, but they can usually tell great stories. In the south anyhow. Oh and that type of person is usually happy to tell you the local fashions - sometime it's even a matter of shopping at a certain store - where you then bump into friends. I should also note that this person can be gay and male - depending on how much the local scene mixes genders.

Oh but for heavens sake I'm another person cheering you on to keep your hair the way you want. I've had longish hair for ages, wear make up, and am straight - and still have had girls hit on me in the past - there's no one way you have to look, honest. There's someone out there that will find you attractive as you - the hard part is just managing to bump into them. You can always find something to wear that you can use as a visual signal - but short hair takes ages to grow out. (From one who knows, and regrets the insane $5 haircut at the beauty school in the 80s! I wore various hats for a year afterward.)
posted by batgrlHG at 4:36 PM on August 29, 2009

I have one more thing to add. I do not suggest this as a solution, I merely mention it because it is relevant to the conversation.

A surefire way to end the speculation.
posted by Lieber Frau at 12:36 PM on September 2, 2009

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