The AfterEllen Huddle: References Only a Queer Chick Knows


It’d make our lives so much easier if all women who love women would wear some kind of badge of lesbian/bisexual honor so we’d be able to spot one another in a crowd. Luckily there are some things that we can say or do that signals something similar. This week’s Huddle is all about those secret phrases, nods, objects or references.


So, team, what is something a queer chick would know?

Dorothy Snarker: Make the hand symbol for “scissoring” and then laugh and laugh and laugh because SCISSORING IS NOT A THING.


Elaine Atwell: Some of the greatest moments of my life have been a silent dyke nod exchanged on the street. You see a woman rocking an alt-haircut or a rad T-shirt or even just a glint in the eye, your eyes meet, and your jerk your chins proudly at one another. I love that it’s just a signal of respect, like, “You keep on doing what you’re doing.”


Lucy Hallowell: D’oh! Elaine just beat me to it but I am going plus one on the dyke nod. Since having kids seems to make people think I also have a husband, I have come to an even greater appreciation for the dyke nod. A raised chin in the diaper aisle is a thing of beauty, folks.

Dara Nai: Toaster ovens. “She’s a Shane,” and “Who killed Jenny?” Chapsticks and lipsticks. Gold star. U-Hauling. Boi. Labrys. But the number one thing only we understand is… being friends with all your frigging exes.


Erika Star: I mean, even I don’t understand most L Word references but the “Honest Lesbian Relationship” meme? Crystal clear. I also had no idea it was created by Canadian comedian to the stars, DeAnne Smith!

Ali Davis: I don’t know. Bi women just hold up a spork and nod to each other.


Anna Pulley: I wish bisexuals had Ali’s insider spork thing because far as I know, we’re all day-drinking alone somewhere.


Valerie Anne Liston: I have the hardest time finding lesbians in the wild. Some days it seems like everyone in NYC is queer, sometimes it seems like no one is. I wish there was some kind of secret phrase that we could exchange to know if we played for the same team. Kind of like how the Orphan Black clones have that, “Just one, I’m a few. No family, too. Who am I?” riddle. It would be like, “Willow, Tara. Shane and Carmen. Emily Fields. Who am I?” Either the person shoots rainbows out of their palms at you or they go, “Er, what did you say your name was?” And you play it off like it never happened.


Grace Chu: Oh I don’t know how to find any type of lesbian in the wild, but I do know how to identify and get rid of the really annoying ones really quickly. Just say something along these lines, even you don’t actually believe it: “I believe in gay essentialism; born this way, baby!” or “It’s amazing that society has realized that gays and lesbians are just like everyone else and they have been assimilated into mainstream culture!” Saying these things makes a certain subset of lesbians really upset. They will immediately reveal themselves, run up to you and shake their fists, calling you antiquated, uneducated, and unenlightened. Stand your ground or just look too stupid to understand what they are talking about, and then they will shun you, which is a blessing, because you will have minimized your chances of being subjected to sanctimonious lectures when you are just trying to drink an after work pint. After all, they cannot be seen with hoi polloi like you. Once you have purged your environment of these lesbians, you can use any of the other suggestions given by the other AfterEllen writers on the remainder of the population.


Kim Hoffman: The many times someone has begun a serious story with “So, I was nineteen…” Followed by a few singing lesbians going, “I was niiiiiineteeeeeen.” But really, we were.


Heather Hogan: I feel like these are all pretty standard.


Dana Piccoli: The correct pronunciation of “Ani” is usually a giveaway.

Photo of Ani DI FRANCO

Chloe: I just talk really loudly about bois and femmes and then make five-second eye contact.


Bridget McManus: At dinner with another lesbian couple, I mentioned how great an actor Annette Bening is,  especially how she wore her belt “like a lesbian” in The Kids Are All Right and they nodded in agreement.


Trish Bendix: If they don’t understand the references “Don’t ever touch a raptor” or “You’re a wanker, number nine,” then they do not know Piper Perabo and are therefore straight.


What is a clear lesbian bat signal?

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