Lesbianing with AE! This week: Confronting femmephobia and how to have phone sex

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Today on Lesbianing with AE! writer Lindsey Danis answers reader questions about confronting femmephobic questions and finding creative ways to stay intimate in a long-distance relationship.

Since I’ve been with my new girlfriend (just over 2 months), we’ve been getting a lot of weird attention from friends, coworkers, etc. My girlfriend told me that her coworker basically refused to believe we were dating because he thought we were sisters. Then after my girlfriend showed him a pic of us kissing when he wouldn’t stop being an immature ass, he wanted to know if some dude has asked us to kiss! She has to work with him closely so she just joked and said, “Yeah, happens all the time!” but it really upset her. Also my friends are joking with me since my last girlfriend was more of a jock… they’re wondering why I want to date a girl who looks like me, dresses like me, etc. One friend said, “You could be sisters” when she was drunk and another one asked if my girlfriend had even been with a woman before. I just walked away in the heat of the moment. I’m sick of the femme hate. I’m a women, I like women, and I really like my girlfriend! I want to be able to enjoy my relationship, be affectionate in public, and not spend my time educating gays and straights alike that yes, we’re here, we’re queer, and they can fucking deal with it. I know it’s really no one’s business, but I feel like I have to put down some femmephobic bullshit every day, and it’s starting to affect my mood. Do you have any good suggestions on how to shut this down, when the rude comments coming from colleagues and friends who you can’t just tell to F off?

-Fed-up Femme

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FF, I’m so sorry you and your lady are having to deal with this!

As femmes, you and your girlfriend need to come out again and again and again. And people still don’t get it, hence jaw-dropped coworker sputtering the usual “oh but you don’t look gay” bullshit.

You’re not alone – femme invisibility is an issue for many lesbians. There’s even a documentary film on this subject, and check out these femme lesbians discussing what it means to “look gay.”

But honestly? Your friends should know better, and you should call them on that shit before it happens again.

It sounds like your friend is curious about your decision to date a femme after being with a jock, but didn’t phrase things in the best way. You might want to sit her down and talk it out – be honest about your feelings and how she stomped on them by being merely the latest in oh, 10 people that week to disrespect your relationship choices and femme identity.

If you really don’t have the time for a long convo and want to red flag her conduct and move on, a snappy remark will serve her notice.

All you really need to say is, “Who I date is none of your business,” “Why does it matter to you if my girlfriend is high femme?” or “I’m attracted to different types of women – as long as I’m not hitting on your girlfriend, who cares?” If she keeps up with the dumb comments, serve your same remark. Walk away. Stay calm and mature.

All you really need to say is, “Who I date is none of your business,” “Why does it matter to you if my girlfriend is high femme?” or “I’m attracted to different types of women – as long as I’m not hitting on your girlfriend, it shouldn’t concern you.”

It’s up to you which way you want to play it.

But from the tone of your letter, I’d recommend coming up with 10 things you’d feel comfortable saying to the next person who questions your right to date whoever you like, so you can roll the next phrase off your lips and move on in life, cause who’s got time for that bullshit?

Now, for your girlfriend’s coworker… She handled it the way she felt comfortable handing it, and she shouldn’t revisit it unless the rude coworker makes another quip. But in case either of you has another rude coworker…

If you aren’t out at work, and you feel safe coming out, do it. Over half of LGBTQs are closeted on the job. The more we come out, the more we educate schmos like your girlfriend’s coworker that lesbians come in all gender presentations, shapes, and sizes just like straight folks.

Over half of LGBTQs are closeted on the job. The more we come out, the more we educate schmos like your girlfriend’s coworker that lesbians come in all gender presentations, shapes, and sizes just like straight folks.

 Probably don’t come out at work if you live in one of 28 states where you can lose your job for being LGBT, or if you think you’ll be harassed more for doing so. But if your organization is at least kinda LGBT-friendly, then coming out can head off future such dumb comments. When everyone on your team knows you’re gay, they’re less likely to remark at the workplace holiday party that you and your girl look like twinsies in your little black dresses. When they don’t know cause you’re not out, they’re more likely to make a silly, insensitive remark out of surprise. Don’t be part of the problem of queer invisibility if you don’t have to be.

Once you’re out, be professional but firm about any personal questions your coworkers ask. People talk about their relationships at work – hell, at my old job, women relived their childbirth experiences on the regular, which made coffee hour unbearable af – and they will talk with you about your relationship.

If someone asks an insensitive question or crosses your boundary, say, “Wow, that’s rude!” or “You know, I wish straight people wouldn’t assume WHATEVER DUMBASS THING YOU JUST SAID.”

You can break it down for them on why what they said/did/assumed was so toxic to queers in general/lesbians in specific, but that’s emotional labor you don’t have to do, so it’s really up to you.

Midsection of lesbian couple holding hands

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