I went on a walking tour exploring the gay and lesbian history of Hillbrow last weekend. It was awesome (yo Gabriel). The tour covers an area of Joburg that I would never normally visit and I really did learn a lot of things I’d never suspected before. My girlfriend went with me and so did two friends of ours, a male gay couple. The other people on the tour, a lesbian and a gay man, were strangers to us.
As we neared the end of the tour, they both commented on how strange it was that we were so interested in gay people, and were surprised when I told them that all four of us were gay and were in fact couples. Now I’ve been told before that I “don’t look like a lesbian”, and that my girlfriend and I both present as “quite feminine”, so their surprise didn’t come as a big shock to me.
It does make me sad that in order to feel like you belong in the gay community you’re expected to adopt the “gay uniform”. Being gay is an important part of my identity, but it’s far from the most important part, and when I make choices about my appearance I don’t think about wanting to “look straight”, or about wanting to “look gay” for that matter. To be honest, when I go clothes shopping the most important consideration is comfort, followed by price, followed by the need to cover all the wobbly bits.
If you make judgements about people based on their appearance you should be prepared to be surprised a lot.