By Amber Leventry
Dear Confidently Open Queer Female Sales Clerks at the Mall,
I see the way you look at me. Not with the confusion of a less aware straight sales clerk, but with a look of pity. With my baseball cap on, short hair sticking out around my ears, you do not think I am a teenage boy; you recognize me as an older—if not old—lesbian looking for regular khakis amongst the skinny legged, hipster pants.
When I was 10, even 15 years younger, a 35-year-old lesbian looked old and unstylish to me too. But as those women before me braved the narrow minds and gender stereotypes of society by daring to look differently than women before them, I was given the confidence to slowly become the real me, even if the real me presents as a sleep deprived, impatient, slob. It is obvious that you have picked up the baton and live your life very much out of the closet, sometimes arrogantly. Thankfully, you seem to have always had the courage to be who you are; I can’t imagine you have ever doubted your self-expression as anything but the pulse of cool.
As I browsed the boxer selection, your simple inquiry of my need for help made me feel like a creeper. I can’t explain it, but for some reason I felt too old to be buying the sexually burdened, cartoon printed underwear. I was about to pick out a plaid print until I heard a very flamboyant gay boy explaining to his fag hags why it’s good to wear flashy boxers. Apparently, the idea is to find a bright enough pair that will catch the attention of someone on the dance floor while clubbing. Because while dancing your shirt may ride up, exposing the waistband of your underwear, so you better be wearing fun, fuck-worthy boxers. Plaid didn’t seem fuck-worthy, so I moved on.
I didn’t need your help, but I felt the overwhelming need to explain myself. If your confidence wasn’t so damn unnerving, and if I had lacked the wherewithal to appear sane, I would have apologetically told you I had just come from work. Before I bid you adieu and moved onto the next store, I would have justified my hoodie and athletic pants as being part of my super hero cleaning uniform. I had just cleaned no less than five bathrooms and still smelled like floor cleaner. Not that I get much more fancy than jeans and a V-neck t-shirt, but if you could see me after a shower, I do clean up okay. I have nice hair and use expensive hair product. That’s right. Product.
And to the second youthful queer at the next store, when I asked if you had regular pants instead of the narrow cuffed nightmares, it’s not like I asked for a pair of pleated dress slacks. I could have done without the exasperated expression of disgust. One, I haven’t been shopping for pants in at least two years and did not know that the Gap no longer sells regular pants. Two, skinny pants only serve to make my ass and hips look bigger, while providing more attention to my muffin top. I’m not wearing them.
The reason for my shopping trip was to find a pair of pants that do not have these features. I have plenty of pants at home that are just a little too skinny for my current body; they are labeled 33×30. I am a parent now, young skinny one. I would love to have the time to work out on a regular basis again. I would love to have the discipline to not eat an extra brownie or have a beer with dinner. But I am tired and lazy. After a long day of responsible acts, taking care of a toddler and twin babies, and trying to be a patient and loving partner, I want that beer. I need that brownie. My metabolism is not what it was at your age and I don’t spend my weekends in sweaty clubs, so let’s gloss over the extra pounds I don’t want to be carrying and find me a pair of pants with a 35 inch waist. Thank you.
Please don’t mistake my frustration as a sign of resentment towards you. In all honesty, I am a bit intimidated and jealous of you. As I navigate the straight world as a gay parent, your confidence reminds me of the confidence I lack on some days. Being gay has felt safe for the most part, but being a married, same-sex parent comes with new pressure and judgment, and I don’t always feel so good about the state of public opinion.
And quite frankly, I don’t get out much. So when I do see queer folk like you, it is both refreshing and poignant. A 15 minute drive from suburbia to the city or a trip to the mall feels like I am witnessing a pride parade and I can’t help but stare and think, look at all the lesbians! Somehow, I separate my sexuality from yours, as if I’ve lost gayness points for identifying more with hetero parents than young, gay youth.
I will allow you the right to pity me and my search for what seems to be out of date clothing if you do me a few favors: do not allow the growing acceptance of LGBTQ people to make you complacent. There is a long way to go before we can claim we have been given our fair share of equality. Use your confidence to continue the fight for equal rights, to demand the right to marry who you love and protect the children I hope you have.
Be kind to the older gay and lesbian trailblazers before you; you don’t need to appreciate our fashion sense, but I hope you respect our courage. And for God’s sake enjoy your narrow hips while you have them, because some day those skinny jeans aren’t going to hang with such ease.
Me. The woman who, if I wasn’t happily married and busy chasing a three kids, can still drink you under the table and seduce your girlfriend.
Happily pulled in many directions as a partner, parent, and business owner, Amber is a writer for VT Mommies and InventorSpot where she reviews products for parents and kids and The Next Family. She loves the challenge of learning how to relax. This article was originally published on VT Mommies.
Photo Credit: Juan Buchelli
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