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Spring 22

Published in: Spot The Difference

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Illustration by Rianna Woods

“Um, I do drink red wine, but I also drink white

wine. And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé. A couple of summers back, I

tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay,

which got a bit complicated… I like the wine and not the label. Does that make sense?” – Schitt’s Creek

David Rose, I see you – we see each other. Pansexual, that’s how I identify — meaning I fall for the person, not how they identify. The only issue is, girls don’t like me. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but honestly, it’s hard out here for a Black femme trying to do their best ‘peacock signals’.


*Grabs tea*


Let’s start by looking at the ‘femme queer’, not to be confused with only looking or acting feminine. For some, that’s enough, but for others, being femme and feminine are very different. It’s more nuanced than just someone’s gender presentation or aesthetic, but an exaggerated, in-your-face way of challenging femineity and its expectations.

It means something different depending on that person's experiences, background and identity but one clear thing is as Gina Tonic wrote for Bustle, “all femmes hit upon two key aesthetic and identity-related traits: Being feminine and falling somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum.”

For a lot of Black femmes, it is often assumed you’re straight by almost everyone - whether straight, or queer and even other femmes, *sigh*. This can happen for one of three reasons: 1., the lack of queer Black representation, 2., society’s opinions on sexuality and identity, and 3., our culture’s complicated relationship with queerness.

Some are still not used to seeing Black lesbians and although this is slowly changing, running across one may feel like finding the mystical unicorn. But we do exist, and fabulously too. However, it means when we are found it’s met with assumptions and/or pure disbelief. 


How we identify and whom we are attracted to have very little to do with each other but due to the patriarchy, these two have been intrinsically linked to oppress and segregate. 


And finally, our fam and religion. The taboos within Black cultures and those alike means, being black and queer can be seen as revolutionary but can also mean not everyone outwardly expresses their queerness. 

“For many Black people and people of colour, conversations around LGBTQ+ identities are still taboo in the family home and community – any acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ identities may be met with a disapproving side-eye, presenting the notion that we do not talk about being queer. That we must hide it and keep it a secret.” - India Hosten-Hughes

These reasons ultimately lead to one age-old question, “Am I gay enough?”. Although there is no premium version of queerness, it still makes you question it. For one, I don’t “look gay” – whatever that is, I don’t always show my queerness and I move within queer spaces that are small, underground and somewhat limited. 

 “While LGBTQ spaces can offer sanctuaries from such experiences, femmes often experience discomfort in queer spaces as well because they are mistaken for heterosexual people imposing or deemed “not gay enough.” – Sophie Saint Thomas 

Queer femmes that want to be out, exhaustedly, and painfully face coming out repeatedly. They often find themselves either having to assert or defend their queerness, or resign themselves to being mistaken as straight. Sometimes this is as subtle as a co-worker asking, “Are you bringing a boyfriend to the party?”. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to answer ‘innocent’ questions like this, coupled with navigating “a dating world filled with microaggressions, colourism, and outright racism”.

But don’t just take it from me, here are some other queer Black femme voices on their experiences:

"Dating, no I've never found it awkward or whatever. I can't flirt with people, vag or penis, haha, so that was the same either way. But I did find in the gay community there was a lot of shit about being Bi and that it apparently doesn't exist... A line I always got hit with was, "you don't look Bi", like okay, cheers, bye, I'll just go work on that now" - Hayley 


"I have to say as a black queer femme, dating has been a TRIP! I still get the odd assumptions within the community due to my expression. I can present quite gender fluid and experience assumptions in my “type” - it’s really funny actually". - Precious 


"The dating pool is quite hard to navigate as a queer black woman. It becomes even minute if you prefer black femmes. Often leading to the awkward realisation that you and your suitor have slept with the same person before. The big city of London somewhat becomes smaller". - Kelly


"Once I was meeting up with a gorgeous girl from tinder. We went bar hopping around Soho and ended our night at a bar on London Bridge. All of a sudden she said her boyfriend was coming to meet me, so we could go home together. What seemed like a cool night out took a turn. When the boyfriend arrived they both worked hard on convincing me which I politely declined and went home." - Anonymous


"When I was about 22 I went to Birmingham pride with a group of friends. We were talking about our sexuality and one person said, ‘I didn’t know you were gay, I thought you were straight’. I couldn’t believe it! We had been out to many LGBTQ+ clubs together over the years and here we were standing in the middle of Birmingham Pride. I never felt so invisible." - Michelle


"I attended a queer event a couple of years ago and saw a woman I liked. I wanted to talk to her but knew I needed some courage. So after a drink or two, I attempted to psyche myself up to talk to her. Before I knew it my feet were moving before I had time to figure out what I wanted to say to her. I ended up blurting out ‘I just need to know your name’. It worked though". - Anonymous


"Dating as a femme Black queer woman has been a whirlwind. From men who want to fetishise my sexuality, to women who don’t think I’m queer because of the way I present myself. I wouldn't change it for the world though, I have found community and love that I had never experienced when I thought I was straight". - Yewande 


"As a black bisexual femme who likes to date other femmes, I feel like I am not taken seriously. I have faced a lot of judgement from some of the lesbians I have dated because of my past with men. As I present as a femme when I go out I feel like I rarely ever attract other femmes, even though that is my type. I also feel like when I go on a date with other femmes, the date is not taken seriously because we are subject to the male gaze and we always tend to have people interrupting our dates." - Tamira

As for me, 9 times out of 10, people think I’m straight too, and my boyfriend must be Black. Although my type, that’s not my only type. I’ve received responses like; “you don’t look queer”, “are you sure you’re queer?”, “have you ever dated a girl”, or “you must have a boyfriend”. And despite, a cute smile, 3-second eye contact, the occasional smoke signal, or note on a pigeon’s foot, it’s been tricky knowing how to effectively signal to a woman.

So, what’s the point of this article? Surely not to disclose my dating problems – not quite. There has been no love lost from the amazing contributors in this article, as they all SLAY! However, I wanted to spotlight queer stories you might not readily hear. And for the queer Black femmes still trying to shoot their shot, I officially have no tips other than, it’s time to do the complete opposite to every inkling in your mind and body and put yourself out there; again. Eh, made me queasy just writing that. Good luck.

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