Samantha Andrew: As a Femme Queer Woman, It Took Years to Let Go of a Comment Scoffed at Me
For the fifth year in a row, POPSUGAR is dedicating the month of June to recognising LGBTQIA+ voices, having honest conversations about sexuality and gender, and honouring individuality, through personal essays and allyship guidance. A roster of contributors along with the POPSUGAR team are sharing these stories throughout the month, so be sure to find all our pieces here.
When I turned 18, I came out as a lesbian, and in full Aries/Theatre-Kid fashion, I went in hard. They say when you come out, you go through a second puberty and boy did I. Emotionally, I was acting like a 15-year-old. I quickly became besotted with any girl that gave me attention on the queer dating app ‘HER’. I began dating my first girlfriend. I was out, I was gay and now that I was in a relationship, people finally took my label seriously (bloody hell).
As a femme queer woman, I sadly found exclusion within my own queer community. I didn’t “look gay” so to others I seemed like a girl going through a phase. “But Sam, you’re wearing Kookai,” I was told. I tried the best I could to ignore it. If anything, it made me push in harder. I wore more makeup, I strutted into places holding my girlfriend’s hand and changed every pronoun in the jazz standards I was singing at university to she/her.
For over four years I was casually seeing and dating women and I was as happy as ever. I felt such clarity in who I was. But there was one comment that an older lesbian drunkenly scoffed at me in a club, that has stuck with me to this day. “Trust me. You are going to end up with a man.“
I was as sure that I was a lesbian as I was sure that soup is not a meal (it’s a hot beverage in a bowl). I had spent five years not giving men a slither of a thought. This comment pissed me off. I felt so liberated in my relationships with women and had found my home within the Melbourne queer community but it didn’t matter how many years rolled along, how many girls I fell for; this comment stuck in the back of my mind and it was in 2019 when it decided to rear its ugly head.
When I met my current partner Cody, a trans man, I knew that I had met someone who would stay in my life for a long time. We fit so well together, in every single sense, but I had so much built-up fear that I shouldn’t pursue the relationship. After all, I was gay and Cody was a man, and that comment, that bloody comment, was still stuck in my brain. And, it was coming true.
I was “ending up with a man”. Now you might be wondering why I care so much about what a random lesbian said to me one Thursday night in 2016. It’s because as a femme woman, your queerness is constantly dismissed, constantly questioned. I bathed in the joy that I was gay and ‘girly’ and not in a performative sense, in a this-is-undeniably-who-I-am sense.
I felt like I was letting femme queer women down if I ‘settled for a man’. Bi-phobia was raging full force. Cody was (and is) the most patient person one could wish for. I can imagine he would have had his walls up too. Here was this intense lesbian deciding that ‘for him’ she was maybe ‘not as gay as she thought’. I also grappled with the fact that, if I at all saw Cody as a butch lesbian, I couldn’t do this. It wouldn’t be fair to him, as a trans man, because he is not butch. He is male.
It took time but eventually, I decided to let that comment burn to smithereens, and do what made me happy. Every single part of me was falling for Cody and I had never felt this way about anyone in my life. It’s wild to think that the words of one stranger could have steered my car in a different direction when I met Cody.
I could have sped off, or worse yet, driven away only to do a U-turn when I realised I made a mistake. I’m proud of myself for sitting there, gear in neutral, blinkers on, despite the impatient side of me saying ‘drive!’
Now you might be thinking, ‘Sam, stop with the car metaphors, that’s not very you’, and you’re right, it’s not.
But dear readers, Cody is obsessed with cars so it’s in the name of love. Okay, but what I’m really trying to say is to not let other people define your label, that everything is fluid and to trust your gut. You never know who you may meet.