Not all lesbians are fashionably challenged, but many are, and I’m no exception. We wear clothes as a necessary comfort, not to make a statement, except to say, “Yes, I threw on the first thing I saw in my closet without much consideration.” I wear clothes because it’s illegal to mosey around naked, and also because I don’t have the body that wears “naked” very well.
I can’t understand how anyone who knew me as a child (mom, siblings) were as surprised as they seemed to be when I came out. Since I was a little girl I hated wearing dresses. I have distinct memories of standing in the middle of my kitchen, begging my mother to let me wear my holey jeans.
“They have holes in them. And they’re dirty!” she’d scream.
Dirty, holey jeans were my preference of attire (and this was before they were trendy and stores didn’t sell pre-torn jeans). In the mid-eighties, ripped jeans were for burnouts with long hair, who smoked and listened to loud guitar-thrashing hard rock music.
I loved my holey jeans.
While I had no qualms with being messy, my brother (my twin) would change his outfit if one drop of anything – including innocuous water – touched a single thread of anything he wore. Pants, shirts, and shorts popped up all over the house. On the kitchen floor, across the stairwell, behind bathroom doors, or tucked between the couch cushions.
“Joey!” mom would scream. “Did you change your clothes again!”
Yep, mom. He sure did.
Though she never admitted it, I’m positive having a daughter eager to wear the same worn clothes over and over was a welcomed relief to the scavenger hunt of missing trousers my brother had tirelessly put her through each day, but one thing is clear. There was a mix-up somewhere in the womb because my other half (literally) got the girl genes and to me, befell the genes that to this day make me recoil at the sight of department store make-up counters, and to the perky saleswomen with their overly painted-on faces standing under those bright, shiny lights.
Thank Christ grunge was all the rage when I was a teenager. Flannel shirts, baggy jeans, sandals with socks – it was fashionable in 1993 to dress like a lesbian – and I loved every second of it.
I was twenty-years old when I crept into my first Gay and Lesbian support group where I met my friend Tony. My fashion disaster ways were still prevalent and every lesbian needs a fashionably sensitive gay man in her life to tell her it’s time to tweeze those eyebrows.
“Eyebrows are supposed to have an arch, Alicia,” he’d say. “And there’s supposed to be two of ’em.”
Goodbye uni-brow. Hello shapely new, separated eyebrows!
But it did’t stop there. He also gently persuaded me to dump my white leather fringe jacket and ditch the blue eyeliner and bright-red blush.
Farewell rosy cheeks, it was time for a more subdued look because the year was 1996, not ’86.
Eighteen years later, Tony is still my fashion confidant, but he’s also a dear friend – a friend who listens without judgement and has the uncanny way of knowing exactly what I need to hear during my most vulnerable moments. A friend who constantly reminded me I was a writer, even when I didn’t feel like one. His support helped me to never give up on my dream. When my first book was published, he was as happy for me as if his own dream had come true.
He helped me pass bookmarks out in a predominately lesbian neighborhood to promote my book. Over lunch he gushed about how talented a writer I am and then told me to burn the jeans I was wearing as soon as I get home.
Honest friends aren’t always good for your ego, but thank God for them because I shudder to think what I’d look like if Tony wasn’t in my life.
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