In Mama Learns the Word “Genderqueer,” I say the sentence:
While mama isn’t on the LGBTQ spectrum herself, I am a Dyke, my niece a lesbian and one of my daughters is bi.
On one of my Facebook groups, someone asked what the difference was between a lesbian and a Dyke. I thought it was an awesome question.
This is how I answered:
A lesbian is a woman who has sexual and emotional relationships with other women. A Dyke is the same… but only more so. Dykes tend to be more political, louder, more out there/in your face. Defiantly lesbian. My actual label is femme Dyke, an added descriptor separating me slightly, saying: I pass as heterosexual and it bugs the crap out of me even though I embrace my ultra-femininity fervently.
Definitions in Flux
Through the nearly 40 years of my Dykedom, I have watched the words gay (referring to a woman), lesbian, Dyke, femme, Butch, baby dyke, androgynous, woman, womyn, wimmin and more go through various incarnations. Sometimes it was Politically Correct (PC)… or Socially Correct (SC)… to use a “softer” word like gay or lesbian… terms like Butch and Dyke reserved for inner conversations and brought out in public during Pride Weekend.
As lesbians became more visible in the media, I watched the shift towards using Dyke in the lesbian community more common.
(And I capitalize Dyke and Butch because, to me, if we were to put them in a BDSM – Dominant/submissive – context, those words are distinctly more Dominant to me. And yes, I can hear the screaming now, but it’s how my mind works.)
Flux of Appreciation for a femme
As a femme, I’ve experienced a great deal of prejudice over the years.
When I came out in 1979, I hung out in gay bars because anytime I went to the lesbian clubs, the women turned their noses up at me because I was in a dress, wearing sequins and glitter. The uniform of the day for lesbians was Levi’s, flannel shirts and desert boots. I so didn’t fit in. Trying my luck several times, I always ended up retreating back to the gay bars where they treated me like royalty.
Being a femme with kids complicated things even more at times. 25 years ago, it was rare for there to be babies/kids in LGBTQ households. Not so much today. I would walk in Homoville, San Diego, unseen as a member of The Family. Even when I wore rainbow necklaces or other gay-identifiers, I was overlooked. Quite frustrating.
At a Dyke club one night long ago, I was dancing with a woman who was inviting me to go home with her. I was delighted, but told her I had to call the babysitter and ask her to stay longer. The woman gave me this horrified look and say, “You have kids? You’ve had sex with men?!” It was clear I would not be having sex with her that night or any other. I was pissed and asked, “Gee, before we have sex, should I douche?”
How a person identifies (or not!) says so much about how they walk around in the world. As a femme Dyke, I choose to only wear dresses, paint my face when going out and wearing a colorful variety of Birkenstocks (anything but black and brown. And how funny that I wear the stereotypical Dyke shoe?!)
Even though I am still a neophyte in the Gender shifts going on, I find much of the movement an enormous relief because I am now able to stand tall as a femme Dyke, someone I have been for 37 years.