A Queer Aesthetic?

Whoever says that feminists are ugly and prudish have never seen the fashion at the National Women Studies Association. When discussing the remarkable style of some of the participants, my former professor (let’s call her Dr.P) asked me, “Do you think those with the great style are lesbians?”

Given my remarkable gaydar, I answered that some seem heterosexual while others do not. The women we were admiring at the moment- a younger Angela Davis in tight jeans, printed tights, a black blazer, chunky heeled boots, topped off with a wild Afro; and her partner, dressed in an understated pinstripe blazer, baggy but tailored jeans, and simple black shoes, complimented by a Monroe piercing- were undoubtedly lesbians. They were kissing.

More generally, however, Dr.P raised a question that has been puzzling me since. Is there a uniquely queer aesthetic? If we focus on women, which we could call my specialty, what is it that sets queer women apart from their ”normative” counterparts? It’s more than a masculinization of femininity, because there seems to be something that also distinguishes queer femme women from their hetero counterparts. What is this aesthetic? Is it just thumb rings and pinstriped vests? Is there something deeper, a certain idea of beauty, art, and attractiveness?

I’m thinking the answer is “yes.” I’m also thinking that “yes” is hardly an answer.

Your thoughts, please.

    • Kelly Sue
    • November 17th, 2009

    I think you’re right, but I also don’t really know how to elaborate. To take a page out of my own personal story, I’m a queer female-presenting person, but since I am dating a male-presenting person, I pass as straight (which is a whole different issue entirely). Its really interesting as I meet people to see who is surprised to find out I identify as queer and who isn’t, based on my style and the conversations we’ve had up till that point. Generally the only ones who are surprised are either people who would be surprised to hear anyone is gay at all in the world, or people who know about my boyfriend. Now, I dont know, maybe I am just a walking stereotype, but I kind of doubt it.

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