Yesterday, I woke up in good spirits. I had an interview Downtown that I was feeling pretty good about. It was a corporate interview so I did my best to dress corporate. Black slacks. Button up. Navy blue tie and a gold tie clip. Nothing fancy.
As I'm getting ready to get off the bus, the bus driver turns to me and grins. I gave him a tight-lipped smile and looked away. He gives me a quizzical look, leans towards me, and says "You know what? You're one of the most beautiful women in the world... You know that?" I couldn't help but to smile sheepishly and say "Thank you", feeling slightly embarrassed at the compliment.
He then continues by saying "Why are you trying to look like a boy??" And immediately my smile is replaced with a stale, disappointed frown. The kind of frown you get after eating shit.
I calmly tell him that I'm not "trying" to look like anything in particular. That's just my style.
At this reply, the man looks even more confused. He says "But women don't usually wear ties and European button ups... and you're so pretty! Why you wanna distract from that??"
My stop was approaching quickly and I didn't have time to take this 50 + year old man by the hand and explain to him how ignorant, misogynistic, and unnecessary his comment was. So instead I just rolled my eyes and said "That was really offensive Sir" ignoring his apologies that followed.
I thought about that short encounter for the entire duration of the interview... I couldn't quite place my finger on why it was so insulting (and hurtful if I’m being honest), but it was.
Next thing I know, I'm checking in at the front desk thinking about my dad. Conversations we used to have over and over again when I first came out as a lesbian. Conversations in which I've had to struggle to convince him that me being gay doesn't automatically mean that I want to be a boy. Painful conversations to dwell on...
I'm thinking about my actor friends who tell me that I need to be more feminine in order to make it in the industry. That without the femininity, I won't be considered a versatile actress by casting directors...
I'm thinking about my bartending associates who have told me that people want a sexy bartender serving them drinks, not a butch woman. That men don't go to the bar to see a butch woman...
Before I know it, I'm sitting in the waiting area being consumed by a grey cloud of repressed memories and hurtful exchanges.
A woman calls my name and snaps me out of my grey day dream...
She smiles at me and says "We're ready for you".
I stand up, trying to shake off the bad thoughts and put on what I hoped resembled a genuine smile as I made my way to the interviewing office. But I noticed something in that moment...
I was nervous as fuck.
I became self conscious about my appearance and started second guessing myself. My clothes had begun to feel uncomfortably tight for some reason. I kept thinking "What if I do look too gay?" "What if I walk in this interview and the interviewers are some old, white, traditional corporate bigwigs who only think "dyke" when they see me?" "Why couldn't I have just dressed a little softer??"
Needless to say, I psyched myself out.
I beat myself up.
I'm still praying that none of my disturbance was apparent to my interviewers, but it made me wonder...
Could it be possible that I’d been having a lowkey identity crisis for the past 10 + years without ever acknowledging it for what it is?