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Rainbows, Nails, and Double-sided Axes

If you’re a lesbian or bisexual then you’ve probably noticed that it’s really really hard to meet other lesbians and bisexuals. I’m lucky in that I live in a city in the Northeast (Boston, MA) and it’s chock full O’lady-loving ladies.

But unless you’re in a gay club/bar or are on a dating website it’s even harder to:

a.) Figure out who is into other girls and thus dateable

And then when you figure that out you then have to deal with…

b.) Letting them know that YOU are also into other girls (unless you’re butch, then most people probably already know.)

I’m not a girly girl. I never was. Growing up I played with bugs (although, admittedly, they make me scream now) and I was always playing outside with my older brother. I played with action figures, toy cars, toy swords and guns, and of course, every video game console under the sun.

As I grew older I became more and more girly (but still never quite as girly as all my straight female friends.) I’ve gotten to the point where I’m in some femme limbo, where my straight female friends would laugh if anyone ever called me girly yet all my lesbian/gay friends call me ‘femme’ and will scoff at me for whining over a broken nail and say things like “You’re such a girl.”

Guys too, act surprised when I tell them I tend to prefer women. I get the usual, “But you’re too pretty… you don’t have to date other girls…” Uh, thanks, moron.

So I’m not as feminine as the majority of straight girls but I’m clearly not anywhere near butch or masculine like most of my lesbian friends. I tend to just describe myself as a tomboyish-femme lesbian (and even that is pushing it as I feel as though that denotes some sort of athleticism, and anyone will tell you I cannot play sports for my life). I’ll wear makeup and get my nails done (I like french manicures) but at the same time I’m also most likely to be found playing Xbox in my Batman boxers. I’m also way more likely to be wearing jeans and a T-shirt than skirts or dresses, but they’ll be shirts cut to show off my body (and my cleavage) as well as skin-tight jeans instead of oversized, boy’s jeans. I once read a whole list of ‘Types of Lesbians’ and I think the best way to describe my style was the “blue jeans femme,” unmistakably a girl but with a more casual fashion/style.

But the problem is, LESBIANS DON’T KNOW THAT I DATE LADIES. They don’t even consider me most of the time because they assume I’m straight.


This is literally the only hint of my gayness on my body, a single rainbow bracelet (combined with my black wrap bracelet). Otherwise, unless your gaydar is really great, you’ll just assume I’m straight. In fact, I’m pretty sure even this bracelet is probably dismissed sometimes simply with, “Oh, she probably supports gay rights. Cool.”

The funny thing is, my mom bought the bracelet for me completely not realizing the implications so I get to wear it around her and my dad without them realizing 😉

I feel like lesbians, at least the ones I’m usually interested in dating, need flashing neon signs hovering above their head that say, “YES, I DO DATE OTHER WOMEN.” Because I usually am most attracted to girls that aren’t “loud.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just signal to each other?



Of course, I’d prefer something a lot more subtle to rainbows pouring out of your mouth but still.

There’s this thing called femme flagging where femme lesbians paint the nail on their ring finger(s) a separate color from the rest of their nails to gain more visibility as a lesbian. Personally, I think this looks stupid. If I’m going to get my nails done I like them all to have the same classy, manicured look.

Here’s an example from femme flagging, a Tumblr blog.

The submitter’s description reads as follows:

“Floral on the right for romance.

Lace on the left for high tea domme”

Not to be a dick, but what does that even mean? High tea domme?

And ‘floral on the right for romance and lace on the left’?

Who the fuck is going to think “Ah yes, that strange design that vaguely resembles a flower must stand for ‘romance’! And that lace! Clearly this means high tea domme! 

Come on. 

You’re better off not trying to signal to other lesbians via nail polish code (that you basically made up.) Plus it looks not-hot. Maybe some people can pull this off but it still seems pretty ridiculous to me. I’d have an easier time decoding Morse Code that trying to figure out what that purple splotch on your ring finger is supposed to symbolize. I’ll probably assume you did your nails in the dark.

Then there is also the labrys symbol. I was pretty excited to learn about this because I am actually a huge sucker for ancient civilizations and ancient history and had recently read quite a lot on Ancient Cretan civilization. My favorite book, a historical fiction novel, also takes place on Crete (at least for a little while) and the labrys symbol is mentioned a lot.

Apparently these days the labrys (double-sided axe) symbol has come to signify girl power/feminism since it was rumored that the Amazons (lady-warriors from Greek mythology) used to wield them.  Today it is a not-as-well-known symbol of lesbianism and was used as the name of a lesbian magazine publication.

This is actually why I made Val’s necklace a labrys (although it would NOT look anything like the above picture, and would probably look something more like this.)

Anyway. Those are all the methods I’m aware of for the less visible lesbians/bisexuals to become more visible. Rainbows, nails, and double-sided axes. Sounds about right.

What do you guys do, if anything?

Published inLesbians!


  1. sonotstraight sonotstraight

    I think I fall on the same part of the spectrum where you fall 🙂 . Except I don’t have a rainbow bracelet. Well, I used to have a rainbow sticker on my backpack but that was when I was in school. Now I’m not and, wanting to meet lady-loving ladies in my new city, I am gonna have to resort to online dating.

    • Well then we both occupy a pretty awesome (yet sometimes frustrating) part of the spectrum.

      Yeah, I’ve dabbled in online dating. It’s not so bad and I’ve met a TON of cool people through it. I recommend OKCupid if you live in a city… only site I know of that has a ‘hide my profile from straight people’ option 😉 Otherwise your inbox will be filled to the brim with creepy men, trust me.

  2. I like your bracelet! Where did you get it?

    • Thank you! The rainbow bracelet actually I got while on vacation. There was an old woman sitting at a table on the sidewalk with a bunch of hand-made, cheap jewelry on display. It’s basically just a black string with rainbow beads haha. Surprised it lasted this long although the color is beginning to fade. My mom bought it for me on a whim.

      My black wrap bracelet is from a local store in my hometown 🙂 I’m actually surprised it hasn’t broken yet since most of my jewelry from that place breaks within a few months.

  3. joi fernandez joi fernandez

    i like that bracelet… must have a value since your mom gave it to you…

  4. Freaking awesome writing! 🙂 it made me laugh so hard and its not often that happens. But right you are its tricky when you aren’t extreme in some direction!

  5. Interesting. Most of the femme flaggers I know, use hanky headbands, hanky flower barrettes, etc. The same types of flagging as gay men, but with a feminine twist.

  6. Most of the time, I use body language. I do the hair rumple, the dyke nod and similar physical indications.

    • What are any of those things? A dyke nod?

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