Last weekend was Capitol Pride in Washington, DC. I’ve lived in the DC area for 15 years and known I was a lesbian for 8 of those. But I’ve never been to DC Pride.
It didn’t actually click in my head that I was gay until I was 21 years old! It made so much sense! I had such intense and short female friendships in high school ending in de facto break ups! I had a poster of half-naked Gillian Anderson on my wall. I was G-A-Y!
I quickly found my chosen family in the gay community; a feeling I’d been chasing for two decades. I felt part of something. The logical extension of this would be attending Pride, right? Not for me. I much prefer board games and cooking at home with my friends and pup.
But in 2011 I decided that I really should experience Pride. I happened to be in Los Angeles that summer and my friend and I decided we would explore Pride in West Hollywood. We got dressed in our most colorful outfits and drove down Santa Monica Blvd. The sight of all the rainbow flags and outfits and street signs made us happier as we got closer. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was fun. I enjoyed the people watching and the entertainment of it all. But I quickly realized that as a queer woman, I was not the target demo. This place, like most places, was meant for men.
We left Pride after only one drink and didn’t feel the need to return the next day for the parade (We streamed it in bed with take out). I felt like Pride was both not meant for me as a gay woman; it was just a place companies could promote their brand and how amazing they were for simply being at Pride. Even 6 years ago, Pride felt very sponsored by… [insert beer company here].
I wasn’t welcome but I also didn’t want to be there. I felt no ill will toward the idea of Pride and still harbor no issue with it. It’s just not my community or space. I’m sure tons of gay ladies LOVE pride and I’m beyond happy it’s there for them. But the experience stayed with me as a perfect example of how alienating even “inclusive” events can be for gay and queer ladies like me.
This feeling of being welcome in “gay spaces” is often hard to quantify or even describe. Women in the LGBTQ+ world need just as much support as men, but the options we have are limited. Try finding a lesbian cruise company, travel agent, gym, or billboard. LGBTQ+ representation in advertising is rarely women and even more infrequently transwomen or women of color in the community.
This is one of the reasons Sassy Pants is such an important endeavor to me. Lesbian woman are 65% more likely to be at an unhealthy weight than straight women of the same background and geographic location. Why is that? We don’t feel welcome or represented in the fitness and wellbeing community. When we say “clothing for every body” we really mean “every.” Whether we’re butch or femme or in between, finding a gym or club or team that makes us feel welcome, confident, and valued is difficult. Supporting LGBTQ+ women of color, intentionally including transwomen, is a major part of what Sassy Pants aims to do. We want to be a place women of all identities can gather to encourage each other, get support, and get some badass pants that change with our ever changing bodies.
***Note Really Well: Transwomen are women.***
Elizabeth Terry is a former DC public school teacher with a Masters in Special Education. She works on the Sassy Pants Operations Team and loves TV shows set in Washington, D.C.