Attention, everyone! Florida’s Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has released an amendment to the ubiquitous National Lesbian Handbook concerning the dress code for queer women. What’s that you say–you’ve never heard of the rules for lesbian appearance? How did you skip that class? I’m talking about the core of ‘merican culture here!
Lt. Gov. Carroll is facing scrutiny after a former staff member announced that she’d walked in on Carroll and Beatriz Ramos (an aide) in a “compromising position” in Carroll’s office. According to Carroll, “Black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”
Lesbian women, take note: you are absolutely not allowed to look like the above photo. Just so you know.
Several big issues:
1. What does “relationships like that” mean anyway? Is she talking about extramarital affairs or same-sex ones? Bueller?
2. Carroll has interpreted this as an attack on her entire family, stating, “My husband doesn’t want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am…my kids know the type of woman I am.” Her phrasing creates a gulf between two distinct types of women, clearly ostracizing the ones who might engage in any same-sex romance or sex.
3. In refuting these rumors, Carroll insinuated something–but what?–about her staff member’s relationship status: “[she is] the one that’s been single for a long time.” Did Carroll really just throw the queer spotlight on her colleague just because that woman isn’t married? Like…for real?
4. Beyond gender policing, what are the real implications of Carroll’s remarks about black women and lesbianism?
- Images of LGBTQ+ history and culture have often misrepresented these communities as primarily (or even exclusively) white. Here again, Carroll implies that black women must be straight. [Edited]
- Queer women are routinely stereotyped as androgynous or masculine in our gender presentations. No femininity here, right?? Furthermore, we can occupy only three jobs: security guard, police officer, and gym teacher. Duh. Everyone knows that.
- At the intersection of these assumptions, black femme lesbians (and other queer women) are not only rendered invisible, Lt. Gov. Carroll says they simply don’t exist.
- By holding herself up as the standard of acceptable (heterosexual) womanhood, Carroll is using femininity as a tool to alienate masculine-of-center women while simultaneously erasing feminine queer women. Seriously? I just can’t…
In response to Carroll’s bullshit homophobic and femmephobic comments, HuffPo gathered photos of queer women, all tweeted with the hashtag #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike. I think this was an awesome response and some lovely ladies sent in fierce and touching captions with their photos. Check out the full article and slide show here. Shout out to my fabulous femme friend Jessica, who’s classing it up as #76.
I would also like to call y’all’s attention to this article because it has the best title. Like ever. Not to mention, some excellent FB comment screenshots.
The moral of the story: check yourself before you spew ignorant fuckery like this, especially if you happen to be laughing through your remarks like they’re no big deal (see video accompanying HuffPo article). Now hold on a sec while I sit back, relax, and wait for Lt. Gov. Carroll to put her foot further into her mouth as she tries to make her way out of this mess.
All quotes are from HuffPo.
Edit: Nadine Smith, founder and executive director of Equality Florida, has also written a terrific response. Check it out.