What Does Gay Look Like?

I used to think it was my long hair, or the fact that I like to wear dresses. But I've since realized it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the preconceived notions so many people have about what gay looks like. Defining the word gay is seemingly simple enough. But try to define what gay women look like, or act like, or live like, or love like, and stereotypical images go dancing through the mind.

If we're a slightly older generation, the stereotypes lead us to see unkempt women in flannel shirts, with mullets and denim so bad that mom jeans seem cool in comparison. Or Ellen DeGeneres. If we're middle aged: Gay women look like the suit pants-wearing, loafer-sporting, if-I-had-to-guess-she-probably-golfs woman. Or Ellen DeGeneres. And if we're younger, we think of the Justin Beiber lookalike, the softer face, the shorter hair, the sometimes-it-takes-a-second-glance-before-I-can-figure-out-your-gender look. Or Ellen DeGeneres. And if we're a straight man, gay women look like sex-crazed supermodels just waiting for "the right guy." Or Ellen DeGeneres' wife.

None of that is me.

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I've been accused of not being "gay enough" and of being "a bad gay" by both straight and gay friends. People are uncomfortable that I don't fit their definition of what gay looks or acts like. For awhile, I was too. In the early years, when I wasn't yet out, I questioned my gayness simply because I knew I didn't fit into any of the stereotypical categories. How could I be gay? I don't like playing sports. I don't even like watching them. I love dresses. I can't stand rainbows or Pride parades. I never wanted to sleep with my best friend (aside from one drunken night in which I'm forever grateful she turned me down). I want children. I don't hate men. Me, gay? Nah.

And I lived that way for years. Straight. But miserable. My relationships - all of them, with family, with friends, with boyfriends - were painfully unhealthy. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize any of this. And it's not as though my life was without happy moments. But it wasn't until I first allowed my adult self to recognize my feelings for another woman that I ever dreamed in color. I remember being amazed when I woke up, realizing that I had been dreaming in black and white for 25 years. My whole life was so emotionally dulled that even in my dream state I wasn't awakened.

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Enter my now-wife Sara. OK, not really. She wasn't the reason I started dreaming in color, but WOW do I wish that was the story …

Fast forward through some life-changing breakups, heartbreak, piss-poor decision making, heartbreak, some more bad decisions and heartbreak, and we arrive at Sara. My greatest blessing and my wife.

She totally looks gay. All those stereotypes? 97 percent true for her.

And we want to have babies. We want to become mothers together and raise a family. I want to grow her fertilized egg inside of me and give her children. Or at least, a child. That's the dream. We've only just begun this journey. In fact, we haven't even seen a fertility specialist yet. We have no idea what we're getting into. But we know what we want. It's not so different than what many people want: the simple (or not so simple) life of a family.

- By Aela H. Mass
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