Not too long ago I read this piece in the Gay and Lesbian Review about why lesbians love hipsters. It wasn’t very good, and didn’t seem to have much of a point other than to say lesbians like androgynous haircuts, plaid shirts and Tegan and Sara. But it served as a reminder to me that to so many people, even inside our own community, we are one dimensional when it comes to “how lesbians are.” So we have evolved from the previous stereotypes (poor fashion sense, mullets, flannel, sensible shoes, Melissa Etheridge albums, a strong interest in softball and fixing stuff) into something else that is now, more than ever, aligned with what a lot of straight people are like.
This is interesting because, if that were true, it would indicate we have assimilated completely into “the norm,” aka becoming indistinguishable from those that are not queer in anyway (straight people like Tegan, too). But the irony is that lesbians (and gay men) have kind of always been the hipster. The gay came before the hip, and I’m one of those who thinks our best artists and thinkers have been queer (I am biased, I know).
While some of us - myself included - don’t necessarily “look” gay, there are still many of us that do, and that can be indicated by many things. When it comes to “the lesbian hipster,” it appears that most of the attributes shared are things like having “elegant taste in music and films,” “smoking and drinking regularly,” and are likely “vegan or vegetarian.”
A big part of being a hipster, traditionally, is being androgynous, which is what lesbians or gay women essentially invented; so the real question is why are the non-gay hipsters stealing our steez?
They’re used to be a Tumblr called Hipster Dykes. It was run by a girl named Kornelia, who once said in an interview:
The most common misconception about hipster dykes is the strong association with straight hipsters. It needs to be emphasized that we are talking about two different subcultures, even if there are many similarities between those two. Hipster dykes is just an equivalent for lesbian fashionistas. It’s only about fashion and gay culture. “Hipsterism” is more about the attitude (non-conformity), music (indie aka ” bands you’ve never heard of”), irony and the strong urge to being original.
So, to Kornelia, lesbian hipsters are lesbians that care about fashion, or at least what their outward appearance looks like. But that would indicate that all other lesbians are uninterested in both things. Lesbians can only be “hip” if they look a certain way, which also accompanies/is assumed to accompany the other assets.
Why do we divide ourselves within our own community so many ways? A distinction such as “the lesbian hipster” is just another example of how some gay-identifying women attempt to distance themselves from other (read: older) lesbians who they deem “unhip.” If anyone is a hipster, it’s those that were the originals, like the women I’ve written about on this very blog: Fran Lebowitz, Eileen Myles, Diane di Prima, Patricia Highsmith… women who were drinking, smoking and looking androgynous when it wasn’t the hip thing to do. It was counter-culture, and that’s what made it so cool to be not cool.