My spouse and I were walking down the street the other day, when a man in a pick-up truck shouted a word from his vehicle. He shouted out the word "lesbians!"
We were not holding hands at the time, so, from my perspective, we weren't overtly displaying to the world what our relationship is to one another. But, since he shouted, "lesbians!" - not "female couple!" - it's clear to me that his declaration had nothing to do with whether or not he could tell that we're partners.
It so happens that my spouse is a lesbian. But he didn't shout, "lesbian!," singular. He added an "s". "Lesbians!" plural. Since there were no other people anywhere near us on the sidewalk, I have to assume he was (loudly) trying to describe both of us.
I'm not a lesbian, but clearly something about either my appearance or the appearance of us two non-hand-holding women together (or both) made him think that I was. After all, he didn't shout "lesbian and bisexual!" But what about my appearance made him skip over "and bisexual" as a possibility?
Considering the fact that studies show that twice as many women identify as bisexual than identify as lesbian (yes, bi women outnumber lesbians two to one), the odds were just higher anyway that, if he thinks I'm not straight, then I'm probably bi. So, what could it be that made him assume we were both lesbians?
My spouse surmised that it was our hair. We both have pretty short haircuts. But does that mean that lesbians get to have a monopoly on hair length as a signifier of sexual identity? If so, I'm jealous!
I shouted back - at this point, much too late for him to hear - "I'll take it!" Because even though I'm not a lesbian, it's certainly no insult to be mistaken for one, especially if the mistake is based on my awesome hair style! Sadly, he didn't get to hear my acceptance of his declaration, but it gave my spouse a good laugh. Sometimes, that's all that matters...