Radar. That's how we tell. Dykes have built-in scanners, sort of like twenty-four-hour radar stations that rotate inside our skulls. We always know another lesbian. We can tell by her vibes, right? Myth#1. We wish.
Her haircut. A clear indicator, you say? The short dyke-do. Or maybe the "come over to my house and I'll give you a trim" cut.
The labyris hanging out of her shirt front. The dyke walk. The dyke look. There is is definitely a "look," my twenty-something informanst assure me. "Like," says one, "if I was walking down the street and gave you the look, you'd know." Uh-huh. Like I'd know? If all else fails? You check her haircut, her look, and you still can't tell? Consult the grapevine. It's infallible. If you can find it.
If sexuality were a fixed thing, it might be easier, this question of is she or isn't she. But the woman who was straight today could be gay tomorrow, and even works the other way around, though we'd prefer to ignore that.
Furthermore, in my generation, women didn't expect to grow up and be the initiator in these matters. We expect to wait and be asked. That's a big mistake, if you're waiting for another woman to ask. When I was coming out, my fantasy life was basically about being seduced by a fabulous, beautiful, skilled woman who would let me be the passive observer of my own seduction. I could have waited a long time, believe me, for that to happen. Forntunately, I'm impatient. I asked, she said yes.
I knew she was a lesbian because she'd said it out loud. That was very helpful. For at least two years before that, I'd been falling in love with women who might have been lesbians, but were, in fact, straight--not an uncommon detour, I've found, for lesbians who want to come out. She knew I was a lesbian (even if I hadn't officially crossed the line by making love with a woman) because I told her I was.
"How did I know Kathryn was a lesbian?" asks Wanda, the machinist who wants her at the dyke bar. She was with friends. We danced quite a while and then I gave her my phone number". She shrugs, as if this is an everyday occurrence.
Have you ever wondered about a woman, I asked her, really been attracted but not sure? "Maybe," she concedes, "way back when I first came out." She's acting like it's hard to remember that far back. "But since then my friends are mostly lesbians, I go to a lot of lesbian events. I figure any woman I meet in the places where I'm hanging out is probably a lesbian." She laughs. "Or she wants to be."
Sandra and Beth--the married middle-class housewives--are just three years older than Wanda and Kathryn, but their experience is totally different. Each married early, had children, and then fell in love with one another. "Did I know she was a lesbian? "Sandra laughs. "No. Iknew she wasn't. At least if you looked at our lives neither was I. I wasn't attracted to her because to her she was a lesbian, it was--I don't know just what it was, actually." She pauses, thoughtfully.
"I was pretty sure what was happening from the start, "Beth admits quietly. "I'd been attracted to another woman a few years before. Nothing real serious, but I made a mental note of it. When I met Sandra, something inside me said Uh-oh. I mean I had real warning signals going off." But instead of paying negative attention to whatever signals she was picking up, Beth was thrilled. "I love feeling intensely. About everything, really. But with Sandra, well, my nerves were singing. I knew this was going to be a major. And I knew she'd feel it too. If not at first, then soon."
Beth and Sandra only know one or two other lesbians. Most of their lives focus around their children, their work. They don't assume the women they are friendly with will be lesbians, because for the most part they aren't. But when it came to knowing one another, the radar really did work.
Source: "The lesbians Couples Guide"