Queer Fashion Bombs Straight Wedding

What does a nonconforming, revolutionary lesbian wear to a heterosexual wedding?

Molly Martin
May 3, 2021 · 11 min read

I was looking for a tie when Don breezed into the bedroom. He was wearing bright pink pants and a purple jacket …

The truth was, just by being my natural self, people — both children and adults — were always confronting me about the nature of my gender. They would yell out of windows or from cars as I walked by, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Or I would be mistaken for a gay man. “Faggot!” they would yell, and speed off before I could correct them.

Unfortunately, my freedom left me completely unprepared to dress for Tim’s wedding.

I had no dress-up clothes. As a matter of principle I’d stopped wearing dresses in 1970. Since then the contents of my closet had been recycled from thrift stores. As a working electrician in those days of butch dykedom, I could just wash my flannel shirts and jeans and wear them to the bar. No one I knew ever got dressed up, and if they attended weddings, they never told me. So what does a nonconforming, revolutionary lesbian wear to a heterosexual wedding?

Our mother Flo rushed out to meet us as we pulled into the gravel driveway.

She was dressed in her usual polyester pantsuit in bright colors. We hugged her thin frame in turn. Then, as she stood back to look at him, she brushed my brother’s hair away from his face. “Don, I wish you would do something with your hair.” (He had diplomatically removed the scarf and earrings.)

The next day my mother and I set out to find me a wedding outfit.

Together we slogged through the department stores of my hometown, reliving painful memories of past shopping trips. I had never liked girls’ clothes, and could only be induced to wear a style my mother called “tailored.” Absolutely no frills or puckers. She’d understood. She’d never liked frilly clothes either. But she was five three and slender. I was five eight, and until my twenties, decidedly plump. More often than not, when I found the rare piece of clothing that suited me, it didn’t come in my size. This had always mystified me. I knew there were plenty of other big-boned gals like me, but the people who designed clothes hadn’t discovered us yet.

Sears was filled with nothing but polyester.

Pants with elastic waistbands and no pockets. Over the years I’d developed a clothing checklist. I preferred natural fibers, and I wouldn’t wear pants if they had no back pockets. “Don’t be silly,” my mother said.

Flo insisted I come to the shower, even though the boys didn’t have to.

It was just as inane as I’d imagined. Diana was obliged to ooh and aah politely over every gift, no matter how useless. My mother had anticipated that I’d come to this heterosexual event empty-handed and resentful, so she’d bought a present from me. I was as surprised as Diana to discover I’d given her a set of wine glasses with their own rack. Flo never said a word about it.

The wedding went off without a hitch.

No one made rude comments about our gay apparel. Before the end of the evening when I had to admonish my drunken father to stop copping feels off the female guests, he had even said to me that he thought I looked “sharp” in his shirt and tie.

Prism & Pen

Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling