Remember when I wrote about trying to look “gayer” (whatever that means) when I first came out? Well, one of the changes I made in this attempt was transitioning from carrying a purse wherever I went to sticking a wallet in my back pocket and running out the door.
I made the switch when shopping with my mother at J.Crew. I spotted those “magic wallets” they sell that can open and close on both sides, and picked out one with a hunter green and navy diagonal stripe pattern. (Have you seen these things? They are fascinating to flip back and forth – seriously hypnotic.)
When my mother saw which wallet I had picked out, she responded with, “Oh, that’s so masculine.” I wasn’t out to her at the time, so hearing her call the wallet “masculine” rang like an accusation in my ears and sent adrenaline through my veins. There was a grip of fear, but a simultaneous sense of excitement. I could almost feel my lesbian identity pushing through my skin, clawing its way out in spite of the danger. My mind wasn’t ready for my mother to know that I was gay, but my heart wanted desperately for her to know and to love the real me.
“Here,” she said, handing me a floral monstrosity, “This one’s so pretty!”
In the end, I stood my ground and got the green and navy wallet. My mother, unsatisfied, bought me the pink flowery one as a gift, “for when the other one gets worn out!” But, as you can see here, the green wallet has taken a beating but is still going strong.
I was excited about the wallet because if my mother thought it was masculine, then other people probably would, too. This was thrilling to me because I wanted to be recognized as a lesbian, and I thought I had to be masculine to do so.
Nowadays, I oscillate between a wallet and a purse depending on my mood and outfit. I’ve always been something of a bag lady, and I have a rather impressive collection of purses, mostly because I never get rid of anything and have been gathering them since, I don’t know, middle school.
Wallets have always seemed like a matter of convenience to me. At first blush, they appear so much easier than having a heavy bag on your shoulder. But lately I’ve been making the mistake of grabbing my wallet on the way out of the apartment only to realize I’m stuck pocketless in a skirt or dress. Then I’m the girl awkwardly holding a wallet in my hand all day. Yeah, not cute.
(Also, can we just talk about the clutch for a second? They are ever-popular on the red carpet, but seriously, could it be any more annoying than to carry a book-sized object with you all night? Any of you fashionistas out there who frequent the clutch-wearing tribe, please explain to me the appeal.)
What I am getting at (I think) is that I have been a little misguided in my assumption that wallets are necessarily more convenient than purses. Purses don’t just look cute (which they most certainly do!), but they can also be functional. I’m working on putting more of my collection back into my wardrobe starting today.
So I have a few questions. If you see a girl with a wallet, does that set your gaydar off? Am I dooming myself to further femme invisibility by carrying a purse? And what do you carry – a wallet, purse, or some other money-and-necessities-toting device?