Embracing the stereotype





Jada Fife, National Cathedral '20



Jada Fife explores the image she projects to the world as a bisexual and queer woman. She challenges the power of preconceived stereotypes with an even bolder notion: celebrating and shaping them.





Illustration by Eden Taff, Sidwell '19



We covered ourselves in glitter. It poured over our hair and down the back and front of our shirts. It did not lightly dust the floor; the carpet floor sparkled like a Pride float. It was traced about the conference center, lighting up the floors of each room and bathroom. It was magical.


This is how the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group ended at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). We were asked to line up and put different colors of glitter on ourselves and in tiny little bottles to take home. It was meant to symbolize the love, energy, self-confidence, skin love, body-positivity, and gender comfort that we want to keep with us outside of the affinity group. As we went around pouring glitter on ourselves, we hugged and cried, already missing our time in the gayest group we had ever been in and fearing, but hopeful, for the future. Some of us were waiting to come out, some of us were waiting until we were allowed to use the right pronouns, some of us were waiting until it was safe enough, and some of us were waiting to get back home and fight. In that moment, we were all there, being really gay.


As I come back home from SDLC in a swirl of emotions, there is one thing that is clear: I am me. I am a bisexual queer woman who dresses androgynously. I could change, but I do not want to. I love myself, but I hate that in a couple of days I will go back to my self-loathing again. In this self-love high, one of the many things I love about myself are those three characteristics and how I can be bisexual, queer, and androgynous at once.


I often think I stand out and that’s because I do. I am the white chick in the crowd with the short blond pixie cut wearing a pair of pants and a button-down shirt, or a loose fitting sweater. I rarely wear makeup and never wear a skirt or dress. I have heard constant remarks about my haircut and “how I carry myself.” Although most of these are kind-hearted compliments, they also separate me from the rest of my peers. In addition, gaydar’s stereotypes register me as lesbian, rather than bi. However, I


"WHILE NOT PERFECT NOR IDEAL, THE RECOGNITION OF MY NEAR TOKEN STATUS AT NCS AND ACCEPTANCE OF IT HAS TURNED INTO A CELEBRATION OF IT. ALTHOUGH FLAWED, THIS CELEBRATION IS NATURAL AND NECESSARY, FOR I BELIEVE IT IS THE FIRST STEP IN LOVING SOMETHING THAT YOU PREVIOUSLY HATED– EXAGGERATING THAT LOVE."


cannot conform to straight society or simply ignore this separation; therefore, I wind up in a state of perpetual awkwardness. When one is nervous, they need some solace– not having been able to receive any solace from heterosexual society, I am naturally drawn to the opposite and started associating myself with that group. While not perfect nor ideal, the recognition of my near token status at NCS and acceptance of it has turned into a celebration of it. Although flawed, this celebration is natural and necessary, for I believe it is the first step in loving something that you previously hated– exaggerating that love.


Adoption of one’s given stereotype will become irrelevant as society grows more accepting, although today and the past are still marked with homophobia and transphobia. This step is only necessary when one starts out with hating that part of themselves.


This is what occurred for me. I had first started questioning whether I was attracted to women during the sixth and seventh grade. Towards the end of seventh grade, I came out to my mother. A few weeks later, to my therapist and my father. A few months later, to some of my friends. By ninth grade, I was completely out and not hiding anything. However, this whole time, I viewed my sexuality and gender expression as something I did not like but could not change. So I decided to accept it. Part of reveling in this tokenism is learning to accept what you are, but also loving it by way of celebrating it. Those who feel discomfort with themselves, according to my therapist, function in opposites.One must make a full one eighty before they can just live. And so long as society remains homophobic, transphobic, and rooted in gender roles, members of the LGBTQ+ community will remain in this necessary hyper state of self-love to mask their self-hate.