A SUPER guest post from Andie:
I am in nursing school. Every weekday in the early morning I put on my purple nursing school embroidered scrubs and leave my big queer house full of sleepy queer ladies to enter a peculiar gay/straight twilight zone. My nursing school is composed of 10% gay men and 90% closeted lesbians (I wish). We sit in a big room and are taught a curriculum about diseases that .01% of people have, but void of content specific to the gay 10% of the population.
I am used to fluid weekend conversation about tops and bottoms, butches and femmes, shes, hes, theys and then at school the conversation changes to engagement rings and birth control pills and I forget altogether that gender and sexuality is ever a question. I am "out and proud" at school and while it's fun being the go-to person for my friends for all questions about queer sex, and to see how exciting they think it is to tell me that they are so sick of men they think they'd like to try a lady, it gets lonely wondering if all your friends are just worried you're attracted to them. (Yes I am just trying to turn this blog into a forum for discussion of the nuances of the femme experience.)
Thus I wanted a hand to squeeze so bad when I met Brittney (name changed from something equally girly) who works as a wound care nurse at Miscellaneous Private NYC Hospital. Just to clarify: Brittney is really, really butch. And she wasn't fooling ME by trying to hide her hips under those ill-fitting Dockers Khakis but she did ALMOST make her boobs go away under that plaid button-down. The exposed high-necked, V-neck undershirt and gold chain were a nice touch.
Brittney was, however, doing a bang up job of fooling the aging Russian, Jewish, and Hispanic patients and their families that populated this hospital. No one was as excited as me from my purple blob of a cohort to shadow Brittney around the hospital, popping in from room to room, and being asked by the bedside yenta vigilantes, "Who's He??," and that wasn't just because we were changing bone and muscle-exposing Stage 4 pressure ulcers. I love watching her explain care to impatient family members who look at her name tag that I.D.'s her as having a seemingly-genderless ethnic name on it and then the confusion on their face when she tells them her name is Brittney.
My favorite experience with Brittney was the final pressure ulcer we dressed together. The patient had an infection called Clostridium difficile (oh god so appropriately named) that causes the patient to produce the most foul smelling stuff imaginable. To protect myself I just curled up next to Brittney as close as I could without being inappropriate and sucked in intoxicating smell of her Acqua Di Gio. I wanted to find any way I could to give her some kind of knowing, empathetic look that said I am queer too, but I succeeded only in looking like an overeager 12-year-old brown noser, with all-white sneakers and the mandatory ponytail.
I tried to talk to my classmates about how awesome, and sexy and bold she was and they talked about lunch. There are lots of queer women in health care, I know this much is true, but finding them, and trying to give them knowing looks in their place of business is usually just creepy.