‘Lez Pal For The Straight Gal’: Or Why Gay Men Get To Have All The Fun

With the many hot takes, Twitter quips, and think pieces about the Queer Eye reboot, it was inevitable queer women would ask “What about us?”

Why, we can’t help but query, are lesbians, bi, or otherwise queer-identified women not given the same kind of opportunity to show off their prowess it style, food, culture, grooming, and homemaking?

Well, firstly, it’sas alwaysthe perpetuated myth that lesbians have expertise in exactly none of these areas. Despite the fact that Ellen DeGeneres, one of the most well-liked and well-off public figures in the world (who just so happens to be gay gay gay) literally sells and provides products in all of these tastemaking areas, lesbians are still seen as lacking. Therefore how could we possibly have anything to offer anyone?

This is frustrating, to be sure, but also begs the question: Do we really need something just because gay men have it?

A show about five queer women would give us so much life, yes, but it doesn’t need to be the same premise as Queer Eye, which was created largely based on the stereotype that gay men are instinctively and performatively better at self-presentation than most other individuals of any other identity. Few might recall the shortlived spinoff Queer Eye For The Straight Girl. They only allowed one lesbian to be a part of that show: A “gal pal” named Honey Labrador whose expertise was in “character building.” She was joined by three gay men who handled the proverbial heavy lifting until the series was abruptly canceled by Bravo.

So much of what lesbians and other queer women have had to exist off of have had to follow gay men. Gay men have provided the proof of concept, lesbians the follow-through. (Case in point: Queer As Folk‘s success on Showtime allowed for The L Word.) But if what we are given is contingent on that factthat men should lead the charge with women waiting for our momentwe’ll never really get the kind of content we want when it comes to reality television. And that is because we aren’t just the female version of gay men; we aren’t the lesser known sisters with less spending capitol who are bad at tipping and don’t care about travel or fashion or flashiness as myths dictate.

Ironically, many queer women are self-help gurus IRL; the people that straight women turn to when in crisis or seeking inward reflection. Elizabeth Gilbert, Suze Orman, Glennon Doyle, poet Mary Oliverall not-so-straight women who are quoted over and over again on Instagram and beyond. Rachel Maddow dictates much of our daily goings-on in the world with the most popular nightly news show (and also happens to be a cocktail connoisseur). Cat Cora, Kristen Kish, Anne Burrelllesbian chefs are some of the most highly-skilled and sought after. Sally Hershberger literally gave rom com icon Meg Ryan her signature shag and inspired the character of Shane on The L Word. Patricia Field dressed the most iconic fashion-focused cast of the millennium as the costume designer for Sex & The City and we are still having to demand legitimacy as a community. Jenna Lyons, Jil Sander, Lena Waithe, Becca Mccharen-Tranthis list could truly continue with the names of experts in the very same fields that Queer Eye casts for men.

Queer women would also have a lot of alternative ideas for any person they might be giving a glow up. Sage the place to get rid of bad energy. Put more plants in your diet and ditch any products tested on animals. Sensible shoes don’t have to be unattractivetake a cue from sneakerhead Samantha Ronson. Ditch the “live laugh love” posters and invest in some on-trend feminist artwork (tasteful nudes okay). Should a straight woman try an asymmetrical or otherwise short hairstyle and be concerned an awkward friend or stranger might say you “look like a lesbian,” we’d encourage a prepared response such as: “What does a lesbian look like?” or “Thank you.”

It’s unlikely queer women will ever get their own Queer Eye, and that’s okay. What we seem to want most is not necessarily a makeover show that allows us to share that we’re just as qualified as our gay brethren, but the opportunity to see ourselves be good at what we do, and to do it together. Even in 2018, we’re given so little that all we can dream of is the possibility of an adaptation from a show that dare feature gay men first. (Surely, we’ll come second!) The only show we have all to ourselves, The L Word, went off-air and will have to return for us 10 years later to have something solely dedicated to the way (it’s the way that) we live. And while we exist in other currently airing television shows, we are largely the Sole Lesbian Character with (hopefully!) Her Love Interest, set among a sea of straights (aka the leads).

Unfortunately, it seems that while some lesbians and queer women of the world are hailed for their individual successes, they are seen as anomalies; exceptions to the rule. And in these careers, they aren’t necessarily surrounded by a lot of other queer women, whether by choice or otherwise. Yet what queer women want both in their lives and on their screens is to inevitably see us togetherto see more than one queer woman in a space where said women aren’t necessarily romantically or sexually involved. To see ourselves as a group of powerful bad ass women talking about something other than just how we relate to each other than in the bedroom, yet still having an affection for one another as colleagues, co-conspirators, as friends. That’s what the Queer Eye guys have, and that’s what queer men get to see, and what the world gets to see of them. That’s why we get so damn teary-eyed watching the transformations, and the love men can have for one another that is strictly platonic but not at all a put-on.

It’s not that we, as queer women, are looking to give our own makeover advice en masseit’s that we’re tired of being seen as lacking value or taste or anything to offer. We want to see a network like Netflix offer up budgets for bi and lesbian women to show off their skills while also sharing the unique experiences that come from walking in our sensible shoessomewhere outside of prison. We want respect and to feel seen; we want the opportunity to dispel the pervasive myths that continue to haunt us, simultaneously cluing the greater world into just how great it is to be a gay woman (most of the time).

What will it take for us to “prove” we have that kind of worth or value? It will take our demands, and probably a power lesbian with some pull to put us on the agenda. Netflix VP of Original ContentCindy Holland, perhaps?

Images via Getty


Trish Bendix

Trish Bendix is the Managing Editor of INTO.

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