Roaring Lesbian Subcultures in New York City

New York City has long been known for its liberalism and borough-specific socioeconomic demographics; however, one community during the 1920s often overlooked by historians is the lesbian subculture in Greenwich Village. In this article, “lesbian” will be used very loosely to describe women-loving-women. Due to the term’s limited use until the mid-twentieth century, retroactively labeling women of the early 1900s as lesbians would not be accurate. However, there were a handful of known Greenwich Village women who lived openly lesbians lives and others who married gay men in order to preserve a heterosexual identity in public life. 

Frequently noted for bohemianism and the free love movement during the 1920s, Greenwich Village was home to many middle-class, white liberals who were seeking careers as artists, writers, and activists. Beneath the white liberal populous, gay and lesbian cultures flourished. Lesbianism began to gain visibility, bolstered by the free love movement and feminist collectives. One such example was The Heterodoxy Club, which was active in Greenwich Village from 1912 through the 1940s. This collective is a unique example of a feminist organization, due to the fact that they were generally more accepting of other women regardless of sexuality. While members were almost entirely white and most came from a middle-upper class, educated background, the sense of comradery they held for one another meant openly lesbian women, such as Katharine Anthony, were able to be active members in the feminist community. Aside from Judith Schwarz’s 1986 publication, Feminists of the Heterodoxy: Greenwich Village 1912-1940, very little information is available about The Heterodoxy Club. Nevertheless, this group of approximately one hundred women provides a small but important window through which through which it is possible to examine the emergence of lesbianism in the 1920s.

It is important to acknowledge that Greenwich Village was not the only community in New York City with an underground gay and lesbian culture coming to life during the early twentieth century. While the lesbian subculture in Greenwich Village was rooted in privileges such as whiteness, middle-class status, and a college education, Harlem’s working-class residents – mostly people of color – fostered a different world of queer culture. Due to Harlem’s socioeconomic status, underground gay and lesbian communities were often exploited by affluent white folks from other boroughs. Still, night scenes in both Harlem and Greenwich Village funcitoned as social spaces for lesbians to meet and became part of the foundation of homosexual subcultures.  

Establishments in Greenwich Village, like Polly Halliday’s restaurant on MacDougal Street where The Heterodoxy Club gathered, often served as meeting places for activists, gays, and lesbians. While lesbian subculture became an integral part of Greenwich Village’s reputation and the free love movement, they still faced discrimination and dangerous circumstances such as incarceration in women’s prisons. Establishing economic independence and stability as a lesbian during the 1920s was no easy feat and many were eventually forced to marry men due to societal and financial pressures. Economic independence was a common topic of discussion among straight and queer women of The Heterodoxy Club. For example, Katharine Anthony and Elisabeth Irwin, lesbian partners and members of The Heterodoxy Club, struggled to support themselves and their adopted daughters. Financial strife should not come as a surprise due to the prominence of misogyny and homophobia during the 1920s, which imposed intense experiences of oppression among lesbians. Although many lesbians in Greenwich Village during the 1920s were middle-upper class and white, they still experienced difficulty affording housing as well as job security. Such obstacles to sustainable and accessible living sometimes resulted in sham weddings to gay men which were safer than open partnerships with women.

Ultimately, lesbian and gay subcultures which took root during the early twentieth century grew into social revolutions decades later. During the 1920s, lesbianism began to emerge as a tangible and visible aspect of women’s sexuality and gender expression in New York City boroughs like Greenwich Village and Harlem. Today, we may look to icons from the mid-to-late 1900s, such as Audre Lorde, who made history as queer women. However, we cannot forget those who were blazing the raging lesbian trail during the roaring twenties.

Sources

Audre Lorde biographical information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audre_Lorde

Elisabeth Irwin biographical information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Irwin

Katharine Anthony biographical information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Anthony

Sidney is a first year Master’s Candidate studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Their academic interests include lesbianism and lesbian history in American from the 1920s to the 1930s. They are currently pursuing many different avenues for research in U.S. history pertaining to women’s and queer studies and looking forward to working on a thesis related to the linguistic and social evolution of female sexuality.

Breaking Down Domestic Labor: Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality

By Sidney Wegener

You may have heard the claim “women belong in the kitchen.” Many who believe in traditional patriarchal domesticity agree. Feminists of the twenty-first century often detest such a sexist notion. However, there is an underlying issue that both misogynists and feminists are not necessarily addressing. Why is it that traditional domesticity proponents uphold an oppressive gender hierarchy wherein housework and childcare are less valued than professional or public occupations? Why is it that people who believe in gender equality think that the way to get there is simply assimilating women into the public labor force?  At the core of feminism is the belief that women have the right to make our own choices in life, including the form of labor that we engage in whether it be domestic, productive, or both.

Hidden beneath the battle for women’s equal labor opportunities and rights is the conceptualization of domestic work as less important than public labor, which results in monetary gain. The idea that doing laundry or making lunch for children is not productive labor diminishes its value a social necessity. This is one way capitalism influences misogyny and reinforces the gendered separation of domestic labor and public, or productive, labor. While public labor refers to what are socio-economically productive occupations (those which make money), domestic labor is privatized. The idea that domestic labor is degrading to women depends on a capitalist understanding of the value of labor which is based on productivity. Not only that, but women who work in both the private domestic and public productive labor spheres take on the “double burden.” Often these women are placed under the strain of balancing work outside of their home with the traditionally-gendered demand for house maintenance and parenting. Rarely are domestic responsibilities equally distributed between a heterosexual couple; yet the need for home keeping and child care does not disappear. 

It is critical to acknowledge that women with the most access to employment in public and/or professional labor spheres are cisgendered, heterosexual (or in heterosexual partnerships), come from a middle-upper class background, able-bodied/neurotypical, and white. Many women who become successful in the public labor sphere and are able to obtain substantial income end up hiring working-class women of color as domestic laborers. However, when women who have careers manage their double burden by employing working-class women of color, a gendered and racialized capitalist hierarchy is reproduced and reinforced. For example, according to the National Domestic Workers Alliance, over 80% of Black women are the main source of income for their households. Therefore, they work in the public labor sphere to provide for their families, but most also care for their homes, children, and elder relatives. Due to white supremacist racial hierarchies in the United States, women of color frequently fall into the working-class bracket. Although all women are subject to wage discrimination, pay gaps vary according to race. The National Partnership for Women and Families reports these statistics for 2019: 

  • Latina women are paid about 54 cents per every dollar a white [cis] man makes 
  • Native American women are paid about 58 cents per every dollar a white [cis] man makes
  • Black women are paid about 62 cents per every dollar a [cis] white man makes
  • White women are paid about 79 cents per every dollar a [cis] white man makes
  • Asian American women are paid about 90 cents per every dollar a [cis] white man makes

In order to support themselves and their families, women of color consistently shoulder the double burden of committing themselves to domestic and productive labor. Most women of color also find themselves facing sexism and racial discrimination in the United States’ capitalist economy, earning between 25 and 17 cents less per dollar than white women.

In addition, women who are non-cisgender and/or in non-heterosexual partnerships do not have access to the same opportunites and rights which may afford them public occupations and income. Lesbian partnerships are positioned at a disadvantage as women are faced with discrimination in public workspaces and sexist, racist wage gaps continue to pose a threat to financial stability. Non-cisgender women also face adverse circumstances as they are often excluded from the traditional sphere of domesticity designated as a cis-woman’s place in society; yet transgender women experience intense workplace discrimination in the public labor sphere. One recent example of such discrimination that non-heterosexual and transgender women face when entering into public sphere is an argument over whether or not memebers of the LGBT+ community can legally be fired for gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Currently this issue is being decided by the Supreme Court, which heard arguments on October 8, 2019. This case will determine whether or not members of the LGBT+ community can legally be fired for gender identity and/or sexual orientation (CNN). In the end, it is a very particular demographic of women who have the agency and the resources to gain financial stability, maintain steady monetary income, and meet domestic labor demands.

Among the many women who are barred from entering the domestic and/or public labor spheres are those who are considered to be disabled. While many of these women receive public support from state services, there are still a vast number of challenges that come attached to living in a body which is disabled either mentally or physically. Often, state services are not enough as people with disabilities account for 24% of the homeless population in the United States (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness). Everyday tasks or ways of moving through life, such as getting on a bus to go to work or verbally communicating with employers, are obstacles which able-bodied and/or neurotypical women rarely encounter. Women who are identified as disabled are also often considered incompetent parents and unfit for home maintence. There are a vast number of women with disabilities who often find themselves excluded from domestic and productive labor due to public assumptions of incapability or lack of sufficient familial and/or public support.

To quote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” This includes both the domestic labor and public labor spheres. The feminist response to “women belong in the kitchen” should be to call out the oppressive systems which deem domestic labor as lesser than productive labor. Key to progress in equal labor opportunities and rights will be de-gendering and de-racializing the nature of home making, maintenance, and child care. We must take the time to break down what domestic labor means to a cishetero-patriarchal society that is dependent on a capitalist economy wherein productive labor is more highly valued. Finally, it is critical to acknowledge the intersections of racial, trans or non-binary gender, and sexuality oppression which are at play.


Resources


Sidney is a first year Master’s Candidate studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Their academic interests include lesbianism and lesbian history in American from the 1920s to the 1930s. They are currently pursuing many different avenues for research in U.S. history pertaining to women’s and queer studies and looking forward to working on a thesis related to the linguistic and social evolution of female sexuality.

Native American Boarding Schools: Total Assimilation

By Sidney Wegener

In 1892 Richard Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, famously stated that his goal was to “kill the Indian and save the man.” Native American boarding schools were first established in the United States during the mid-1800s in an effort to continue genocide against Native people under the guise of education. Children were often taken from their families and away from f reservations by missionaries or militiamen, either by force or through manipulation. When children (aged from four years old to teenagers) were taken to a boarding school, they were subjected to violent processes of total institutionalization. They were stripped of their clothes, their hair was cut, and any use of native language resulted in brutal beatings. Sexual abuse was all too common. Next to every prison-like school there was always a graveyard. The generational trauma caused by United States boarding schools greatly contributed to the breakdown and erasure of Native American tribes.

The education that these children received was initially geared specifically towards producing domestic and unskilled laborers to serve white, capitalist purposes. Very few boarding school students graduated with an education comparable to the wealthy, white men in charge of these institutions. In the early years, a handful of Native Americans – always men – travelled with school officials as examples of successfully civilized Indians to gain support for boarding schools. Later, the institutions claimed that children would learn skills in boarding schools that they could bring back to their communities to bolster the civilization of their tribes. The white, colonial United States’ idea of civilization was (and still is) destruction of Native American culture. However, the children who survived and returned to their families were equipped with basic math knowledge and Eurocentric cooking skills which were inapplicable to the needs of their communities. The real purpose was to prevent the reproduction of Native American culture and assimilate younger generations into white, colonial culture. Thinly veiled as an education, genocide was the name of the game.

Children were taken away from hundreds of different tribes and imprisoned in boarding schools where they spoke different languages, came from different cultures, and had experienced a vast number of traumas. Despite the abuse, these children often remained resistant. As they were beaten into speaking English, they discovered a way to communicate with one another. In response to the violent process of erasing indigenous languages, Native children created pan-tribal solidarity and undermined the United States’s goal of total assimilation. The loss of languages may be one of the most devastating effects of the Native boarding school legacy. Too often, children returned home after years of living behind the brick walls of their educational institution and could not communicate with their families. They no longer spoke a common language, younger generations lost their Native tongue. The death of Native languages directly impacted tribal cultures by disrupting the generational passing of knowledge and tradition which was taught through oral storytelling and histories. 

In many ways, the boarding schools set up by the United States achieved their genocidal goals  by continuing to kill thousands of Native Americans, physically and sexually abusing children, and destroying their tribal identities. However, the resistance that arose from pan-tribal unification within boarding schools created a new mode of mobilization for Native child survivors. While colonial domestic and vocational labor skills were not beneficial to the communities that the students returned to, English literacy provided them with a tool that could be used to disarm the oppressor. Native American boarding school graduates were generally able to read treaties and legal documents. These were frequently used by colonial powers to deceive Indigenous people in order to take their property or consent to relinquishing other rights they had to livelihood. In addition to defending and protecting their communities, some Natives became writers and educators themselves. People such as Esther Belin, Lee Maracle, Steven Heape, and Gayle Ross have become storytellers who speak against Native American oppression and retell history. 

Films, poetry, autobiographies, scholarly papers, novels, oral, and written histories are now widely published in North America. Yet, Native American history continues to be taught in American public schools through false narratives which ignore the roughly four hundred years of genocide. The truth behind Native American boarding schools sheds light on the horrific legacy of the United States’ treatment of Native people. Although reeducating oneself on Native American history should be a year-round endeavor, November is the designated month which we are to pay attention to Native American Heritage. I urge you to read, watch, or listen to at least one story from a Native boarding school survivor. Below are some sources.


Resources


Sidney is a first year Master’s Candidate studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Their academic interests include lesbianism and lesbian history in American from the 1920s to the 1930s. They are currently pursuing many different avenues for research in U.S. history pertaining to women’s and queer studies and looking forward to working on a thesis related to the linguistic and social evolution of female sexuality.

Why We Should Be Anti-Celebrating Thanksgiving

By Sidney Wegener

Often, on the last Thursday of November, American families gather around the dinner table to eat and appreciate the blessings in their lives. For many, Thanksgiving is a favorite “holiday.” In the twenty-first century, it may be depicted as a happy family eating lots of food and soon rushing off for Black Friday sales. However, this picture is painted for those who have the money to afford a supermarket turkey, a home to gather in, and the privilege of blissfully living on stolen land. For hundreds of Native American nations and tribes, this holiday is a reminder of the genocide committed against them by European colonizers, which began almost four hundred years ago. A new tradition of anti-celebrating Thanksgiving is long overdue. Here’s why.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Not a Native American holiday. This means that participating in traditional American festivities constitutes a celebration of the English settler invasion of North America. European immigration directly resulted in the murder and rape of thousands upon thousands of Native people, pillaging their homes and resources, and eventually forcing them to live on, what are now known, as “reservations.” While you might be grateful for the food on your table, you may be forgetting how it got there. Twenty-first century American traditions of celebrating Thanksgiving and getting ready for Black Friday sales are ultimately due to a long chain of events caused by European settlers and white American corruption.

For nearly fifty years, the United American Indians of New England have mobilized a rally and day of mourning on November twenty-second. They explain the significance of this day by stating:

“Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.” (Native Hope)

Those of us who are not native to North America are generally unaware of the flip side of this Thanksgiving coin. Children in schools are taught that the pilgrims and the Native people met harmoniously and offered each other new resources and mutual support. Many even celebrate the idealized generosity of Native people by making paper headdresses and reenacting the romanticized relations. It is probably not appropriate to tell elementary-aged children about the numerous massacres which white immigrants waged against tribes such as the Pequot, or the disease epidemics which nearly wiped out whole native populations. However, teaching a false history is devastating to how the majority of American children understand Thanksgiving. These children grow up to be adults. Adults who buy supermarket turkeys, decorate their homes with pumpkins, and go Black Friday shopping. While not all families have the economic resources to participate in traditional American Thanksgiving celebrations, everyone has the capability to change the way they think about this national holiday. For many tribal nations within the United States, this is a day of solemn remembrance. 

This is Native American Heritage Month. November 23rd is Native American Heritage Day. And Thanksgiving, which falls on November 28th this year, is an opportunity to change the way that non-Native Americans honor the history of English settlers’ immigration and invasion of North America. Native Hope is an organization built upon preserving the pan-tribal histories, stories, and traditions, while spreading awareness of the misconceptions many Americans are taught. This organization suggests ways Native and non-Native people can celebrate (or anti-celebrate) Thanksgiving:

“We remember the generosity of the Wampanoag tribe to the helpless settlers.

We remember the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who lost their lives at the hands of colonialists and the genocide of whole tribes.

We remember the vibrant and powerful Native descendants, families, and communities that persist to this day throughout the culture and the country.

We remember people like Sharice Davids and Debra Haaland who just became the first Native American women elected to Congress.” (Native Hope).

I urge all Americans to take further steps to educate ourselves and seek out new ways in which we can honor a collective American history. Those who have the means to participate in American Thanksgiving traditions will hopefully consider ways in which they can anti-celebrate in awareness and spirit, without giving up the family time and food. If you are lacking inspiration or want more information, a few sources to get started are listed below.


Resources


Sidney is a first year Master’s Candidate studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Their academic interests include lesbianism and lesbian history in American from the 1920s to the 1930s. They are currently pursuing many different avenues for research in U.S. history pertaining to women’s and queer studies and looking forward to working on a thesis related to the linguistic and social evolution of female sexuality.

Domestic Violence Is Not Straight Violence

By Sidney Wegener

Sidney is a first year Master’s Candidate studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Their academic interests include lesbianism and lesbian history in American from the 1920’s to the 1930’s. They are currently pursuing many different avenues for research in U.S. history pertaining to women’s and queer studies and looking forward to working on a thesis related to the linguistic and social evolution of female sexuality.


Content warning: This article consists of narrative, rhetoric, and statistics that may be triggering for some readers as it discusses the queer experiences of domestic/sexual violence.


I sat and quietly listened, my heart pounding, while one of my close friends in high school told me about the fight she and her girlfriend had gotten into the night beforehand. I was doing my best not to stare at her bruised and swollen left eye. This was my first relatively close encounter with domestic violence. I remember, when I was younger, hearing about how sometimes “bad boyfriends or husbands beat their women.” However, all of the rhetoric I had ever heard, or read, about abusive partnerships consisted of a single story: men abusing women. I am writing this article for the purpose of displacing this narrative because domestic violence is not limited to cisgendered, heterosexual relationships.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides the following statistics on queer/trans relationship abuse:

  • 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have expereinced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner
  • 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have expereinced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner
  • Transgender victims are more likely to expereince intimate partner violence in public
  • LGBTQ Black/African American victims are more likely to experience physical violence, compared to those who do not identify as Black/African American
  • LGBTQ victims on public assistance are more likely to experience intimate partner violence compared to those who are not on public assistance (public assistance refers to state/government forms of support for individuals in need and/or disabled)

These are only a few statistics which counter the widespread presumption that domestic abuse occurs only among cisgendered/straight partnerships. While these statistics primarily address monogamous relationship dynamics, it is crucial to take into account the array of different genders, races, classes, and sexual orientations which experience domestic abuse and/or sexual violence. Domestic and sexual violence can occur on seperate grounds as well as overlap with eachother. Domestic violence can also come in many different forms, not all of which are readily recognizable in queer relationships. For example, if one partner threatens to “out” their significant other as non-cisgendered or non-heterosexual, the act constitutes as one of abuse between intimate partners. In addition to this, misuse of pronouns in intimate partnerships also operates as a form of emotional/verbal abuse. Parallel to the assumption that domestic violence transpires only between couples consisting of a man and a woman, gender plays a critical role in how abuse (sexual, verbal, physical, financial, or otherwise) is defined, perceived, and treated by the victim’s loved ones and the public. 

LGBTQIA+ people who find themselves experiencing domestic or sexual violence face many more obstacles in finding support and protection from the party responsible for the abuse. Often, sexual violence or abuse that takes place between same-sex and/or transgender couples is taken even less seriously than that which occurs betweeen cisgender/heterosexual couples. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “In 2012, fewer than 5% of LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence sought orders of protection”.  This statistic reflects that there are numerous reasons why queer/transgender victims do not report their experiences, often pertaining to anti-queer/trans legislature or lack of support. 

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as LGBTQIA+ History Month, I found that this article is a particularly important one to write. In a world where systemic violence is inflicted upon LGBTQIA+ bodies daily, I would like to call attention to intimate partner violence which persists within our own community. Beyond that, it is crucial to disrupt the ongoing narrative that domestic abuse/sexual violence is a strictly cisgender/straight phenomenon. By bringing statistics on the realities of queer/trans relationship abuse and violence to light, I hope that cisgendered and straight allies can be more aware of and compassionate toward their queer/trans loved one’s expereinces. In addition to this, I would like to emphasize the importance of validating the violence experienced among members of the LGBTQIA+ community in all forms.

If you are located in a state that is anti-trans and/or anti-homosexual, lacking support from your community, or if you are unsure of whether or not you have experienced sexual and/or domestic violence; seeking help as an abuse victim, and member of the LGBTQIA+ community, involves facing many different obstacles. However, reporting the person responsible for the abuse and/or violence is a critical way in which victims can be validated and protected by community and law. Below are some resources for those who have experienced, are expereincing, or know someone who is a victim of queer domestic and/or sexual violence. Reach out, report, and support because Domestic Violence Awareness Month means standing up against intimate partner violence in all forms and for all people.

Statistics Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,  https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/domestic-violence-and-the-lgbtq-community

The Anti-Violence Project: serves people who are LGBTQ; Hotline 1-212-714-1141, Bilingual 24/7

FORGE: serves transgender and gender nonconforming survivors of domestic and sexual violence; provides referrals to local counselors, 1-414-559-2123

Northwest Network– serves LGBT survivors of abuse; can provide local referrals: 1-206-568-7777

Being Gay for Halloween

By Sidney Wegener

Sidney is a first year MA candidate studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. Their academic interests include lesbianism and lesbian history in American from the 1920’s to the 1930’s. They are currently pursuing many different avenues for research in U.S. history pertaining to women’s and queer studies and looking forward to working on a thesis related to the linguistic and social evolution of female sexuality.

Halloween, 2014, I was a senior in high school. At this point in time, I was already out of the closet; not necessarily by choice, but rather because some kid named Alex stole my phone in AP Environmental Science at the end of my sophomore year and read my text messages with my girlfriend at the time. He spread the news to just about everyone and by the end of the day the entireschool knew: I was a lesbian. My first high school did not find this amusing; my teachers found it intolerable, my coaches found it unathletic, and my “friends” found it shameful. Thankfully, I was able to transfer to a different high school a few towns over, and at this one, it seemed okay to be gay. I brought my girlfriend to homecoming, prom, and one of my basketball teammates, Sarah, was also a lesbian. I was no longer trapped in a nightmare of an institution, populated by a tiny town known for generation after generation settling back down in the same community. Everybody’s grandparents knew everybody’s grandparents, and everybody’s business was everybody’s entertainment. So by the time I was a senior at my second high school, I remember thinking to myself, “wow, this is what it’s like to be free, to be myself”. Looking back now, I laugh at how I felt so freely lesbian that I made myself into a costume. 

In 2014, Halloween was the Friday of Homecoming week. So, naturally, the students, teachers, and administration all wore their costumes for the last spirit day. Sarah and I coordinated our costumes. We both wore lab coats with large name tags reading: “Scientist for Straight Girls Wanting to Experiment”. Walking around campus, I remember thinking to myself how many of my female identified classmates were sporting costumes which seemed, to me at least, pretty sexy for walking from class to class. My second high school was a lot more lenient on the rules, and it showed during spirit week. However, that did not stop an administrative member from intervening in my stroll to chemistry. Despite my lab coat attire being quite fitting for a science class in which we wore protective eye gear, my name tag was inappropriate. When I met up with Sarah before basketball practice, she had also changed her costume and by the end of the day we were both just regular scientists. 

Now, I contemplate what it means to wear a “costume” and where the boundaries lie in terms of what is “appropriate.” I mean, how is it that Kaylee got to walk around in a see through Tinkerbell costume, and my pun on my own sexuality was “distracting”? If it was not a school spirit day designated for wearing a costume I wouldn’t have even been breaking the dress code. In a holiday themed effort to express myself, part of me realized that being gay was not something I could wear, unless it went without being said. Apparently, I was “promoting” homosexuality. Kaylee’s costume didn’t have a label on it reading “sexy, hyper-feminized Disney character”, whereas my costume’s meaning rested solely on a nametag, categorizing what kind of “scientist” I intended to be perceived as. Furthermore, Kaylee was not a Tinkerbell-identified human, while I was (and still am) a raging lesbian. So what is the difference for a high school, that allows everyone to wear costumes, between my “Scientist for Straight Girls Wanting to Experiment” lab coat and Kaylee’s “sexy seventeen year old girl take on Tinkerbell” costume? From where I stand today, it seems that dressing in a sexy costume as a seventeen year old girl in high school is okay, so long as it silently complies to a straight, male gaze. A lab coat, jeans, and a t-shirt are also fine-  until you label the outfit as a costume. Well, a lesbian costume.