It's getting easier for me to identify as femme.
I've never really seen myself as a very graceful or feminine person (and certainly masculine people can be graceful). But it seems to me that the standards for femininity are different for lesbians. Imagine the continuum:
So for straight people, I think women are expected to be waaay far out to the left. But for lesbians, it seems that as soon as you sway barely to the left of Andro, you're classified as Femme. And once you swing barely to the right of Andro, you're classified as Butch. Please confirm, if you're reading. So anyway, by straight people standards, I'm a miserable failure. I don't do my makeup correctly, I enjoy burping loudly... this is just to start.
BUT! When I go out with the gay/lesbian crowd, I dress up in pinstripe slacks and shiny white shirts and... flip flops? I'm comfortable, and I have not broken any of the "rules" for my particular gender performance category! I'm still a femme. It's very reassuring.
Here's the riddle: I embrace my femininity when it attracts women, and I reject my femininity when it attracts men. Classic.
Since I came out, I've been able to retrace my steps back to easter dresses and my dollies wrapped in brocade and satin. I've remembered my dancing feet and I flash my crooked charming smile with such a confidence... The curve of my hip and the texture of such delicate places, my hand enveloped by another's. The blessing of my curls that get so messy, looking so good.
I'm finding that women appreciate my gentleness so much more than men have ever been able to adequately express, though I'm sure they have tried. They do try so fervently...