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  • Writer's picturePatricia Grayhall

Costume Changes

Throughout my adult life, I have been may different people: daughter, sister, college student, medical student, doctor, friend, lover, and spouse. In each role, time and place I have presented differently to the world.

As a college student in the late 1960s and 1970s, I often wore psychedelic-colored loose-fitting blouses and bell-bottom hip huggers. Sometimes I wore a dress and with lipstick, contacts and mascara and looked very straight. No other lesbians would recognize me, but neither did the homophobic world of the time (left).

Even after I came out in San Francisco in 1969, I continued to pass as straight in my demeanor and attire. That did not change until I moved to Boston in the mid-1970s for my post-graduate medical training. Bars were then a major meeting place for other lesbians and standard attire included jeans, flannel shirt and Frye boots (below).

This contrasted with the conservative pants suit or skirt I would wear to my medical school classes and then the medical wards of the hospitals. Even in the late 1970s, with second wave feminism in full swing and homosexuality no longer classified as a disease, it was risky to be obviously gay in my professional life.

My split persona persisted through the 1980s and 1990s as I moved into medical practice in prominent medical groups. Now it is hard to believe I got up every weekday and donned conservative skirts, blazers, panty hose, and even heels (despite my height of six feet).

In the late 1990s, I cut loose from large medical institutions and started my own clinical and consulting practice. Now that I was my own boss, I collected all my size eleven high heels and presented them as a gift at a lesbian White Elephant party. I got rid of all my skirts and dresses but one and wore only comfortable flats and pant suits. Vests and jackets allowed me to throw away all my bras.

Now, I wear whatever I want. Though still capable of looking elegant, I usually prefer cargo pants, colorful shirts, vests and Hoka running shoes with their cushy thick soles. The male gaze passes me by for which I am grateful. My wife still looks though and that is all that matters.


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