Over the summer, Lena Waithe made waves when she chopped off her signature locs. “I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am,” she says. Now the Emmy-winning screenwriter and actress is getting real about representation, or lack thereof, of lesbians who present as masculine.
“Masculine-presenting lesbians don’t see themselves a lot,” Waithe says. “It’s just such not a part of, I think, black families’ thought process. They don’t think about it. The word doesn’t even come up until you have to say it out loud and you’re almost frustrated that you [have to]. I was frustrated that I even had to come out. I was like, ’What did y’all think this was?’ But…you do.”
Waithe also says she believes segregation and desegregation impacted her mother’s journey of accepting having a gay daughter.
“My mom was born in 1953, which [means]—as I always try to remind people—that she was born into a segregated America. And…we’re not that far away from that,” she says. “So, for her, what it meant to be a good, black person was to not make white people uncomfortable. And, I think me being gay made her feel like, ’Oh, you gon’ make white folks real uncomfortable.'”
You can check out episodes of The Shop on HBO.