We all wear our identities in various ways to show the world what tribe we belong to.

Go to Toronto and you will see the Bay Street brokers in their slick-cut suits; go to Vancouver and you can tell the granolas by their hippie, back-to-the-land attire. Sexual-orientation-wise, it is usually just as easy to spot gay from straight. In any city, a woman wearing a plaid shirt, hiking

boots with a short and spiky do is a good bet to be not so straight … in the Yukon this is not necessarily so. It  raises the question: Is it bush or is it butch?

One evening at the Boiler Room, while listening to the jazz stylings of Annie Avery, this question of Yukon gay identity came up. A woman at the table voiced the question of how a gay woman can spot another gay woman in Whitehorse. After all, wearing plaid shirts with Carhartts and short hair is not necessarily a dyke-thing as it is a Yukon-thing.

This conversation was then picked up at a party several nights later. A happily married woman named B.J. (whom I have to credit with the bush/butch analogy) said she encountered this problem all the time. She is a plaid-wearing, big-booted, short-haired straight woman who is always being mistaken for a dyke. She moves in circles with a lot of gay women and it didn’t really bother her but it did show how much we rely on external clues and stereotypes to assess people around us.  Perhaps we need some sort of Yukon gay code … such as wearing only lavender-coloured plaid shirts or accessorizing with rainbow coloured bandanas. We never really came to any sort of conclusion except that the gay community is different from Outside and is not necessarily as visible as it might be in Toronto or Vancouver.

One thing is for certain, regardless of how you dress you can find the gay community alive and thriving at any of our planned functions. Speaking of which, GALA’s Spring Thaw dance is now going to be held at the Guild Hall on April 30. I will have more details about it in subsequent columns.