A question that has haunted lesbian* relationships since the beginning of time: Can Lesbians Have Long Nails?
*This article recognises that not all lesbians have vaginas, and not all people with vaginas are women. Men can also have long nails, so really this article is for anyone with long nails who is/wants to be intimate with someone with a vagina. However, I do reference my own experiences as a cis woman being intimate with other cis women and use the word ‘queer’ interchangeably with lesbian when appropriate.
I realised I was queer slightly later in life. The first sexual experience I had with a girl happened when I was 22, about a year after I came out.
It was one of the most amazing and terrifying experiences I have ever had. Leaving her house the next day I knew one thing for certain… I was definitely queer.
That morning, I practically skipped home, shaking strangers hands and tilting my (non-existent) hat to passers by, just like they do in old Hollywood movies – or more accurately that scene in Friends where Ross finally gets laid.
My Second Cum-ing
That relationship didn’t work out and a couple of months later I slept with another girl. The sex was incredible (for me anyway). However, this time I left hers, plagued with fear and doubt.
Fear at my performance and doubt that she had enjoyed herself. This was because I thought I had committed the worst sin a queer girl could commit.
I was so caught up in my own thoughts, I found myself unconsciously biting my nails… my long, shellac-ed, pointed, enemy-of-the-clitoris, talon nails that I had acquired a couple of weeks previously. Oh god. What had I done?
I was confronted with my first lesbian faux-pas. I feared my manicured mits would make vaginas everywhere retreat in terror.
As I travelled home, engulfed in self-doubt, I wondered (in true Carrie Bradshaw fashion)… Could I really be a lesbian if I had committed this clitoral crime?
This question haunted me. If I had to choose between my monthly manicures or girls, well, obviously the nails would be the first thing to go. But did it really have to come to this?
That night, nail salons haunted my nightmares. Cardi B and Rihanna swam in and out of my vision, taunting me, their gravity defying nails mocking me.
I woke up in a sweat. I couldn’t take it anymore… so I turned to every gay teen’s best friend – the internet.
I snapped open my laptop and feverishly googled: “Can lesbians have long nails?”. The Gay Gods must have been looking down on me in that moment because what i found can only be described as a gay oasis, heaven if you will.
Illuminated by the glare of a laptop screen cranked up to full brightness in a dark room at 3am… 6 words immediately jumped out at me.
“YES, LESBIANS CAN HAVE LONG NAILS!”
I breathed a sigh of relief. How could 6 words bring such comfort? It sounds silly, I know, but we live in a world where our sexuality is so policed that something as insignificant as my nails induced a near panic attack. It made me doubt something that I had finally accepted and embraced about myself.
Within queer & lesbian communities there are 2 infamous sentences; “Do you think she’s a lesbian”; “I don’t know, check her nails”.
Nails have become a signifier of our sexuality or our gender. If we’re truly queer then we don’t have long fingernails. If we do, then we’re just pretending. This idea ridiculous and reinforces dangerous stereotypes.
We shouldn’t have to compromise who we are to fit into someone else’s definition of the ‘right’ way to be or act. A lot of the time this pressure comes from within queer and feminist communities.
Your gender and sexuality is unique and personal to you. You might identify as masc, femme, both, one day one, one day the other and some people do not have a gender. The way you enact your gender (if you have one, or many) does not define your sexuality either!
Being femme does not erase my queerness. Liking other femme presenting folk does not erase my queerness. Loving long nails does not erase my queerness. Period.
However, there are a few words of advice I would give
Firstly, communication is key. If you have long talons, it’s good to know exactly what your partner likes. Be careful, because whilst you should rock your nails with pride, just make sure you go gently and use the soft part of your finger for all sensitive activity. Make sure they are telling you what they like and whether it feels good, because you could be hurting them without realising.
You can also get finger cots (yes I know they look like mini condoms) but bear with me. They stop the spreading of STI’s and they are very clean, which, as we all know, is a pretty big turn on. They also stop any accidental scratching.
Finally, long nails (if not looked after) can get dirty. Make sure you always wash your hands before getting down and (not so) dirty with it. Remember, hygiene is sexy.
If you’re interested in finding out more on the Great Lesbian Nail Debate, check out Katie Dupere’s article “Queer Women Who Love Fake Nails Exist & Yes, You Can Still Have Sex With Us” in Bustle (trust me you won’t regret it!)
So breathe easy & rejoice! Let your talons run wild! Encrust your acrylics with diamanté’s! Be the queer femme you truly are – but just remember…
the clit must always cum first.