The Fab Femme: Who is Chanel Brown? Tell us about yourself. Where are you from and when did you come out as a lesbian woman?
Chanel Brown: I would describe myself as compassionate, spiritual, and inquisitive. I’m originally from Orange County, California and came out shortly after graduating highschool. Before then I truly believed any attraction I had to any females was just a strong admiration. Contrary to what most may believe, I actually pursued the first girl I was involved with. Before then I accepted my lack of interest and intimacy with men as an awkward phase. In my attraction to her I noticed that there had been something missing all along. This first act was the beginning of a world of self-discovery. I did a lot of reading from a psychological and spiritual perspective.
TFF: Thats interesting. Tell us about the kind of criticism or scrutiny you received from your peers, family, and friends, if any at all after coming out. Were people supportive?
CB: I actually had gay friends I was pretty close to around this time and surprisingly they were the most skeptical of my coming out. It took nearly a year for my friends to come around and truly accept that I was a lesbian and not somehow influenced by them. After a negative response from my friends, I expected my family to be critical because as the only girl of five, I had always lived up to my mom’s expectations, but this seemed far from her expectation. To my surprise, my family was extremely supportive and the conversation didn’t last long at all. In fact, it was just laughed off because I had made it a point to call a family meeting to call in this huge “life changing announcement” that they seem to already suspect.
TFF: They always know when we think they dont. We saw you on a number of episodes of The Real L Word with Sajdah last year. How did you feel about being on television and was having your relationship publicly televised stressful?
CB: I like to compare it to a girl being kissed for the very first time during a game of seven minutes in heaven. After the door is open you realize the experience wasn’t as intimate as you would have imagined it to be but it’s still a romantic experience. It was very nerve wrecking to be on television and getting to know someone for the very first time. It’s definitely not something I would do again, but I am happy that I had. Regardless of how real a television series aims to be they can’t capture everything! What most witnessed were parts of a growing relationship, and broadcasted by someone else’s definition of highlights in our relationship, which were not all what I would have considered highlights.
Overall, I wanted to get to know Saj on my own time, but since she was already on the show, I had the option to follow my heart and pursue this relationship or not, but run the risk of never seeing her again. Being the person that I am, I followed my heart and I pursued the relationship, it was a learning experience and I have no regrets. I’m even happy that I did because I feel like I met the person that I truly wanted to be with and I got what I really wanted in a partner. So through it all, it was worth it.
TFF: Thats sweet. Has being on The Real L Word helped or hurt you and Saj in any way? Has it opened any doors for you?
CB: I believe the show helped us be completely open and honest with each other. We skipped the mindless and immature games that people play to protect their heart, because the show seemed to just fast forward things.
At the same time, the show hurt because while we were being so open and unguarded with each other, the weaknesses in our relationship were highlighted to be much more than they actually were. As a result, strangers approach me with notions they’ve concluded from clips they’ve watched on television. So there is this element of speculation about our relationship that for some times we felt we needed to defend. Overall, I felt there was no sensitivity to who I was, my interests, or my feelings.
TFF: The topic of “femme invisibility” has been mentioned on a number of LGBT media outlets/blogs lately. What are your thoughts on “femme invisibility” and do you feel like it affects you?
CB: I’ll start by saying I think the dilemma is rooted in the inability to distinguish a femme lesbian from a straight, curious or bisexual girl, not that I believe an obvious distinction is necessary.
To much of my surprise, in my early coming out, it was difficult to be taken seriously, because my outer appearance fit so much into heteronormative standards so I was always seen as like the straight “FagHag”whenever I partied at LGBT clubs or attended functions. Ultimately this contributed to me being rather reserved and somewhat of an introvert when it came to meeting people within the LGBT community.
TFF: Tell us about some of the projects you’re working on as well as me of the things that your passionate about.
CB: I am currently studying product development at the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising and I’m creating a clothing line that blurs gender divides. Also, as the director of Motivate Equality, I apply my commitment to the arts to develop creative means for individuals to share their personal stories of support for LGBT people and to diminish anti-LGBT prejudice and homophobia.
TFF: Thats exciting! I cant wait to see you clothing line. Gay marriage is becoming legal in more and more states as the years roll on. Do you plan on getting married and having a family eventually? What are your thoughts on Prop 8?
CB: I’m unsure of what the future holds for me in relation to marriage and family. I am certainly not planning anything at the moment, but I should be able to achieve the ‘American Dream’ and get married or have a family if and when I wanted to. My civil rights should not be limited just because I identify as a lesbian.
TFF: Last question. Tell us something about yourself that most people dont know and may misenterpret.
CB: What’s already been misinterpreted is that I am anti-social when in fact I’m not, but I will say that everyone that has gotten to know me first made a true commitment to getting to know me because I certainly don’t just let anyone in my life!