Why I Started Wearing a Signet Pinky Ring as a Queer Woman


The urge for queer people to signal has been fundamental throughout history. For many in the community, this has given their aesthetics and accessories deeper meaning. As a femme lesbian with a less obviously queer presentation, I want to be seen! Cut to me kissing my wife on the mouth or intertwining our fingers in front of other queer couples to say hello, we see you! Do you see us? Take care! Without my wife, I’m left to solo maneuvers like gesturing to my cuffed jeans, dangling my double gold chains, and waving my floral forearm tattoo, Vanna White style. As a last-ditch effort, I’ll feign reading The Price of Salt. In modern day Brooklyn none of these embellishments are conclusive, further complicating the ritual.

Aside from my uncle and Ellen DeGeneres, I didn’t see any queer people when I was growing up, and when I heard about them it was often negative. As adults it’s not surprising that many of us want to identify each other, if for no other reason than to acknowledge our collective presence.

As someone eager to consume queer history and find ways to incorporate it into present day, I was hooked on the Hulu mini-series A League of Their Own, which reimagines a familiar storyline in a more authentic way. The show allows the characters to discover their own identities and form shared communities. It validates not only the struggle of coming to terms with yourself—in an often violent world—but it also highlights the often over looked joy of the queer experience: kinship, love, and creativity. After a two-day binge, I was talking nonstop about the gorgeous Greta Gill (D’Arcy Carden) and how every time Lupe Garcia (Roberta Colindrez) swaggered on screen with her crisply rolled sleeves my knees went weak. I couldn’t stop obsessing over the fashions.

The outfits on the show are recognizably 1940s, flecked with the queer flair of the era. The more butch lesbians dress in menswear: button-up shirts, plaids, earth tones, rolled sleeves, and stiff pants. Greta brings us high femme looks in warmer palettes, dresses that fit like a glove, knee-length skirts, florals, and crop tops. Subtle queer accessories are shown throughout: caps, men’s watches, loafers, and—most striking to me—Greta’s gold signet pinky ring worn on her right hand. What I loved about the ring was that like much of gay history, it was hiding in plain sight. Folks throughout the 1940s-1960s wore pinky rings to denote their sexual orientation, and if you didn’t know that, then you’d miss it. The ring looked elegant and modern, and I wanted one right away. Also, wearing a pinky ring is badass!

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