Lena Waithe opened up about shaving her signature dreadlocks to adopt a more masculine appearance like that of her absentee father. The 34-year-old Chicago native was raised by her single mother and grandmother after her parents divorced when she was three.

The openly gay actress and writer joked “I’ve gotten gayer, guys,” at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Grants Banquet in Beverly Hills on Thursday, Aug. 9.

Waithe, who wore a men’s tailored suit and men’s shoes, explained she chopped off her hair to embrace her masculine side as a stereotypical butch/stud.

Waithe, who grew up without a strong father figure in her life, said she wrestled with the feminine side of her that still wanted to present as a soft woman in public.

“I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am. I think I thought for a long time, ‘Oh, if I cut my hair, I’ll be a stud, I’ll be — in the gay world, there’s a lot of categories — I’ll be a stud or I’ll be a butch,’ and I’ve always thought, ‘Well, no, I’m not that, I’m still soft,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I gotta put that down ’cause that’s something that’s outside of me.'”

Adding that she’s fine being mistaken for a man without her hair, Lena continued: “If people call me a butch or say ‘she’s stud’ or call me sir out in the world — so what? So be it. I’m here with a suit on, not a stitch of make-up, and a haircut — I feel like, ‘Why can’t I exist in the world in that way?'”

It should be noted that Waithe is not declaring herself a transgender male, since transgenders don’t consider themselves to be lesbians.

She is engaged to content executive Alana Mayo.

Photos by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images