Safety in Femininity

In one of the many discussions I had with my parents before leaving for college, my mom voiced her concerns about people being hateful towards me due to my sexuality. Without even thinking I responded back, “well when you look like I do, people assume you’re straight.”

I found myself contemplating the dynamics of being a queer woman and femme presenting versus being a queer woman and masculine presenting, as well as why I personally choose to present femininely. The immediate thought that came to mind was presenting femininely is safer. I live in this weird dichotomy of desperately wanting to be seen as queer in order to meet more queer people, but also presenting femininely in a way that is most often read as straight because it’s safer. Of course the aspect of personal preference comes into play, but I also find myself wondering exactly how I would present if there wasn’t all of this societal bullshit tied to dressing a specific way. That is a question I personally still do not know the answer to.

I don’t feel uncomfortable in feminine clothing. In situations where I am even more femme than normal it can feel like I’m playing a character, but that’s not always a negative feeling, and usually that has more to do with the situations I’m in, than the actual clothes themselves. I do feel more powerful on the days I dress a little more masculine or androgynous, and I like the way I look in those clothes. In the past year or so I’ve started to dress in a way that’s more visibly queer, every once in a while. While I like the possibility of being read as gay when I dress like this, (although let’s be honest most people still think I’m straight) I find myself wondering if and when, it’s “too much.”

Internalized homophobia is a bitch. There’s no such thing as dressing “too gay” or being “too much” because of it. Also, my personal version of dressing more androgynously is still pretty femme and often continues to be read as straight. I would say internalized homophobia is the main influence that keeps me from dressing  more androgynous-leaning regularly. On the other hand, I do like feminine clothes, I enjoy wearing makeup and having longer hair. I think overall I just wish on the days I want to switch things up and dress more androgynously that I would feel comfortable to, without thinking “is this going too far?” or “is this too much?” I don’t think I have all the answers to these questions or this situation myself yet, but the process of figuring it out has been quite interesting. I’d love to hear anyone else’s story of how they came to find the way they like to present, and how that relates to their queer identity!

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The Fetishization of Gay Men by Straight Women

The perpetrators of the phenomena of fetishizing gay men seem to be mainly straight women.  They become overly invested in male/male romances, both real and fictional. They over sexualize and fetishize their relationships, and treat them like objects. Quite frankly, the treat them the same way many straight men treat women. They paint them as characters for their own enjoyment instead of real human beings, or well-rounded fictional characters. These are also the same women who “Just LOOOOVE gay men!!!” They see them as an experience and often infantilize their relationships.

Many straight women write m/m novels and fan-fiction. These characters tend to be the embodiment of a stereotype, and don’t got through much character development. Unless you count going from saying, “YASS” to “YASS KWEEN!!” as development. Their writing also has no experience behind it. The coming out stories are incredibly inaccurate, feel very uninformed, and are again seen as “super cute.” The struggles queer men face are often erased, and replaced with yet another sex scene.

The stories these women write are not for queer men, they are for self-satisfaction and other women who also enjoy fetishizing queer men. This is not what being an ally is. Allies don’t create uninformed, falsified queer media for their own enjoyment. Being an ally also isn’t an identity, you don’t get to become a part of the community for simply not being homophobic. Appropriating queer culture and then producing uninformed work for a profit is a huge slap in the face to people who are actually a part of the community. Perpetuating stereotypes and writing stories you have no authority to write does not help the LGBTQIA+ community at all.

Gay men are often stereotyped to be feminine, and so society lumps them into the same group as women. They’re seen as “just one of the girls,” and are there to compliment straight women and make them feel better about themselves. Gay men are not women, and yet the characters that straight women write and label as “gay men” are often portrayed as if they are a straight woman. Queer stories are vital to the progression of our community, but these stories aren’t the right ones. Sometimes as an ally it’s better to do nothing at all, if the opposite action is appropriation and fetishization. LGBTQIA+ people deserve authentic and diverse stories written by people who understand them and their struggles, which is something a straight woman could never do.

 

*** Obviously there are straight women in the LGBTQIA+ community, but I’m specifically talking about straight women who do not identify as being LGBTQIA+ at all (aren’t trans, asexual, aromantic, or any other queer romantic identity, etc.)***

Pride Month 2018

June is LGBTQIA+ pride month, and just like last year, all of my posts this month will be LGBTQIA+ related!

Pride Month is a time to celebrate being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, remember the history of our civil rights movements and celebrate our accomplishments, as well as organizing to continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people everywhere. Many cities hold their pride parade this month as well as other events, but some places, like where I live, hold their events at different times throughout the year. Either way, June is a great time to celebrate being LGBTQIA+ and have fun!

I have a lot of ideas about the posts I’m going to do this month, but I’d love to hear what you want to see from me! I’m really excited for this month, and all the festivities that come along with it.

Happy Pride Everyone!

 

 

Day of Silence 2018

TW: Brief mention of suicide and mental health

GLSEN’s Day of Silence “is a student-led national event where folks take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.” The Day of Silence was created by a group of students at the University of Virginia in 1996.

“Nearly 4 in 5 LGBTQ students don’t see positive LGBTQ representation in their curriculum, nearly 9 in 10 experience verbal harassment, and almost a third miss school for feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. The Day of Silence is a national movement to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ students in school, which demands that school leaders take action to be more inclusive.”

I have never had a teacher speak about LGBTQ+ rights, or even acknowledge that someone they were talking about was a part of the LGBTQIA+ community in my entire life. I never learned about the Stonewall Riots in school, or the AIDs epidemic. I never read a history book that acknowledged our presence. Queer history is so important, and yet it is completely silenced in our education system. This is just one of many issues that leads to silencing and erasure in schools.

glsen dos
“Safe Schools For All”

In my high school we had a GSA, but I never got up the nerve to go. Just a few weeks after I had come out to my family, an “advertisement” was played on the school announcements  for the GSA. Afterward, the boy who sat next to me laughed and said, “It’s so sad that we actually have one of those.” I felt gutted. Other kids laughed and they continued to make homophobic remarks. Was this a direct attack on me? No, they had no idea I was gay. Did it make me feel ashamed, outraged, and embarrassed? Absolutely.

I wish I could say that I stood up for myself and my community, but I did not. I was kind of scared and hurt, especially since it was all so new to me. Their laughter and bigotry made me feel as if I couldn’t speak up. However, I have had it so much easier than many LGBTQIA+ students; I’ve never been bullied or directly discriminated against. Hearing people say awful things, whether they realize it’s about you or not, is still hurtful.

Far too many LGBTQIA+ students suffer from mental health problems as a result of the bullying and general intolerance at their schools. We lose so many amazing kids to suicide, because of the abuse they face. Marriage equality didn’t end homophobia or transphobia, and it certainly didn’t make the United States treat LGBTQIA+ citizens as complete equals. We still have a long way to go, and we need protection of LGBTQIA+ students.

No I Don’t Care That You Know Other Queer People

“By the way my coworker’s best friend’s sister is gay.”

“… oh, um that’s cool.”

This is a conversation that takes place constantly. If someone knows I’m gay, they always love to tell me when they meet other queer people; as if we’re unicorns. Don’t get me wrong, there are nothing but good intentions behind it, it’s just a little weird. Would you tell me if you met another woman, or some else who had blue eyes? Probably not.

This is different from the typical, “oh you’re gay, do you know my friend Sam, he’s gay too?” situation. People don’t think you know them, they just want to let you know they know other queer people. My older sister is the main culprit of this in my life. She lives in a major city, so of course she knows/is friends with/ runs into a lot of queer people, and she lets me know. Every. Single. Time. Maybe I’m a huge jerk for not caring, but honestly it’s just not that interesting to me. I consume a lot of queer media, so I constantly see other LGBTQIA+ people. Plus, I’m in college, so I see a decent amount of visibly queer people in my day to day life.

Being able to see visibly queer people is so so important, and I do get excited when I see other people people just living their normal lives. I feel a sense of familiarity and kinship with other people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Someone telling me about how their barista is gay though, isn’t really something I care to know. What is the correct response to “Oh! I was meaning to tell you my waiter the other day is gay.” ? Do you want me to jump up and down and beg you for more details? I usually go with, “that’s cool” or “oh wow” which both come out sounding incredibly unenthusiastic, no matter how much I try and pretend to care.

I never confront anyone about this, because I know they are just trying to be nice. It in no way makes me mad, or even annoyed, I just find it incredibly odd and kinda funny. Does this happen to you? If so, how do you respond? I feel like this definitely isn’t just something I deal with!

 

How did you know you were gay?

Even though I’ve been out for a few years now, I’ve never really had anyone ask me “How did you know you were gay?” until a few weeks ago. One of my lab partners (who’s also gay) asked me this kind of out of the blue while we were working on our lab report after class. Honestly, I didn’t have a great answer prepared.

I told her about an experience I had sophomore year of high school, where I randomly had a huge crush on this girl I didn’t really know in my Chemistry class. I wrote about that crush a long time ago, but I’ve since come to some other realizations. I think she could have been replaced with a thousand different people and it wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s not that I don’t have standards, or that I’m attracted to every girl I come in contact with – that’s far from the truth. It was just a period of time where I was questioning and figuring everything out, and she just so happened to be in the same class as me.

Now, my lab partner wasn’t exactly satisfied with this story. “But how do you know it wasn’t just her?” That question threw me for a loop a little bit. There’s no good answer, I just do. It’s a feeling that, I don’t feel the need to question anymore. For me, sexuality isn’t a complicated part of my life. I know how I feel, and who I like. It’s just that simple. It wasn’t that easy in the beginning, but over time the doubts left and I feel perfectly content with the conclusion. I don’t have some great story about being swept off my feet by the love of my life, and I don’t think having that kind of story is necessary. I wanted the experience to be casual and simple, and it was.

Her questions came from a place of curiosity, but they definitely made me think about a few things. Why are people so obsessed with knowing every thought that goes through queer people’s minds when questioning their sexuality or gender? Also, why do they feel the need to question it’s authenticity? One of my favorite qutoes from Denice Frohman’s poem “Dear Straight People” is:

” Dear Straight People, I’m tired of proving my love is authentic, so I’m calling the reparations on your ass. When did you realize you were straight? Who taught you?Did it happen because your parents are divorced? Did it happen because your parents are not divorced? Did it happen because you sniffed too much glue in fifth grade? Dear Straight People, why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?”

I get a whole lot of “I would have never known” and “Really???” This has to do with the fact that I don’t look queer enough in straight people’s eyes. I wear makeup, have shoulder length hair, and generally act feminine enough to be shoved (forcefully) into the straight box. I can look in the mirror and think, “wow I look really gay today” (in a proud way) and still no one suspects a damn thing. The authenticity of my gayness is questioned because I don’t look the part or fit perfectly into the tiny box created for the stereotypical lesbian.

I don’t mind answering these questions, or most questions for that matter. However, I am tired of both people in my day to day life as well as society as a whole questioning who I am because I don’t fit the mold. So, how did I know I was gay? I trusted myself, and through lots of introspection discovered the answer to this aspect of my life. Maybe it’s not the best answer, or the answer people want to hear, but it’s the most honest one.

Intolerance in the LGBTQIA+ Community

In a perfect world the LGBTQ+ community would be all sunshine and rainbows and acceptance, but sometimes it isn’t.

There’s a big problem with racism within the community, specifically with gay men. Having “no asians” or “no black people” on their Grindr profiles. When confronted most of them say, “well it’s just a preference.” A preference is liking strawberry jelly over grape jelly or liking tennis shoes over sandals, not segregating an entire race and labeling them as “undateable.”

Biphobia and transphobia are also another problem, mainly amongst cis-white-gays. They believe that people use the label bisexual as a stepping stone to being gay and just haven’t accepted that they’re gay yet. Transphobic queer people sometimes use the term “LGB” instead of LGBT, in order to excluded trans people from the community.

My main question for people in the community who behave like this is, why? Why discriminate against someone who belongs to the same minority group as you? We’re all going to face our fair share of bigotry from the outside world so why be bigoted to one another? We should be supporting and uplifting one another, not tearing each other down. If you don’t like someone else erasing your identity, then don’t do it someone else. You aren’t them, you don’t know how they feel. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

The worst thing we can do as a community is not support one another. How can you expect love and support from people outside the LGBTQ+ community, if you don’t love and support others in the community yourself? I think we all have a responsibility to call out this behavior and set an example for others by treating one another with tolerance and respect.