gay

All posts tagged gay

You Don’t Know Me, I’m a Damn Enigma

Published April 25, 2016 by auddity

Please allow me this rant: You don’t know me, so stop misidentifying me.

I have recently been misidentified as a lesbian and as bisexual. The first instance was by a friend of a friend, to whom I’d come out as queer a few weeks before. Her flub was unintentional and well-meaning; we were discussing a coworker of hers and she said, “She’s a fellow lesbian,” and continued with her story. I didn’t think it was worth it to interrupt the flow of conversation to correct her, but it stung a little. I thought, “Well, at least she remembered I wasn’t straight,” but in reality, it just goes to show that lesser-known identities are often erased by the gay-straight dichotomy. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to explain what my sexual orientation means to me, and describe where I fall under the queer umbrella. Now, I don’t dislike talking about this stuff – in most cases I love it! – but it can get old sometimes, especially when the person I’m talking to has literally no idea what I’m talking about.

That was the case with a coworker, my teaching partner, of whom I am not a fan to begin with. She used the word “gay” to mean stupid, and instead of letting it go, I took it as an opportunity to speak up against that kind of usage. I asked her politely, “Could you not use that word in that way?” She asked me why, so I told her I found it offensive (even though me asking her to stop using the word should’ve been sufficient). She quickly insisted that she and her family didn’t have anything against gay people, it was just a word they used. This woman worked with special needs kids for several years before coming to my school, so I tried a different approach; I explained, “You using ‘gay’ in that way is like if you said ‘retarded’ to mean stupid.” I could tell she still wasn’t really understanding what the issue was, so I told her that it was personal to me because I’m queer. She looked blankly at me so I elaborated, “I don’t identify as straight, but I don’t identify as gay either.” Her face lit up, “So you’re bisexual!” I shook my head and realized I was fighting a losing battle. I asked her to please not use that word around me, and just left it at that. Our three year-olds were about to arrive and I didn’t have the time or energy to give her a lesson in gender studies.

What bothers me the most, and it was there in both cases, is that assumption of knowing. It’s like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls, “I’m not a regular straight person, I’m a cool straight person.” No. Don’t assume you know anything about me just because you’ve watched the L Word or you had a gay friend in college or whatever other asinine excuse you want to throw at me. You don’t know me, so stop pretending like you’re in on it, like we’re part of some club, like you’ve got me figured out. Until you put in the work to actually educate yourself, you can shut up about all of this. Just stop.

I can only imagine what genderqueer, genderfluid, and transgender folks go through. They no doubt experience this kind of thing on a regular basis. The same with people of color, especially those who are of mixed ethnicities and/or racially ambiguous. I deal with a small fraction of this and it drives me crazy. If you don’t know, don’t assume! Find an appropriate way to ask or do some goddamn research.

Advertisements

Let’s Talk About (Unintentional) Homophobia

Published June 9, 2013 by auddity

Let’s talk about ego. Let’s talk about assumptions. Let’s talk about good intentions. Let’s talk about homophobia. Homophobia is homophobia, even if you don’t mean it. But the question is, how can we stop doing it?

One time when I was at work, cashiering, a young couple came through my line. The girl went first and I joked around with her as I rang out her few items (see my post on how I am the perfect cashier). When I turned to the boyfriend his first words to me, before I could ask “How ya doing?” or even look at what he was buying, were “I’m not gay.” Completely baffled, I looked down and saw a couple of skincare products. His girlfriend laughed at him like he was being ridiculous, which he was, as he hurriedly explained he was buying them because they came with a free giftcard when bought together. I chuckled and said, “…Okay…” as I rang out his stuff. He continued rambling in a good-natured way, not trying to be insensitive, but coming off that way in his attempt to preserve his manhood, which to be honest was not in question to begin with. I had the urge to call him out by outing myself to prove a point. But then I thought that could make things even more awkward, so I chose a lighter but still ballsy, “What’s wrong with being gay?” “Nothing!” he insisted quickly, “I’m just not gay.” Gf was still laughing and agreed with me, “So what if you were? She doesn’t care.”

I’m not sure why it was so important to this guy that I was convinced of his heterosexuality; the presence of his girlfriend was enough. And honestly, I’ve had much weirder purchases, guy, and I do my best not to judge or make assumptions. It is perfectly plausible that he was just a man who wanted to take care of his skin, regardless of who he likes to date.

This is the thing though; you never know who you’re talking to in situations like these. What if I had just come out to my parents and it hadn’t gone well and they kicked me out? Imagine that guy’s face if I just broke down sobbing right then and there. Or what if I had taken the outraged I’m-gay-so-what-are-you-getting-at-buddy approach? I could’ve easily just chewed him out right there at the cash register. But I didn’t, because I wanted to keep things friendly and keep my job. I hope that my “What’s wrong with being gay?” was enough to make him think twice before making homophobic remarks the next time he embarrassedly buys skin care products.

As they were leaving, I handed him his free giftcard and he asked me if I knew if what he’d bought was any good. Just because I’m a girl I’m supposed to have an infinite knowledge of these things? I laughed and said, “I have no idea, I don’t use skincare products.” Bam. Take that social stereotypes.

The problem is that homophobia is so deeply rooted into our society that most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. There’s a guy I work with whom I find annoying as hell who also happens to be gay. Am I annoyed by his flamboyancy or is he just an annoying person? And even if it was because he’s flamboyant, is that being homophobic or merely a case of opposing personality types? I don’t know; it is nearly impossible to distinguish. I will say that I have very few gay male friends, and the ones I do have are generally not very flamboyant. But is that because I am generally turned off by femininity in any form, or because I am specifically intolerant of male femininity?

As I have said before, homophobia is intrinsically linked to sexism because it stems from a reverence of “pure” masculinity. When one defines homophobia as hatred or mistrust of male femininity or female masculinity, it becomes clear that while we may approach the issue of homophobia with the best intentions and declare ourselves “open-minded” or “accepting,” in order to truly eradicate homophobia, whether intentional or not, we must dissolve sexism. Which is no easy task as it is still so pervasive in our way of thinking. Until we let go of sexism, we will be incapable of accepting that masculinity and femininity can never be separate entities and that both are present in males and females (and everyone else). Similarly, once we dispense with the hierarchy of masculinity being paramount to femininity, maybe we can break down all the other hierarchies that pop up with in the categories of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

6 Things People Don’t Want To Hear…

Published November 8, 2012 by auddity

When They’re Coming Out As Gay

  1. I Always Knew You Were Gay
  2. You Don’t Look/Sound/Act Gay
  3. Are You Sure You Just Haven’t Found the Right Person of the Opposite Gender Yet?
  4. Oh Great, Now You Can… Be My Personal Stylist, Fix My Toilet, Be My Sassy Gay Friend, Take Me To Gay Bars, Etc.
  5. I Understand You Because I… Took This Gender Studies Class This One Time, Watched The L Word/Queer As Folk/Will And Grace, Have A Gay Aunt, Etc.
  6. Does This Mean You’re Going To Hit On Me All The Time Now?

When They’re Coming Out As Bi/Pansexual

  1. You Just Want… Attention, To Sleep Around, To Jump On The Bandwagon, Etc.
  2. Yeah, But Which Are You Really, Gay or Straight?
  3. Your New-found Sexual Orientation Doesn’t Actually Count
  4. Don’t Give In To Societal Pressure To Conform To The Heteronormative!
  5. I Understand You Because I’m Gay
  6. Does This Mean You’re Going To Hit On Me All The Time Now?

When They’re Coming Out As Transgender

  1. I Always Knew You Were A Boy/Girl
  2. You Look Better As A Boy/Girl
  3. Are You Sure? Because This Decision Will Affect The Rest Of Your Life.
  4. Does That Mean You’re Going To… Have “The Surgery,” Cut Off Your Junk, Dress In Drag, Shoot Up Hormones In Front Of Me, Etc.
  5. I Understand You Because I’m Gay/Bi/Pansexual
  6. Does This Mean You’re Going To Hit On Me All The Time Now?

Being “Queer”

Published May 24, 2012 by auddity

I always have so much to say until I’m faced with actually putting it into words.

I identify as queer. For those of you who don’t know what that means, well, it’s actually very complicated. “Queer” can act  as kind of a catch-all term for people who don’t feel like they fit into the categories of sexual orientation that are acceptable in today’s society, namely gay, straight, or bisexual. It’s an all-inclusive term, basically. For me personally, queer was what I chose to identify as when I started having feelings for trans men after having previously only been attracted to women and identifying as gay. (Although before that I exclusively identified as straight, so it’s all a bit of a toss-up really.)

However, along with the queer identity comes certain assumptions, both within and outside of the queer community. Politically, the queer agenda is very radical: anti-capitalism, anti-assimilation, anti-a lot of things. They want change and they’re ready to fight for it. Socially, the queer community focuses heavily on hook-up culture. And in a community where anybody could potentially hook up with anybody, it all gets very confusing and toes get stepped on and feelings get hurt. (Hint: I’m talking about this kid right here.)

As a politically moderate queer virgin, I am here to say that there are some things I don’t like about being queer. Or, about how I am expected to act after adopting a queer identity. I won’t pretend to be an expert on radicalism or hooking up, quite the opposite actually, but I have felt pressured to act radical or to assert my sexuality by hooking up with people, just because I’m queer. I don’t think straight people often feel pressured to do these things. And gay people are definitely pressured/assumed to hook up but the image of the domestic gay couple is quickly replacing the image of the promiscuous gay, especially now that Obama has made gay okay.

What I’m saying is, does being queer have to make me a radical? Does being queer mean the only way I can express my sexual freedom is by hooking up with a different person every weekend? I hope not. Because while I’m all for social change and sexual expression, I would like to go about it a little more quietly than my queer peers.

%d bloggers like this: