queer litmus

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Queer Litmus: Tips for Telling If Someone Is Queer

Published January 21, 2014 by auddity

Not everyone was born with a perfect gaydar (queer-dar?), so for those of you who are like me and cannot always pick up on the subtle tells of queerdom, here are some helpful tips to avoid those awkward social situations when you’re not quite sure how someone identifies.

  1. They’re not into sports, or they are really, really into sports. Either way – queer.
  1. They have a cat. It is a documented fact that exposure to kitty litter increases the urge to defy social norms, while proximity to the holier-than-thou attitude of most cats gives queers their coolness factor.

  1. They are wearing a blazer. Superqueer. This one should be obvious, I think.

  1. They have short hair – wait no, actually, they have long hair. Well, let’s just say if they have hair there’s a 99% chance they’re probably either queer or not.

  1. They are wearing a neon sign that says “QUEER HERE”. I don’t know why people say you “can’t tell by looking,” because duh, anyone with eyes can spot this particular sign. Just look around, you’ll start seeing those obnoxiously flashy babies everywhere!

  1. They like music. It doesn’t really matter what kind of music, but it’s speculated that the erratic beats of dubstep give queer people that drive to break down social conventions.

  1. They drink tea. Therefore all of the UK is queer… Well, that explains Skins, at least.

  1. They have a subscription to Queer Monthly. A quick snoop through their mail or recycle bin should reveal this telltale sign. Alternately, their wallet should contain a queer membership card. We all have one, complete with sexual orientation status and D.O.C.O. (Date of Coming Out).

  1. They disrupt the oppressive and constrictive norms dictated by society that uphold and contribute to sexism, cis-sexism, heteronormativity, racism, patriarchy, binaristic models of gender and sex, and a whole bunch of other things.

If you really want to tell whether someone is queer, forget everything I said except for that last one. But also ask yourself this: does it really matter? Why do you want to know? If it’s to understand that person and the things they stand for, that’s great, but if it’s because you like to separate the people you meet into neat little boxes with pretty little labels on them, then you might want to re-assess that whole process altogether. Realize that all people are diverse and complex and that the habit of labeling people won’t get you far if you really want to get to know someone – especially if that person identifies as queer. Of course, the easiest and most direct  thing to do is to ask questions. But maybe don’t lead with that. “Hi, nice to meet you. Just wondering, ARE YOU QUEER?” probably won’t make for the most comfortable introduction.

The point is, there aren’t really any telltale signs a person is queer except for if they identify as such. And the only way you’re going to find out is by talking to them. You certainly can’t tell just by looking. There’s also a ton of valuable information out there if you’d like to educate yourself on queerness in general. Instead of relying on ridiculous litmus tests like the nonsense I just spouted, try reading up on what being queer actually means, not just on how to spot one. Some resources are:

PFLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lebians and Gays)

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network)

YouTube: check these channels out! skylarkeleven, everyoneisgay, and so many others. Seriously, if you just search you’ll find so many more first-hand accounts of lovely people willing to share their stories!

If you’re in school, your high school or college GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance)

Your local LGBT center, if you live in NYC The Center is one option.

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