In The Words Of The Great Philosopher / Pop Star P!nk: I’m Not Here For Your Entertainment.
by Bec Hawkings
– Scenario #1: A man and a woman are dancing together in a nightclub. The man leans in, and the two begin to kiss. Over at the bar, a man is heard to exclaim, “Yeah, that’s hot! Fuck yeah, heteros! Hey, you two – how about a threesome, ay?”
– Scenario #2: A man and a woman are walking down the street, holding hands. As they wait at a set of traffic lights, the woman gives the man a quick kiss. Behind them, a teenage girl says to her friend, “Aw, that’s so cute! It’s so adorable when they make out in public! I wish I had a straight best friend!”
Both of the above, while not out of the realm of possibility, are fairly implausible. How about the next two scenarios?
– Scenario #3: Two women are dancing together in a nightclub. One of the women leans in, and the two begin to kiss. Over at the bar, a man is heard to exclaim, “Yeah, that’s hot! Fuck yeah, lesbians! Hey, you two – how about a threesome, ay?”
– Scenario #4: Two men are walking down the street, holding hands. As they wait at a set of traffic lights, one of the men gives the other man a quick kiss. Behind them, a teenage girl says to her friend, “Aw, that’s so cute! It’s so adorable when they make out in public! I wish I had a gay best friend!”
Scenarios #3 and #4 aren’t just plausible; they’re almost expected reactions from straight people whenever queer folk dare to be outwardly queer. Dare to be a woman making out with another woman in a nightclub, and you can almost be guaranteed of a straight dudebro catcalling or asking for a threesome. (Hey, dude, handy hint: the fact that they’re making out with each other, not you, is a fairly good indication that maybe – at this point in time – neither of them are as interested in your cock as you seem to be.) Dare to be a man who holds hands with and kisses another man in public, and there’s a fairly good chance that some teenage girl will want you to be her new gay best friend, with whom she can go shopping and bitch about boys. (Dearhearts: not all queer men are like Kurt from Glee. Really.)
This isn’t homophobia, but it’s something that irritates me just as much as those hilariously Neanderthal queer-haters. It’s fetishisation of queer identity by straight people; at its most insidious, it’s straight people placing queer people – and queer identities – as a lesser ‘Other.’ Women making out with other women isn’t a normal expression of human sexuality – it’s done for the pleasure of heterosexual men! Men who fall in love with other men aren’t doing it for their own happiness – they’re gay boys who exist to fulfil the platonic fantasies of straight women! The list is exhaustive: that bisexual people are in denial about their ‘true’ [gay] identity, that gay nightclubs are great places for straight women to party [not cool, hetero ladies], and that anyone who asserts a label for themselves that is outside of the LGB spectrum are just looking for attention. (Related: queers, in the eyes of straights, aren’t allowed to be angry, or political outside of the straight –approved ‘gay marriage’ debate. We are, apparently, rainbow-filled and glitter-dispensing unicorns.)
Well – frankly – fuck that. At least homophobes are up-front about the fact that they think queer folk are a sub-human species. Self-proclaimed “straight allies” want a medal and a pat on the head for treating us like an (adorable) sub-set of humanity. Not hating queer people doesn’t make you worthy of cookies and applause. It just means that you are a slightly less shitty human being than the people who hang around in parks and bash queer people, or those who legislate against us. Congrats, self-proclaimed allies: you’re one step above total fuckwits. Barely.
Look, it’s not the queer community’s job to educate heterosexuals on our lives, or what is cool and not cool and why. But, because I’m good-hearted (and because I’d rather you not get information about “teh gayz” from the Great Ignorance of the Internet), here are some handy reminders about queer folk / queer community:
Not all queer people fit within the LGBT labelling spectrum. Not all women who are attracted to other women are lesbians. Not all men who are attracted to other men are gay. ‘Pansexual’ and ‘bisexual’ are two different identity constructs, and both are completely valid. Asexuality does exist, and there is nothing strange about it. There is a difference between ‘homosexual’ and ‘homoromantic.’ It is possible to be more than one identity label at any given time. The only person who gets to decide on the label/s that they use is that person. No-one else.
Not all women have vaginas. Not all men have penises. Not all people fit within the (severely out-dated) male/female gender binary. It is impossible to tell someone’s gender identity from how they present, and assuming that gender identity and sex identity match up in everyone makes you an asshole. There are more pronouns than ‘she’ and ‘he.’ Using someone’s requested pronouns – whatever they may be – is non-negotiable. Sexual orientation, gender orientation, and self-identity can change throughout a person’s life.
Not all queer people are white. Not all queer people are middle class. Not all queer people have “always known” that they were queer. Not all queer people are able to come out.
Not all queer people want to get married. Not all queer people think alike, or agree on everything (or anything). Diversity, shockingly enough, exists even within (snort) “non-mainstream” communities. Homophobia, transphobia, sexism, misogyny, classism, and other forms of discrimination exist even within the queer community. (Just have a look at the amount of ‘queer charities’ whose advocacy disappears as soon as the subject being advocated for isn’t a cisgender, gay, white man.)
The ‘A’ in ‘LGBTIAQ’ (and its various incarnations) doesn’t stand for ‘Ally.’ If you are not queer, you do not get to be part of the queer community, no matter how much to say you ‘support’ us or how many Pride Parades you attend or how many slash fanfics of Harry/Draco you read. This is our space. Your space is the rest of the fucking planet.
Finally – and I can’t emphasise this enough – queer people are allowed to be angry. We are allowed to call you out on offensive or incorrect or fetishizing things that you say or do, and we are allowed to be annoyed when we have to do so. Because you know what? Having to explain this shit over and over again gets really tiring, really fast.
Angry Queer Lady Out.