I have been somewhat taken to task by a reader who felt a recent post wasn’t quite up to snuff for an “apparently queer blog.” But before I begin, I want to clarify that this isn’t a rebuttal-slam post. The comment simply set my noggin wheels to spinning and this is a product of that spin cycle.
I also want to make it clear that this post is all about my feelings and perceptions. I don’t claim that anything does or should apply to anyone else. Everything expressed is based upon what occurs in the exclusive realm of my thought universe. Like most things in my life, it is all about me. Me. Me. Me.
The disclaimers above are there because the reader’s comment made me realize that I get a little freaked out when someone is mad at me. While I’m fine with saying things that may make a person think or even disagree with my position, I’d rather stay away from stirring up trouble. I prefer the comments on my blog to be funny or clever or insightful, to which I reply in kind and we both skip away happily, looking forward to reading each others next post.
I also decided that I am not queer.
In my experience, like dyke or fag, queer is a word with negative connotations – one that might be said with pride or affection by some in the community, but still derogatory or an epithet when used by “outsiders.”
I remember that a popular recess activity when I was in school was playing Kill The Quarterback, the goal of which was to tackle the shit out of whomever had the ball and was, therefore, “It.” A variation of the game was Smear The Queer. The major difference being that in the first version, one was willing to hang onto the ball because being “It” meant being The Quarterback, and the glory of that was worth the risk of being subjected to a thorough pummeling. In the latter version, the player would attempt to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible to minimize the humiliating time spent being The Queer.
The post to which the reader took exception wasn’t about LGBT issues, but rather one where I had (or had attempted to have) a little fun with vegetarians, non-smokers and TV shunners. This leads me to surmise that being queer is not just about sexual orientation, but includes other aspects of ones life as well. Personally, when it comes to identifying my orientation, I prefer to keep my sexual preference separate from everything else. My physical and emotional attraction to women is something I was born with, everything else is a choice – I don’t see that one has anything to do with the other.
If being queer encompasses things like dietary choices, I think I may be expected to shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, that perhaps I’ll have to spend the extra money to buy organic produce or opt for brown rice over white. By those standards, my generous gift-giving friend Gillette is queer. Something that will likely come as quite the surprise to both her and her boyfriend.
I can’t be sure, but if I were queer I might have to marching in, or at least attend, gay pride parades. Marching is a lot like hiking which, despite being a lesbian, I don’t enjoy. And in my opinion, the only form of entertainment worse than mimes is a parade. I also think I could be required to put stickers on my car (which should probably be a hybrid or electric) announcing my political opinions or for whom I’m voting in the next election. Not only do I consider those things personal and not the business of whomever happens to be driving behind me, that sticky stuff is a bitch to get off your bumper.
Being queer also seems to have political implications, like caring about social issues and being serious about feminist stuff. I get the impression I’d have to fight the patriarchy, rebel against gender stereotypes, refer to herstory instead of history and stop objectifying women. I fear that I’d be confined to appreciating someone’s inner-beauty and not allowed to check out a hottie and give her an approving, “Dayummm!” And I’m pretty sure lusting after straight, mini-van driving, spawn-shuttling soccer moms is strictly verboten. Perish the thought!
I get the feeling that being queer means preferring to frequent gay or gay-friendly establishments, attend gay events or go see gay performers and limited vacation destinations to places like Palm Springs, San Francisco and P-Town. I’m all for spending time with and supporting my peeps and their businesses, but I need variety. I follow blogs by gay and lesbian writers and nominate them for awards, and I do the same with the heteronormative bloggers I admire and enjoy. I’m all about spreading the love!
Outside the blogosphere I also surround myself with a melange of people, places and things. I think when you limit your associations to those who think like and agree with you, and your experiences to ones that are safe and non-threatening, you run the risk of assuming or expecting that like your insular existence, the rest of the world should conform to your expectations. And when it doesn’t, feelings of dismay and resentment occur, resulting in an “us & them” existence. This isn’t just a queer thing, or a gay-straight thing … it applies to race, religion, politics or any of the other ways we separate ourselves.
I’m a liberal, pro-choice, gun-control, meat-eating, atheist lesbian. My friends include heterosexuals, born-again Christians, right-wingers, vegans, gun nuts and pro-lifers. Aside from the major issues on which our points of view differ, we get along just fine. I scroll past the political messages, Bible verses and quinoa recipes they post on Facebook, just as I’m sure they skip over my irreverent jabs at all the things they hold dear.
Part of the beauty of having friends like this is the on-going reminder that people are more alike than different – one little NRA membership doesn’t mean someone is all bad and can’t be my friend. Similarly, I think that knowing me (for some I’m their first gay friend) has established a realization that gay folk are mostly just like them – that they only real difference is who we have hot sexy-time with.
I feel like being queer might mean saying not only “accept me”, but “agree with me” – and I just don’t expect that. There are things about people that I neither accept nor agree with; and I think it’s hypocritical to hold my sexual-orientation up as something special and different that must be embraced. However, regardless of whether I accept or agree with something, barring total douche-baggery on their part, I’ll give a person my respect … and will probably even like them. I ask only the same.
Again, this is all my perception and my definition of queer. Yours may differ. My intent is only to explain my decision not to identify as such, not to disparage those who do. Amongst the friend melange I mentioned above are a few who are here, they’re queer, I’m used to it. And they’d probably be the first to say that although we like each other, we’re not a lot like each other. However, if I’ve in any way offended anyone, I apologize. Please don’t give me a comment beat-down.
I just like to keep things basic and find it tough enough keeping up with the complexities of simply being a lesbian – Is she lipstick or femme, stud or butch? And what the hell is a stem or a futch? Is that a girl or a boi? Do I say she looks pretty and cute, or handsome and dashing? I still have no idea which pigeon-hole I’m supposed to roost in, and really don’t care all that much – unless, of course, it will somehow help me pick up chicks. Because if that’s the case, then slap me on the ass and call me Sally – I’ll wear whatever label you want!