This is a collection of thoughts regarding the “queer” community and how it’s changed from the gay community to the “people with cool identities” community.
This Tweet from Julie Bindel and a conversation with a friend yesterday got me thinking about some things.
I don’t know who specifically Bindel is referencing here, but I do know that lots of straight people are “coming out” as all sorts of different special identities that seem to have something to do with “queer.” For example, this Tweet from Laurie Penny:
Her Twitter profile also says “genderpunk,” whatever that means. So what Penny is saying here, in plain English, is that she is in the dating scene and open to possibilities and also that she wears cool outfits. I’m not sure why that requires a “coming out.” I’m sure that at least half of young people in Western countries would actually fit this description. It certainly doesn’t require the type of coming out I had. I had to have an awkward and tearful conversation with my parents where I explained to them that I didn’t just love my friend because we were friends, I loved her in a lesbian sort of way. And this awkward and horrible conversation occurred after years of my own denial and emotional work that I had to do to understand what my feelings for women meant about me. I’m doubtful that these Tumblr-style special snowflake identities require the sort of “coming out” that homosexuals go through.
Not long ago I was at a lesbian friend’s party and I met a dominatrix. She was very chatty and told us all about the BDSM scene around here and how it changed after it went mainstream. Now, I’m not a BDSMer, but this is an excellent anecdote. She used to have lots of work as a domme, but as the scene became more popular and more people wanted to join, there ended up being lots of people there who were neither sadists nor masochists but who just wanted to be a part of a cool scene. She described it like this: all these new people want to join the BDSM community, but all they do is show up at parties in cool outfits, and they don’t actually do the stuff.
This really clicked for me, because this is what’s happened with the queer community. We used to be the gay and lesbian community, and the reason we were a community is because all of us were getting bashed and called “queers” for acting on our same-sex attractions. (And sometimes, before we had even gotten an opportunity to act on them.) We formed a community and fought for our rights, and eventually we went mainstream. Now there’s tons of people who want to be queer and who make up all sorts of identities for themselves, so that they can claim to be a part of the queer community, even though they’re not actually homosexuals. Once again, people want to show up at the party wearing a cool outfit but they don’t actually do the stuff.
I was talking to a friend yesterday about what’s happened to Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. They used to exist for lesbian and gay students. Now they’ve turned into Gender Diversity clubs and they’re all about promoting and respecting people’s identities. I’m not sure if this does anything to serve gay and lesbian students, and I kind of doubt it. I think there are probably gay and lesbian students who need these clubs and who join them, but instead of being supported as homosexuals they’re being taught how to transition. I’m guessing if you took a look at a group of kids in one of these gender diversity clubs, you’d find a few straight kids who are there to wear cool outfits and base their identity on that, and a few kids who are lesbian and calling themselves “genderqueer” or “trans men” and a few kids who are gay and calling themselves “genderqueer” or “trans women.” I hope I’m wrong and I hope there is support for homosexuals in these groups, but based on all the crap I’ve been reading online it doesn’t sound like it.
Perhaps I’m starting to sound like an old curmudgeon who is lamenting that the good old days are gone. But I’m worried about these “genderqueer” kids who are taking artificial hormones and who are going to eventually realize that they were just a good old-fashioned homosexual the whole time and should have been just accepting that. Finding out you are gay has always been confusing, and I think it might be a more confusing process now than it was when I did it.
I feel completely alienated by the queer and GLBT community because it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with homosexuals anymore. I stared at a flyer yesterday for a gender diversity club and the symbol it had on it—a round circle with multiple gender symbols coming out of it—and I thought, this does not seem like the club I would need if I was a young lesbian coming out. For many years, whenever I saw a rainbow flag or the word Pride I knew that was for me, and it made me feel at home. I don’t feel at home looking at this trans symbol with lots of different genders on it. I’m not looking for an identity to try on.
I’m just a homosexual female living her life. I live with my female partner. We give each other love and affection. Every year I bring her home for Christmas with my family, and we are the only homosexuals standing out among a group of conventional heterosexuals. Every year we file our taxes as a common-law same sex couple. Everyone I meet at work and in my activities knows my partner is female. I am seen as homosexual because that’s the life I live. It has nothing to do with me choosing an identity. I’m getting kind of uncomfortable with these people who just want to show up at the party in a cool outfit but not actually do the stuff. I actually do the stuff.
It seems as if “oppressed person” has become the trendy thing to be. You know you are a bourgeois wanker when you actually think that taking on the identity of an oppressed person is a cool thing to do.