Surprisingly enough, the queer community has sex. Although we have yet to be unanimously satisfied with an all encompassing explanation for what it really means to be queer, I feel safe in saying that getting down and dirty with same sex partners will be included in the consensus. As I see the term, “queer” encompasses everything that isn’t a heterosexual relationship that might eventually lead to 1.8 children. Most queer people I hope would also have an idea of what it means to them, and what defines their own subset of this community of practice. My question is, what about the rest? What do (gasp) straight people think of what we do, and what does this eventually tell us about the nature of our ties to heterosexual culture?
From my non-exhaustive research and insights into straight perspectives of the queer community, I have noticed two broad categories that stereotypes about our sex lives usually fall under. The first encompasses superimpositions of hetero norms onto queer lives: rigid dichotomies of butch and femme, top and bottom, penetrator and penetrated. These phallocentric misconceptions all work under the assumption that queerness is a parallel lifestyle to heterosexuality, and that it makes total sense to assign “girl” and “boy” positions to each member of the relationship (or scandalously outrageous fling). Of course, this is completely erroneous. Extending the trend further, will two men never be a couple unless one of them is a coy damsel waving her sweet prince goodbye with a tissue on his way to class? Will a trans* woman never have “normal” intercourse unless she undergoes a physically draining sexual reassignment surgery? Will two women never be having sex until one of them assumes the honorable and venerated role of strap-on bearer? The answer of course is no, and before anybody says it, that isn’t because two women can scissor with a commendable feat of aerobic endurance (as Laina eloquently pointed out last week). One of the largest struggles of queer politics has been to uproot the basic math we’ve been taught since preschool: pole plus hole equals sex. Once this logic is disproven, the world might finally get just how many unknowns lie behind closed doors, how many factors affect a sexual experience and how many functions one can have in the bedroom.
The second group of stereotypes I noticed involve a series of conflations that have been floating about popular culture since the ‘70s and that, sadly, are unrelated to disco fever. With these myths, queerness is identified with all other forms of “sexual deviance”: we are perceived as diseased, promiscuous and licentious. Setting aside that there’s nothing wrong with needing to count off sexual partners on your fingers in binary (try it, it’s way easier) I am exhausted by the old-fashioned discourse that leads to these assumptions. Do we still believe gay men caused AIDS? Regardless of whether the intention of these thoughts is sex-positive or -negative, the ramifications of these associations erase the sexualities of individuals and replace them with a single norm that the whole community must struggle to conform to. Such a collective perception also allows political agendas to use unrepresentative ideas of what queers do to hinder our struggle for rights, as has been done many times before. At the essence though, what all of these queer myths do is set us apart from the rest of the world just on the basis of who, how or whether we fuck, setting us as opposites or alien parallels to the heterosexual model. In reality, what’s all the fuss about? In the words of a good friend of mine, don’t queer people poke, push and lick like everyone else?
I’d like to think we do, which is why I in no way shape or form support any of these stereotypes regardless of so-called empirical founding. However, queer being (and identity if one is so inclined) is more than just who, how or whether we fuck. We form communities, we have discussions, we coalesce and tear apart within our respective subgroups: trans*, lesbian, gay, bi, demi, asexual/grey-a and more as the list goes on to form the metric fuckton of unique individuals who in an ideal world would all strive against the heterosexual and cisgendered imperative that binds us all to various degrees. What I find fascinating about queer sex stereotypes is that there are enough for everybody to be marginalized and not feel part of a common struggle against the concept itself. By seeing them as a systemic issue, as opposed to an innocent misconception about what can be done with a clit, we can contextualize them as one of the many parts of the larger struggle of queer politics. I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest my conclusion is a call to arms, although I do love the idea of pamphlets full of diverse sex diagrams and angrily chanting “Do not define my sexuality”. Rather, I would suggest for those less inclined to grapple with these issues to reconsider their assumptions, rethink their values and ensure they fuck how they want to and not how they’re told to.