2.17.2011

Community Standards

I grew up feeling at odds with the world even before the possibility of being gay entered my consciousness. I constantly felt that the world around me was trying to force me into some kind of mold that didn't fit. I was constantly objecting to the categories people would want to place on me. Kids, especially in high school, do that all the time. You belong to a group, and there's a list of identifiers to indicate which group that is. You can be a goth, or a punk, or a nerd, or an outcast, or a jock, or one of those terrifying popular girls.



Here's what you cannot be - a popular girl with a punk haircut. A goth with a letterman jacket. You can't roll with the nerds if you fail your bio test. And you can't be a jock if you've made friends with an outcast.

I remember hearing a lot about the way I should be dressing, how I should be acting, how I should go out and make more friends, how I should stay in and study for better grades. Why don't you grow your hair, you WOULD look so pretty if you'd only dress nice.

Being gay, you get used to the rest of the world making arbitrary decisions about you, how you should look, act, what kind of relationships you have, which contracts between consenting adults you are allowed to participate in. When you are a lesbian you must wear flannel, have a short hair cut, behave abnormally masculine - and when I think about it now - at least a little mentally ill. When you are a gay man, you must speak with a lisp, wear skinny jeans and mesh shirts with no sleeves. We want to know what you are when we look at you. We want the way you act to be consistent with who we think you are.


This is not news to anyone, and I've addressed this topic before. However, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon, the more I read about, watch shows about, and study the world of non-gender normative individuals.

I would expect people who are not gender normative to be extra sensitive to the sort of categorizing and stereotyping I've been talking about, but it seems they are all doing it to each other!

You have your gold star lesbians, late in life lesbians, bisexuals (the horror) trans-people, drag queens who identify as women, drag queens who are men dressing like women (posers!) drag queens who are camp, drag queens who are glam, fairies, bears, twinks, butch dykes, lipstick lesbians, bois, the list goes on and on.



Sometimes the glam queens tell the camp queens that they're not real drag queens. The gold star lesbians won't date the bisexuals. The bears shun the twinks. Lipstick lesbians aren't real lesbians. Butch dykes aren't butch enough (I can still tell you're a girl!) Transexual rights, it would seem, are a completely different set of civil rights that apparently are less important, and don't even get me started on those queers!

Why, I ask you, is a community of people that has dealt with so much of this bullshit from society at large inflicting it on one another? We should be extra sensitive. We should be extra accepting. We know what it's like to have someone tell us that we don't count, that we're not doing it right, we should be a different way. We know that it hurts. Why then do we turn around and do it to each other?



This reminds me of a movie called Antwone Fisher that every one needs to watch, and not just because Derek Luke is the most beautiful man to ever grace a movie screen. It talks about abuse within the African American community, and how it was appropriated from their oppressors in the days of slavery. I honestly know very little about this, and would like to do some reading on it. Is there a general effect whereby oppressed people turn the abuse inward, to their own community? Or is this categorizing and judging behavior in the LGBTQ community simply a reflection of the larger culture we live in?

I, for one, am apparently a gold star lesbian (who thinks Derek Luke is beautiful) who is engaged to one of the dreaded bisexuals (who is a femme, and therefore not real).

A strange world we live in.

6 comments:

  1. Shhhh...

    Don't tell everyone I'm bisexual - they're going to discriminate against me! I'm trying to pass as a gold star lesbian, damnit.

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  2. As I understand it, Grasshopper, it's pretty common for someone to learn to abuse others by themselves being abused. That is, abuse is more or less contagious.

    I grew up in a mildly abusive home. In my early relationships, I passed that abuse on to my partners without ever realizing I was abusing them. Instead of understanding that I was abusing my partners, I thought I was acting towards them in a proper manner because I thought -- at the time -- that I had been raised in a proper manner.

    Later, after those early relationships, I married a woman who was extraordinarily abusive. Yet, I didn't realize I was being abused. Denial can go deep.

    It was only through a fortunate series of events and realizations that I came to see things as they were. And when I finally did, I realized that the only real hope we have of ending the cycle of abuse is to first get rid of our denial.

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  3. True. Those persecuted Puritans then became the definition of religious persecution.

    I know people who are all shades of sexual orientations but I didn't realize it at first, because they weren't stereotypical. Ultra-femme lesbians who date ultra-femme lesbians, masculine gay males, athletic trans women...
    The bisexuals seem to have the most problems because they don't by definition fit a category.
    Bisexuals? Polysexuals? libresexuals? "bi" seems inadequate, like it is bisected or truncated instead of more fluid.

    anyways... do people really fit into a category, or just mostly fit and pretend the rest?

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  4. I hear you. I am so different and so misunderstood, that I can really relate to what you're saying about the LGBT community.

    Nobody understands me. Everybody wants to change me. They abuse me because they think something is wrong with me. But my only sin is to be myself, not following their stupid societal rules.

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  5. @Astasia - I'm outing you for the dirty seditionist you are!

    @Paul - That seems right, how can you become a less judgmental community if you don't admit you are judgmental? I have no idea how the LGBT community views it's level of inclusion, as I'm not really part of it. Astasia and I are mainly an island, in that regard.

    @nymph - I think that other names, while being more appropriate, would present the same problem with categories and labels. Bisexuals love who they love, just like everyone else, and shouldn't be asked to defend their choice of mate. It's weird that the bisexuals inclusiveness is the very thing that makes the "pick a side already" crowd grouchy.

    @Lorena - You've reminded me that in a lot of ways, the LGBT experience is not all that different than the apostates.

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  6. I understand don't quite understand that push to a group that you mentioned. Most likely because I had gone to a rural school, and while I had been anything but the popular individual, when time came around people generally saw me, as me. As the resident eccentric who accepted everyone and could get the jocks to listen to the nerds and so on. The 'push', that even in a such a small school existed was effectively countered. It sounds as if you are one who has done the same, not a common event, to Kudos to that.

    (and as I didn't know how to contact you I wanted to let you know that I've added you to my blog list, on my own. I've been meaning to for a while yet it kept escaping me, but no longer.

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