Savage Love Letter of the Day: Straight Guy Wonders If He Can Be Queer


Too complex.
Too contrived.
IMHO, just being kinky is enough to be "queer." In many ways, It is more socially acceptable to be openly gay than openly into, say, BDSM. Kinky people are mostly in the closet.

Of course, then quantifying "kinky" becomes a problem. Is there a scale for kink like the Kinsey scale?
I stood outside my school talking to a young lady, easily ten years my junior, who had in the classroom two floors above not ten minutes before declared that she opposed Equal Marriage. In fact, she was opposed to every form of LGBT equality legislation. Her justification had been her devotion to the Orthodox Jewish faith.

During our rather heated talk, she told me she identified as a "queer woman". To her, it felt lie the ultimate way to shut down my arguments that she had no right to impinge upon my civil rights. After all, she could hardly be called homophobic if she, herself was "queer".

The word "queer" has no meaning. "Gay" has a very definite meaning. If you are gay, you have sexual attraction to people of your own gender. "Bisexual" has a definite meaning. So do the words :Lesbian" and "Transgender". "Queer", on the other hand, means nothing concrete.

Because it means nothing at all, there is no risk associated with being "queer". You can be 100% heterosexual, call yourself queer,a nd nobody will deprive you of your civil rights. You'll never be thrown in jail for having sex, as a gay person can be in many countries (and indeed, this country, until very recently). You'll never be thrown out of housing or deprived of employment. Nor will you be barred from military service or rejected by your own parents.

Somewhere along the way, somebody declared being gay fashionable. And then straight people who wanted to be fashionable started flooding our bars and meeting places, so they could cash in on the cool. And now they want a word which sounds like gay, but isnt gay. Just gay enough to be cool, not gay enough to suffer for it.

Fuck you, and fuck the entire straight world.
"Invoked in kinky and sex positive communities" wouldn't be a bad epitaph.
@ 3 - My understanding of queer has always been "not straight".

Queer: differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal (Webster).

So you can be 100% heterosexual and call yourself queer, but that only means you're stupid (like the person you described).
I'm sorry; what was the question?
Oh, Honey. Call yourself a pinwheel-twirling hypochondriac; call yourself the second coming of Josef Stalin; call yourself a Munchkin. You can call yourself whatever you want.

The world may still decide to see you as it chooses, but have at it.
@3 I don't think queer ought to be defined by how vulnerable you are to social stigma or legal disenfranchisement. Like there's a sign outside of Queer Headquarters that says "You must be this oppressed to enter".
GUY is a cis gendered, straight man who is in a sexual relationship with a trans woman. I think that is enough for him to describe himself as queer, without regard to whether this is "situational," whatever that means in this context. GUY found out that he is open to a physical relationship with a trans woman. How is he, or anyone else, to know whether there is another trans woman who he might also like to date in the future? And who does he need to convince in order to claim the use of the description queer? My sense is that anyone seeking to police his use of the word queer is going to be engaging in linguistic gymnastics in order to exclude GUY.
identify as a poly straight cis white guy in my mid 30s

I'm curious about the "identify as...white" part. If both parents are white, can you identify as other than white (that's what Rachel Dolezal did, and she got a lot of flak for it.) If neither parent is white, can you identify as white?

What if one parent is white and one black, as in the case of Obama? Can you identify as either white or black in that case?
7/nocutename, thank you, you've just given me a new curse phrase: Josef S. Munchkin!
Hillary raped women @12? I didn't know that.
And please point out the posts by Dan where he accuses Bernie of being a racist and sexist.
I've read every political post of Dan's all thru the year and I can't recall this ever happening.
So either put up or shut up.
@12, give it a rest.

I like Bernie. But if Bernie had somehow managed to win the primary, the Republicans would have run attack adds every day accusing him of being a scary socialist (which he was most of his political career). He'd have been destroyed in the general election. Hippy liberal Seattle might be willing to elect a socialist to our city council, but this country is nowhere near ready to elect a socialist president. Dream on.
Sigh, Wandering @3. Bigoted much? Straight people can't help it, they were just born that way.

While I do take your point about adopting labels without having suffered to reclaim them, alienating allies won't help the LGBT community. If straight-but-not-narrow, or straight-but-sexually-"deviant" people want to take on the Q label to show solidarity, this adds numbers to the queer community, which can only be a good thing in the fight for acceptance.

The only danger I can foresee is that by identifying as queer, other men will assume GUY likes men and he may have some advances to awkwardly turn down. Dan is right that "People are likelier to assume you're a bi guy with a girlfriend than they are to assume you're a straight guy with a trans girlfriend." If GUY wants to avoid breaking men's hearts, he could identify as "part of the queer community," or "heteroflexible," or say he doesn't like labels.

@13/@14, don't feed the troll.
Fan, I just asked that guy to provide proof for his accusations. And RP just finished the job.

LW, why does it matter what title you use to describe yourself. You love your woman and the rest is just noise.
@6 @7 nocutename - you win the thread!
@10: Better phrased as a white guy who identifies as blah blah.

@16: Trolls like him loooooove being responded to.
@7 no cute The world may still decide to see you as it chooses

Opening a new front in the debate over preferred personal pronouns! What about people who's preferred pronoun does not match their apparent identity? [FWIW, as a straight guy who sometimes attends events focused on queen women, I've found that my limited experience with personal gender pronouns has much more to do with control than respect]
@10 I have a black and white parent. I personally consider myself mixed (ie, neither race) but most people of similar genetics consider themselves both (biracial). I occasionally identify as black when it suits me - in America, you're either white, asian, or not-white, and frequently it's easier to just say black than explain things.
Well without outing your girlfriend, if you're sucking dick (maybe you're not, she might not like that) and enjoying it I think you have a pretty good claim to calling yourself a queer.

But beyond those glib responses, Dan does a really good job on this letter and somehow manages to avoid quoting Sedgwick. Good for you, Dan!

But to paraphrase Sedgwick anyway--the only thing it takes to be queer is the compulsion to use the word in the first person. So you and only you can decide if you're queer. You don't actually *have* to use it in the first person to be queer, and it's a no commitment relationships with yourself. You can be queer (or not be queer) by the day, hour, or minute.

To me queer is about re-imaging your masculine performance. If ordering a strawberry margarita is something that got you called a faggot back home, then every strawberry margarita can be a 5 minute experiment with queerness. It's all about you.

Additionally, I live by the motto that homophobia is first and foremost the hatred of women. You seem to generally NOT hate women. That makes you pretty queer.
@10, I white person not identifying as white reads to others more like a denial of reality than a message of solidarity. It says "focus on the fact that this privilege was *forced* on me and not on the fact that you don't have it." That feeling of privilege forced on you without your consent is traumatic, but work that out with your therapist not with the movement.
Most gender and personal definitions we currently have categorize people by their sexuality.
I find “queer” to be a broader, more inclusive term in which one doesn’t have to specify preferences.
It works for me, LW can go with whatever suits him.
People get way too hung up bout sex stuff and what it makes them. Why do people always want to build some kind of complex around what sexual activities they take part in?

It doesn't really make you anything outside of an arbitrary social label. Suck a penis, lick some butt, dive headfirst into a vulva, hump stuffed animals, or don't do anything. Doesn't change who you are. It's just fun, and it makes life a lot more enjoyable if you just enjoy it.
#1: Queer hasn't had a clear definition in a long time. If you want to call yourself queer, go for it.

#2: Stop thinking of the issue as who does or does not have rightful ownership over the term, and think of it more as image management. If you mention that you're queer to someone, will the whole overall interaction leave them with a positive or a negative impression of queerness?

There's a slightly deeper question here about how communities that suddenly become trendy should handle people who join just to use the label to excuse their being twatwaffles. (Which inevitably causes the whole community to be seen as twatwaffly for a bit.) But personally speaking, be a decent human being, be a well-rounded human being, and identify as whatever you see fit.
I can't remember any time that anyone has asked my sexual status/gender preference, or a time when I've felt a need to express it openly in words. I don't ask others, "So, are you straight, or what?" LW seems to be over-thinking it. Just hang out with cool people, avoid people in stupid MAGA hats, and chill.
I guess we've reached the point where queerness has been destigmatized enough that people are willing to dig deep to call themselves a member, but not enough to the point where actual queer people can enjoy the same level of personal safety and acceptance non-queer people take for granted.

Your girlfriend is queer. You are an ally who is currently dating a queer woman. That should be good enough for you.
I'm a little late to the party, but I'm also a person who resembles GUY (except for having a trans girlfriend, anyway). I've also been doing some thinking/writing about the edges of queerness lately, though my point of ingress is my own gender identity (or lack thereof).

My basic conclusion is that tactically, I can probably do more good carrying an "ally" banner than a "queer" banner, whether or not I'm entitled to the latter. But it's complicated because rejecting the hegemony itself has costs, and as more and more of us do this, more and more of us end up without "safe spaces" or places of inclusion, so that's a set of social infrastructure that we also have to get to work on building.

If you're interested, you can find the whole text here.
@18. Undead. How you doing? Trolls are people too, and if there's an opportunity to educate, I'm in.
And undead he believed what he was saying was true. Not the troublemaking kind of troll as I read him/her.
originalcinner @ 26
“I can't remember any time that anyone has asked my sexual status/gender preference”
My last time was only three weeks ago while explaining my non-binary genderianism to the friendly folks around the table. Someone cut me off with, “Now who do you date, I mean… who do you fuck?”
It was a friendly, safe environment and we all had a good laugh.
Nice response Dan.
@27 Depending on the femininity/passability of the girlfriend, the LW could experience stigma for dating somebody who isn't a Cis woman. If his girlfriend looks more masculine than feminine to the casual observer, many of the negative stigma that trans people experience can be transferred to their partners. Is the stigma their partners experience as bad as the stigma trans-people experience? No. Is it the same as growing up queer? Definitely not. But, there is negative stigma out in the world if you're not dating within the acceptable gender binary.

The question is, is it enough to adopt queer as the label for your lifestyle? As stated on Savage Lovecast, hetero guys can be attracted to trans women even without bottom surgery and still be mostly in no attraction to men. These hetero men will go back to their cisgendered heterosexual lifestyle and not face stigma until the next time they date a transwoman, while their partners will experience the stigma regardless of who they're dating.

It's kind of like checking your privilege and knowing what the term entails. Call yourself queer but realize your experience is not equal to that of somebody who lives with the identity on a daily basis. There's a reason the term "queer ally" exists, and it's to say you recognize your experience is different even if you are friendly with the community or even dating within it.
@29: Eh, there's no "oppprtunity to educate" to these anonymous hit and run crazies.
Identity politics is fucking exhausting.

In this society, at least politically speaking, there should only be two kinds of people. Those who identify as vanilla, and those who don't. The reason for this is that those who identify as vanilla are the majority and that majority is historically prone to discriminating against those who don't.

If you're not vanilla, you have a political responsibility to reject that discrimination. Dividing up what could be a natural constituency, an alliance of non-vanilla folk, into tiny sliver communities is self-defeating. (This has nothing to do with dating or finding compatible partners for love or life. In that realm, being specific not only has value, it's essential.) This has to do with establishing a political existence for people who aren't vanilla. We need to knock off the infighting, over-reaction, bad humor, and lack of sister/brotherhood.

In the Age of Trump, solidarity and cooperation are going to be necessary.
I like the phrase "queer-in-law" for straight people who are dating or married to queer people.
t. queer-in-law
Brooklyn @35: "Identifies as vanilla"? I think people who "identify as vanilla" would actually form the minority. No one wants to think they are uncreative in bed, after all.
The LW wants to be queer. He's intrigued and tickled by the 'queer idea'. Not panicked by it. He has compunctions only because he doesn't want to out his girlfriend. To me this all says he is queer. 'Queer' is about identification--thinking you're 'one of those', or 'one of us'--and about desire. 'You too can be queer'. This guy can be! Dress better; care a bit more about the shape of your sentences; find one or two time-sink hobbies that are either slightly camp or slightly arch; cultivate a habit of being prickly or super-refined for reasons that would pass most people by.... Yes! You're queer already!

This is great--a letter from a self-identified straight man happy to be queer!

@35. Yes.
@3. You're defining 'gayness' by 'sexual attraction', not even by patterns of behaviour. But isn't gayness also a culture? Isn't one of the first recourses of homophobia to deprive gay people of a culture--effectively stripping gayness away to a bunch of pathologies? And if gayness is a culture (in some part), isn't it going to be one in which people of all tendencies participate to different degrees?
@ 27. I think that in being the kind of person who's able to call themselves 'queer', someone is likely to be doing the things, leading the sort of life, that will have others label them as such--as 'queer'. I can understand concerns with the moniker becoming a liberal-straight 'badge of honor', and being empty on that basis, but I'd think that in most practical cases it's more like 'handsome is as handsome does''.
@33/TheMisanthrope: Is it the same as growing up queer?" What does this mean when you haven't defined "queer," other than to include trans-people? GUY is more than just a "queer ally," however you define that term, GUY is in a romantic-sexual relationship with a trans-woman, and dismissing that with the comment, "These hetero men will go back to their cisgendered heterosexual lifestyle and not face stigma until the next time they date a transwoman, while their partners will experience the stigma regardless of who they're dating" seems belittling of their character and experience.