I'm an openly gay, stealth trans woman and like to think of myself as super supportive of my queer friends and active in cheerleading their loves. That said, one of my longtime straight male friends is now in a relationship with a person who identifies as agender and uses they/them pronouns, but presents as a classically feminine cisgendered woman. The two of them have been on a posting spree on social media, tagging every photo of themselves as a couple as #GayLove and #GayPride and #WERESOGAYOMG.
It really, really rubs me the wrong way. My straight male friend has never shown one inkling of being gay, bi, pan, or queer of any sort. His new partner looks just as feminine and cisgendered as everyone else he's ever dated. No one would ever see them walking down the street holding hands and consider them anything but a straight couple. Why do they get to claim they're a "gay" couple? DO they get to? I'm so happy they seem to be so happy, but the claiming of the gay label drives me nuts.
I'm sure the answer is that I need to get over it, anyone can be whatever label they want and it's none of my business, but... why does this bother me so much? Am I allowed for it to bother me so much? Are they at all in the wrong here?
Labels Aren't Beyond Expositive Lucidity
I'm old enough to remember yesterday's SLLOTD, which featured a question from a stealth asexual who was annoyed by her friend who identified as asexual despite all the sex she was having but claimed she didn't need to have and so of course she identifies as asexual. (Because it's not having sex that makes you sexual*, it's needing to have sex. Or something.)
Anyway, LABEL, I can appreciate why you find your longtime straight male friend and his brand new agender agenderfriend so annoying. Their relationship is a lot of things—including, it seems, a public performance**—but, if my reading of the definition of agender is correct, they aren't in a gay relationship...
Agender is a term which can be literally translated as 'without gender.' It can be seen either as a non-binary gender identity or as a statement of not having a gender identity.... Many agender people also identify as genderqueer, non-binary and/or transgender. However, some agender people prefer to avoid these terms, especially transgender, as they feel this implies identifying as a gender other than their assigned gender, while they in fact do not identify as any gender at all.
A gay relationship is a same-sex and/or same-gender relationship between two avowed monosexuals, aka a pair of Kinsey Sixes; most people use the term to refer to a same-sex and/or same-gender relationship involving two male monosexuals. A cis man in a relationship with an agender person who happens to be biologically female isn't in a same-sex or same-gender relationship. Arguably your longtime straight male friend is in an opposite-sex relationship ("...sex is defined as biologically and physiologically determined differences between men and women, such as chromosomes or genitalia...") but not an opposite-gender relationship ("...gender is different to sex, a social construct, and something we have to learn and perform, rather than what we were born with...") because his romantic partner is "without gender."
All that said, LABEL, when it comes to—actually, I'm just going to turn the rest of today's SLLOTD to a few of the folks who commented on yesterday's SLLOTD...
MISCHA: I think the current vogue for claiming an identity with no basis in observable reality has a lot to do with (predominantly young, white, and privileged) people needing to feel special and cool.
I often wear menswear, have worked in many traditionally "male" jobs, have sex with women, and am super in touch with my masculine side. I see no contraction between my stereotypically "masculine" attributes and my identity as a woman. And yet in a certain social milieu someone who was assigned female at birth, wears dresses and pink sparkles and full makeup every day (or was assigned male at birth, goes by John, wears a beard, etc.) can claim non-binary identity and insist that others use neutral pronouns.
Asexual people, trans people, and other sexual/gender minorities deserve dignity and respect. And I'm certainly not the arbiter of others' identities. But now that there is less risk associated with being out as LGBTQ, it seems that many people who aren't ACTUALLY marginalized want in on some of the cachet of being "different."
DADDY: Since we’re talking about her sexual identity, it’s your friend’s right to be completely full of shit, and you have absolutely no right to call her on it. Good luck!
PHILOSOPHY SCHOOL DROPOUT: Your friend is an idiot. I mean it's cool, I've been an idiot about things before and I'll be an idiot about things again... but she's an idiot. Follow Dan's advice. Let her be an idiot. People can and will see it. Don't defend. Don't engage. Move the conversation on. Maybe someday she'll be less of an idiot. Maybe not.
Contra DADDY, LABEL, you have an absolute right to call out your longtime straight male friend on his bullshit—free speech and all that—but it won't be worth the hassle. And just as I can't force Larry Craig to identify as gay (and I'm not sure I would if I could***), you can't force your longtime straight male friend and his brand new agender agenderfriend to stop tagging their photos with #GayLove, #GayPride, #GayGayGAY, #TheCocksuckingiestCocksuckersEVER. Unfollowing and unfriending, however, aren't much hassle and would totally be worth it.
Looking forward to tomorrow's mail, which, if the last two day's worth of email are any indication, will either bring a letter from a straight BDSM/leather fetishist annoyed at a gay friend who's never been tied up, has no tolerance for pain, and refuses to wear leather (for PETA reasons) but identifies as a kinky gay leatherman or a strict vegan annoyed with a friend who identifies as vegan despite all the meat she's eating because she doesn't really need to eat all that meat. (None of us really do, so I guess we're all vegan now.)
* And, indeed, some asexuals do have sex—for reasons, as discussed yesterday: "...an asexual person can want or choose to engage in sex for several reasons. Some asexual people in relationships might choose or even want to have sex with their partner as a way of showing affection, and they might even enjoy it. Others may want to have sex in order to have children, or to satisfy a curiosity, or for other reasons."
** You can purchase both the books I wrote about my relationship here.
*** I wouldn't.