Ever since I’ve started spending more time with the “family”, I’ve noticed one stark difference between the queer and straight community. We’re a touchy, touchy lot. I feel that we, the queer community as a whole, have a tendency to hyper-analyze what people say, more so if it’s someone straight doing the talking. We are quick to read way too much into what’s said, conjure up subtexts that don’t exist and get offended.
Fighting for acceptance, I truly believe, is absolutely necessary. But our penchant for focusing on labels that we assume are forcibly thrust upon us by others, or words that we misconstrue as violating our identity, is beginning to get a bit tiresome. Instead of attempting to change mindsets, we seem more interested in drawing up a glossary of queer terms and words that others can use while referring to us. But does it really matter if someone called me a lesbian rather than a bisexual identified polyamorous woman who has a self-rating of 5 on the Kinsey Scale?
Underneath our love for sexual fluidity and a world not defined by gender binaries, we’re not very different from our straight fellow human beings. We all use the same tools to perceive, process, and comprehend a constant flow of stimuli. The thing is, our brains love structure and categories. They help us put what we see around us together into a whole that we can understand. They let us process new information by allowing us to draw from similar examples. It’s because of them that we know why apples, bananas and oranges, for instance, go together.
Language exists and evolves because it’s the very basis of all communication and exchange of ideas. But not everyone can summon exactly the right words at exactly the right time. We often make do with the ones that come close to expressing what we want to. If we keep getting hung up on the words someone is using, we are bound to miss what they’re actually trying to tell us. Defining how others can talk to us will only make conversations long and unwieldy. Certain phrases are used in a certain way and it is up to us to look at them along with the context they’re used in. Because, at the end of the day, it’s the intention with which things are said that matters, right? So assuming the context remains the same, we need to take a moment and think about why it is easier for us to overlook a “You’re so gay” comment from a fellow queer than from someone straight.
Let’s not forget that each one of us who is queer has taken our own sweet time to understand and accept who we are. Instead of critically looking at everything the straight community says and does, and assessing whether it’s all queer-friendly or not, let’s cut them some slack and learn to just be. They might take some time but I’m sure they’ll eventually get to where we are.