“Would you rather be straight?” It was a question thrown randomly in the air that early winter afternoon. 4 of us were sitting and chatting—one gay man, one lesbian, one non-binary person, and one person who identified as gender-fluid. All very obviously queer.
The question hovered like a cloud over us, and after a while, it was punctured with all of us answering with a resounding “yes. obviously, yes!”
They say that being queer is not a choice, but at that moment, if all of us had a choice, we would have much rather been straight. I was also one of those who answered with a vehement ‘yes!’ to the prospect of finally fitting in.
As a person who has never identified as anything but gay, being straight sounds like a privilege—something as strange and beautiful as being a unicorn. And can you blame me? We live in a society that glorifies being straight. Marriage (only between a man and a woman, please note) is epitomized to no relief. A straight-cisgendered man is usually bombarded with attention, showered with love from all around, for the sole reason that he happened to be born a man and has proclaimed attraction to women.
A cisgendered heterosexual woman does not have it this good, agreed. But a quick chat with my lesbian friend revealed how being a lesbian has kind of been a double whammy. One has to deal with the pressures of being a woman in a patriarchal world and navigate the stressors of desiring other women. Almost all queer events and spaces are created focusing on gay men. Gay men who are stuck in heterosexual marriages can, to some extent, explore their queerness outside the marriage. Lesbian women hardly have that luxury, bogged down as they are with the need to be a ‘good wife and a dutiful mother’.
Also read: Marrying for Convenience
Tell me then: who would not want to be straight in a world that is specially tailored for them?
Grass is always greener on the other side, agreed. But in this case, the grass is not just greener; it is blooming with flowers, and ironically, there are plenty of rainbows in the sky too.
Once that question was casually flung out into the open, it hung over us for a while. Each of us thinking about how easy it would have been if we had been born straight and not part of what some call a ‘minuscule minority’ or be ‘afflicted’ with what is often termed a ‘disease.’ The feeling of otherness, the feeling that we owe something to society for allowing us to be queer, and that hitch we have every time we tell people that we’re queer, might not have existed at all.
After wallowing in a dream that was as futile as a fish imagining the pleasures of flying, we were soon back to being as queer as we always were.
While being straight might have been immensely easier – our teenage years would not have gone by without questioning ourselves or waging wars against our bodies and families – all four of us deeply enjoyed being queer. Does easy always mean pleasurable? I think not.
The feeling of otherness can also be seen as the feeling of being unique. Standing in a crowd and being inherently different has its perks as well, you know. Not having what some call the ‘burdens’ of the heterosexual marital setup really frees one’s soul. Not having to constantly prove one’s manliness by engaging in flakey displays of ‘being a man’ is a relief that a cis-het man would hardly understand. While people continue to worry about ‘body count’, we are as free as birds since, happily, no one ever expects anything of us!
While it is easy to feel ostracized when you tell someone that you’re queer, it is also equally amusing to see the complex cogs at work in the person’s mind. The delicate to-and-fro between hate and love, acceptance and tolerance, is delicious to watch and decode.
“Play with the cards you’ve been dealt,” they say, and it couldn’t have been more true for the four of us that day. People go their entire lives without finding themselves, despite questioning and constantly analyzing, and are still unable to get what they are looking for. On the other hand, we have been forced to find ourselves, develop it into a shield, and show it to the world, saying – “This is who we are, and the rest of you can just deal with it.” The shield has now become a warm blanket that we never want to get out of.
Life has dealt us cards that are harder than others, and a lot of you might feel that this is more of a rant about being something that we’re not. It would be easier, undoubtedly, to be straight. But life would also have been much more boring. The uniqueness that makes you, the reader, so beautifully queer would not exist if you were just another cog in the great normative machine.
Life has given each one of us an opportunity to be something so unique, something so inspiring, something so terribly unafraid that straight people might one day look at us and think, “being queer looks so fun, yaar” and then go writing about what a drag being straight is!