Also.Also.Also: Label-Free Fluidity is the New Chill and Other Stories You’ll Live Through

Here we are again, on our own! Going down the only road we’ve ever known! Like a drifter, we were born to drink lots of wine and then do yoga in the morning and then perfect our eye makeup and work super hard and then read a good book! Good job everyone!

You Should Go or Do or Give

+ It’s time to answer the 10th Annual LGBT Community Survey!! The more Autostraddlers who answer this, the better Autostraddle looks to the outside world, aka people with money. So please participate if you have minute!

+ Get your presale tickets for LezCab Sings the 90s on May 28th!


Queer as in F*ck You

+ Ok first take a cleansing breath in through your nose! Imagine you’re breathing in tiny sea sponges, and as you breathe them in they begin to work, scrubbing and shining up the energy and space inside and around your body. Then we’re gonna sigh that breath out. As you exhale, imagine the sponges are leaving the shiny clean space of your body and taking with them all of the grime and stagnation you once held. Good.

Now read this: Does Your Sexual Identity Really Need a Label?

Y’all, is Michelle Tea trolling us? Or trolling straight women? I’m not sure! But I hope you’re wearing your soft pants because you’ve just sidled up to the Blanket Statement Buffet! Grab a TRAY! Maybe read this!

Enormous Salad You Can’t Possibly Finish: How detached and bizarre is it to make a broad cultural statement anchored on the perceived experience and personal politics of a small handful of wealthy, famous white people? Pretty!

Soup That Seemed Like a Good Idea I Guess: “I was getting older and wanting to settle down, and straight men seemed preprogrammed for that type of situation.”

so confused

What Kind of Bread is This: A Mark Ruffalo clause? ??? ? ?? What about a Chasing Amy clause? ? ???? Or a Kissing Jessica Stein addendum? ?? ?//….?01110000 01101100 01100101 01100001 01110011 01100101 00100000 01110011 01110100 01101111 01110000

Carbs and Meats Covered in Cheese or BBQ Sauce: “These breaks from television’s regulation heterosexuality were on a continuum with real-world triumphs.” ………………………………………………………………………………?

Unlimited Cobbler and Ice Cream and Jello and Sliced Fruit: Is the real problem just that Michelle Tea never tried dating Matt McGorry?

But I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter. Straight people have typically viewed other people choosing to publicly label their sexuality as either a trendy reaction or an excessive show of self-importance at best, especially where women are concerned. Why should this one little article try to make a difference?

+ And hey a little relatedly! Comedian Sam Jay Hates Da Brat’s “Wat’chu Like” Identity Crisis.

+ Important! When Trans Selfies in Bathrooms Go Viral.

+ Italian Lesbian Couple Wins Right to Adopt Each Other’s Children.

+ Queer History Happens Everywhere.

+ Lesbian Icon Sally Miller Gearhart Honored by San Fransisco Pride.

+ In case you need to explain things to people in your life: Think ‘Bathroom Bills’ and Other Anti-LGBT Legislation Don’t Impact You? Think Again.


Doll Parts

+ How Male Theologians Ruined Parenting.

+ Why Do So Many People Still Believe Abortion is Dangerous?

+ The First Woman to Put Her Face on Packaging Got Trolled Like Crazy.

+ The Best Witch Cinema You Haven’t Seen. Or maybe you have? Let me know if you have.

+ Helpful Man Patrols Texas Ladies’ Room, Tells Woman ‘You’re Dressed Like a Man’.

+ Academia is Quietly and Systematically Keeping Its Women From Succeeding.

+ How Ending the Tampon Tax Became Viral Legislation.

+ Why One Woman Stole 50 Million Academic Papers and Made Them All Free to Read.


Saw This, Thought of You

+ The Joke Was That Obama Wasn’t Joking.

+ Families Reunited After US-Mexico Border Opens Briefly. This video autoplays, so make sure you’re fully prepared to cry before you click the link.

+ Even for Those Here Legally, High Stakes and Few Protections in Immigration Courts.

+ Why America’s Schools Have a Money Problem.

+ What Should You Do If You Find a Lost Baby Bird. This is important.

+ Dispatches From the Front of the House: Restaurant Regulars.


And Finally

CAT TREAT COMPANY MAKES COLLAR THAT TRANSLATES YOUR CATS MEOWS INTO WORDS.

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here. She's 37, has two kids, two dogs, one cat, one Megan, and some personal essays.

Laneia has written 906 articles for us.

61 Comments

  1. I feel like Michelle Tea is probably ignoring the experience of a lot of people who are more solidly gay, but this sentence really stuck with me:

    “The entire world was desperate to invalidate homosexual desire, and if you admitted to even a sliver of ambiguity, it would try to make you live there.”

    This is why I identified as a lesbian for so long, even though it didn’t really fit – because I don’t want to date men, I had to be someone who categorically couldn’t. The word “preference” is so loaded and comes with so much homophobic baggage, but honestly, I wish that it was easier to talk about preferences that that aren’t necessarily exact or innate, and to have those parts be treated with as much respect as the parts that of your orientation that are. “Bi with a preference for same-gender” is something that can shift and realign itself, but doesn’t necessarily have to; “lesbian” is supposed to be a description of an unchangeable part of your being, and not being a lesbian anymore is a failure of something, whether it’s your ability to assess yourself originally, your ability to resist compulsory heterosexuality, popular models of orientation in general…

    Which absolutely isn’t to say that people shouldn’t identify as lesbians, or that women who exclusively like women don’t exist. Some people are rigid, whether innately or for other reasons, and it’s no better or worse. But it definitely seems like fluidity is conceptualized as both straight-leaning and less valid, and god, I wish that would stop.

    • This was my favourite line in the Michelle Tea article:

      “Although my native orientation is so all over the place that no single identity really fits, I’ve found queer to be most accurate, as it stresses my allegiance to that community yet allows for lots of wiggle room.”

      I think that’s a pretty accurate summation of how the term “queer” is used by a lot of people nowadays.

      • Hehe, favorite in a good way, or sarcastically? 😉

        I like ‘queer’ because I spent many years trying to find the identity that would most accurately describe myself to other people, but then at some point finally a switch flipped and I realized it wasn’t about defining or justifying myself to the outside world, it was about what I needed and wanted my life to look like for ME. Queer affords me…not wiggle room exactly, like Michelle is saying, but a certain amount of privacy. When I tell a person I’m queer, they know I’m not straight, but they don’t get the long and complex history of my loves and desires unless I know and trust them.

        Anyway I can’t really tell what Michelle is saying in a lot of that article, but that’s why my label – which can be interpreted as ambiguous – is still nevertheless very important to me.

        • I didn’t mean favourite sarcastically, but I can how you have read it that way!

          No, I genuinely meant that I like her interpretation of the word queer. I like that the label “queer” is all-encompassing, yet also vague, that’s how I use it anyway. But maybe that’s just because I want my sexuality to have a little wiggle room. Maybe others don’t, that’s cool too.

    • Les Belles sound like an awesome femme as fuck roller derby group or something I’d love to admire and worship from afar, because I’d spazz out and make fanperson dolphin noises if I got too close.

  2. Whenever someone writes a condescending article about how everyone is pansexual/sexually fluid and that hetero/homo people are either lying to themselves or intentionally limiting themselves, does anyone else get the urge to call it “pansplaining” or is that just me?

    • I don’t think she gave enough space to discussing how some people really do have more rigid sexualities, but does this:

      “For others, like artist Nicole J. Georges, who chronicles her lesbian relationships in her graphic novel Calling Dr. Laura, sexual identities remain a source of community and comfort. “I can yell it as I walk down the street,” she jokes. “‘Yeah, I have long hair, but just so you know, I’m gay so don’t get any big ideas!’ My sexual identity is something I really value.””

      really sound like “everyone is pansexual/sexually fluid and […] hetero/homo people are either lying to themselves or intentionally limiting themselves”?

      She generalized her experience more than she should’ve, but she didn’t universalize it.

      • It sounds like lesbian IDENTITY is just for the sake of belonging, it actually in the context of the whole text further encourages sentiments that women who identify as lesbians just intentionally limit themselves.

    • “Pansplaining” gives a word to a behavior I’ve seen so many times. Brilliant.

      I would also like to suggest that certain more fluid individuals have a “Su-queer-iority” complex.

      • Isn’t it funny that if I came up with a cute little pun involving “gay” or “lesbian” for a common annoying thing that gay/lesbian people do to other queers, it would come off incredibly homophobic and waaaaay over the line?

        • It depends on the pun.
          Come up with one and let’s see. :3

          I’m the living dead girl and once in support someone told me to “hang in there” because that’s like their standard supportive phrase when I had been talking about how trying to hang myself didn’t end the way I expected or hoped it would but it turned out much better than the original intention.
          My response was to laugh water up and out my nose so perhaps my sense of humor is warped or something, but I find “Su-queer-iority” pretty clever and funny like Assburger for Aspergers.

          I would like to see a pun for something gay/lesbian people do to other queers.
          But would it come off as over the line? I am probably not the best judge of that.
          Cause aforementioned warped humor and appreciation for gallows humour.
          I legit giggle every time I see the phrase “gallows humour”.

    • Her wiki page has nothing about it. In fact I think that A.V. article is the first time I’ve seen a mention of her being queer/not straight. I always thought she was a tomboy(hetronormaty, can do that to a person).

      • There’s been rumors floating around, like with Alicia Keys, Missy Eliott, Tweet and Queen Latifah but I always thought they had never been confirmed. I did agree with that comedian saying the video was just wrong… i remember seeing it back in the days, hating it and thinking “why are you doing this, da brat??!” even though i didnt read her as gay at the time.

  3. I’m curious to see how many women who are strictly attracted to women refuse to identify as lesbian or gay.

    This is an issue Tea is talking about that I don’t think the LGBT community has wrapped its head around yet. What do you do with people who aren’t strictly attracted to the same sex or who aren’t strictly attracted to the opposite sex?
    Call them bisexual. But what if they don’t want that term?

    I’ve always had an issue with the term ‘bisexual’. I’ve rarely heard any lesbian or gay person identify as homosexual. I’ve never had anyone tell me they are homosexual. They say they are gay or lesbian. Why? Aren’t these terms synonymous? Apparently not. To the point where GLAAD deems the term ‘homosexual’ offensive.
    But everyone wants people who are attracted to both or all sexes to identify as bisexual. Why should they when people won’t embrace ‘homosexual’?
    There is no political term for people who are attracted to all sexes. Except for Queer.
    And fluid. or no label.
    This is the most diverse range of people on the sexuality spectrum. I don’t think one term fits all of them. I’m really tired of all new compound labels that are coming out. To each their own though.

    I think we’ll find that the largest demographic of ‘no label’ people are otherwise straight identifying people who are not strictly attracted to the opposite sex.
    Those people have always had enough pressure to identify as straight regardless of how they really feel. Now, that pressure has subsided a bit, and they are trying to find their place in the world.

    I think people should be allowed to identify in whatever way they feel comfortable. I don’t think another person’s identity has an impact on my life.
    I think most people on the ‘no label’ or ‘fluid’ bandwagon are just frustrated with it all.
    Knowing you are attracted to men and women is one thing; Being attracted to men and then falling in love with a woman is a-whole-nother thing. Being attracted to women and one day wanting sex with a man is completely different. If they don’t want to be put under the same label, I understand.

    Every time someone says things like, ‘sexuality is fluid’ or ‘there should be no labels’, I understand they don’t speak for all of us. I understand they are talking about their own situation.
    I can’t get angry or even annoyed over it.
    Respect and understanding needs to go both ways.
    Respect that a person isn’t comfortable with the available labels and doesn’t want to make one up. And they don’t need to label themselves to validate you.
    Respect that a person values their label; they have it for a reason and they are not fluid.

    • “I think people should be allowed to identify in whatever way they feel comfortable. I don’t think another person’s identity has an impact on my life.”

      I agree! “You do you,” as they say here. =)

      • I don’t really agree. Preachers who say that lesbians can be turned by the right man, aren’t real, HAVE impact on your life, they encourage homophobia.

        Now, for example women who identify as lesbians but are attracted to men (I’m aware of women who tell men they have casual sex with that they’re lesbians), send pretty much the same message.

        • I’m not sure why people are still letting ‘preachers’ have any impact in their lives. Do they even science?
          I mean, really, why would you let some random dictate your life? Because he’s supposedly read the bible? I’m shocked at how much power people give religious types.

          And all that’s irrelevant.
          I said I don’t think another person’s identity has an impact on my life. It still doesn’t, regardless of the preacher.

          Preachers believe in the power of Jesus. Even if everyone identified how you want them to, he still believes in the power of Jesus to heal people of their same sex sin.
          Again, I am amazed people still give these people an audience, let alone control over their lives.

          The preacher doesn’t care how people identify. He’s going to spout that same mess to anyone who says they are attracted to the same sex. If someone told the preacher they met the right man and still have sex with women, he would still have a problem.
          Anyone who is having sex outside of marriage should be the same to the preacher. But they are not, which is why hypocritical preachers aren’t worth the air they breathe.

          Shouldn’t you be encouraging women to not label themselves if you are worried about women who identify as lesbian but are attracted to men? Wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t label themselves rather than call themselves lesbians?

  4. “But at the end of the day, I chose to be gay” Okay, so, I’m a lesbian, strictly attracted to women, 100% homosexual, etc… however I still struggle with it, since my dream to be a SAHM in a big house, a catholic husband, and lot of little catholic kids, and even if my gf is amazing and also want a ton of kids, sometimes I still say to myself “what if I try this therapy to change my sexual orientation ? Aren’t we all fluid ?”, and this kind of sentences hurts. I mean, I know I should read it in the context, etc… But I’ve read this too many times in ex-gay testimonies or camp. I can imagine a priest who tried to change my sexuality, smiling while reading it : “I knew the choose it !”. It really opened the pandora box for me.

    • Yeah, that sentiment can be pretty triggering for some people, depending on their backgrounds and what they have been through.

      What I read it as, though (like when Cynthia Nixon said it) is more like, “I have chosen to live as my authentic self and go where my heart takes me. I have chosen to unbind myself from the constrictions placed on me by this society and truly be open to my needs and desires.” It’s a little like when my ex says he “chose to transition” — it’s not that he chose to be trans, it’s that he chose to follow his heart and live openly and in the way he wanted to.

      And let’s face it — those assholes in the ex-gay movement will always twist our words. There will always be those people who find “proof” wherever they look for it that we are wrong. But making that choice – yes, the choice – to live authentically in the face of that is like the biggest, most beautiful ‘fuck you’ we can make to them.

    • Well, a LGBTQ-positive model of sexuality-as-choice is different than an anti-LGBTQ model of sexuality-as-choice. A homophobe is going to approach it from the perspective that all people are naturally straight and some just choose to do things against their fundamental nature because they’re damaged, rebellious, perverted, or a combination of the above. That’s… really different from the idea that people have different fundamental natures, and some people with more fluid or expansive natures are also going to have personal preferences, and it’s just as valid to do what feels right even if you could possibly do other things as it is to do the only thing you can.

      Please remember that some people having a choice, and some people embracing having a choice, does not mean they’re saying you have a choice, or that you need to choose to be straight. The people saying these things are generally much more removed from traditional communities, and what they’re pushing back against isn’t what you’re pushing back against.

      If you haven’t already, I think it might be a good idea for you to look into Dignity USA and Equally Blessed and other pro-LGBT Catholic organizations, because it sounds like your religion and the lifestyle you want are really important to you, and your orientation doesn’t need to get in the way of those things. The majority of Catholics today are in favor of marriage equality and don’t think “homosexual behavior” (the study’s words, not mine) is wrong, and if you want it and you look for it, there’s a Catholicism out there that’ll accept and affirm you for who you are. If you want to be a stay at home mom (or work part-time or from home, since with the economy the way it is, plenty of people who want to be stay at home moms can’t, traditional straight women included), you can be a stay at home mom. If you want to be the feminine partner in a relationship with a feminine/masculine dynamic, well… butch/femme relationships aren’t for everybody, but they’re an option, and for some people, they’re the perfect fit. And even if the whole package of that is not what you’re into, there are plenty of people who like playing around with gender roles in more specific ways, or who might not want to be specifically masculine themselves, but who’d have fun with being the “husband” to the woman they really like.

      It’s understandable if being gay feels limiting sometimes, but that’s not the natural way of things, and there are things you can do to pursue the life you want to lead, even if it isn’t the default sort of life that would be expected for a gay person. Don’t fall into the trap where it’s being gay or living the way you’d want, and since you can’t help being gay, it’s time to make peace with the loss of your perfect future. Be greedy. Take everything.

      • “The people saying these things are generally much more removed from traditional communities, and what they’re pushing back against isn’t what you’re pushing back against.”

        From my experiences with such people, that’s not true. They generally have very limited view on sexuality, encompassing only their own experiences, and they think everyone is just like them, just doesn’t want to admit it. And they basically always try to quote some debunked studies to convince me that deep down I am attracted to men as well but won’t say it due to my close mindedness and self-emposed limitations.

        • One more thing. By its very nature the ‘choice’ argument imposes itself on everyone. Since it automatically gives at least two options to chose from. If someone is only attracted to women then she doesn’t have a choice (except for between living an unhappy life or not).
          Only someone who’s attracted to men and women can say that they have a choice.

          But if they are attracted to men and women, what kind of choice do they have about being bisexual? And that’s the thing, the people who use the choice argument very rarely say that they’re bisexual, it’s just an easy way for them to appropriate traditionally ‘exclusive’ labels, like lesbian or gay, which were meant to describe people only attracted to one gender. And the easiest way to combat accusations of appropriation is by claiming that everyone deep down is like them, so they’re not harming anyone.

          • There are probably people out there saying that everyone has a choice. “Some people have a choice and some people don’t” is not imposing the idea of having a choice on everyone. I personally try to make it pretty clear that I’m talking about people whose natural range falls within the bi spectrum, I don’t know how much more obvious I can be about it.

            Also, bisexuality is a spectrum, and plenty of things can affect who a person wants to be with apart from their natural range, and where are we drawing the line? Someone experiencing any amount of other-gender attraction? Someone experiencing any amount of opposite-binary-gender attraction? Someone who’s capable of having sex with someone of the opposite binary gender? Someone who’s capable of partnering with someone of the opposite binary gender? Are you saying that a woman who only wants to date other women and doesn’t feel she could be happy with a man has to label herself as bi if she occasionally jacks it to gay porn?

  5. Thanks for the article reference to freely accessible academic journal articles – this has been a bug bear of mine for several decades. I am beyond peeved that someone gets to freely make money off my research which was and is, at least in part, supported through tax-payer money. My research is predominately in the field of education and linguistics and most of it is directly relevant to teachers – who absolutely cannot afford to buy the articles from the Scroogesque academic publishers. I always try to put my articles in accessible places – education should be free: knowledge and information should be free!
    I’m not buying (pun intended) the work the publishing companies have to put in to publishing the articles. It essentially boils down to formatting – all the other work is done by (usually) unpaid reviewer colleagues. Sure, some remuneration is required – but I’m suggesting cents not dollars.

  6. I think it’s worth mentioning the part of the Michelle Tea article where she quotes Jill Soloway on how trans people “inadvertently broaden” people’s understanding of their sexuality when she could have consulted -I don’t know, going out on a limb here- an actual trans person??

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