Monday Roundtable: Queer Culture We Just Can’t Get Into

Queer culture is processing your feelings about all the elements of queer culture your can’t get into. Cats and hats and Carol: This week our writers and editors are opening up about the ways they don’t quite fit into queer culture.

Riese, Editor-in-Chief: Astrology, Cats

I believe I’ve previously mentioned a few times my dislike for cats. I think they are nice to look at and also in theory, but in practice I am very allergic to them, also they have a way of making an entire place smell like pee. I can’t sleep over in so many places because of cats! Also, astrology is fine and I printed out my star chart once and that was [whatever], and I don’t dislike it or feel strongly against it, I’ve just never gotten into it. I think this’s also maybe ‘cause I’m on a Virgo/Libra cusp and I’ve never really figured out which of those two suit me better, neither really seems to, so I never got down with it. But I do believe in magic and spirituality and other things like that in general.

Heather, Senior Editor: Astrology, True Crime, Enamel Pins

I have written a lot about how I’m not really into astrology — even though I have great admiration for people who are and feel such a loss at not being able to enjoy Astro Poets with everyone else I love — because there are a few things about my Sagittarius-ism that totally fit but most of the main Sagittarius traits are the opposite of me? Narcissism, it’s fun! I also don’t really know if True Crime is fully queer culture or just Autostraddle Senior Editors culture, but I am horrified and terrified of True Crime and I think it makes up about 70% of all non-work related topics we spend the day talking about. And finally, enamel pins, which I think are cute cute cute but I would for sure end up spending seventeen thousand dollars to have them removed from my cat Socks’ stomach, so I’m not really into those either.

Yvonne, Senior Editor: Cats, Pride

I like petting my friend’s cats when I’m over their place and cute cat pictures on the internet but I don’t want cats to live in my house with me. I’m not even allergic to them! For some reason, I associate cats with death, which I’m sure y’all will tell me, I’m not wrong. But like I think of dead cats when I think of cats and I don’t like thinking about dead cats. Idk, I’m sorry. Also, I really dislike going to Pride TM events. I went to one in Austin and it might have ruined all Prides for me. They just don’t appeal to me and I hate being surrounded by drunk white men, which feels like the majority of Pride events for some reason? I fuck with the smaller Pride events that aren’t on fancy websites with ads for watered down beer and are actually for the community. I’d rather go to a gay club on any other night for debauchery and feeling extra gay and proud!

Molly Priddy, Staff Writer: Fandom, Clubbing

Maybe because I am but a humble mountain queer, or maybe it’s because I run home as soon as my presence somewhere isn’t mandatory, but I never really got into the deep party scene so often associated with the gays. I’ve been to clubs in various cities, and have never once felt comfortable. I’ve also never done any party drugs — which isn’t necessarily queer culture but it sure is part of party culture — and being sweaty and gyrating with strangers who are all looking for the next best thing isn’t my cup of tea. Another thing I’ve never really gotten into is fandoms about queer characters on current TV. I don’t watch current TV, and had to have someone explain what Clexa means (I learned about most of the characters via the camp buildings at A-Camp, which are all named for our fallen). Queer characters in media never made it when I was just coming out, and I started avoiding those shows and movies because I knew they’d break my heart somehow. They’ve gotten better, and I’m so thrilled the viewer pain that went into the Clexa relationship was translated into Clexacon and something good. Still, I think it’s too late for me to hop on board any of these ships, so I will cheer from the sidelines!

Rachel, Managing Editor: The L Word

I didn’t watch The L Word when it was happening and also didn’t watch it even after I sort of kind of came out; I think I felt like it was for people who were capital G Gay and not whatever I was. By the time I let go of that, I was far enough out on the timeline that if I were ever going to do it, it would have to be as an ironic contemporary binge watch with lots of gentle eye-rolling, and honestly my stamina for that kind of thing as a person is very low. When we watched a few episodes together the last time we got together for a senior editors’ work retreat, I was so irritated by the logistics of the bike ride in memoriam of Dana that I became deeply insufferable five minutes in. (In my defense this is true of every other bad thing I have every gamely tried to watch while knowing and accepting that it is Bad, it’s not just The L Word.) At this point I feel like I already get the major plot and character points well enough that I understand memes and pitches related to the show, which is all I really need, amirite?

Carrie, Staff Writer: Vegetarianism

My friend once called me “a minority within a minority” for being a gay Buddhist from California who eats meat. It’s funny because I’m honestly not much of a contrarian, but If there’s one area where I’ve gone hard against the lesbian grain (pun not intended but embraced), it’s my diet.

To be clear: I love vegetables. I love fruit. I love eggs and tofu and pretty much any protein that isn’t pretending to be meat… because I really do love actual meat. There are many sound reasons to go vegetarian and I eat meatless much of the time without thinking about it anyway. I’m not loading up on hamburgers every night and I understand that eating meat has its health and (especially) environmental consequences. I try to take an “enjoy responsibly” approach to the whole thing. But when push comes to shove, I enjoy omnivorism too much to make the full leap. That’s really the beginning and the end of it. I like eating tasty food and I happen to think meat tastes good! Great! I will leave the veggie option for someone who needs it and am happy to bat cleanup if it’s still there when I come back for seconds.

Stef, Vapid Fluff Editor: Pride Parties

Look, I’m sorry! Every year the concept of pride sounds great in theory and then when it actually rolls around, it’s like New Years Eve on acid. Everything is extra expensive, everything is very loud and crowded and everyone is staring at you expectantly like if you’re not having the TIME OF YOUR LIFE you must be doing something wrong. It’s a lot of pressure! As a generally anxious person, there are few things on this earth that make me more miserable than a parade; I will make an exception for the Dyke March (an excuse to amble down the street talking exclusively to my friends). Also I’m sorry, but have you seen me? I don’t wear rainbows. If you need me, I’ll be expressing my queerness by kissing girls.

Tiara, Staff Writer: The Whole Concept of “Queer/Lesbian Culture”

I’m often very salty about the idea of the Queer Uniform: that if you really want to flag yourself as some flavour queer or lesbian, you must have watched the right things and wore the right clothes and have an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut, yadda yadda. It’s not necessarily those things in particular that I have issues with (though I have a strong aversion to wearing plaid after trying to watch Saturday Night Fever at a fancy theatre in Kuala Lumpur only to be told I wasn’t ‘dressed formal’ enough so they gave me a plaid shirt that looked like it’d been run over twice on the street. URGH YUCK). It’s the idea that they are somehow mandatory to my sexuality — to the point that I’ve seriously had people ask me “are you really queer??” because my hair happened to look “normal” that day or I get told that I “write like a straight person” or “lie to lesbians to sleep with them,” yet when I do ‘conform’ I still don’t ping as queer enough for anyone.

I haven’t watched The L Word, and don’t care to. Indigo Girls, Tegan and Sara, Ani Difranco? Eh. My style runs more Nerd Carnivalesque Magician Trying To Be Joan Jett (if I’m trying, which is not often) than Goth Rockabilly Femme or Dapper Boi. I haven’t read Tipping the Velvet — I’m not opposed to it, but I’ve had really bad experiences with people pushing certain books or movies on me only for it to be a hot mess yet I can’t say anything about it because it causes epic drama, so I’m wary. I have my own tastes in fashion and culture, some of which I do directly connect to my queerness even if other people don’t see it as queer (for example, Darren Hayes). And I’d like the freedom to be able to, say, wear a kebaya or a salwhar khameez and just have the fact that I’m wearing it make it queer — not be expected to add in some extra effort if that’s not what I want to do that time.

I grew up in Malaysia, where it took me ages to even acknowledge that I have a sexuality, and where access to Western media products, if not outright censored, were often delayed by years. Even living in Australia for some time meant that I didn’t necessarily have direct access to American pop culture. Yet even in Australia or elsewhere there hasn’t really been this exploration of what local media, arts, culture, could be seen as ‘queer culture’. It’s all American shows, American music, American flags. There’s homegrown queer artists & queer media, sure! But nothing quite on the scale of This Will Code You As A Lesbian the way The L Word and Tegan and Sara are coded.

Maybe if Queer Culture or Lesbian Culture was allowed to be more international, maybe if it didn’t feel like some sort of weird homoneocolonialism (that even Western PoC partake in sometimes), maybe if we allowed for some more variety rooted in our local contexts while interacting with migration and diaspora in an organic fashion — maybe then I’ll be less salty about ‘queer culture’ or ‘lesbian culture’. Maybe I’d find it a lot more flavourful and hearty.

Laura M, Staff Writer: Veganism, Carol, Astrology

Listen. I don’t mind or care if other people are vegan, and I’m happy we can all choose as individuals to do things with our bodies that make us happy. On a more macro level, though, I feel confused about why so many lesbians are depriving themselves of honey and cheese?! I love you, keep doing your thing, I would be delighted to eat persimmon pomegranate salad with you at Friendsgiving. I just feel like something’s gone awry in this timeline that SO MANY of you won’t eat those jammy eggs, is all.

Also I found Carol v. boring, and there are too many things to remember when it comes to astrology. I keep feeling like I want to get into it and then I don’t.

Abeni Jones, Staff Writer: Non-Monogamy, Astrology

I’ve been a queer person in Seattle, the Bay Area, and New Orleans, and in all of these cities non-monogamy has been the new monogamy, in that it’s compulsory and problematic. I did non-monogamy for a few years to disastrous results. Mostly it was my fault — I hadn’t done enough work on communication or boundary-setting, but it seemed like nobody had, and it seemed like most people were really excited about the opportunity to sleep with whoever they wanted and be messy and never have to worry about cheating on anyone. Like, I get it — I was in a monogamous, sexually unfulfilling cis-het relationship for over 3 years before I came out and it was fun to do things completely different! To break out of those boxes. But it’s not inherently more radical or queer or fulfilling or whatever than monogamy. It’s just different.

Granted we were in our early 20s, so maybe that was going to happen regardless, and maybe it was an issue in those particular 2000s queer scenes in those particular metro areas. I don’t think this is as big of an issue for me anymore now that I’m older and don’t care as much about being “queer enough” or whatever, but from what I can tell there’s still a lot of “You’re still doing monogamy? Poor baby, capitulating to the heteropatriarchy. Come join us more evolved people over here where we have free love and everyone’s happy and fulfilled.” Obviously monogamy isn’t for everyone but I thought being queer was about being able to choose whatever relationship style we want?

And then there’s Astrology, which is fun and cute when people use it for entertainment or whatever but if you think it’s really big in the lesbian community at large, it’s basically unescapable among black lesbians, and I really resent it. People who talk at length about how stereotyping and generalizations are harmful then go off on whatever sign they do or don’t like for whatever reason. Whatever the word for a 12-point binary is (OK I looked it up — it’s duodenary) — that’s what Astrology is.

Carolyn Yates, NSFW Editor and Literary Editor: Going Out After 11:30 p.m.

I don’t understand leaving the house after 11 p.m., which I understand is part of queer nightlife/culture. I love living and going out in large cities and I love being surrounded by beautiful pulsing queer energy and I don’t even mind dancing as much any more but I don’t understand starting to combine those things when it’s already kinda after bedtime.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Staff Writer: Piercings/Tattoos

I love piercings/tattoos on other people! They’re just not for me! I have had my nose pierced since I was 16, and that’s as far as I’ll go. I tried getting my ears pierced at 21 but it turns out my ears are allergic to straight up everything except real gold and bitch I can’t afford real gold! My ears are bougie as hell! Then re: tattoos, I would never necessarily say never/my sister has been trying to convince me to get a sister tattoo with her which I can see myself eventually agreeing to. But I’ve just never even been that curious about getting one. A lot of people in my life have gorgeous tattoos, my sister included. It’s just, like, not me, ya know? I also want it to be known that I pretty much forced Yvonne to meet my cat and then read her answer to this roundtable a couple days later!!!!!!!!!!

Valerie Anne, Staff Writer: Brooklyn, Sports

Just. All of Brooklyn. 90% of my queer friends in the city live in Brooklyn and I just don’t understand WHY. Spending my time exclusively inside a friend’s apartment is fine, but I have had mostly miserable times every time I’ve been out in Brooklyn. Separately, I also am not invested in sports at all and most of my queer friends are very into at least the women’s soccer team. I understand the sport, just not the passion for it. I know some buzzwords just by osmosis — Ashlyn, USWNT, Rapinoe — but usually when my friends start talking about it my eyes glaze over and I tune out like my non-fandom friends do when I talk about TV. So if everyone in New York who wants to talk about women’s soccer can do it in Brooklyn I think we’d be all set.

Natalie, Staff Writer: Pretty Much All of It

From my vantage point, it’s hard to discern whether my disdain for any part of queer culture has to do with an actual hatred for any particular thing or if it’s all just a consequence of me getting more ornery as I age… probably a little of both.

Alexis, Staff Writer: Clubbing

Clubbing. After a few years out, I was talking to my mom about how dating is like a thing I should probably try to do. I told her about clubbing and she just cut me off like, “Please be true to yourself. Is there a lesbian coffee shop nearby?” So. I went to a club like last year and had no idea what to do. I got drunk (which I love) and then just was amazed by how many pretty people there were and like worried about my lack of social skills for two hours. I’m trying to bring my dancing back from the dead but I still have the laziest twerk you’ve ever seen. Clubbing is just not the move for me.

Reneice, Staff Writer: Carol, Hooking Up With Friends

I just do not understand the Carol hype. It’s a beautifully shot movie but I found it boring and I’m amazed that so many people have such a vastly different experience of it. I also can’t get into friend hookups. I’ve been told that makes me boring, I disagree but I’d rather be boring than face the possible fallout of blurring the boundaries between friends and hookups. It’s too stressful for me.

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  1. Thank you for all of the Carol honesty here. I saw it, it was very pretty, it did not particularly thrill me or warm my heart.

    Having come out fairly recently, I’ve never been to Pride celebrations. My friend is encouraging me to go this year but crowds, the surplus of drunk white men that Yvonne notes, and how commercialized it has become don’t really appeal. But I’m going to the Janelle Monáe concert here and I feel like that’s going to be all the love and queerness of Pride condensed into one night!

  2. i dreamt of a non-alcohol-based, non-sporting, eat-what-you-will queer gathering that concluded well before 11:30 p.m. and involved no cats, clubs, or Carol, and lo, my dream was made real

    there was definitely some astrology talk though

    • An lgbtq coffees shop usually fills that needs, thought I am sure some will allow cats to come(some as therapy animals).

    • That sounds so amazing! As a queer who likes eating but not dealing with animals, there never feels like room for me in Gay Spaces.

  3. Anything astrology or witch related reminds me of my junior high friend-nemesis. She was possibly queer, at least we both eventually hooked up with the same mutual friend. We also had an unspoken agreement to sabotage each other but that’s where the similarities end! Plus, I just don’t believe in it.

    Although the astrology heavy content on the “lesbian internet” did lead me to google summer solstice celebrations and I might go to one- because I do believe in long days.

  4. This is very thought provoking, interesting to dive into. I love how you’re all non-conformists ! Tiara, you blow me away.

    I got into Pride very recently, really as a way of showing our true numbers to the world ! I want to be counted. There’s a lot of us and we’re beautiful and varied and we have a history and many stories to tell so there. I haven’t encountered so many drunk cis white dudes where I am, but what does irk me is all the banks suddenly floating rainbow colours and being gay for me. Wuh?

    I’m so very sorry that so many of you don’t groove Carol. It struck me as a North-American fifties version of Indian classical dance, ultra-heavy on the meaningful eye contact and sign language. Plus any movie with a train barreling down a track and into a tunnel, ohh, I just know I’m in for a crazy ride.

    Love you all, you genial hosts

    • Thank you ?

      Your comparison between Carol and classical Indian dance is interesting – makes me wonder which actual classical Indian stories can be that level queer iconic.

      • Has anyone turned Avalokiteshvara’s transition from male to female (Goon Yam) into an opera of some sort, or even a Bollywood movie ?

        Wouldn’t that be awesome.

        • There’s a duo here in Melbourne that have a show called Bent Bollywood which is basically a queer retelling of classical & contemporary Indian dance and that was one of the stories they performed!

  5. Echoing Heather’s Sagittarius-but-none-of-this-sounds-like-me sentiments.

    And Pride is always a million degrees outside and mostly me trying to find the friends I somehow lost while cursing my poor cell signal. There are better ways to be queer that don’t involve that much sunburn and regret.

    • There are better ways to be queer that don’t involve that much sunburn and regret.

      Comment award!

    • OMG I like Pride for the visibility part and all the young’uns but YES to losing both friends and phone signal/battery, this was literally my entire Pride last year.

      • Oh bollocks I realised that sounded creepy. Just to be clear I meant the heart-warming-ness of young proud queers not that I go to stare creepily at young ppl.

        • I know what you mean! I recently chaperoned a queer prom and in between feeling a million years old, my heart was warmed by all the queer teens just being so confident and proud.


      I am fully aware of why Pride is in June but I overheat very easily and I’m sick of having to leave early because all the water in the world isn’t enough to keep me from passing out.

  6. I have to agree with Yvonne and Stef about pride. I went to LBC pride yesterday and while it was wonderful hanging out with a dear friend; I was a bit tired seeing corporate liberalism getting out of hand. Like fucking Wal-Mart had a semi-truck in the parade with rainbow flags and a sign talking about how they support pride. Plus all the alcohol floats and cars in the event. Hell, even the police marched & showed up with cars(making noise) including a for show late 2000s Mustang convertible(w/ the old v6). On the plus side one of the Grand Marshalls was Alexandra Billings(she looked great), and there were many houses with various LGBTQ flags and signs visible.

    • Haha, Walmart?! Really? I didn’t attend, but I live in LB and I saw pics people were posting. Saw the big rig but couldn’t make sense as to what it was doing there. I love seeing all the flags around the city – though I wished they would keep them up year round as LB is pretty gay friendly and not just for pride month. :\ For example, the “rainbow” on the streets. They can maintain the upkeep throughout the year but only freshly paint them for Pride. Whatever.

      • The walmart semi seemed to be driving all over town after the parade(saw it twice after). Some companies weren’t even trying as all they had was a car with their logo on it and no pride colors. I noticed that about how they only paint the rainbows for pride, but some of the ones I saw yesterday it was hard to tell if they even were painted at all. I agree with how friendly it is to the community, but it’s mostly to the white passing people from what I’ve heard.

        • Yeah, I have heard that as well. Which is a damn shame, LB is so diverse. I’m latina and the gay friendliness was a deciding factor for me when I moved out here almost 9 years ago. Queer frlendly + history + beach? Hells yeah. It’s a pretty nice town, but I can only speak for my experience, of course. Not happy about the gentrification taking place but that’s another topic altogether.

          • Yeah my friend had to move places partially because of gentrification(rent went up cause the property owners knew that they can get more out of it from the new people moving in).

  7. “People who talk at length about how stereotyping and generalizations are harmful then go off on whatever sign they do or don’t like for whatever reason. Whatever the word for a 12-point binary is (OK I looked it up — it’s duodenary) — that’s what Astrology is.”
    I’ve been trying to say this for years and people always act like I’m just not getting it. Thank you, I feel so seen and validated now.

    Also I love Carol, but totally get why people might find it boring. Honestly that’s probably a big part of why I love it – probably 3 or 4 of my top 5 movies are ones that most people would probably consider boring.

  8. I latched on to a friend’s queer-friend-group to attend Pride last year and it was so wonderful to finally feel like I was participating rather than just kind of watching from the outside.

    That said, I am an introvert who is sunburns easily, so I’m sure the allure will wear off eventually hahaha.

  9. ahhhhhhh i feel so seen on hating pride!!!!

    (my number one pet peeve is when pride festivals don’t have local performers. like??? grateful for some quality small-town experiences tho)

    i find astrology very helpful when explaining that i’m not a monster, just a double capricorn.

  10. I FEEL SO SEEN ABOUT ASTROLOGY! Seriously. As a longtime queerdo and cis femme, there’s this expectation that I’m automatically into astrology and believe in it. AND I DO NOT. At all. I try to respect other people’s religious and spiritual beliefs, but oof, it gets old in my queer circles to have people constantly referencing astrology as the reason for everything under the sun (pun intended).

    Also, The L Word is hot garbage, sorry not sorry.

  11. Okay, THANK YOU re: Carol!

    I didn’t find it boring (I have a very high tolerance for what some people would consider slow storytelling or “basically nothing happening”) but it was presented to me as optimistic and it’s?? Not???

    They spend the whole movie constrained by the homophobia of their times and there’s like 5 minutes of the two experiencing actual joy in the whole movie! There are so many more joyous queer movies and shows, and I’d rather watch them.

    (I enjoyed 30 Days of Carol though because Erin is a genius.)

  12. Finally! Thank you for expressing my thoughts about Carol. Therese seemed to be devoid of a personality and Carol walked through life like she was playing a part (granted, she was most of the time) and nothing she did felt genuine. I wanted to like the movie, but it was hollow.

    • I did not understand why Carol had any interest in Therese, who mainly just stood around looking confused.

      I watched the film with a group of queer friends and we talked about this at length afterwards: many folks loved the visual side of things (the cinematography, the silent eye-contact-style communication), but I’m very much a words person and I didn’t at all understand (or believe) being attracted to someone without interesting conversation. And yes the characters were stifled by their time/surroundings but they were alone a lot and could have spoken then!

  13. “Maybe if Queer Culture or Lesbian Culture was allowed to be more international, maybe if it didn’t feel like some sort of weird homoneocolonialism (that even Western PoC partake in sometimes), maybe if we allowed for some more variety rooted in our local contexts while interacting with migration and diaspora in an organic fashion — maybe then I’ll be less salty about ‘queer culture’ or ‘lesbian culture’. ”

    Thank you, Tiara, this really resonated with me as a person who is not from the USA. I’ve been struggling to put this into words for some time and I think you’ve done it really well.

    • It’s something that has really frustrated me for a LONG TIME, especially since in my case it has actually excluded me from queer spaces or queer community.

      I think I’ll start asking around about what non-American things count as queer culture in their part of the world.

  14. I always felt so guilty about not being into Pride until I began to understand that Pride in the corporate/capitalist/mainstream sense isn’t really *for* me – so it stands to reason that I’m not into it. If you’re not a conventionally attractive, young, white, cis, extroverted gay man, you’re kind of an afterthought at Pride for the most part. A Her study from 2016 really crystallized what I was feeling:

    I hate that astrology is used as a weapon of blanket judgment! I’m not an expert by any means, but I do know that if you’re going to buy into astrology in any kind of meaningful way, you need to look at the totality of the chart and how everything is laid out and fits together rather than honing in on one element – and even then, that’s just a starting point because everyone evolves throughout their life and is shaped by and changed by all kinds of experiences. It’s not helpful – or accurate to the practice – to reduce astrology to meme-able content (“You’re a Gemini, ergo you’re XYZ”). Your birth chart is just supposed to be a snapshot of what was happening in the sky when you were born and a suggestion of how that could have informed who you are or were, not something written in stone that’s always true for you at all points of your life.

    Molly, I feel you on the fandom thing! I threw myself into subtext-based shipping because there really were almost no canon queer characters back when I was ~coming up~, and of those, so few were written comprehensively enough to seem like real people as opposed to sketched-out stereotypes created to serve a single purpose or check a box. It blows my mind that there are actual canon queer couples on TV today and in recent history – enough that if I tried to list all of them, I wouldn’t be able to. I was totally into fandom as a tween/teen, but mine was based on extensively reading into brief glances between characters who were otherwise sold to viewers as straight. I wouldn’t know what to do in a fandom where actual queer shit goes on IRL!

    • I’m really into particular fandoms but I have very little if any interest in shipping. There are very specific characters I am attached to (Tara from WicDiv, Peridot & Amethyst from Steven Universe) but other then that I’m mostly interested in the world building – for example, magical culture in the Potterverse OUTSIDE the UK fascinates me.

  15. I’m so glad I’m not the only queer woman who really doesn’t get cats!

    And I really, really don’t want to hook up with friends either. I completely, totally put people in the friend-zone after a while, and most of my closest friends feel almost like relatives. It’s just a whooole other type of relationship, and I prefer it that way.

  16. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Carol pic teasing this Monday Roundtable on the AS home page. I clicked on the link before the headline “can’t get into” registered in my brain. I understand there are plenty of folks, not just in this community, who don’t love Carol as I do. I don’t understand why every little Carol fix triggers a rush of endorphins and dopamine in my brain, I only know that’s what happens, still. Erin’s 30 Days of Carol is what brought me here. Just sayin’.

    • Carol is my fav lesbian movie ever, it’s soo good. Like, every time Carol looks at Therese I feel like I’m intruding on something deeply personal.

      • Exactly. It’s funny how one person’s experience can be so wildly different than another’s. My sister (also a lesbian) watched Carol and said of Therese, “But she doesn’t do anything… she just rides around in a car.” And I said, “She’s high as a kite because she’s with Carol in that car. Carol reaches over to change the radio station and Therese is swooning just from the nearness of her hand. She is falling hard and fast and Carol’s every gesture seems magical. How do you not see that?” IT’S NOT LAUREL OR YANNY… IT’S CAROL!

        • Oh god yes. That scene in the car, where Therese is so totally out of her gord falling in love, so so wonderful. Everything about this movie is perfect.

  17. oh man, i’m so glad there’s an open forum to say this, because one of my least favorite things about queer culture is the idea that you have to, like, cultivate the right aesthetic and if you openly say you’re not into steven universe or kanken backpacks you’re automatically suspect. there are a lot of elements of queer culture i really despise! some are serious, like the open disdain for lesbians and rude, invasive, homophobic, and misogynist rhetoric about gender non-conforming women that proliferates in many of the queer spaces i’ve tried to engage in. and some are less serious, like the fact that i don’t want a septum piercing and i’d rather suffer though mild lactose intolerance than drink soy milk, which is disgusting. anyway. i am into astrology and carol, though.

    • YASSSS septum piercings need their own section! I know they’re, like, a quick/easy (?) way to flag yourself as a lesbian or queer, but they make you look like a bull. YES, I SAID IT.

  18. I feel a lot of these. I am firmly against crowd situations, so a big NOPE to clubs, pride, etc. And I would definitely roll back Carolyn’s “going out after 11:30” to “going out after 8:30.” If you are already out, fine. But if you are still wearing pants in your house at 8:30, re-evaluate your life!

    I am afraid of cats. They look like tiny tigers when they move and I’m not confident that they won’t eat my face off during the night.

    I just don’t get astrology, witch stuff (witching? witchardry?), or enamel pins. It’s not that I dislike them. I just don’t understand them. I also don’t understand what ANY of our presentation classifications mean, and am thus frequently bewildered by long lists of descriptors.

    • Yes to your whole comment! This weekend I was literally chased down a sidewalk by a giant black cat who was just roaming around outside.

    • Yes yes yes to the cat fear! I can appreciate cute pictures but I’m always on edge when in the same room as one. Their claws terrify me.

  19. I saw the title of this post and thought it would be strictly humorous, but there’s really a lot of deep stuff to unpack here. Really thought provoking and thank you guys for all sharing your thoughts.

    My girlfriend and I were talking the other day about this, just generally about how a lot of queer people have certain “aesthetics” and if you don’t match them you’re somehow not trying hard enough. Or, alternatively, if you do legitimately like certain things people think you’re only engaging in that behavior because you’re queer. For example, I liked plaid and Doc Martens before I was aware of how they aesthetically aligned with “lesbian culture or whatever.

    I think the idea of presenting yourself in a way that is supposed to signal your sexuality is just an asinine belief to begin with, and I think it actually is sort of harmful to people who A) Don’t enjoy those aesthetics or B) Came out later and don’t necessarily understand what they’re “supposed” to dress like. Like, my girlfriend *just* came out at 20 years old, after stumbling into a relationship with me after exclusively dating men her entire life. And part of the reason we were talking about the overbearing nature of queer aesthetics in the first place is because she’s still “dressing like she did when she dated men” and is occasionally confused/wonders if her presentation is misleading/doesn’t affirm our relationship…which is dumb.

    • As someone who has had consequences for not following queer aesthetics, I feel for your girlfriend. Solidarity with her, and so much agreement with your comment.

  20. Also, re: Pride: Went to Pittsburgh Pride last year (which was actually, apparently, a big shit show because the corporation sponsoring it was butting heads with actual grassroots organizers and stuff) and it was everything I expected it to be. Meaning, I thought everything was overpriced and I actually felt uncomfortable being there. My straight friends got some free tote bags from Target though, so they were happy.

    • I know what you mean about prices, the pride I went to yesterday had a church(that had pride services that day) offering $40 parking. Non-lgbtq restraunts by the parade route on the other hand had their regular prices.

  21. I am so not into the whole Vegan scene; except vegan fudge, I will take a dive into anything for good fudge.

    And cats are out. I’m allergic.

    But it’s so hard to find another woman who is into women as well as hunting, fishing, dogs, sports and driving fast that I am sure I’ll have to comprise on the whole no cats thing at some point.

    Sigh. I’ll be single the rest of my life

    But I do play an acoustic guitar so I fit that stereotype to a tee.

  22. I feel like as a crowd of internet readers and writers we’re probably overrepresented in the “don’t like Pride or partying” arenas (I also hate parties/clubbing and am meh on Pride). Also, cats kind of terrify me. Like, I kind of want one, but they have claws and they scratch and bite and are thoroughly untrustworthy and and and.

    I used to be kind of into fandoms ten years ago when I was a baby queer and read AE religiously, but even then I didn’t own a tv so it was all vicarious. Now I’ve basically given up, unless it’s not scary and also on Netflix.

      • I saw after I posted that you called them “tiny tigers” and I was like YES you found the best word to describe the situation. Like, if I see a cat when I’m out walking, I will pat it because it’s soft and cute, but then if it rolls over and begs for more pats I’m like “nuh-uh, not patting you if you’re going to have the opportunity to take a swipe at me with your little knife-claws.”

        • Right?! I’ll talk to cats out of politeness—we have a feral cat outside that I’ve named the Rock Johnson (his sister, Dwayne, died on the road), and I talk to him all the time—but I do not get within swiping distance!

          • I am a bona fide cat obsessive, but I get it. All my life until now, I only had wonderful, well-behaved cats who simply walked away when they got overstimulated. Now I have the kind of cat whose primary form of communication is biting, and it’s annoying as shit.

            He’s cute as hell, but I’m also fully aware that if our sizes were reversed, he would eat me. Or just kill me for fun, tbh.

  23. Yes, couldn’t agree more with Tiara about the America-centrism of queer culture! Recently i’ve been thinking about this a lot and it saddens me that i have more words to describe myself in english than in my own language

    Also I’m not into Hayley Kiyoko’s music and i just get annoyed when people call her “lesbian jesus” like there are so many other queer musicians doing great things

    • I once wrote a coming-out post on my family-and-relatives-only Facebook profile, but didn’t get as much response either way as I thought I would – then I realised it’s probably because my Bangladeshi relatives don’t quite get what “Gay” or “queer” mean.

      It’s been a few years, but it’s starting to be “when are you getting married?!” season (especially since in my massive family tree I’m the only remaining adult cousin who isn’t married or even close to being married) and I don’t know how to explain “well I don’t know if you’d be ok with me marrying a girl”.

      (My parents are a little better at it than you’d expect – they have issues accepting that I’m an adult to start with but also my mum’s been pretty cool about me joking to her that she should set me up with someone’s daughter.)

    • Yes! I also feel like there are no words in my language for things that are really common in the queer experience. For example there is no word for “coming out”, we use the English one, and this has the effect of giving the whole concept a “foreign” vibe. I love English but I also feel a strong need for developing a personal local language when it comes to queerness. I think the lack of words could also be an indicator of how we try to sweep queerness under the carpet and pretend it’s not something that concerns us/our country.

  24. Thank fuck other people are saying it. I hate astrology. Not hate…dislike. The planets’ positions when I was born literally affect nothing about me? I’m supposed to be a Cancer (gr8 name never got teased for that) and I am not ~nurturing Earth mother~.
    And like, I appreciate the openness with which non-monogamy is welcomed in the queer community, but I am very much monogamous and it sucks feeling like I’m an old stuffy prude who needs to be liberated.
    I was/am planning on going to my first Pride this year. I couldn’t go to the one that was closest, but I think I’m going to one a little further away because I have to go there to buy things, anyway. I honestly just want to go and say I did it and maybe meet some cool lesbians because there’s no groups or anything here aimed at me (I don’t club, I can’t join waking groups because disabled, and I’m not an older lady lesbian). But I’m iffy about it. I don’t do well with bright lights or noise or crowded places, and I don’t like the commercialisation…but I just want to go to one and then fuck off back home to be with the internet queers.

    I also really love what Tiara wrote. As someone else who doesn’t live in America, it really feels like a lot of queer culture is centred around American culture. Like, I hear all these things about softball and how it’s really lesbian, but it’s just not a thing here. I legitimately don’t know what it is beyond something like rounders, I think. I hope that queer culture can become more global. I barely know about queer culture in my own country (UK) because America dominates the English speaking internet. I just really feel left out of a lot of the stuff that happens in any queer community because I live in a rural area and I’m disabled so I can’t join a lot of stuff like other people (also I hate clubbing regardless of whether it’s accessible). I want to go to A Camp, but it’s not something that is really possible for me. I feel like I’m trying to learn all this new stuff and catch up so I can try and get included in this because fuck knows I’m probably the only lesbian in my town (my age at least. Don’t know about youths or older people).

    Sorry, this turned into a bit of an essay. I just have a lot of feelings.

    • I’m still trying to figure out exactly what softball is! I think it’s like… girl baseball? Not that I really understand baseball either, but I believe it’s rounders with a lot of bells and whistles lol. (Grew up in the UK and live in the US now, by the by.)

      • We had softball in Malaysia as a school sport but not so much the meme that it was “for lesbians”, though this was in an all-girls-yet-still-homophobic-and-not-very-feminist school so who knows

        • Ha, I went to an all-girls-yet-still-homophobic-and-not-very-feminist school as well. Unfortunate twinning.

  25. If I’m at your house and you have a cat I will pet it. I will buy it treats and gifts for Christmas and it’s birthday. But I really don’t like cats. I don’t like the smell or even the attitude. I can’t have a pet that pees and craps in my house. I really like the dumb and loyal dogs that go on adventures with me.

    This may be a simplistic understanding of astrology, but I was born literally 8 minutes after my sister and we are very different. I get that there was some movement in the 8 minutes but we are different on some pretty fundamental levels.

    I go to Pride to be visible but I have no interest in the partying or corporations that pretend once a year they care about me when their policies and the other 364 days of the year suggest otherwise.

    I’m not big with the fandom stuff but I will watch anything that at least suggests a lesbian or bisexual character. We just didn’t have it when I was younger. If it really sucks I won’t keep watching it though since now there are actual options and good shows.

    I love fruits and vegetables too, but meat and dairy are awesome. I couldn’t give it up. Part of that might be because dairy is a huge part of my life as a pastry chef. But as long as all the vegan stuff is advertised “taste like real meat” or “taste like real cheese” I’m going to pass.

  26. Btw, I love the teeny-tiny Ani Difranco divider image thingy! I either missed that the first time I looked at this post or it straight-up wasn’t there.

  27. Whoa, this weekend I was doing my usual negative self talk of “you’re not queer enough because 80% of what you like is straight people shit”. It’s good to hear Autostraddle writers (who to me are the epitome of queer culture) admit to not liking Carol or other things all queers are expected to like.

    I’m really not into denim jackets, or most typical queer fashion. High waisted shorts, stone washed denim, snapbacks, suspenders, crop tops- it all seems so uncomfortable! Give me some straight girl leggings and tunics, please.
    Also not into obsessing over queer celebrities, queer subtext on TV, astrology/witchiness/tarot, clubbing or being a ‘social justice warrior’.

    My favorite part of queer culture is kissing women, and misandry.

  28. Some great stuff here! Maybe I have been living in a bubble… but I have never noticed any kind of queer astrology thing going on. Admittedly I have only recently found a group of queer women and folk to hang out with but the topic has yet to come up. My girlfriend and I both find it ridiculous. I enjoy some aspects of Pride… but not others. It helps me feel connected to other queers and to my community when I see local groups and businesses and churches marching, and straight allies showing up in support… but I hate that I am seeing big corporate floats like Wal Mart, and the whole thing is always drowning in cis white male gays. I am also not a fan of clubs or the typical night scene. For YEARS I thought that was the only way I would meet a woman and I kept trying to force myself to like clubs and bars. I just don’t like them. I’m also a big fan of monogamy. One of my queer friends is always posting memes mocking monogamy and it drives me a bit nuts. I completely support my poly friends but I have the emotional energy for exactly one committed relationship.


    Also I do like Pride, but it’s a billion times more fun being IN it as part of the March rather than watching it. Especially if you march with Trikone (Queer South asians) because then it’s basically the best party in town.

    • Tiara – you are the bomb! But srsly Tipping the Velvet is aces – not least for the fabulous vaudville. If you’re not interested in the book might you fancy a peek at the BBC adaptation on Netflix? it’s brilliant fun.

  30. Oh my! For so long I’ve felt absolutely alone in the LGBT community due to my dislike of astrology and the fact that I’m not vegetarian/vegan (particularly here in Boulder, CO, i.e. vegan and astrologer paradise). As for Pride, I like it in principle but I don’t like going to it. For one thing, it’s too many people crammed into a small area for my liking. For another, when I volunteered for Denver Pridefest in 2012, they assigned me to the Children and Family area. Eight hours wrangling other people’s children not only hardened my stance against ever having kids but also may have damaged my willingness to appear at Pride (I’ve been once or twice since, but I’m still not fond of it for the other reason listed). I don’t feel so invisible anymore. :)

    • Omg, fellow Boulderite straddler! Yay!! I’ve been hoping I wasn’t the only one.

      • Yay! I’ve been wondering if I was the only one for a while now. Glad to see that isn’t the case! :D

  31. Thank you so much for this! I constantly feel not queer enough. I am always assumed straight because most traditionally queer fashion just doesn’t fit with me. Like to the point that I have been asked at gay bars if my boyfriend is parking the car and accused of being actually straight despite identifying as a lesbian. I’m also monogamous (but most of my friends aren’t and I have zero issues with it), want kids someday, am allergic to THC oil and have mild asthma so I can’t be around too many smokers of any kind, and am fairly sober just because I don’t have a lot of fun being drunk.

    And while it may just be where I live, I get judged for not fitting various stereotypes of being femme even when I’m accepted as gay. I constantly get assumed to be submissive or looking for attention from any interested butches (though I’ve met many respectful, non-aggressive butches as well!)

    What’s the worst, though, is when self-hating or misogynistic gay women assume that my not fitting traditional stereotypes means I’mean “not one of those kinds of lesbians” and assume I hate traditional queer culture, too. I wish I could flag that I’m supportive, I just love my long hair and dresses and dominant personality enough to not want to change them to better flag as lesbian.

    Which is a super long way of saying: you all made me feel less alone and reminded me that there are alone lot of queer people who don’t fit stereotypes, we just need a way to recognize each other and actually meet each other (for those who want to meet/be social.)

    • Urgh I’ve had that questioning happen at parties too. Including one time where I was asked that while AN ACTUAL STRAIGHT PERSON I KNEW PERSONALLY was walking behind them being unquestioned, probably because she’s white and I’m not.

      • I am a very white person, but I’ve seen this behavior a lot toward POC, too. I really liked your section in the round table because I get really frustrated by the white American-centric nature of our queer community as well. There are a lot of foreign queer communities that treated me a lot better because the stereotypes were different and I fit in better. Which doesn’t mean they don’t have their own discrimination problems, but it does prove that “how to be queer” isn’t universal and queer spaces should try a lot harder to understand, accept, and even celebrate cultural differences. I wish we could just get to the point where we stop assuming, stop arguing with people when they say who they are, and stop assuming every culture is just like (or worse, should strive to be like) white American culture.

  32. My ex-girlfriend and I once joked about starting a Queer Carnivores Club because we got fed up with every damn queer event being vegan and only serving kale.

    (I’m a lot more omnivorous than my ex and actually do like vegetables a lot, but good god White people there’s more to veg*n food than just green salads and plain tofu.)

  33. So my experience of queer culture is basically autostraddle culture, but based on that:
    – astrology/witchy stuff (idgi and my science brain just will not let me)
    – sport (if you like sports go you!, but for me it is confusing and pointless)
    – Carol (omg such a boring movie – I am pleased to see I’m not the only one who feels that way)
    – going out after 8.30 (thank you Em I feel very seen)
    – clubbing (see above and also people and loud music)

  34. Carol and cats.

    As has been said before, “Carol” was beautifully shot but I couldn’t get invested in any of the characters.

    Cats – just not that keen on animals in general.

  35. I love cats and lesbian TV show fandom (although the latter can get annoying with the constant arguments about which character is the top and which is the bottom — WHO CARES?), but most of the other stuff mentioned is not for me. Vegetarianism/veganism, partying, hooking up with friends, Pride, astrology, sports, tattoos and piercings (cool on other people, but I can’t pull that off), most lesbian music (love “Lesbian Jesus” Hayley Kiyoko though), any sort of spirituality… I’m just not into it. This might be why I have the problem of everyone assuming I’m straight.

  36. I enjoy many of the things y’all mentioned, but the only thing I’m feeling defensive about is Brooklyn. To be fair, I live in a not-particularly queer part of Brooklyn (neither Bushwick nor Park Slope) but I love it.

  37. HARRY POTTER!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my god, Harry Potter. I know this is not an exclusively queer thing to love but the amount of queer people who actually think they are a member of an entirely fictional school house drives me up the wall. Yes, the story is good and some of the characters are fine but it’s an incredibly elitist premise which is hardly inclusive. Mainly my ire comes from this belief that if you don’t love HP or know what being Hufflepuff means then you’re a terrible not straight person.

    Agreed re. Astrology and Carol… does anyone really know why Carol and Therese like each other?

    • the whole ‘house’ thing gives me flashbacks of my anglican private high school which i hated. i’m also not big on fantasy books! i hate how it’s like the only book that people in their 20’s ever discuss. whyyy

  38. astrology is a pseudoscience and i’m not very spiritual in general. i do mindfulness meditation because it has physical benefits but i don’t think i’ve ever felt ~connected to the universe~ or whatever!

    netflix and food are things i’m pretty indifferent towards. i lose interest in tv shows quickly (looking at you, the l word, pretty little liars, and orange is the new black) and just end up rewatching 30 rock.

    apparently snapchat is queer culture? i’m not in the right demographic for it and usually feel too dysphoric to take selfies

    my rescue cat is my best friend though.

  39. Abeni! It’s so good to see you talk about monogamy! I’m super into everyone doing whatever makes them happy, but poly is 100% not for me. It’s starting to feel like every dating app is full of folks giving me shade for stating that I’m into monogamy in my profile when I just want to be upfront!
    Anyway, this felt very validating so thank you!!

  40. I feel like there is some middle ground with Carol. I can see why it might not move people. Carol and Therese seem mismatched and Rooney Mara bores me, especially next to Sarah Paulson.

    But I love the cinematography, the train set, the costumes, the way it captures the visceral feeling of falling in love, the soundtrack, and Carol’s smile at the end of the film. It’s the one film I can think of that I love for these reasons despite my lack of investment in the characters’ romance.

  41. Sad girls and soft guitars or Classic Queer girl 90’s mumbleton as sometimes call it but it’s not restricted to the 90’s obviously.
    I’m not 14 anymore and my music taste isn’t “if it’s not metal it’s crap” anymore but gods I STILL can’t listen to the Classic Queer Girl Music stuff without being bored to tears.

    Tracy Chapman appears to the only exception to this rule and until Autostraddle her Tribe 8 was my only official queer girl music (cause Janelle had yet to come out) unless you count changing/not changing lines of certain songs when singing along to them and theatre tunes.

    And Carol I’m brave enough to say but Carol, she’s hot the movie is pretty but I’m too low brow for to watch that movie more than once. I need explosions and things that go boom.
    I’ll read encyclopedias and textbooks or a food carton for fun but movies I need cheap thrills or I’m out. Not even going to pretend I’m sorry.


    • Amen. I’ve never listened to Ani or KD Lang and feel like less of a queer BUT SHOULDN’T amirite

  42. Y’all I am fairly certain that “being in bed by 11 pm” is the new queer culture.

  43. as a queer person who’s poly but exclusively polyfidelitous, i super feel you abeni. i feel like closed multi-partner relationships (particularly triads and the kind of quads where it’s two existing couples all getting together) are a TOTALLY different beast from what a lot of the queer scene calls poly. and a lot of people in the latter scene can be damn vicious to polyfidelitous people for supposedly being closed-minded and problematic, which is pretty rich considering that version of poly mostly seems to be a rebrand of cishet open relationships/cis queer male hookup culture.

  44. I am also horribly allergic to cats, which is sad because cats are wonderful creatures.
    Astrology is permanently tainted for me by association with my abuser, as is the show Steven Universe, and while I love the fact that Hayley Kiyoko is out there making lesbian music I just…can’t get into her music. I’ve tried.

    Also for grad school I moved somewhere where basically the only queer life is bars/clubs and the occasional concert by a queer artist and…I am slowly withering. Please help.
    (I’m back in Boston for the summer and let me tell you I missed the ability to find and commune with my fellow queers in a space that isn’t a bar.) (somewhat relatedly I ran into a VERY GOOD LOOKING butch attorney at the office I’m interning in the other day and literally had to sit down because I could not handle the sheer perfection of this human being.)

  45. Oh my god, yes thank you.

    When I was coming out in high school and then trying to enjoy the LGBT scene in college it was really dominated (and still is…) by white gay men and I hate the overarching meanness and party scene of it. I feel like queer and lesbian culture has developed more of a presence over the past five years but it’s kind of gotten mean too. While white gay men culture is kind of the equivilant of classic preppy popular kids, queer lesbian culture can feel like the snobby art kids. I don’t feel comfortable in many lgbt spaces because it becomes this weird pissing contest of who’s queerer or gayer.

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