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.