Bitchy Queers

Well, I stuck a slur in the title. Don't read on. There's no hope. Flee from this evil blog. More slurs are incoming. This article is also not particularly friendly to straight people. If you're straight and reading this, chances are that I don't hate you. This is because you're likely to be a complete stranger to me and thus me hating you based on my assumptions is pointless and logically faulty. However, there are straight people out there who do shitty things and I will rant about that without necessarily stopping every 5 minutes to say that not every straight person is like that.

When I was growing up, I grew up in an environment where most people were straight. I didn't meet an openly MOGAI person till I was 12. And so I was only vaguely aware of stereotypes: the catty, effeminate gay man, the masculine lesbian, the slutty and almost invisible bisexual. They're something I only really came across when I was older.

So I think somewhere at the back of my mind I was aware of the "bitchy queer" stereotype (it ties in with the "bitchy gay" stereotype that I'd already been exposed to), but being that I try not to see groups of people as monoliths and that I try to go by the evidence of my senses rather than gossip and hearsay, "bitchy" isn't one of my first associations with the word "queer". In fact I get quite annoyed by the bitchy queer stereotype.

"But it's just a joke!" you might say. "Nobody means any harm by it!"

Well, not meaning any harm by something doesn't magically stop it from doing harm - and if it's a joke it's not one that I find particularly funny. This is coming from someone with a dark and absurd sense of humour, so it's not like I'm utterly humourless.

The thing about the bitchy queer stereotype is that it gets used to silence MOGAI people: if we complain about something, we're just bitchy queers. It doesn't matter how legitimate the complaint is, getting away from the stereotype is difficult because we're still just considered to be bitching. Occasionally you come across a straight person who makes an exception for you, but I find that it's still a bit frustrating. I don't want to be a straight person's exception, I want straight people to consider MOGAI people in terms of their humanity rather than just as stereotypes. And I get fed up and annoyed when that doesn't happen.

I am going to go on a little digression now because I think it might help any confused straight people to understand - and I want straight people to understand. I desperately want straight people to understand because when people understand, they tend to change their ways for the better. And I don't have some kind of victim complex: I'm genuinely fed up of straight people not getting it, because even in the Western world, straight people not getting it can harm MOGAI people (for example, straight people who believe that bisexuals are just faking it for attention probably don't want to do anyone any harm, but they still make it hard for bisexuals to come out and feel loved and accepted by the people around them).

There is a microblogging site called Tumblr. According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of the 34 million users who contribute to Tumblr more than once a month are aged between 16-24. The top traffic source is the USA (so it can be pretty US-centric). 54% are female and 46% are male, which makes me think that they didn't take account of the users who don't fall into the gender binary (they are vocal, to be sure, but I'm not sure how much of Tumblr they make up). 48% are students and 65% have incomes under $50,000. Out of the USA, California - known for being progressive - provides the most traffic out of any state. It's become a space where marginalised people cling together and have a much louder voice than they do on most other sites, let alone offline - and so it provides a unique opportunity to study stereotypes about groups that don't usually get stereotyped. Like straight people. (Seriously, I can't remember the last time I heard a stereotype about a straight person that didn't come from Tumblr.)

So let's pop in the keywords "straight people" and hit search. Straight people, if you're not used to Tumblr or social justice spaces this might confuse you and possibly hurt you. This is what comes up.

As you can see, there's a lot of stereotyping of straight people on Tumblr. This is because many MOGAI people have had bad experiences with straight people - not just straight people who openly identified as homophobic and transphobic, but also straight people who claim to be allies and still treat MOGAI people as inferior. So understandably, we want a place to vent. Also understandably, some MOGAI people have a burning hatred of straight people. (To help you understand this, if you ever get the chance to talk to someone who survived a genocide, some aren't exactly forgiving of the people who tried to kill them or those who remained complicit. Obviously different people react differently, but it's not an event that restores your faith in humanity.)

Straight people, how do you feel about this stereotyping? Annoyed? Confused? Upset that a complete stranger could hate you and claim you're a murderer? Upset that people brush your hurt aside and try to erase your existence? Ashamed of your sexuality? Scared to speak up because somebody might use it to hurt you?

Because that's how a lot of MOGAI people feel when you stereotype us, and why I'm opposed to stereotyping as a whole. Fortunately for straight people, Tumblr hatred hasn't spilled over into actual, ideologically motivated violence against you (as far as I'm aware). Unfortunately for MOGAI people, there's still a hell of a lot of violence against us worldwide.

In several countries, there are still laws on the books criminalising homosexuality. In several countries, same-sex marriage is still forbidden. In several countries, there are still laws against the promotion of homosexuality (and indeed some straight people still think that talking about being MOGAI and telling young people that it's perfectly okay and normal, and that MOGAI youth should be proud of who they are, and tailoring sex and relationships education to MOGAI people counts as promoting homosexuality, which makes me want to smack my head against the nearest hard surface). There are places where people can refuse you service or refuse to hire you based on sexual orientation, which is not only homophobic and transphobic but simply makes no sense (how is me buying a cake or working as an engineer going to corrupt your pure, precious straightness?). Right now in the UK we have an Equality Minister who voted against same-sex marriage, which also makes no sense. There are places where it is just fine to assault a MOGAI person and you can get away with it. And even beyond the law, a lot of straight people still consider MOGAI people weird, inferior or abnormal - which makes it hard to live as who you really are instead of just pretending to be straight all the time. I could go on.

So MOGAI people still face a hell of a lot of oppression and discrimination worldwide. Although I admit that in certain parts of the world we've made a lot of progress, we still have a very long way to go. And so if I complain or seem bitchy, it's because I desperately want to see a world in which people are loved and accepted no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, and I desperately want to help work towards that. I'm sorry if I seem like a bitch or a social justice wanker, but I'd rather be abrasive and work for a better world for everyone than keep my mouth shut, be lauded for "not being like those other bitchy queers" by straight people, and sit by and do nothing. And if you care that much about my bitching, I'll stop bitching when I get a world that treats everyone with compassion and acceptance. So rather than whining about how I'm a bitchy queer, come over here and give a helping hand. I can promise you that I'd appreciate it.