If You’re Not Gay Enough

October 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

Many, many times in my life I’ve heard someone say, timidly and ashamedly, that they’re “not gay enough” or “not queer enough” for something.  Usually it means to be included in a particular social group, date someone, wear something specific, voice their experience or opinion.  There are tons of reasons for this, and I am only able to list some of them here.  I think a lot of us are afraid of being coerced, one way or another.  We want our sexuality to ourselves, and every “identity” and culture feels like it wants us to feel and act a certain way or we will get shamed, often these days in the form of unwanted, hostile pop-psychology.  A lot of times, we just aren’t sure yet, and feel our sexuality is still working itself out and is too fragile to voice.  I think there is also a resistance to divesting of privilege artificially – as in, if I am a woman and still date mostly men, but I sometimes have relationships with women, I still likely receive most straight privilege, so I should not call myself gay.

I often suggest that those people consider calling themselves “queer” if they feel comfortable with it.  And they ask, “What does that mean?”  I say, I don’t know.  Generally, when placing words on people, mistakes are made.  But this is what I think.  This is for those who would like to have a word to describe themselves, but feel that it may not be okay for them to use queer.

The way I see it, if I am uncomfortable enough with how society defines gender, sexuality, and relationships to feel resistant to accepting a label, if I feel a simultaneous urge and resistance to voicing my discomfort with how people do sexuality, I can claim the identity of queer.  Queer means, not mainstream.  Not comfortable.

Sometimes, it’s because we don’t want a single relationship to take primacy in our lives.  Because we don’t believe in the romantic myth.  Because we don’t get what’s up with wanting marriage.

Sometimes it’s because we love people who aren’t our “opposite” gender.  Because we don’t get gender.  Because we just love who we love, and want who we want, how we want them.  Because we aren’t going to let some concept of gender get in the way of how we make our love bonds.

Sometimes it’s because we don’t want the sex society says is okay.  Because we want to be tied up or knocked around.  Because we want crazy, dirty things we would not say out loud in most settings.

Because if and when our true sexuality is made public, we will get pathologized, we will get abused, we will get prosecuted.  Because we squirm in our skin whenever people are defined, whenever mainstream relationship talk hits our ears, whenever we someone hate themselves for wanting “the wrong things.”

Because we don’t want to get on the conveyor belt of relationships in this society, carried along, passive and half-hearted, when we know there’s something more.  We’ve felt it in our friendships, and we want it to grow, not die out with time.

I am sure there are tons of reasons we’re made “queer” in this society.  It seems it’s getting harder and harder to be what we’re supposed to be, to comply with contradictory norms and bizarre, inhuman standards of appearance, desire, and behavior.

No one in the world should have to “be queer” if they don’t want to.  But I just wanted to say something for people who think they might like to, but maybe they can’t or shouldn’t.  Because it seems to come up a lot.


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§ 3 Responses to If You’re Not Gay Enough

  • elizabethalex says:


  • Rairun says:

    Your post reminded me of this: http://hollyherself.tumblr.com/post/26567309332/queerness-to-me-is-about-far-more-than

    By this definition and your own, I’m queer. I passively identify as male because of my body, the way people use male pronouns when talking to me, and the way my mannerisms are usually identified as straight male (though not really manly). This is very relevant when it comes to the types of privilege I receive, but completely irrelevant when it comes to my sense of self. I’m not attached to any sort of male identity, either psychological or physical. I wouldn’t mind if people referred to me as a she, and the thought of having a female body doesn’t weird me out at all. I’m comfortable being male, but either way would be fine for me.

    When it comes to sexual orientation, I’m not really physically attracted to guys, but at the same time I don’t see a difference between “romantic” love and friendship. Basically, I don’t think I differentiate between women and men when it comes to how much I like a person, and sex is just one specific activity that people engage in. I can love someone without necessarily wanting to have sex with them, and this “someone” could be male. I don’t find sex between men gross (when people on the Internet trick me into seeing lemon party, my response is usually “Awww”), but I don’t really have a desire to do it. I don’t rule it out, it could happen in the right circumstances, but it never has. Basically, because I see relationships and love in an unconventional way, the category of “sexual orientation” doesn’t quite fit me. Also, the word “sexual” itself is really fuzzy, both physically and in terms of relationships. Even if you don’t want to have sex someone, there are all sorts of things that could be categorized as sexual.

    I still feel weird calling myself queer, though. I actually think I’d have a much easier time saying it to people who don’t identify as queer (well, some of them). According to certain definitions, I’m just not queer, and people would think I was only labeling myself that way just so I could have my voice heard within the community. So… yeah. It’s good to know there are people like you and the person from the link above. I’m not overly concerned about the word itself, but it does get a little tiresome to think people would just tell me to shut up (because what do I know as a [insert mainstream group here]?).

  • Rairun says:

    Four years later, I read this post again, and I wanted to say thank you for writing it.

    I also reread my own comment from four years ago, and it’s strange to see my words from a distance. They sound very clunky. Not wrong necessarily, but cold. Today I wouldn’t have written the last sentence as I did then – I don’t think I meant it to sound unkind, but it does to my ears now.

    I still hesitate to call myself queer. It’s less a fear of being out than it is of intruding. But what has become clear to me, undeniably so, is that queer people are my people.

    I watch Pride, and I literally cannot stop crying. I first saw it in an airplane over the sea, in a long flight to see my parents in Brazil, and I cried for two hours, and I was left shaken and grateful for a long time afterwards.

    I watch Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves, and despite all the tragedy and death, I long for a chosen family like theirs, because I have very few loved ones, and I am lonely.

    I watch Carol, and it’s such an amazing film in so many ways, but I particularly love Abby, and her relationship with Carol, and her kindness towards Therese (unlike some, I do see a lot of kindness there). That’s the way I want to love people. That’s the way I want to live my life.

    I got myself teary just by writing this. I know what it feels like to care about others, to feel compassion, to be an ally – but this is not it. I can question whether “queer” is a word that applies to me, whether it’s a good description, but when I stop thinking so much about myself, I can’t help but feel this is where I belong.

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