For the past 8 years, my two significant relationships have been with 1) a biological woman who identifies as male and 2) a cisgender woman. Now, all of a sudden I’ve stepped into a world more privileged than that which I have previously known.
All of my past relationships have been “in the closet,” including my very first relationship with a guy back in college. My very strict Asian parents didn’t want me to date until after I finish schooling, so that relationship was kept a secret from them. When I dated a black man, that relationship was kept “in the closet” because my racist parents would have freaked out. After I came out to my parents, my relationships with women were still very much in the closet because they weren’t out.
Now, for the first time ever, I can be “out” with my relationship, and it feels exhilarating! I finally can hold hands in public without getting disapproving stares for being in a same-sex or a highly contrasted interracial relationship. I can hold hands in public without feeling scared that someone I know would see me and “out” me. These are simple joys that most of us in the queer community don’t have due to sexual shaming and stigma.
I had already recognized that as a bisexual femme, I am more privileged than other members in the queer community. I can pass as a straight woman, if I want to. The problem is that I don’t want to pass. It’s too easy to get comfortable and forget about my past struggles that got me where I am today. I want to continue to fight the good fight for equality.
Unfortunately, even with all the privileges I am afforded, as I progress further into my new relationship with a straight guy, I’m finding it harder and harder to assert my queer identity. I feel more invisible as a bisexual, queer femme dating a straight guy than I felt as a bisexual, queer femme dating an outwardly sexually-ambiguous person. I’ve touched on this topic several times in my writings. The queer community isn’t always welcoming, particularly towards people who identify as asexual, bisexual, or transgender.
It bugs me that in the queer community, it seems more acceptable that I date another queer-identified person. Not only does this person have to be queer-identified, it’s also more acceptable that this person is outwardly (read: stereotypically) queer. What does that mean? It means that when other people look at this person, they have to be able to guess correctly on more than a 50% probability that this person must be queer in one form or another–effeminate gay, butch lesbian, or genderqueer. Why is that? It’s hypocritical for people in our community to be so judgmental about who we date, especially if it’s a seemingly heterosexual relationship, when we’ve long been ostracized for dating who we want to date, for having relations with who we want to have relations with, for being in love with who we love. I had the least amount of conflict within the queer community when I dated the cisgender woman. I had minor issues when I dated the male-identified biological woman (she does not identify as transgender). Now, I feel as though I’m anticipating backlash from my own community for dating a straight guy. Will he feel accepted? Or, will he feel rejected and excluded from conversations? Will people acknowledge my new relationship, or will they constantly try to set me up with another woman in the city (as they did when I was in a long-distance relationship)? Finally, will I be excluded from my own community because I’ll be all of a sudden seen as more privileged and “not queer enough?” It’s hard enough to walk down the streets and have people make assumptions that I’m a straight woman. I’m often told that I don’t “look gay/lesbian/queer enough” or that I “look too straight.” It’s ridiculous that I now own more Pride shirts out of a desire to assert my queer identity.
This Sunday, I will be walking with The L Stop in the Chicago 2012 Pride Parade with the new guy in my life. I’m hoping that I will have support from our readers and from the larger Chicago queer and heterosexual communities. I’m also contemplating holding up a sign that says something along the lines of, “She’s a queer writer for The L Stop. He’s a straight guy. They’re dating.” I’m proud to be a queer woman, and I’m happy in my new relationship, so please be supportive. I want to help build and fight for the queer community to continually progress towards an all-inclusive, accepting community.
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JT is originally from San Francisco, CA. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in psychology, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality research. Seeking a change in 2008, she moved to Chicago, and what a change it has been! Currently, she works for a nationally renowned magazine publishing company. During her off hours, she can been seen walking and yelping about various Chicago neighborhoods. JT identifies as queer and bisexual, and she is currently dating a straight man. She has an unapologetic love for civil rights, whether it’d be for racial, gender, sexual, or political socioeconomic equality. On weekends, she volunteers with Howard Brown Health Center to promote safe sex in Boystown.