Illustration by Laura Estrada.

Dear Queer: Stereotypes

An advice column about sexuality, gender, dating and overall queerness

By Mollie Whuppie /// Staff Writer

Illustration by Laura Estrada.
Illustration by Laura Estrada.

Welcome to Dear Queer. This column, similar to “Dear Abby,” is a space where people can ask questions relating to sexuality, gender, dating and overall queer advice. I hope that this column can be a resource and conversation starter for the Lewis & Clark community.

As this is the first week, I’ve decided to kick off with a conversation about lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer stereotypes.

While stereotypes can be helpful in simplifying how we see the world, many of our presumptions are downright wrong and hurtful. I’ve chosen this topic because, when talking about queerness, stereotypes are rampant. It’s important to be aware of prejudices in order to be open to learning.

To put us all on the same page, I want to start with a quick gender studies lesson: everyone, including those who consider themselves exclusively attracted to the opposite sex, falls along a sexuality spectrum. This spectrum is based on your sexual preferences and experiences, and over time, your “place” on the spectrum may change. So even if you’re a self-identified woman who has only had romantic or sexual experiences with other women, ten years down the road you could still fall in love with a self-identified man. In short: everyone has the right to choose his or her own labels and each individual’s story is for that individual to share.

The stereotypes:

He’s totally gay:

1) “The flaming queen:” characterized as super effeminate and flamboyant, has lots of sex with numerous partners.

2) “Bears:” similar, but generally large, hairy men that embrace their hyper masculine image.

  • Anything involving musical theater
  • Color coordinates his closet
  • Downloaded and memorized Katy Perry’s entire “Prism” album
  • High pitched voice and wants to be a hairdresser—gaydar alert!
  • Takes longer to get dressed than I do!
  • Tried on all his sister’s dresses as “dress up”
  • Also happens to look better in his sister’s jeans than she does
  • He’s super touchy and cries all the time, he’s gotta be gay
  • Friends with all straight girls, but has a better fashion sense than they do
  •  Acts super “feminine”

The Lesbian:

1) “Butch” lezzie: often characterized as dressing more masculine or imitating “archetypal” male behavior.

2) “Lipstick Lesbian:” the lezzies who tend to be the “hot ones” and dress/act “hyper-feminine.” Either her friends were totally shocked or it was the least surprising thing when she came out.

  • Woman driving a Subaru, Jeep or U-Haul… Lesbian!
  • Athlete… As I’ve heard it… basketball and softball breed lezzies
  • Lesbihonest… She wears flannel, Birkenstocks, cargo pants and has an undercut…
  • Short hair and no makeup—definitely questioning
  • Watches “The L Word” television series…enough said
  • And we all know lesbians really love pussy… cats
  • Hates men… has daddy issues… total lesbian red flag!
  • Acts super “masculine”

Whether you identify as LGBQ or not, I am guessing each of you just thought of or have said one of those things about someone before. Already we can see from this list that we are missing something. First of all, where are the bisexuals? Or the queers? Or the asexuals? Or the gays and lesbians who don’t do those things? Reducing someone to “the gay guy” or “the lesbian” not only associates them exclusively with a stereotype, but also silences other parts of his or her identity story. So I ask you not to judge too quickly. First of all, ask someone how he or she identifies if you aren’t sure. Second, find out more about a person and describe him or her beyond their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

A final message to everyone, from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

Don’t forget, I am now open to any questions you might have. Send them to piolog@gmail.com.

Your queer,

Mollie Whuppie

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