Dear Queer: Asking Questions

Illustration by Laura Estrada.

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

By Mollie Whuppie /// Staff Writer

What are some questions that straight people shouldn’t ask queer people? I feel like I am always offending someone, and sometimes I am just trying to understand. —Straight Privilege

Dear Straight Privilege,

Wow… so many things are popping up in my head—where to begin?  One thing that should be made clear off the bat is that, on some level, you are never going to understand offensive questions unless you experience them. You may be oppressed in other aspects of your identity (e.g., gender, race, ability), but you are still never going to be asked the questions below. I have been asked before and know how it feels.

Just to get you thinking: a good measure of appropriateness is to hypothetically see if you would ask the question of straight people; if you would not, then you shouldn’t pose that question to queer people.

Questions such as:

When did you know that you were gay…? 

On some level I understand this question, because obviously we are all born into a heteronormative world, but that is why queers feel the need to come out in the first place and have this a-ha moment of “I am sexually attracted to someone of the same-sex,” because it is not yet socially acceptable.

However, people can realize their sexual orientation and gender identity at any point during their lives. Many simply grow up knowing, while some come to understand their place on the spectrum later in life. Some just choose to do what they want and fuck the labels.

It is important to note that nothing someone encounters in life can ‘make’ one queer. Similarly, a transgender person does not have to have lived as a gender to know that it is his/her correct gender. Although many people come to know what they like through experience, sexual experience is not necessary for anyone to understand their sexual orientation.

When did you know you were straight? You just know, right? Same thing with gay, lesbian, bi and queer people—we just know. Similarly, a transgender person does not have to have lived as a gender to know that it is his/her correct gender.

Who’s the more feminine or masculine one in the relationship? 

This is just rude, and part of the heteronormative mindset that there needs to be a man and a woman in any relationship. Why can’t both people be feminine women, and have the relationship work? Oh… that’s right, we have all these stereotypes about women and how emotional they are, so of course that relationship wouldn’t work unless one was more masculine. NO! Have you ever thought about how this can be detrimental to straight relationships? This idea that people have roles based on gender and not their actual strengths!

All relationships are quirky in unique ways, because all people are unique. Just because you live by what you’ve been told about genders and how they’re supposed to act, and allow that to translate into your relationships, doesn’t mean you should make anyone else do the same.

In fact, I believe same-sex couples have the advantage, because they don’t have to worry about gender roles as much and literally break up the work of relationship (paying bills, mowing the lawn, being the stay-at-home parent) based off of what works for them, not off of constructed gender roles.

(Out of nowhere): Would you be interested in a threesome? 

This question is more often asked of same-sex female couples, but regardless it is lame and is usually based on stereotypes about queer people. Just because you objectify me and my girlfriend for your pleasure does not mean that I want your dick in my space. Hop off!

As I’ve said before, people often like to talk about lesbian sex because it is socially advertised as “hot.” But that makes it seem like queer women are not sexual for their own benefit, but for the approval of straight men.Obviously, straight couples get this question too, but it doesn’t usually have the same implications behind it.

Can you tell me about how you have sex? 

I wrote a whole article about that in the Oct. 10 issue, so check that out, because it is a super common and not okay question to ask someone to whom you aren’t super close. If you aren’t close enough to a straight person to ask that question, you really shouldn’t ask a queer.

Keep asking questions, but check yourself first, and think about whether your questions say more about your own assumptions or about the person you are asking them of.

Your Queer,

Mollie Whuppie

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