Last weekend, as I peddled dildos and vibrators here at Tulip to our fabulous customers, I was greeted by two men straight from Kansas City. With their cute southern drawls and pure interest, they reeled off a seemingly endless list of questions, often asking another before I had a chance to answer. It was not until I said the word “queer” that they stopped and shared a quizzical look.
“Queer, why’d you say that??.” they asked.I answered with a brief introduction into identity and its complex lexicon.“We don’t have that back in Kansas. There, you’re either gay or lesbian.” Now, before we all break out into a chorus of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, lets remember that Kansans are people too. And it got me thinking (something I often do here on particularly inspiring afternoons), isn’t identity just relative? Why do we, as a society, get so hung up on who is what and why and where and how?
Needless to say, I quickly moved on with my life, and began to ponder bigger and better things (such as whether or not that cute boy across the street was a top or a bottom), until, of course, I stumbled upon Dolores Haze’s most recent blog post (see below). Through her witty banter, I began to ponder my own identity. When people ask me how I swing, which they rarely do (since my wardrobe typically screams “RAGING HOMO” before I even have a chance to let a wrist fall limp), I typically say gay. “Gay” holds a lot of connotations, often seemingly at odds with queer radical theory. But that’s not to say that my politics are not progressive, or that you would ever find me fighting for that unequal institution we call “the sanctity of marriage”. Rather, I call myself gay because after having it slung at me as a degrading term for so many years, I am proud to say that I identify that way. Furthermore, I always call my romantic endeavor my boyfriend, not my partner, for I take such great pride in announcing to the world that they are in fact male, not some androgynous “partner”, which sounds so closeted. This is all important to me, for I see words as power.
But does this truly describe who I am? After all, I’m pretty queer in the end. And I may be a man, but I sure have a relatively androgynous sense of style. And my politics definitely would separate me out from an assimilationist gay and lesbian rights agenda. So where do I truly belong? As I ponder this question, my circular logic continually comes back to the same four words: DOES IT EVEN MATTER? Who cares who, what, where, when, or why I am? I have a firm grasp on what makes my identity, and at the end of the day, I don’t owe an explanation to anybody.
I had this exact conversation with a friend of mine a few days ago. She was concerned when I proclaimed my independence from such verbose bonds.“But how will people know if you’re, you know, eligible for them??” she asked, grave concern showing through a furrowed brow.“They’ll just have to flirt with me and see what happens,” I replied.
In the days after my decision to give up identifying myself, I’ve since recalibrated. Just as confused as I was in the beginning of this journey, I’m not sure whether or not I will choose to identify, and if I do, as what. I’m still homosexual (in the sense that my sexual attraction is towards other male-identified individuals), but I’m not sure how to define it. Queer? Gay? It’s all bullshit as far as I’m concerned, and is just a mere presentation to members of a dominant identity who are gravely concerned about such issues. I am who I am, and that’s what should matter.