by Johan Clarke
I have been a member of the queer community for most of my life and have been a vocal member now for some time. Though I may not participate that often by doing things like going to the LGBTQ resource center or volunteering at the HRC, I identify as a member of the queer community. I feel as if I have interacted with enough of my own community to point out some things that I have noticed.
The queer community is pretty great. It allows a voice for those who have been voiceless for generations. It provides a safe space for those who are otherwise ostracized, psychologically tormented, or physically abused. It allows people to interact with others who share their identifiers in a world filled with oppression.
However, the queer community is not perfect. Despite being a place that tends to question and blur gender, there are many aspects of the queer community that enforce gender very heavily. For example, I have heard in safe spaces like queer clubs, “I’m gay, boobs are gross, so why are those girls wearing clothes that show them off?”
Unless these girls are completely oblivious and did not notice the drag show that was occuring, I’m pretty sure they were fully aware of the clientele of the establishment. And because they are aware of the clientele, they are aware that you are not interested in them sexually. I know it’s difficult to understand, and it has been stated by many feminists many times, but there is a possibility that the women dressed that way for themselves and not for male attention. If they were going to a queer club, they in fact probably want no male attention. In fact, they may have dressed that way to get female attention. Just because you are male and they are female does not mean that they dressed themselves sexually for you.
I understand that straight people in your safe space are annoying. People don’t go to a place heavily populated by queer people to meet straight people. Fetishization of a community should not be tolerated.At the same time, you cannot disregard allies. Allies are still members of the queer community and if an ally is not helping but wants to, then tell them how to help. Pushing ignorant people out of your life will not end ignorance.
Another thing I have heard from several men in the queer community is that they don’t care about feminism because they are not women and it does not affect them. But feminism isn’t a “woman issue,” it’s a gender issue. Self-identifying men, I know it’s crazy, but you are a member of society, so therefore you have a gender. What’s ridiculous is that I have heard these same people use the argument: “Don’t ask me who the woman is in this relationship because we’re both men.” Is that argument not about gender? Does this argument not identify the problems with traditional gender roles in society? There is no woman in this relationship because it is not a heteronormative relationship. If you use that argument then you are a feminist because you are concerned with the destruction of the patriarchy.
Gay men, just because you are attracted to men does not mean that women are inferior. Just because you are not interested in women sexually does not mean that you should disregard them or their struggles. Just because you do not want to have sex with women does not mean you are allowed to touch a woman without her consent. Based on your sexual orientation, you defy your gender role. If you want equality in the world, you need to help feminists in dismantling the patriarchy. It is the patriarchy, not allies, that are oppressing you.