Thursday, February 17, 2011

Queer Qualifiers

When I hung out with the Madison Socialists, a newbie at one of the group meetings asked what qualifies someone as queer. As the most visibly queer person in the group*, I answered that someone who doesn't get straight privilege would be considered queer. Then we all had a big discussion on how privilege doesn't actually benefit anyone.

I'm dating a straight bio-guy and a lot of people expect my identity to change, that I identify as bisexual rather than lesbian now. With people who are easily confused or won't invest much thought into gender/sexuality, I let them think what they will. My gender identity had started shifting years ago and, because of that, "woman-identified-woman" hasn't really applied to me for a while. Lesbian is too small a box for all my fabulous queerdom. And don't even get me started on the binary "bisexual" label. The genders of the people I date impact me so little that it surprised me when that was the first place people went upon this news.

Just look at me! I'm not gonna get straight privilege anytime soon. Heterosexism both disrespects gay relationships and elevates straight relationships for no reason; as a confusing genderqueer, the genders/sexes of the people I date are used as judgement. When I pass for a guy or an "it", it implies the guy I'm dating is gay; when I pass for a woman, it implies that I'm straight. Either he gets a taste of homophobia or my queer identity gets smothered by straight privilege. It's a lose-lose situation.

Last week, I went on a date with an androgynous, straight bio-guy and this table of jerky businessmen was leering and laughing at us. I don't know if they thought we were both lesbians or fags or if their behavior would've changed had they known our "opposite sexes" (so many things wrong with that system!). Aaaww my kitty just curled up in my lap! My point is that being gender-variant, especially with complete strangers who know only how you look, is more likely to stir up shit. And rather than trying to figure out who you are, they're more likely to fit you into the "gay", "straight" or MAYBE "bi" box. WHO CARES?!?

* by no means is this a value system or qualifier, it's just how it was. I was far more likely to get odd looks (at the least) in the street than everyone else in the group, who looked normal. Well...normal for Madison.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


My days off this week are yesterday and tomorrow, so thank goodness I didn't get caught at work. Around noon, I ran some errands and there had been no snow yet - just blustery winds off the lake. By 4, when I was heading home, the snow had started and the wind had increased. O'Hare closed at 4:30 but three of my coworkers, including my general manager, had to spend the night in a hotel which lost power and heat!! I got home just as the blizzard became unbearable. My apartment faces an airshaft, so the weather outside my window always looks like a milder version of how it really is; by 7, there was almost no visibility out my window. I believe that was when the Wrigley Field roof was torn off and my friend Liz's power went out. I fell asleep last night to the sounds of 70mph winds, my building didn't so much as flicker or quake.

When I woke up this morning, slightly less high winds were blowing around giant flakes and 5 inches of snow were built up on these top floor window sills. The cta is still technically running, but my manager told everyone to not even try to come out - especially since she and my two coworkers had yet to get home! It stopped snowing about an hour ago, so I walked the four blocks to my Jewel. At the flattest areas in the streets, the snow went up my knees - 18 inches. Due to the wind, there are more 5ft drifts than flat areas! I saw a couple abandoned cars and it looked like people had tried to shovel/blow some sidestreet intersections but then gave up. A fair number of people, mostly my age, are walking in the streets rather than braving the sidewalks. Nobody has even bothered digging out any parked cars. It's not that cold, maybe mid or upper 20's (how sad is it that I don't think of that as too cold anymore?) and the sun is fighting to get out.