Before I was trans, I was the epitome of a feminine boy.
I swore up and down that I would never be caught dead dating a feminine person and that I was only attracted to masculine men as if all the feminine men in the world were waiting on me. I was confident in this ideology until my gay uncle (cliché, I know) gently questioned me.
He simply asked me, “Why?”
The epiphany didn’t come until later, but in that moment I realized that I really couldn’t explain why. I said I wanted a “man who acted like a man.” He asked me, “Why?” I replied, “Because I’m feminine and I want someone masculine to balance out the relationship. I don’t want to date someone feminine.” He asked me, “Why?”
I felt like I was being set up. I felt defensive. But I continued. “Because it’d feel too similar. I don’t want to date myself,” I explained. He asked me, “Why?” And it was then that we reached a question that I couldn’t, or didn’t want to, answer.
Over the years I found that homonormativity had shaped me to not only lower others in my community but to lower myself as well. I attacked others as I subconsciously attacked myself. I was mean, exclusive, and nasty. ButI listened to my uncle. I thought about our conversation and I found the courage to admit that I was wrong and found the will to change. And other people can too.
2018 is just another year. But can’t we be a little optimistic and try to actually make this one different? We’re surrounded by homonormativity all the time because we accept it, because we demand that only the people it hurts the most be the ones to fight against it. This guide is necessary because times have to change. There are still 10 months left in this year for us to be better.
1. Stop pretending homonormativity doesn’t exist.
This is step one. Denying the problem only seeks to further disenfranchise the people who it hurts the most and to create an even bigger gap between those with privilege and those without. Contrary to popular belief, admitting bigotry exists, particularly in communities that you’re part of, does NOT mean you yourself are bigoted. You become a bigot when you deny the problem to protect your ego and the hierarchal standings of people who look, act, and live like you.
2. Challenge your preferences.
This one seems to be a particularly difficult one, mostly because people have this tendency to think that other people NEED them to be attracted to them. Challenging your preferences doesn’t mean going out and forcing yourself into relationships with people you aren’t attracted to. Rather, it means keeping yourself open and humble. Saying you’d never date and/or are not attracted to X kind of people is, by definition, prejudice. Unless you’ve met every person in X group all over the world and can safely say you didn’t like a single one of them.
3. Prioritize trans rights.
This means doing more than posting grieving statuses when we’re murdered. It’s a little too late by that point. Get involved. Support trans activists/content makers.
4. Please kill the “I’m not like other gays/lesbians/trans people” schtick.
We get it, you desperately want to fit in with straight people. We also get that you probably have some self-loathing issues going on. Plus, if you think queer people are the meanest and most dramatic people, please read a history book.
5. Take it down about five notches for RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Seriously. The amount of Internet nastiness and obsession with this show is out of control. I myself am a conscious fan meaning, I call it out for its indiscretions and problematic nature while still being able to enjoy it. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive.
6. Read people for their character, not their identities.
This one needs to be emphasized this year, particularly considering last year’s mess around the white trans lady who comes from a certain desperate, attention-seeking reality TV family. No matter how annoying she is, she is trans, and we can’t take her transness away.
7. But also, learn some restraint with reading. (caddy/petty culture)
The caddy/petty culture we live in today is too much. It’s great for a laugh, especially on social media. However, it’s a lot less cute when we’re so obsessed with reading and being witty that we’re unable to be vulnerable or to create safe spaces for people who may be less socially comfortable than others.
8. Understand that Black rights, Latinx rights, Asian rights, and more, ARE queer issues.
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. The queer community is more than sexuality. It’s about the many identities that surround sexuality as well. We can’t decide that issues related to race or class don’t matter to us, because those issues, first and foremost, directly affect people in our community. And secondly, we can’t ask allies to fight for us if we’re not willing to fight for anyone else.
9. Stop comparing diversity of ideas to diversity of identity.
These two things are not even close to the same but so many people liken them to one another, often when they see their own opinions being rejected. Your controversial and divisive opinions are not the same as someone’s marginalized identity because, most of the time, an identity can’t be hidden, while your opinions can.
10. Learn actual queer history and acknowledge the queer people of color and trans women of color who have gotten the queer community where it is today.
Take a class. Read an article. Find a book. Watch a documentary. Don’t watch that awful Stonewall movie. We’ve gotten this far as a community through the leadership and resistance of trans women of color and queer people of color. We ought to celebrate them in the same way that other communities celebrate their activist leaders.
11. Leave femmephobia in the past.
For gay men, specifically, femmephobia often takes the form of “no femmes” on dating sites. But masculine men should be grateful for fems. Without them, who would mascs compare themselves to to feel special?
12. Full stop on Islamophobia.
There are queer Muslims. They are part of our community. If you buy into violent stereotypes about them made by people who will NEVER acknowledge the violent history of Christianity and Catholicism you invite people to do the same to our community.
13. Support non-profits in the queer community.
Activism isn’t free. Resources for queer youth and low-income folks are not free. Court cases for our rights aren’t free. Skip that Starbucks coffee or skip one restaurant trip a month and give money to a non-profit who needs it.
14. Stop gagging over queer Republicans we KNOW they exist.
We know queer Republicans exist, no matter how many feature articles people publish that explore this as some sort of amazing phenomenon. Every community has its flaws.
15. No bottom shaming.
How about thisdon’t have sex if you can’t be sex positive. Simple.
16. No body shaming.
Not your body? Not your business. If you don’t have anything else to say besides an insult about someone’s body, you either a) have too much time on your hands or b) need better material and wit. Spoiler alert, there is no ideal body.
17. No misogyny masquerading as campiness.
Dear gay men: you don’t know how to be women better than women, you don’t have an inherent sense of style or an opinion that every woman wants to hear, and you do NOT have a sassy black woman inside of you. This applies doubly to drag queens.
18. Open your ears and your mind and close your mouth.
We talk a lot but do we actually listen a lot? You can’t learn anything about homonormativity or anything else, if you aren’t ready to listen or if you’re only listening to respond. Not all knowledge you obtain is going to feel good.