Deviant, perverted, alternative, or, most recently, “odd.” These are all words that have been used to refer to my gayness at one point or another.
I’m not alone. I’ve heard from a lot of people in the LGBTQ community that they, too, face inappropriate and unwarranted questions from people who equate queer identities simply with how an individual engages in sex. They seem to think that by being openly queer, they automatically know about your personal sex life.
Although I am very fortunate to attend a liberal arts college in New Hampshire that is overall incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community, have a very supportive family, and an incredible network of friends within and outside of the LGBTQ community, I still feel victimized by this attitude.
When I reveal to someone new that I’m gay either directly or by mentioning my girlfriend, I am by no means inviting them to ask or even think about my sex life and the idea that there are people who think that being queer is nothing more than sex makes me deeply uncomfortable.
I guess some people still view being queer as synonymous with sexual deviance, which has historically been used to paint people who are LGBTQ as somehow predatory and perverted. Thus, they must protect children from us. Or say things like, “I don’t care what you do, but I don’t want to know about it,” shifting the conversation to sex in an inappropriate way.
I support talking about sex in the appropriate contexts, including consensual conversations between partners or friends and situations involving sexual and reproductive health, but not when people see us only in light of our sex lives. It’s upsetting and dehumanizing.
I’ve found myself reduced to tears many times when faced with people who want to make sure I know that they disapprove of my “alternative lifestyle.” I’ve come to hate the term as a result, especially when used to imply that there is something sick or unwholesome about people who are LGBTQ, which is just plain silly.
People tend to think of queer people as an entirely different category in regards to sex. I remember last summer, when a new season of the popular Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” had just come out (and so had I, ha ha), my mom suggested we watch it together, then stopped for a moment, and said, “Wait. There’s too much gay sex in that. It’d be weird now.”
Despite my obvious lack of desire to watch any type of sex scene with my mother, I thought it was kind of funny that she only thought it would be weird now, since I had recently come out and started dating my girlfriend. We laugh about it now, but in the moment it was kind of weird that my mom was placing me in a category that felt totally separate because of my identity and who I was dating.
I find it deplorable that someone might see my girlfriend and I, two women who are so in love, as disgusting sexual deviants. We have endured those comments, I can tell you, from acquaintances and strangers alike, even people who don’t see themselves as homophobic.
When I think of a healthy and happy relationship, I think of trust, support, equality, and love. Sex can be a wonderful part of a relationship as well, but it is by no means the be-all, end-all, at least for me. I absolutely reject the idea that queer identities, or more specifically MY queer identity, can all be boiled down to sex.
The truth is that we’re just trying to live our best lives. Someone’s sex life and who they choose to share it with are no one else’s business. Being LGBTQ encompasses much more than sex. Queer people should be able to live, have sex, and yes, fall in love.
Tori Tucker and Emma Simpson are Keene State College students who co-write and contribute The Gay Agenda, co-published by InDepthNH.org and ManchesterInkLink.com.
Emma Simpson is a Women’s and Gender Studies major currently in her junior year at Keene State College. She is the vice president of her campus a cappella group and involved with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer.