I’m a lot of colorful things. But, because we live in a world so fixated on everyone’s sexuality – I am a heterosexual woman.
Yes! I love men, I am attracted to men and to some extent, I love gender roles in a man/woman relationship. I love the traditional aspect of it, and I also love it when gender roles shift in a relationship. I love sex with men, and I would love to marry a man one day. I don’t know if I will always feel this way, but I have never sexually or otherwise, desired a woman.
When I moved to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth, I was so shocked by what seemed to be a ‘gay capital’ to me. Funny enough, it was normal for me to see gay men because I always had male friends who were gay. But, women! Wow. I was stunned. How do they please each other? What are the families saying? What’s the roles in the affair? As horrible as that sounds, I asked myself those questions because I came from a small city where you only knew one or two gay people at school.
It really seemed like every second woman I met (especially in the art world) was gay. So, inevitably – if I had twenty girlfriends in Cape Town, fifteen of them were lesbians and three of them were homosexual or bisexual or [insert another term her].
Although I identified as a feminist back then, I never caught feelings about the fact that sometimes, gay women seemed like the ‘only’ custodians of feminism – and they don’t have to agree with me on this. That was, often, my experience. The ‘how could you love men if you really are a feminist?’ was undeniable. Not only that, there was also always a ‘you should try women’ vibe going on – as if it was fashion to do so, and if you didn’t, you weren’t really certified as an ‘exploring’ person. This always made me uncomfortable, and in hindsight, left me feeling like appropriating queerness was also encouraged by homosexual women.
There was also the rise of the LGBTQI movement, and it was amazing to see my friends who had been marginalized having a voice, as a collective. Contrary to most, I never felt like the seclusion of this group was problematic, because they had been secluded by society all along anyway. Now, there was this boiling pot of hashtags surrounding all of this, and straight people rode the wave as well, attended Pride events and made themselves part of the narrative. I think it was amazing for us to support our queer pals in what was going on, stand with and by them publicly against the violence they were subjected to. But, I don’t think it is okay for us to go as far as hijacking their lived experience.
Look, I get it – our marriage to the LGBTQI movement was also partly because violence is violence, you know? We didn’t want to separate this plague, which affected all women. But, even so, things like being straight and identifying as gay, or saying you are attracted to women, but you’d never take it that far with them, so that makes you part of the party are a little problematic for me. What fuckery is ‘I am #queer on the inside’?
Yes, sexuality is more complex for some than it is for others, but I feel like the physical experience of it is valid here, because we are talking corrective rapes, murders, weird stares and so on, and those are things you get when you are walking down the street holding hands with the woman you love, maybe displaying some affection towards each other. No one subjects you to sexuality bias if you are ‘gay on the inside.’
My girlfriend who are in relationships with women don’t go to certain places as couples, because they know that men will challenge their union. That’s not something you get if you just internally identify as gay, or if you dabble with women behind closed doors, but really are straight. Of course – injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, but let’s face it, as heterosexuals, we aren’t actually living the experience of constantly watching our backs because there are men looking to punish us on the basis of who we love. While we can be empathetic and supportive in every possible way, we don’t have the right to appropriate being queer.
Think about it, some white people have 95% black friends, only date black people and may be empathetic of the injustices we face, but they are not black, and thus, don’t have any black experience because when they walk down the street, they look white, regardless if they say ‘I am black on the inside.’ That’s unacceptable appropriation of blackness, because for us, blackness is something which we can never escape at any given time. We are always black even when we don’t want to be; even when it kills us. It’s the same for queers.
In conclusion, spending time with my gay girlfriends gave me a lot of insight into how violent society is towards same-sex couples. As a heterosexual couple, there are little things you don’t experience, mainly because patriarchal men sometimes respect other men – so having a man by your side can often ease the disrespect. But, two women who are in love in a pub are constantly challenged, and some men will even have the audacity to go up to the couple and hit on them both or suggest that D*&k might be able to turn them straight. It’s a nightmare; I won’t lie – when I hear my friend’s stories of constantly fighting men out there, I am kind of glad I am heterosexual yo! Being #Queer is fashionable and cool until your life gets threatened and you cannot love freely.
While we love our friends and empathize with them, this is their experience. Let’s support the telling of their story and help where we can, but, let’s not hijack it.