Out of the closet: personal vs. private identities

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When we go shopping, we usually are attracted to things that we feel will look good on us and we things we like.

Now, imagine every time you went shopping, you were assigned a random stranger. You don’t know this stranger, you don’t wish to know this stranger, but they are more than willing to “help” you every time you select an item. Because you know this stranger has little to no knowledge about you besides the persona they assigned to you in their head, you would think their opinion wouldn’t matter. That is how it is for many queer persons when they go out, except the one person is turned into everyone.

Misconceptions about a person come from a limited understanding. We make up for this by associating it with things we do know. Nobody wants to look foolish, stupid or ignorant because it’s a negative in society and a blow to our self-esteem.

Queer-identifying people have this with questions such as, “Who is the guy in the relationship?” when involving two lesbians, the assumption that a more feminine man who is sexually attracted to men will engage in anal sex from the receiving end. These come from media’s structure in representation. Media favors the more outrageous, the more shocking, the other; so gay men are structured to be seen as the white girl’s best friend, to be seen as flamboyant and an accessory or extension of the popular female.

This idea emphasizes the sarcastic and quick-wit of the homosexual male, giving them more value by society’s standards but limiting their dimensions.

This identity is limited to white males of the queer spectrum. Race can also influence how an identity is given, as black men are portrayed to be an amped version of their white counter parts with added traits of the urban essence.

This breaks down the homosexual male to be promiscuous, fashion minded, clever and slightly obnoxious. People are not simply these four traits, but these are the first things that come to mind giving homosexual males their identity.

Women are not given the best start at life since birth, but adding another stigma against them yields a more difficult lifestyle. Lesbian and bisexual women, despite popular belief, are not more accepted than males in the queer community.

Lesbian and bisexual women are more sexualized than men. In the media and in life, there will be talk of a man being harmed due to his sexual identity but not of women receiving harm for discovering themselves and publicly displaying it.

Women are not safer by any means but they don’t receive more questions about their sexuality and don’t hear “you’re going through a phase” or “you haven’t found the right guy yet.”

Women who do experience their bisexuality are not going through a phase but may surpass themselves in order to increase their societal standing and decrease the amount of interviews they get from bystanders about their sexuality.

Remember the story about the “helper” inserting their opinion although they should have better things to do, now imagine them dressing you. While many struggle to find a sense of self, others struggle to maintain it.

When a woman dates a masculine woman, it does not mean she is less of a lesbian, it means she is attracted to masculine women. When a man dates a feminine male, it does not mean he attracted to females, it means he is attracted to feminine men. A common misconception lost in translation is feminine is assigned to female and masculine assigned to male, which is false.

To think of this from a different perspective, imagine your ideal partner, boyfriend or girlfriend. Now flip the sex of the person to the opposite one – are you still attracted to him or her? A straight man usually cannot find himself attracted to a feminine male but can find himself attracted to a feminine female. So, why are queer people expected to find both sexes equally attractive, if that’s not the case with heterosexuals?

Sometimes perspective is the most important thing to acknowledge. Your truth may be somebody’s lie. Those of sexual minorities cannot control their desires any more than a person can choose what color their skin will be. It can only be altered by dangerous methods that may do more harm before good.

When we try to find ourselves we often come up to two different types of obstacles: Me vs. Me or Me vs. Them. The issue that can be stopped is Me vs. Them because it is dependent on the people in society.

Before inserting an opinion, ask if what you are about to say is based on what’s good for the person or what’s good for you. Will that sentence actually help them in life? Or will it help the idea you have of them?

Despite popular belief, you are not the center of the universe.

Paris Canty is the president of LGBTA and a senior psychology major.

email: pariscan@buffalo.edu