Help! I'm gay but I’m only attracted to straight acting men

In the deep recesses of my mind I’m still sat at home in 2005, sweatily pausing Brokeback Mountain and presuming that gay relationships should always be depicted by straight actors and obviously end in death

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The Independent Online

I’m a gender-queer drag queen and I’m only attracted to straight acting men, so obviously I’m long-term single. But you won’t see this preference displayed on my Grindr profile.

The idea that masculine people should be attracted to feminine people stems from heteronormative ideas about men and women – that masculine attracts feminine and vice versa. You would think these ideas might not influence queer relationships – but despite having our own subcultures we’re still very much influenced by the ideas about gender that we’ve been fed since birth.

It’s just that my subconscious hasn’t reached the enlightened state I would have liked it to. In the deep recesses of my mind I’m still sat at home in 2005, sweatily pausing Brokeback Mountain and presuming that gay relationships should always be depicted by straight actors and obviously end in death.

I’ve tried to educate my subconscious. I mean I’ve really tried. I’ve had long term relationships on an entirely conscious level, with lovely queer people, waiting every day for my unconscious prejudice to melt away. But no dice.

The idea of internalised gender normativity is less discussed than its sibling, internalised homophobia, but it’s certainly been highlighted in queer communities recently. The thing is, with all prejudices, we tend to talk more about the damage they do than about how to overcome them.

So what is the source of my gender normative romantic desire? Well something clicked recently when I was talking to a friend after his transition from female to male. He said that, for the first time, now that he was being perceived as a man and felt comfortable in his masculinity, he quite liked the idea of sleeping with men.

Once my friend had embraced his masculinity he no longer felt that sleeping with men could threaten it. When your gender-identity makes sense in your life you don’t need to try to express it in your relationships.

Gender identity is just like ambition or anxiety; another piece of baggage that can dominate your relationship if you repress it in your life. When someone has something to express – a gender for example – and when societal pressures silence that expression, it’s likely to come out in the safest, most intimate space they know, often their relationship. That’s not the worst thing in the world when you’ve got a loving, supportive relationship that facilitates your gender expression without being dominated by it, but (certainly if my love life is anything to go by) those situations are pretty rare.

So what to do if you’re a perpetually single gender queer drag queen looking for a straight-acting-man? Well obviously you won’t find him. And your problem, it appears, is that you’re limiting your gender identity in your everyday life, causing it to bubble up to the surface in your romantic life. All you have to do is live your truth and stop conforming to other people’s standards, and you’ll be able to fall for whoever it is you want to. I’m willing to give it a try. 

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