As a queer woman, I definitely experience my own set of unique challenges. On dating profiles, when I list myself as being queer, and then get matched up with guys, they usually have questions and accusations about being queer. Some are even astonished that a queer woman would want to date a man.
Men have a tendency to incorrectly assume what it means to be queer and they usually need a better explanation which I’ll gladly give them. On the other hand, some men have a tendency to misidentify me altogether. On dating websites, this ritual can get old and very frustrating really quickly. A woman who self identifies as queer and also has a queer in gender studies degree shouldn’t have to constantly educate the dating public.
Not that long ago in 2019, I decided to question my peers and friend groups to see if they really understood what it meant to be queer. The term is widely accepted right now, but I found out that most people still do not understand what it means to be queer and they get very uncomfortable with the topic.
This is important because 55% of the people who identify as queer tend to use dating apps. For heterosexuals, only 28% claim to use the same apps. But you have to become educated and take steps to learn the various terms and what it means to be queer. You need to learn how people identify because this information is critical when you are in the process of dating.
The Real Meaning of the Word Queer
Just like it’s no one’s choice whether they are straight or gay, you really don’t have a choice if you are queer either. It’s just a way to identify yourself by gender and sexually, and for certain people the word queer has a much greater political and social meaning. Even though the term queer is represented in LGBTQ, these communities even have a tendency to misunderstand its meaning.
In the beginning of the 19th century, the term queer was defined as something odd. Also, the term was used to describe same-sex relationships in a negative way. From the 1920s to the 1960s, the word was surrounded by negative stereotypes regarding same-sex relationships. Society and culture looked down upon queers during this time.
Things began to change during the late 60s and 1970s with the women’s right and civil rights movements. Many LGBTQ folks were an integral part of these movements and the world began rallying around them a little more.
The 1980s were even more powerful for LGBTQ people because they began reclaiming the word queer, straightening out the misconceptions behind it, while facing the AIDS crisis head-on. The 1990s saw queerness begin to experience notoriety from an academic standpoint through Eve Sedgwick’s queer studies work. Her and other scholars asked people to start thinking about the spectrum of sexuality and disregard gender identities as simply binary, meaning there are only females and males. They said gender is more about fluidity and there’s greater nuance with how individuals can express themselves and their identities.
During the early 2000s, identity politics and nonnormative sexuality began taking shape in a way that is much more inclusive. Even today, people look at the word queer as a significant way to let potential partners know how they identify through their particular point of view.
A good definition of queer is all of the people that don’t fit within the orientations and gender norms in America. Queerness encompasses solidarity and community.
The Spectrum of Sexuality
You may not realize it, but gender identity and sexuality actually exist on a spectrum. The binary concept is an incomplete way to gain a better understanding of the function and operation of these things. And let’s not forget to mention that it’s a simple way to look at human sexuality.
Sexuality, gender, and sex aren’t indistinguishable. You need to remain open toward a person’s choice on how they identify themselves, and also remain respectful of the terms and labels used by people. Do not discount this whatsoever because it really is a big deal.
The most common ways people identify their gender include:
- Gender queer– this type of identity doesn’t fit within the traditional binaries of male or female.
- Cisgender – when a person identifies as their birth gender of either male or female.
- Gender fluid – identifying with multiple genders while displaying traits that are gender nonconforming.
- Transgender – identifying as a gender that doesn’t correspond with your sex at birth.
The most common categories of sexual identification include:
- Asexual – an asexual person has very little sexual attraction and typically doesn’t engage in activities of a sexual nature.
- Bisexual – a bisexual person is attracted to people that identify as both male and female.
- Demisexual – a demisexual person must have strong emotional feelings about an individual before becoming sexually attracted to them.
- Gay – a gay person feels romantically and sexually attracted to individuals that share the same gender identity as them.
- Pansexual – a pansexual person experiences an emotional attraction to members of more than one gender.
- Queer – a broad term used to encompass sexual and gender identity.
Preparing to Talk about Identity Politics
What is identity politics? In a nutshell, the LGBTQ community and the queer experience encompass interests and certain ideas about certain groups within the group. This could include the politics that people share and are shaped by their identity and the communities that they’ve joined. Queer women particularly should feel comfortable discussing identity politics with love interests and partners that are straight and male.
According to one woman, being queer is a huge part of her life whether she is in a relationship with a man or person of another gender identity. No matter what, she would still attend events for queers, watch lots of queer media, and have plenty of friends that are also queer. She is concerned that the men she dates will feel weird about her gender identity.
Pretending that her queer identity doesn’t exist is definitely one way to treat this situation weirdly. By ignoring someone’s identity and not identifying it, they will feel like they do not matter. It will make them feel invisible. Instead, get to know a person and understand their perspective, where they’re coming from, and recognize and accept their politics no matter what.
Maintain Clear and Flexible Expectations
Anyone new to dating a woman who identifies as queer should let her know how you feel and ask plenty of questions. Members of the queer community work hard to be open and honest about their sexual orientation. But the dialogue needs to work both ways if the relationship is going to succeed.
One queer woman says that when she meets a new person she finds interesting in a loving or sexual way, she lets them know about identifying as queer, her love for queer communities, and what she’s looking for from potential partners in regards to sexual identification.
No matter how you identify, you should never feel like you must compromise your expectations within a relationship. It’s best to get to know and learn about your partner and eventually you’ll feel a lot more comfortable with them. But you should also let them know about your wants and needs upfront. Tell them who you are and be open about everything. Let them ask questions along the way and provide honest answers. Work together to mutually understand each other’s wants and needs.
Queerness Shouldn’t Be Fetishized
Make no mistake about it because many men are quite supportive of the entire queer community. But some people also like to misidentify, assume things about someone, and even slut shame them. But worst of all, some people seem to enjoy fetishizing queer women.
A queer woman once said that for the most part, when she receives interest from heterosexual guys, it’s typically because they are fetishizing her. She’s received requests to have uninhabited sexual exchanges with random strangers or people ask her to become a unicorn – which means she’s a bisexual woman who dates or sleeps with couples. Or she wonders why hetero guys hit her up even though they have hardly anything in common with her.
Women in the queer community typically feel like they are fetishized because of whom they are and the people that they choose to date. This can be really frustrating because they actually would love to be approached in the opposite way.
Sexual or physical attraction is very important to people like it is for anyone else, no matter their identity or orientation, and fetishizing someone into a stereotype or a sexual act based on your thoughts can be quite harmful to this person.
Remain open-minded and remember that even though someone doesn’t maintain a straight identity, they might not have the same sexual desires and urges to experiment like you. You may be at a much higher or different level. And always maintain respect, communication, and meet queer people exactly where they are.
Be a Great Listener, an Ally, and an Awesome Communicator
Listening to your partner is wonderful whether your relationship is just beginning or you’ve been together for a while. When a new relationship just starts, listening is of critical importance no matter who you happen to date.
Take time to get to know your partner and learn about who they are. This will make it easier to handle specific issues and situations that might come up when dating a queer woman.
So when you first begin to learn how to handle the queerness of your partner in a relationship, be cognizant of them and make a real effort to keep the lines of communication opened at all times.
Being an ally is also critical for members of the LGBTQ community. It’s important that we have people learning about us and getting closer to us. If a queer person invites you into their world to get to know them better, make the effort, be present, and learn about them before casting judgment about whether or not they’re a good fit for you.