Today I am so excited to welcome an Anonymous writer who will be discussing ‘The Gay Umbrella Effect Ft. Coexistence and Past Trauma’
Anonymous Discusses ‘The Gay Umbrella Effect’
It’s June! It’s the month where you need to break out all the flags, embrace the rainbow and face company ads with practiced and precise eye rolls. It’s the month of celebrating just how queer you are, and of appreciating the way you exist. It’s a month to remind you of so much, but especially to remind you of how you are a very valid and a very real human, and one who’s needs are as equally needed to be fulfilled as others needs are, and a time to celebrate your queerness, and to break out of cishet enforced norms and painting the world in tints of happiness, tints of your happiness.
While pride continues and while out people continue to be doing many of the above things, June can be a very stressful month to closeted and partially closeted people alike, a month where we really want to participate but when it remains difficult. Especially for people who like me where our families are, to say it quite plainly, not supportive or homophobic. Not delving into the details, but this lack of being as open about this, and especially in June (though this continues throughout the year) makes many of us go through a hard time. Seriously though, in a world where you’re surrounded by a lot of people who do not know about or understand your queerness, life can seem seriously bleak. And what else is a better solace, a better place to resort to at this time than social media. Or more specifically, the queer side of social media. Online spaces in general tend to be places where many queer people take shelter and find communities and people, people who earnestly relate to them and people who make them feel less alone. Feeling accepted and valid is very important and I say this home from school, where I’m assumed to be a cis person by a lot of people, and the urge to correct them is always strong. I’m out to some supportive people, and out as bi to the entire class generally, and my pronouns and vents about dysphoria should have made them understand that I’m not cis, but of course, I’m still called a girl. I do not really blame them for this, entirely, but it does serve as an example of how closeted people tend to feel as if they lack care and love and acceptance in many spheres.
So when people find solace in each other due to shared experiences with no borders, and with people who are similar to them, queer people feel at home. they do not feel as attacked on the internet, even through and through transphobes and terfs and all sorts of bigots, and they find what’s essentially a substitute for home. One which feels like one in all aspects but physical, and is a caring environment.
Honestly, if you’ve ever wandered onto the gay side of tiktok or any app for that instance, you’ve probably witnessed what I define as the gay umbrella effect. You’ve just not understood, perhaps, why it is actively harmful to the lives of people, and perhaps not understood what I mean by it. That’s what I’m going to be doing today, so luckily, all of those questions will not escape unanswered.
Firstly, I’d like to make some basic things clear so as not to muddle it up during the discussion.
1. This ‘effect’ does lead to harm in people’s everyday lives, and not only to individuals but also to communities as a whole and can be very damaging indeed.
2. it doesn’t only occur to closeted people and affects nearly every other queer person, and is quite widespread
3. Following the above point, it also doesn’t fall prey to being insulated of an issue, one that is only about certain internet communities. It is very much something which causes ripples in real life, which affects real people, and therefore it is something to be paid attention to. The example I took was the prototype of one sort of person that Is usually a consumer of queer media, but they are not the only sort of consumer of queer media.
4. Also, pertaining to the above point, it is not my intention to say that an issue that only is about closeted and online people is not valid, I mean to clarify that the issue is more widespread and universal almost. Media in general affects people in various ways and disregarding that is in essence being blind.
5. Last, and probably the most important, I absolutely do not mean to say that a gay person’s thoughts about gay people cannot be expressed with the word gay. That is completely fine and I support the use of it as a non-umbrella term.
Done with the clarifications, I’ll move onto the main meat of this, by which I mean I will be talking about what this looks like and analyzing upon it with a certain trend.
It looks like twitter posts calling out ‘straight’ people, almost as if there are no straight people in the queer community, jokes where the focus of it is how bi women resist the ‘straight part’ of their identity, essentially something that, while does have good intentions, or at the very least intentions to irritate and annoy or argue back at non-queer straight people for how they have wronged queer people, this often times slides into queer people’s hands and they may, if they are not gay, be affected by it, not necessarily and not always in a good way.
The thing is, I understand that nuanced and more niche queer media delves into the intricacies of things. But more ‘mainstream’ or accessible queer media needs to follow this example and quite well at that. It simply isn’t enough in the status quo.
And ah yes, the famous trend, the ‘what I think I would look like If I was straight’ trend. When I first, as a curious questioning person came across this I looked into it and realized that the trend was essentially tiktoks where assumably non-het people would first present themselves in quite bright, bold, aesthetic inspired or generally just unique clothing and then the music would scratch off in the background as we got to see their straight personas, fully fitted out with basic clothing, and utmost plain clothing, very mainstreams and they would appear greatly saddened by this.
There’s many conclusions to be taken from this trend alone, and those generally do reflect this mainstream queer media.
One could be the obvious one, about straight clothing being more plain and ‘gay’ clothing being a varied and tasteful group. I understand how clothing can be an expressive medium, but it is not good at all for the binary straight trans people to force them into this particular box. A lot of them have really good clothing choices from what I’ve witnessed.
Again, again, I am not being homophobic, all I’m saying here is that gay Is not equivalent to queer. Gay Is not the definition of queer and straight is not the definition of non-queer. So why do we convolute and twist terms? how about we simplify this up, and don’t harm anyone while doing it, and just resort to queer. yes, it’s nice on the tongue and is not a term that will ever exclude anyone! similarly, how about we start using non-queer instead of straight so as not to exclude queer and het people. and ever at that?
Truly great isn’t it?
Now I understand concerns around new (or newer) terminology, and I understand discomfort. If gay works, why replace it? of course all I talked about was one trend.
But the thing Is, it’s not one trend or one joke or one little thing. it’s something which can be very uncomfortable as I’ll now elaborate.
I do not attack the term gay as a straight person, and this must be noted as I go into the trauma part of this discussion. I am bisexual and genderfluid. I have faced queerphobia and I’m never going to attempt to convince you that you unnecessarily need different terms. What I’m here to tell you is going to start with the trauma, as many queer stories do. I’m sure some of you are acquainted with that, and I do sympathise with all of you.
I’m younger, and I’m a very very good ally™. I’m one who is definitely not actively questioning their sexuality and not one who has repressed their dysphoria under layers of fear. I’m a walking queer realizations bomb, I’m going to realize it any second now. But I’m on gay tiktok compilations of youtube because I’m a strict parent’s kid, it’s on incognito mode and I’m a good kid. A good kid who dreams of being gay.
Yes, dreams of it. Isn’t gay, but dreams of it. Why is it that I, as a questioning kid did this? Why in all worlds would I wish to be gay? Is it a mixture of desperately wanting to be a part of the queer community, mostly because all the people here are great, but also because I feel a sense of belonging?
Perhaps. And that’s why little egg me thinks about their friends, all of the ones with the same AGAB as them. It’s weird like that, questioning.
I’m questioning if I’m into girls, all that sort of stuff and it triggers me. It’s not that I’m not attracted to it, it just genuinely triggers me, oddly. Does that mean I’m straight? str@ight? No no come on I’m not. Of course.
It’d be a lie if I were to tell you I never tried to convince myself that I was only into girls, that I was a lesbian. I tried my best to ignore the fact that I was very attracted to guys and this is a result of many things which are caused by the stated phenomenon.
What with the trend of people calling bi people half-straight. This too, is what is a constituent of this, of calling bi and mspec people in general being called half or somewhat straight which is a result of the belief that sexuality is made up of how gay you are and how straight you are. But it’s intricate, and nobody really experiences it in the same way as anyone else. I’m not 50% straight and 50% gay because I’m not half and half milk. I’m a hundred percent bisexual. It also leads, though indirectly, to consider being lesbian/gay and call themselves that, which actually just harms gay and lesbian people in the end. Of course this is not the only reason for this, and there are other reasons too, but this is a reason that exists.
It also enforces the belief that being bi is innately not queer enough, when it is just as valid and just as queer as other identities. It carries a hint of the looked down upon straightness, due to the above stated reasons.
Now, I’m also trans, and I also stated that it’s triggering for me when I thought (and sometimes still, when I think) about girls. It was because I felt dysphoria when thinking about more so of the physical components of girls. severe chest dysphoria will give you that. Somewhere deep, I knew that I was into girls, and maybe the fact that I had wanted to marry one in kindergarten was vital to that. But in that confused state of hearing people constantly criticize the straights and not getting enough trans exposure, I was only attracted to men for a bit.
My dysphoria does still, in a way, clog how I feel attraction to women, it still makes me feel suffocating at points, mostly because girls tend to talk to me assuming I’m a girl most of the time. Because all my friends (inclusive of crushes) will include me in girly talks and leave me feeling like a piece of shit for not actually ever feeling girly. Because I’ll not be able to share as many similarities with my girl crushes as I do with my guy crushes. Because guys feel nice about their flat chests, and I wish I could, because guys can be guys and I can’t.
Now I wasn’t straight and trans (far from it) but do we want to push these people back into the closet so that they find themselves fitting into the picture as gay and not straight? Because those are the vibes I get from this effect.
Those people do not have to be gay to be queer. YOU do not have to be gay to be queer. Being queer is different from being gay and the two should stay separate. Gay is not an umbrella term but queer is, and it’s better. Please use it. Let there always exist the possibility of other ways of being queer. Saying that all ‘straights’ are weird would only more so not only harm someone with experiences similar to mine, but also, other types of people.
The title features coexistence, and that is what I’d like to end with. The coexistence of thoughts and of ideas. For one, I’m not insisting that heterophobia really exists or anything, but I’m also not going to say that all straight people are privileged. I do want to include straight people in our definition of queer, and yes it exists, but maybe embrace them more so, and really include them more so.
Also, though I do say it is a universal issue, some queer people might not have experienced it. That does not, however, invalidate this experience. Some people not feeling or experiencing it does not invalidate its existence.
It alienates many people. If you’re someone who has only been to mainstream queer media, this will irk you, and unless you find niche labels (believe me, queer is still a niche label in the community) you might not even find a way to explain this community in words that are not gay. It’s important that we as creators of content (if you’re one) and as humans contribute to normalizing the usage of queer and other lesser used but helpful terms.
That’s about it, I think. I know this was long and I know it took turns, but in the end I want pride to be truly for all of us and this is my little contribution to it. I may not be able to wave a flag, but I can write something that you go through and read bits of (or maybe more than bits of?). This is my way of wishing you a happy and queer June, and seriously hope to see more of you embracing the term queer with the help it comes along with. I hope in pride you have fun, you express your queerness, and if you’re like me, I hope to catch you on those youtube compilations, running the same videos again and again and feeling that sense of love and care and belonging, of true home. Of the home that is queer and where we can be with other queer people as a happy little queer family.
Can you tell I’m trying to repeat queer as much as possible?
Because I absolutely can, and it’s on purpose.
Anon – he/they/she
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Thank you so much Anonymous for visiting us!! 💗 HAPPY PRIDE 🏳️🌈