Straight Queer

What do you think of when you hear the word "Queer?" What comes to mind when a person identifies with the word, stating "I’m a queer"?

Well, when I was in High School, a Queer was someone who was Gay, no questions asked. There were no female "queers", only men whose sexual orientation was thrown into question. Even today the word "Queer" is heavily associated with homosexuality for a lot of people, but what all this sadly overlooks is the fact that, in truth, the word has its own history, and this history alludes to a definition that is so much wider and more inclusive than that of the vulgar slang it has been devolved to in the minds of many people today.

So what exactly is queer? Consider the older, more traditional definition of the word– "deviating from the expected or normal; strange" says the American Heritage Dictionary. If you were Scottish in 1508 when the word was first catalogued and defined, it was synonymous with "strange" and it wasn’t until the late 1930’s, over four centuries later, that the term became associated with homosexuality.

So what does it really mean to be "Queer?" It means you’re different. You’re not "normal" in regards to the mold society has cast for you, you don’t fit into the traditional carousing bread-winner beer-swilling football-obsessed male role as a man or the simpering make-up covered housewifey role as a woman. You’re that man who’s more skilled with children than with a hammer, or that woman who holds a full time job at a construction site and knocks down whiskey in the bar after work. Still sound too distant from who you are? Still can’t identify with the term "queer"? Well, maybe you are that perfect "Man’s man" or one of those docile doe-eyed women that would rather clean the house and cook dinner to make your hubby happy than go out and get an education, but I doubt it. Few people are nowadays, and more and more people (I’m thankful to announce) perfectly fit the definition of Queer. I know I do, and I have no interest in other men whatsoever!

So in order to provide an example of what a Queer is, it’s only fitting that I present myself and what makes me different. Take a moment to consider all the things that are "Manly" in mainstream society, what is considered to be a "masculine" trait, and then read on to see how I measure up.

Well, for one, I think education is the most important thing we as a nation and as a species should spend our money on. Not bombs, not tanks, not bullets or oil pipelines that destroy thousands of acres of virgin wilderness in the name of "human progress", but real, honest to goodness, proliferation of knowledge. What else could label me as queer? Well, how about the fact that I’m not afraid to hug complete strangers, even if they are men? Or the fact that I get all worked up about domestic abuse and think breast cancer awareness and rape crisis centers are causes everyone should get behind and donate to? How about the fact that I, as a man, get totally passionate about women’s rights and issues like abortion (I’m pro-choice, by the way) or the fact that, of all the Physical Ed classes I could have taken in college, I chose to take Modern Dance?

Unlike the budweiser-swilling cowboys of the mountain town I grew up in, I don’t drink at all, or hardly so, and on the rare occasion when I do, I like sweeter things like berry cordials or cosmopolitans, drinks traditionally associated with women. I can’t stand beer– I think it’s disgusting, and after a hard day at work, alcohol is always the furthest thing from my mind. I like it when women make the first move– there’s nothing quite so satisfying as a woman who actually chases back instead of always playing "catch me if you can!" and then laying down to play the totally compliant lover when you "win" her. Actively pursuing a man says something important about a woman– it says she’s genuinely interested, that she’s secure in who she is and what she wants and that she’s willing to take risks because she thinks you’re worth it, and that’s, for lack of a better word, sexy.

What else? Well, have any skulls or knives or naked buxom women tattooed on your body? Yeah, me neither, but it’s manly, isn’t it? Manly like the marines. If I went into any branch of the military, it would be the air force, regardless of how pansy the jarheads seem to think those brave men and women are.

But in reality, what do I do for a living? Well, I think the job that takes up most of my time is babysitting, and I actually enjoy it, because it means I get to make a positive difference in my little sister’s life. Sure, I sell swords too, which is kind of "manly" but I think that’s probably offset by the fact that my greatest dream is to be a bestselling author as well as an English teacher that can help change the system from within and help kids appreciate English again.

What else makes me queer? Well, how about the fact that I’ve never had any interest in sports? There’s a running joke among my friends back home in the mountains about the fact that I know so little about Basketball that at one point in my life, I actually thought Soda Popinski, Donnie "The Toast" Yost, and a host of other equally unlikely characters/people, were the names of prominent Basketball players. So I couldn’t tell you what events they do for the Olympics or tell you who’s on such-and-such a team, or even what sport they play without googling it– I just don’t care. I’ve always felt like I have more important things to do than sit around and watch grown men chase a ball (that’s just personal opinion– no offense to the sports fans out there!)

What else? How about the fact that I face and accept my emotions. That’s not very "manly". Or how about the fact that I enjoy romantic comedies, or actually give a damn about my spiritual life? How about the fact that I read, or have exceptional language skills, or have long hair, or think floral print, button-up shirts rock, or think rainbows are awesome? I don’t give a diddly squat about the specs of cars or motorcycles, my favorite author is Storm Constantine (you’d understand how that’s "unmanly" if you’ve read her) my favorite characters in movies are "Rosie the Riveter" types, and I think chicks with short haircuts are absolutely and unequivocably the paramount of hotness.

Perhaps also not so "manly" is the fact that I don’t get embarrassed when I’m holding a purse or a box of tampons for someone, and when I go to the mall, I’m immune to that invisible barrier that keeps all the men out of the girly accessories stores that women pass through without shame or incident. That’s right, while the line of uneasy men stirs outside waiting uncomfortably for their "womenfolk" to come rescue them, I’m in there with my little sister, pointing things out and having a blast watching her try on the pinkest, most sparkly and frilliest things in there.

Sure, I lift weights, I do a lot of my own maintenance on my car, I make grunting jokes about fire and "guy movies" around the barbecue with "The guys" on gaming weekends, and I stand up for what I believe in. I get out there and beat on the walls and show the world in a very progressive (and unfortunately associated with "manly") way that the system is broken and oppressive and needs to change so the people who are victimized by it and can’t fight back don’t have to suffer quite so much. The first words out of my mouth are "need me to kick his ass?" when a woman tells me she’s been abused, and I actually have the "balls" to drive a bumpersticker-plastered cop-magnet art car and smile at the looks I get, knowing I’ve just added a random element to someone’s life that might shake up their stagnant reality a little. I think Terminator 2 is a masterpiece, and I all but drool over the sleek designs of fighter jets like the ME-262 Schwalbe or the F-14 Tomcat. I think shooting cans at the gun range is fabulous, and I’m a hell of a shot too. I think impact wrenches are absolutely "the shit" (power tools-wise) and I love my car, even though I couldn’t have told you (until someone pointed it out to me about six months ago) how many cylinders it had. I open doors for people, and I bend over backwards to pay for the meal when I go somewhere with a woman I’m interested in. I listen to metal, I air-guitar to sweet electric riffs, and I make my own way in the world like the maverick Wynn I am.

So yeah, I’m queer. I’m straight as up and down, but I’m not mainstream, I’m not "normal". I’m a person, and I set my own rules for myself, live by my own code, and do what I want and what I feel is right regardless of what other people think. I live outside the box and transcend the stereotype of male, and I know lots of other people who do too.

So now that you’ve read this, I challenge you to look at yourself, look at the role our society has cast for you as male or female, and see how you measure up. Are you "normal?" or are you queer?

Spread knowledge, spread awareness, and spread acceptance. Have the ovaries to get up there and tell the world how it is and help instigate change for the better. If you’re queer like me, tell the world, and tell them how wonderful it is to be different, because if you don’t do it, then who will? Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if everyone was exactly the same?

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