Sex-Positivity – Self-Love – Starting the Revolution
I’m never surprised when people read my queerness on sight—the reason I got my undercut and starting wearing combat boots in the first place was to align my femme exterior more closely with my hard, radical queer interior. And given the widespread erasure of bisexual-spectrum identities, and my predilections for very queer self-presentation and hooking up with ladyfolk, I’m also never surprised when people read me as lesbian. I am still surprised, though, when people have the audacity to judge, question, or otherwise challenge my corrections of their on-sight perceptions.
I identify as pansexual, which is admittedly an identity that’s a bit “out there” in terms of how many people use it and how many people know what it generally means. But it was pretty awkward when a new acquaintance (a gay man) responded to my proclamation of pansexuality by going, “oh, that’s so hipster.”
I was taken aback. For a quick reference, Urban Dictionary (the pinnacle of usefulness), defines a hipster as someone who “identifies with being so far head the rest of general society in terms of “indie-ness” and aesthetic that they take being misunderstood and overlooked as a compliment – because the masses of pop-culture whores don’t get it anyway.”
Oh, great. Just lovely.
I thought this hipster moment might have been an isolated incident, but a quick scroll through Urban Dictionary’s definitions for pansexual reveals the following two definitions: (1) “because being bisexual is too mainstream…” and (2) “a hipster who likes sex.” Apparently, a whole new panphobic discourse has developed, where the expression of sexual identity is being equated with all the negative associations with hipsterdom—an arbitrary rejection of the mainstream, a sense of moral superiority, and a desire for difference for difference’s sake.
Of course, pansexuality isn’t about the mainstream (or rejecting it)—it’s simply a way for some people (myself included) to express publicly that our attractions to individual people are not influenced by the gender binary. In more popular terms, that means we’re attracted to “people, not genders.” Maybe that sounds a little weird to some folks, but it’s a comfortable identity for me, and I’m sticking with it.
What blows my mind is the continued phobia and rejection within LGBTQ and allied communities of identities beyond lesbian and gay—despite years and years of activism to improve this situation. My acquaintance who called me a hipster is a gay man from a wildly conservative hometown, who has experienced a great deal of rejection of and challenges toward his identity over the years. Yet somehow, he’s under the impression that it’s acceptable for him to challenge the validity of my identity because it’s not one of the letters named in the LGBTQ acronym.
Calling pansexual people hipsters is in the same club as other insidious identity behavior—saying, “but you’re really just gay, right?” to bisexual men; saying, “it’s a choice,” to all non-heterosexuals; refusing to acknowledge the validity of trans* gender identities and presentations (whether or not they fall within the traditional binary); or assuming that pansexual/bisexual people just want to have sex with anyone and everyone. It’s all terrible, and it all needs to stop. If I’m a hipster, it’s because of my music taste, preference for organic mocha lattes, and the fact that I love wearing flannel. It’s certainly not because of who I want to fuck.