Though American culture has come a long way in challenging the traditional male-female gender binary, there is still much work to be done. Yes, our society has advanced from the 1950s trope of female/housewife and male/breadwinner, but too much deviation outside of accepted gender roles often causes questions, doubt and discomfort.
Case in point: queer relationships. They outright buck the gender binary, which assumes that each relationship follows heterosexual norms.
Because I am an educator by trade and wholeheartedly believe in education’s transformative abilities, I generally welcome questions. I know that people are genuinely curious and want to become more aware about LGBT issues.
However, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated by the incessant questions about my life; although they may be well intentioned and asked innocently, they are quite invasive and ignorant.
Spoiler alert: same-sex relationships are just like heterosexual relationships, except that instead of one man and one woman, there are two men or two women. Our relationships are not necessarily alien partnerships wherein all customs and traditions change.
With that said, here are six questions to stop asking people in queer relationships, immediately:
How do you have sex?
Many heterosexual couples, not just queer partners, color outside the lines, so to speak, and partake in foreplay activities that involve mouths, fingers and toys. They also (gasp!) venture outside the realm of penis-in-vagina sex.
Please, stop and ask yourself how you would feel and/or respond if someone wanted to know the most intimate details of your relationships.
Who is the man/who is the woman in the relationship?
Not every same-sex relationship — or even hetero relationship — requires overtly masculine and feminine energies. There is zero reason to believe that in queer relationships, one partner strives to be “womanly” and the other “manly.”
For example, if a woman is more ‘butch,’ this does not mean she wants to be or is trying to become a man. And if a woman is attracted to butch women, this does not mean she wants to date men.
Why? Gender is a social construct — different than a person’s sex, which is assigned at birth based on one’s genitalia — and is fluid. Traditional male roles might be expressed by women and ‘female roles expressed by men.
Who proposes to whom?
Traditionally, men propose to women in heterosexual relationships; but this is not an absolute. My mom proposed to my dad and thirty-five years later, they are still married.
In my eye, the person who proposes in queer relationships is the person who wants to take that initiative.
How do you have kids?
Yes many heterosexual couples conceive by the ‘natural’ means of P-in-V sex; but there are just as many who utilize ‘alternative’ means of reproduction, including surrogacy, adoption or IVF, just to name a few.
Queer individuals have these same options.
How do you figure out the last name situation?
Just like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples have options: they can retain their “maiden” names, take a partner’s name, hyphenate both names or cook up an alternative last name.
When did you decide to be gay/lesbian/transgender?
Part of the gender-binary construct assumes that women are attracted to men, men are attracted to women and — most importantly —these attractions are a normal part of development.
I began kissing girls at the age of 5. Looking back, it is clear to me that I was attracted to girls from a very young age. This was never a choice; I did not wake up one day and magically decide I was attracted to women. I dated men for a long time and there was always something missing. When I began dating women, I realized this was who I am, authentically.