GQ Challenge: Day 16

The Genderqueer Challenge is here.

16. Name some media you connect with queerly.

I’ve been sitting thinking about this one for a while; it’s actually quite difficult to answer — mainly because what counts as ‘connecting queerly’. In some ways, I connect with all media queerly, because I see it from my perspective that’s involved with my queerness — when I watch TV, I might wonder why all I see is cis straight people, or if I’m lucky, I’ll get to be happy that the token gay person has a cute partner. Similarly, if I’m watching the news and gender is mentioned at all, I’ll have a different viewpoint because of my different understanding of gender. Things as simple as following the labour leadership election are coloured by my experiences as a nonbinary person, because I have experience being a minority and doing activism for minorities, and so I see the policies and claims through that light. For example, there was a hustings with Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith which I caught the last bit of, and they were speaking about misogyny in the party and in society more generally. A few years back, before I understood myself or social issues like I do now, I’d probably think they were saying basically the same thing. Now, I realise that Corbyn actually understands the importance of the grassroots — that you can’t work towards having equality in the genders of CEOs without looking at equality in what career paths people go into and how they are treated there. Smith didn’t seem to understand that, however.

But anyway, this isn’t a post about my Corbyn favouritism. The point is that I think most media, and life in general, is at least partly coloured by my being queer.

I think what I most connect with queerly, though, is stuff in which I’m involved with the fandom — mainly because I tend to be quite blind to any relationships that aren’t purposefully romantically coded by the writers and directors and am pretty bad with gender-related headcanons other than saying ‘they definitely are nonbinary!’. In fandom, luckily people tend to do the hard work for me, so I get to relate to loads of queer stories and ideas and meta without actually having to notice it much myself. However, I find that the longer I’m in a fandom, the better I get at noticing the patterns that other people are seeing in the original media, until eventually I’m doing the meta and shipping in my head (although I still leave other people to write it down most times). Fandoms, and fan fiction especially, are one of the best things ever because not only do you have millions of free stories at your fingertips, not only do you have millions of free queer stories at your fingertips, but there’s also tags and warnings that allow you to easily avoid things that will upset you and easily find things that, in usual published fiction, would be way too specific to search for (eg tropes like fake marriage or sharing a bed). In fact, fanfic is so great that, even though I don’t think I’ve ever read a fanfic of my favourite genre (supernatural/urban fantasy), I still find books quite disappointing in comparison.

A Book-Worm’s Guide to Normal

Originally posted on Tumblr but reposted here for archiving. Please note that my views may have changed since this was first written.

As the title suggests, I was an avid reader when I was little. They used to ‘challenge’ us to read six books over summer, and I’d read six books in a week. So instead of learning about the world by going out there and trying things for myself, I learnt about things from books.

I learnt that girls meet guys and stare at them. Stare at his lips, or his face, or his height, or how slim he is – if you like a guy, you look at him. What I got from that, as an asexual, was that girls like pretty guys.

It always kind of niggled at me that the girls always stared at the guy’s lips, but it never clicked that I was different to the girls I read about because, hey, I though boys looked pretty sometimes, right? So how could I be different?

This is one of the reasons why I’m so up for separating types of attraction (even if, in recent reflection, I’ve found that it’s a bit more complicated than that for me) – YA books write sexual attraction in almost entirely the same way as I experienced aesthetic attraction, so I never realised that there was a difference between sexual attraction and thinking someone looked pretty.

It was kind of confusing, as I’m sure you can imagine.

I could go on about censorship of YA novels and how they should be more sexually explicit, but I think YA probably isn’t the only genre with this problem – I think adult genres don’t make a clear enough distinction between sexual and aesthetic attraction, either. And that’s probably because most of the English-speaking world thinks of them as the same thing.

Maybe to write an asexual character, you don’t have to attempt to portray a ‘lack’ of something. Maybe you just need to portray the thing we’re lacking first.