This column was written by an anonymous resident of the Rainbow House.
Like many of us, I have a Tinder. Also like many of us, I am non-binary. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the two rarely play nicely together. If I list myself on Tinder as male, I’m repeatedly asked about my anatomy, or what I “really” am. If I list myself as female, I’m lauded for my “bravery” or my “aesthetic.” What does it mean for a gay man or woman to be attracted to me? Will I ever be able to trust a binary person to see me the way I want to be seen? I mean yeah, probably, but first let’s deconstruct my views on non-binary attraction.
Other non-binary people on Tinder aside for a moment, people match with me because they find something attractive (physically or otherwise), but it quickly becomes clear whether it’s a quality they’re imposing on me or a quality I truly embody. My outward expressions are historically and inherently gendered, meaning that my face looks like a man’s face and my clothes look like a woman’s. Despite this, I work to not gender my own face, my own clothes, my body. To me, their gendered qualities are both ambiguous and fluid. So when a person sees me, which qualities do they respect? Which do they ignore? Which, if acknowledged, would attack their own expression of sexuality? These are only questions for me to pose, not answer. What I do know is that invalidating parts of my identity, my body or my sense of self for your own benefit is damaging to me and others in my community.
While I can’t and don’t want to tell anyone what to think, I would implore anyone reading this to be conscious. Question the aspects of someone you find attractive or, arguably more importantly, question the aspects of someone you don’t find attractive. Question what you’re told to find attractive about white people, about upper-class people, about cis people. If I don’t identify as male, question why you still see me that way.
Aside from being conscious, be confident. Be confident in your femininity, in your masculinity, in your sexuality. Be confident in not knowing what any of those mean to you, if anything. Be confident in their fluidity. You don’t need to dislike certain genitalia to be a good gay person. The more comfortable you are accepting non-binary people, the more comfortable you will be with yourself. If you don’t impose gender roles on others, you likewise won’t be tied to them so strictly.
People have worked hard to build their queer communities, to be safe in a world where safety is too rare. I fear that my criticisms of these spaces could jeopardize this safety. But when queer spaces aren’t safe to queer people, it is a failure on behalf of the community (spurred by cishet ideologies). Do me, yourself and everyone else a favor: be attracted to the non-binary parts of a non-binary person.
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