The Feminist Closet
I don’t really remember what I did on Oct. 11, 2015. It was a Sunday, so I probably went to church with my family, ate a late lunch, and started my homework. It was also my senior fall, so I probably worked on college applications. One thing I know for sure is that I did not come out to anyone.
I was aware that it was National Coming Out Day. But at the time, the idea of coming out felt unattainable. Sure, I was excited to read about other people’s coming out experiences, but I couldn’t envision myself as one of them. I kept telling myself that they had some mixture of courage and confidence that I lacked. How could I possibly be part of their community if I couldn’t take the risk they took and live honestly? Was I really queer if practically no one knew?
In the majority of sexual assaults, men are the perpetrators and women are the survivors. And this fact shouldn’t be ignored. Pervasive sexism fueled by the patriarchy leads men to both subconsciously and consciously view women as inherently less deserving of respect. We can’t combat rape culture without also combatting these oppressive structures that constantly devalue women.
But, if we frame rape as solely something that men do to women, we leave many people out of the conversation, including those from marginalized groups. Many studies on rape are centered around women as survivors but rarely specify the sexual orientation or gender identity of these women. Lack of specificity leads to erasure of LGBTQ identities, as being heterosexual and cisgender is typically the default assumption. Additionally, these studies frequently ignore victims who are trans, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming, as well as queer men.
“I know you’re queer, but you just seem very straight.”
I’ve been told this on multiple occasions, usually by people who haven’t known me for a very long time. At first glance, most people do assume that I’m straight—I have long hair, a higher-pitched voice, and I almost exclusively wear dresses in pastel. If you actually hear me talk candidly about girls, it becomes very clear that I’m far from straight. But, just from appearances, I don’t fit the stereotypical idea that many people have of what queer people look like.
What’s your favorite color? If you like blue, you’re in good company. But, if you like yellow, you won’t find many others who share your preference. A 2011 study found that yellow is the least liked color, and only 5 percent of people have yellow as their favorite color. So, are people who like yellow a minority?
Well, yes and no. Numerically, they are a minority. After all, there aren’t many of them. But they aren’t a minority in the same way that we think of people of color or LGBTQ+ people as minorities.
“I feel like you always talk about LGBTQ stuff.”
Yeah, ‘cause I’m queer AF.