Dating A Man Doesn’t Negate My Queerness

There’s no test to pass when it comes to your sexuality.

I’m a cis woman in a relationship with a cis man.

We live in the same apartment (albeit with two roommates and one cat). One day, we’ll get a place without roommates (except the cat).

We may marry, we may not. We may have children, we may not.

But we plan on a long future together and I really don’t see myself being single again.

To all of our native Boston, we look like the picture of a ‘normal heterosexual couple’ — except for the fact that I’m queer.

You probably know what ‘queer’ means; but for those of you who don’t, here’s a quick recap:

  1. I’m definitely not heterosexual
  2. I’m also not a lesbian
  3. ‘Bisexual’ doesn’t seem like it encompasses my sexuality
  4. I find most ‘types’ of people attractive: cis men, cis women, trans men, trans women, and those who don’t subscribe to the gender binary

But if you see me with my partner, you’ll more than likely think that I’m a straight girl in a heterosexual relationship — and there’s nothing I hate more.

Being with a man seems to negate my sexuality, rendering it secret or private when I’m anything but. I like to be open about my life. I’m a sharer (as if my personal essay career didn’t make that immediately obvious). It’s how I closely connect with friends new and old, and how I establish camaraderie with people who read my work.

But unless I make my sexual identity part of my introduction (“Hi, I’m Liz, I’m a writer, and I’m queer! Have you met my partner?”), it’s assumed that I’m straight.

I know that this is a privilege. The recent shooting in Orlando shows me just how lucky I am to ‘pass.’ No one wants to kill me for appearing straight. No one would argue that I shouldn’t be able to get married, have children, serve in the military, or hold a public office because I’m straight. No one hates me for being straight.

Compared to so many other members of the LGBTQIA community, I have nothing to complain about. Except that, because I’m dating a man, I don’t quite feel like I’m an accepted part of the queer community.

Unfortunately, the same issue would apply if I were dating a woman. One look at me holding hands with my hypothetical girlfriend — lesbian.

People who identify as bisexual have this same problem: If you’re with someone of the ‘opposite’ gender, you’re straight, but if you’re with someone of the same gender, you’re gay.

At least at first glance.

If you’re bisexual or queer and ‘out,’ your sexuality may still be subject to scrutiny (as if it was anyone’s business). Being part of a same-sex couple could open you up to comments about making a ‘pit stop’ on the way to gay. Being part of a different-sex couple might make people think that any same-sex/queer-sex experiences you’ve had were just ‘experimentation.’

There doesn’t seem to be a way to win.

It seems that the only way to prove to others that I’m queer would be to either date solely outside of the cis sphere (therefore eliminating the majority of the people I’m attracted to), to be single and ‘out’; or to avoid monogamy altogether, date a wide variety of genders, and make sure people know it.

What a wonderful way to approach sex, dating, and love (insert sarcasm here).

And here’s another hiccup in the public perception of my sexuality: I haven’t actually dated or had sex with anyone but cis men!

I can hear the responses now, and trust me, I’m rolling my eyes:

You’re not really queer. You’re just into the fantasy. You probably just made out with a girl in college and decided to give yourself a more “interesting” label. Now get out of our community and be what you are — straight.

Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not how sexuality works.

If you’re heterosexual, you’re attracted to members of the “opposite” sex. If you’re homosexual, you’re attracted to members of the same sex. If you’re bisexual, you’re attracted to both men and women, and if you’re queer, you’re attracted to men, women, and genderqueer/nonbinary people.

And that’s my definition.

‘Queer’ is generally used as a personal term: It means whatever you feel it means to you.

It’s outside of the labels of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and asexual — or it can encompass all of those things. But most of all, it’s about attraction.

I’m attracted to all sorts of people, regardless of gender identity. (Note: This does not mean I’m attracted to every single person — that’s another misconception that needs to be trashed.)


I’ve yet to broach the topic of polyamory

The first time I masturbated to orgasm, it was to lesbian porn. Since then, my tastes have diversified to include heterosexual, homosexual (men or women, depending on my mood), bisexual (two men or two women), and transgender (usually trans women, either with a cis woman or a cis man) videos.

For a time — with my partner’s consent and endorsement — I pursued the idea of finding a woman to participate in a threesome with us, so I could explore my sexuality within the bounds of monogamy.

I’ve yet to broach the topic of polyamory, mostly because I don’t know how I would feel about having another partner, or the idea of my partner having another partner.

There were a couple interested ladies, one of whom we agreed to meet with and see what happened. But then I went to the hospital for severe depression (decidedly unsexy), and afterward, I wanted to focus on my recovery. For the meantime, that’s not something we’re pursuing. But that doesn’t mean we won’t in the future.

I’ve realized that I’m justifying my sexuality, as if which type of porn I watch and whether or not I’ve pursued a threesome or polyamory is proof that I’m ‘queer.’

The truth is that there’s no such thing, for any of us.

If you identify as a heterosexual man, but have had sex with men on your own or with a woman, you’re still straight!

If you identify as a lesbian, but have had sex or relationships with men (before or after self-identifying as gay), you’re still gay!

If you identify as a bisexual man, but mainly have relationships with women and sex with men, have relationships with men and sex with women, or relationships and sex with one gender in particular, you’re still bi!

There’s no test to pass when it comes to your sexuality. It’s personal. It’s private. It’s what you know to be true.

And I know that I’m queer.

Even though I’m dating a man. Even though I have only dated cis men. Even if I never date or have sex with anyone but cis men.

Still here. Still queer.

Get used to it.

Image via Shutterstock, GIF via

Comment: What do you think the term ‘queer’ means?

This story originally appeared on Ravishly, a feminist news and culture website.

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