Lovely Zine Dreams
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Buy this zine I have a thing in it
For bisexual and queer people that are in heterosexual relationships, yes, they do have straight passing privilege. There is no denying that their experiences walking hand in hand down the street with their partner in a “straight” relationship which conforms to heteropatriarchal norms is undeniably different than when they walk down the street hand in hand with their partner in a queer relationship. They may be the same person, but they are walking through a world bound up in heteropatriarchal power. Heteropatriarchy as a system of domination bequeaths power on heterosexual individuals and with that power comes heterosexual privilege as well. As such there is passing privilege when queer people are themselves in heterosexual relationships, as our identities get interpreted differently in those instances. This is the “straight passing privilege” that I was referencing in the tag on that post about Anna Paquin (Sookie) who is bisexual but married to a man.
Straight passing privilege exists for a lot of gay people too though. Like, everyone talks about it in regards to bi/pan people, but lots of gay men and lesbians pass as straight. They don’t fit stereotypes of queer people and everyone just assumes they’re straight.
I don’t think failing to conform to stereotypes is a privilege. There’s no such thing as “looking gay” or “looking straight” unless you buy into the stereotype that gender and sexual orientation are inextricably linked. The other thing is in our society people are assumed to be heterosexual unless proven otherwise, Straight washing is not a privilege. People assuming you are straight and erasing your identity is not a privilege. I’m not even sure I agree with owning-my-truth on this one given the extremely high rates of sexual assault, abuse and rape bi women experience compared to both straight women and lesbian women at the hands of men, mostly their male partners. Not sure how that’s a privilege. Bi women don’t gain access to straight privilege just by being in relationships with men.
That’s why the term “straight passing privilege” brings ire to a lot of people. Because our society assumes everyone is straight until further notice and then assumes you’re not straight if you’re gender presentation deviates from the norm. This also results in assumptions about trans people’s identities too.
It also ignores the fact bi women still can be incredibly masculine and, as you mention, read as queer when in public without their male partner or when not romantically interacting with their partner. When I present as butch people tend to make assumption I’m queer. They would do this even if I had a boyfriend, granted I wasn’t holding hands with him or kissing him. If I live alone and go shopping and go to work and my day to day life without my boyfriend, people would still read me as queer.
Using the term “heterosexual relationship” to describe relationships bi people are in has also been criticized in the past, as contributing to the erasure of bi people, although I can see both sides of that debate.
I honestly would like to get rid of the term straight passing to describe people at least altogether, as it is charged in a really negative way and assumes straight people act a certain way and gay another (erasing bi people a lot of the time) and also reinforcing stereotypes. I think the term “straight passing relationship” makes more sense, and talking about some privileges you can derive from being in such a relationship makes more sense (or at the very least that such a couple has more access to privileges than a same-gender one). But in those discussions it should some with caveats about the fact bi people are vulnerable to abuse from straight partners and suffer from erasure (having higher incidents of mental illness, poverty and other problems compared to straight AND gay people).
A bi/pansexual person in a heterosexual relationship may be able to pass as straight, but that does not mean that they have access to the privileges of being straight. Bi/pansexual people are still actively erased by straight and other queer peoples. Bi/pansexual people are still told by therapists that they’re “just confused” and receive less-than-adequate healthcare based on their sexuality.
I think theroguefeminist's point about language here is important. I'm of the opinion that the language games of post-modern feminism (especially on Tumblr) are sometimes missing the point, but I do think that in this case the language frames how we view the issue. “Straight passing” implies that at certain points, we do not belong in the queer community and therefore do not need its protections. That we should not receive its protections. But then that leaves us in the cold to fend for ourselves, to advocate for ourselves, to face microaggressions and structural discrimination by ourselves, etc.
Thanks for the corrections everyone and sorry for the erasure that I was propagating with my original post. The above discussion is very important, and thanks to everyone who added on in additional posts as well.
Okay, before you watch this do you know what the Talking Carl app is? Well it’s his app where this little red fucker repeats back anything you say to him in a higher voice. That’s all I’m saying. Now click play bitch
So this is what a slow descent into madness feels like.
i’m here, i’m queer, i was told this was starfleet?
Roseanne 1996 // S8: EP 15 //Dan and his buddies talk about race and sexual orientation.
Clothing for gender non-conforming people on the rise.