comment I left
I commented on Eli's posting on being queer and what it means about who you sleep with. (update: the comment discussion has continuted in an awesome way)
[from another commenter]I am one of those hopeless romantics that thinks, if you've got no problem with the dynamic or your partner's identity, and she or he feels the same, then why does it matter? who cares whether the relationship itself is gay, straight, or whatever?
I've found it really really difficult to have a relationship without identity. As a woman who is attracted to both men and women, but who is not at all interested in being a guy's girlfriend, I've found it really difficult to have a regular (> 3 weeks, non-long-distance) relationship with men because the relationships always fall into that girlfriend-boyfriend pattern, even when I am explicit about that dynamic being a dealbreaker. It's not about being romantic, or even the chemistry between me and a guy; it's just that when someone else percieves only part of my identity, it's like being whittled down to fit that round hole [square peg, round hole]. The same mismatch often happens around lesbians; I'm not a lesbian, neither am I straight. (I'm a dyke-identified bisexual, or a queer woman, or something).
Identity is how we place ourselves in society; how can we have social relationships without identity? The I'm-ok-you're-ok thing is great in theory, but gender (in whatever form) is so important; interacting without gender would be like everyone wearing hazmat suits, all the time. A workable model for some things (having a "business lunch," talking on the phone, handling chemicals) but really not how anyone actually works. So when our identity is not what society dictates/expects, hashing it out is kind of necessary. So I think what makes us queer is that reworking of our identity. Even if our identity superficially fits with a societal norm, there's a path and a process behind it that we are constantly aware of (ball of string in the labyrinth). The gender or sexuality that the world expects of us is a starting point and not a final answer.
revision: ourselves/we/us/our should be more like myself/I/me/mine.
update: 2nd comment.
I am enjoying these responses as much as the original post... esp. your touching on heterophobia; it's something I noticed in myself a while ago but was never quite able to articulate.
I meant to convey something about gender not being optional; As part of a gendered society, we do operate in gendered ways. Whether or not they're traditional gendered ways, whether or not we "want" gender, and whether or not we are working to change ideas of gender.
About it not being possible to "create an idyllic bubble of protection outside of those forces": the idyllic bubbles aren't gender-free zones (gender is hot), but are spaces where gender is redefined/more free; my idyllic Earth still has air on it (air is awesome) but it's cleaner, fresher air.