opinion

COLUMN: LGBT beauty norms can be harmful



I have debated for a long time whether it matters and what it means to believe in beauty.

In queer relationships involving men, they are the ones in control of beauty, especially the masculine men. Non-binary writer Arabelle Sicardi talks about this in their article “Beauty is Broken.”

They said beauty is broken because it is a powered social construct that disadvantages femme people. Femme is a gender identity that encompasses a wide variety of feminine people, often many of whom are non-binary.

What this ideal of gayness says about queerness is somehow straight people are doing queerness better than queer people.

I am not saying there is a right way to be queer, but I am tired of the media telling me straight people are better at playing queer characters or are better at “looking good.” I am tired of being told to act straight or codify in society as straight.

My relationship with my body has been fraught by the images of queer beauty that have been presented to me throughout my life.

Of course, I have the privilege of being white as well. This plays a large part in what gets defined as beautiful. Almost all gay media fawns over straight white masculine men like Zac Efron and Daniel Radcliffe. I have drooled over both, but why are they ideal?

Obviously, a lot of this perception has to do with misogyny. White gay men are routinely not calling each other out on sexism that is still inherent in queer culture  —  for example, men who think groping women’s butts is OK because they’re gay. This misogyny is intimately related to the shunning of the feminine in gay culture.

My relationship to gender and the body is a tentative and scared one. I have never referred to myself as a man. I am non-binary. I do not want the power that comes with being a “man” nor do I display masculine qualities. I’ve painted my nails, I’ve worn necklaces.

The ideal gay is a wraith. He is skinny, yet bulging in muscles and other areas. He has a flat stomach and is masculine or “straight-acting.” He is white and dominant, not flamboyant. Ideal submissive men don’t exist because we are expendable and not meant to be part of the queer system in any meaningful way.

When I realized this was the ideal, I panicked. I felt gross, like a stranger in my body, removed from what I thought I should be.

Even now, I feel it sometimes. I look in the mirror and cannot recognize what I see. I ask myself questions as to why a boy didn’t call back. My skin isn’t always clear, I do not have a mastery of hair gel, and I’m not toned. My body has been a point of emotional turmoil and contention. I look OK, but I don’t look like that.

But, I don’t have to be a wraith to be loveable. I just am. Gay culture has to accept that.

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