Yesterday, while I was at work, I saw a “straight-seeming” couple walk in holding hands. Both of them were wearing purple.
This got me thinking.
It got me thinking about the invisibility of the queer community. Both in our society and within the community itself. Here is this couple that so many people wouldn’t even turn an eye at, because they’re convinced that it fits their idea of the social norm. A seemingly heterosexual couple doing ordinary things like going grocery shopping. The random passerby would have no idea whether or not these people are actually straight, they just assume as such. For all you know, they could be queer. And just happen to love each other because they think the other is awesome. No one would have any idea unless you were to get to know them personally.
But here they are, the two of them holding hands, both wearing purple. On Spirit Day.
Could they be straight and both just coincidentally wearing purple because they liked the clothes, or straight and wearing purple because they want to support Spirit Day and awareness of homophobia in the education system and life? Sure. But they could be queer. The assumption is just that they aren’t because their relationship is “straight-seeming”. Not only that, but the assumption that these people are cisgender.
The erasure isn’t just in straight society though. It’s present in the queer community as well. The community where we’re told of GLb…t?, ignoring the possibility of any that exist outside of that acronym. Or paying lip service to these people through words while erasing their existence in activism, in action, in mentality. Queer identity is questioned, doubted, even within our own community – “Are you sure you’re not just gay/straight?” “You just can’t decide.” “You’re just pretending.” etc.
Within our own community we too have internalized that these people that walk down the road, hand in hand, are probably straight. We assume that these people in their “opposite sex” relationships or a sexuality unstated showing support for Spirit Day, the deconstruction of homophobia and queer activism are simply allies, not really part of the community but just waving their little flags in support from the sidelines.
We assume. We do not really know. We’ve just been trained to assume, and train ourselves to assume.
In the past, the only thing we’ve had to make it blatantly “obvious” that one identifies with a queer sexuality is the rainbow. Now we have various flags, triangles, and other little symbols to show to the world how we feel about people. To counteract these assumptions, to show people “we are here, you just don’t notice or acknowledge us”. But without these actions to directly contradict them, these assumptions still exist. We have to advertise ourselves to fight a world that sees us as straight unless proven otherwise.
Now we have purple.
But that invisibility is still there.
I wrote yesterday on tumblr about my mental relations to the color purple, what it means to me in terms of queer identity, cissexism, homophobia, transphobia and overall bigotry. It’s been about 8 years now (I think, it may not have been that long but my sense of time is screwy) since I dated her, and her love of purple. Where she used it everywhere she could. The color is still triggering to me.
But as I read and hear commentary regarding homophobia and this Spirit Day (though it is awfully white-cis-gay-male-centric), I’m starting to realize that maybe purple isn’t so bad.
I just wish I could have realized this yesterday, and I could have fought internally to reclaim it just a tad sooner.