Miscruise: That thing that happens when you think someone’s a hot dyke and you put on your best swagger and suggestively grin at them and then, only then, do you realize she’s actually a 15-year-old babyfaced guy. Or any other equivalent experience, of which there are many.
My friends D and R came up with that a couple years ago, and I think it is one of the most wonderful terms ever invented. Simple, clear, linguistically evident, hip and even easy to spell. Fucking fab.
Now I think we’re in need of a new one. Misglare? Misbash? Mis… something. (Suggestions are welcome.) The definition would be, “That thing that happens when you think someone’s of a given sexual orientation and then you see them obviously involved with a person of a gender who doesn’t match with your assumption and this upsets you so you give them a dirty look or say something rude to them.”
It’s always an interesting experience to be on the receiving end of homophobia. Yes, I can use the word “interesting” probably because homophobia has never turned violent in my particular case – I might perhaps choose a stronger word if I were, say, the local queer transwoman who got a punch in the face a couple of weeks ago on the Plateau, or the dyke couple who got bashed on Mont-Royal in January 2005. But for now: interesting.
It’s even more interesting when the homophobia is misdirected. Or rather – when someone is accurately directing some sort of gender/sexual orientation-phobia at me, or at me and a partner or friend, but they’ve got the specifics wrong. My not-so-inner editor wants to go talk to the person and explain things: “No, see, you’re using the wrong word. If you’re going to hate me, at least get the terminology right.” So far I have yet to judge it appropriate to actually do so, but it’s damned tempting.
Experiences like this seem to happen remarkably often when I’m with my honey Pepper, who is currently visiting from San Francisco. He’s not the only one, but he’s definitely a convenient vector for them. Let’s see… some context: Pepper is a super-hot guy, and very femmey-looking – you know, cheekbones, luscious lips, the works. He’s lasered all the hair off his body below the eyes. He doesn’t wear pants; only short-shorts and ankle-length raver skirts. He has shoulder-length curly hair, dyed a rich dark blue. He has tattoos of flowers up his arms. He walks like a flamer; he often enough talks like one too. You get the picture. He out-femmes me on a femme day. The only places I can compete are high heels and cleavage.
So, a few examples. When we were together last year in Toronto, we were walking down the street holding hands and a car roared by, coming from behind and passing us. Along the way, someone leaned out the window and yelled “DYKES!”
Um. Not quite. But sort of. I think.
Later that same weekend, we were walking through the Village. Funny enough, gay spaces are often where this kind of behaviour comes up a lot, and this was no exception. We got glared at by a number of guys, one of whom actually leaned forward and spat, “Make up yer fucking mind,” at Pepper loudly enough that even the most oblivious blue-haired happy Californian could hear.
The usual pattern, in gay-village-y places – and this has borne out with me and more than one femme-boy partner in the past – is that the gay men notice the hot dude, give him the up-and-down and recognize (correctly, or semi-correctly) one of their own. They grin, or raise an eyebrow, or just do that deadpan cruising stare. Then (drum roll please!) they notice the female accessory on his arm, yours truly, and become confused.
Sometimes this results in repeated back-and-forth stares and eventual giving up: Is he? He must be. But why – maybe she’s a fag-hag? No, they’re nuzzling. What the fuck? But just look at him! Oh, forget it.
Sometimes it results in pure disgust, as though a guy being with a woman were some sort of abomination, and even worse when it’s clear to anyone who looks that he’s a screaming queer to boot. I’ve been privileged to receive numerous searingly pissed-off glares from gay men, as though I’d somehow contaminated their property with my feminine juices. (Damned straight. So to speak.)
So far there has been the rare occasion on which I’ve noticed a genuine admiring glance untainted by grouchiness, and rarer still, I’ve seen verbal kindness – one specific instance in 2001, if I remember correctly, when I was approached by a gentleman who nodded in the general direction of my guy and said “he’s quite the catch,” before moving on with a beatific grin.
On the days where I’m feeling more boyish myself, it can get even more interesting – odd looks from dykes who aren’t sure what the heck a short-haired gal in a tie is doing with a male, and hesitant cruising from men who generally perceive dykes as unavailable but think maybe they’re wrong in this particular case because I’m clearly with one. (Of course this is even more interesting given that such a cruise presumes some sort of non-monogamy – correctly – but I digress.)
It’s not that I don’t understand the confusion. If you’re monosexual, rather than queer, the idea of two genderfucked people pairing up might understandably throw you for a loop; when your associations with gender deviance all point in the sole direction of homosexuality, it can surely cause a double-take if you are subject to the realization that perhaps the foundations of your world are not as stable as you might have thought. I think the piece I have a harder time understanding is, why the heck that should result in hostility? Do same-sex-oriented monosexuals really need to stick a rainbow stake in the hill of each individual queer and say, “property of the homosexuals” and bark at any trespassers? Do heterosexuals really require that all technically and biologically heterosexual pairings line up with their ideas of gender upon pain of beer-can-throwing and name-calling? I mean, what difference does it make? It’s your business if you’re sleeping with one of us, but otherwise, go shit on someone else’s lawn.
To me, this speaks much more to generalized gender-phobia than to queerness per se, though admittedly they can be hard to separate at times. If Pepper, or any other hot flamer I happen to hold hands with, were less flame-y and more straight-looking, nobody would glare. We’d be presumed heterosexuals, and perhaps, like many other heterosexuals, we might be passing through the sanctified territory of the gays on our way to, oh, I don’t know, a baby shower or a wedding or some other manifestation of heterosexual hegemony. Just be patient, Bruce, they’re leaving.
It’s the very fact that we look queer that’s the issue – regardless of the genitals. It’s the fact that we disturb the binary from within it. It’s a whole other ball game – the world is slowly getting accustomed to the idea that two men might be together, or that two women might. But the idea that “woman” and “man” are exploding categories, that “masculine” and “feminine” can be applied with broad brushstrokes to people regardless of biology, and that those people may very well want to get it on with one another instead of with an appropriately matched other half – whatever such a thing might be, and do tell me if you figure it out – well, that just messes everyone up.
Luckily the benefits far outweigh the bullshit.
Speaking of which, I’m going to sign off on this here post and pay some attention to the blue-haired boy, who is currently working on his own blog. ‘Cause when you get two kinky queer poly academically-bent theorist writerly types who are totally hot on each other, and you park ’em in the same room after they haven’t seen each other in a few months, what do they do?… They write. Yeesh.