i’m a human, not a trope
For anyone who personally knows me, it’s not a surprise, I’m a tall glass of full-fat yoghurt.
For those who don’t: I’m almost 190 meters tall, I’m chunky like good salsa, got legs so thick you can hear the tundras crying in jealousy of these tree trunks, shoe shopping is a nightmare for my size 46 feet and I can pick up my dobermann as if she was a puppy, even though she’s about forty kilos now.
It used to be the word „childhood chubbies”, when eating became a coping habit in an abusive household, then morphed into „you’re a cub” when I was in my late teens/early twenties, and as my thirties are closing in on me, it’s „oh you’re a bear”, or what’s even scarier, „you’re a daddy”.
I’m non-binary. A he/she/they. I’m nobody’s daddy, except my absolute crackhead of a gremlin kitten’s and maybe one plants in my room. My brain doesn’t have a gender. My psyche doesn’t have genitals. Nobody popped my skull open after birth to tell me what I’m supposed to think of my own identity. They just bluntly assigned me a cisgender category based on whatever is between my legs. So there it was, black and white, on my birth certificate, that I was a biological male and as such, I’m expected to go just in a stereotypical direction with my self-expression and identity. Because penis goes brrr.
What people unfortunately fail to realize about identities and self-expression is that one’s identity does not mean that they are required to make their self-expression revolve around it. I, or anyone else, don’t owe people androgyny. I don’t owe people an expression of my femininity or masculinity based on my body type nor my gender identity. There’s no universally accepted non-binary look book. (If I’m wrong and it was handed out during the last NB group meeting, can someone hook me up with a PDF version?)
Labels in the LGBT+ community are double-edged. They help people affiliate themselves with a group and/or an identity that they need. They also help people to understand others as a common language with a shared system of labels works as a large catalog of categories that everyone can use. But the most important aspect of these labels – at least for me – is that they are self-assigned. Or so they should be.
Even though some people refuse to acknowledge it – because being openly gay is almost immediately an open defiance of our current society -, these tropes are deeply rooted in heteronormativity and with that also comes misogyny. Not only that, but these tropes are also a great coping mechanism for living under an oppressive system that still tries to force gay people either back into the closer or into a stereotypical self-expression so they can fit into the commonly ridiculed archetype. Basically we stopped giving in to the funny, „Let’s go shopping together girlie, yas!” type of NPC / „supporting actor” gay character expectations – which was pretty much the only way any of us were ever portrayed in mainstream media, and instead we decided to come up with our own system of identifying our own selves. The issue is that the only other system that we could look up for inspiration was the heterosexual, traditional model of the female-male household and feminine-masculine dichotomy. So we went with that. Bottoms who are hairy or masculine are way less represented nor accepted in our society than twinks – smooth, hairless, young men who resemble a certain innocence.
The expectations for women are almost verbatim the same for gay men if they want to pick up the „feminine” side of a relationship. Which is rooted in men associating innocence and desirability to the physical traits of a child. A prepubescent innocence.
They need to be smooth, skinny, submissive, they need to be innocent, the little spoon, they can’t drink beer because it’s a masculine drink, and they need to fit into this bracket based on their body type, otherwise it would ruin the fantasy. Imagine the kind of emotional and psychological damage this could cause in a gay boy during puberty.
I’m going to say this: consumerism slurps this concept up like it’s cold water in the middle of a desert. The way we are still marketed in mainstream / pop culture is absolutely ridiculous. Sure enough, we have our own, more diverse versions, but they barely ever get to have the same amount of popularity as the ones that give into the gay stereotypes or gay fantasy more. Think about Timothée Chalamet in Call me by your name. Textbook twink. Crying over a daddy. Think about Queer as Folk, and Justin being a twink who’s groomed by Brian. A twink chasing a daddy. Schitt’s Creek. Isn’t It Romantic. Love, Simon. Love, Victor, the spin-off.
Think about the game Dream Daddy, a dating sim game, where everyone is a potentially dominant, caring, paternal figure for people to play with and satisfy their fictional needs. Just look up how popular the daddy-son porn category is. The stepdad-stepbro porn. And then here I am, looking at all this, not identifying with any of these market demands of who I’m supposed to be, while this is all I see being spoon fed to my entire dating pool; I’m the one who has to be the all-time masculine, strong, caring, protective figure. Can I be? Absolutely. But that’s not a given and it’s not something I put out there from the get-go. I’m not looking for someone to fetishize me more than I already get.
Can these labels be accurate when it’s based on one’s personal perception of another human being? With some – and by some, I mean a lot of – luck, yes. If it was just about looks, I’d be the first one to say; yes, I can check all these boxes in terms of visuals. Unfortunately though, we can’t just trust blind luck for our assumptions to always be right, and let’s face it; this is not just about looks. These tropes immediately come with these behavioral expectations which I personally do not wish to meet, and because of that, I also immediately assume that nobody else does. Why would they? Aren’t they fully fleshed out human beings just as I?