Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Obviously gay nightclubs and bars are open to everyone, likewise ordinary clubs and bars aren’t explicitly for straight individuals, which is understandable. However, last summer when out for a night with friends and my partner at The Edge Nightclub, a straight, single, middle-aged man came to interrupt our night. After sharing a kiss with my partner, he decided it would be appropriate to comment ‘I just wanted to tell you guys that was really hot. Wow!’. Naturally, we both felt uncomfortable and angered. After questioning why he felt that comment was appropriate, and his reasons for being a straight man alone in a gay bar that attracts a young student population, he replied that he enjoyed the ‘atmosphere‘. To which I suggested the real ‘atmosphere‘ he enjoyed was watching and fetishising girls kissing . He of course had nothing to comment after this, my answer clearly resonating with his real reasons for being there. We did not ask him to comment, and simply wanted to enjoy our night in what should be an LGBT+ friendly environment, but apparently even there our relationship is still simply a fetish.
These themes of fetishisation and sexualisation of same-sex relationships stretch into everyday society, and remain a common theme even today. Obviously this is a generalisation, but it is very typical of men, including many I have met at uni, to encourage gay female relationships, whilst finding gay male relationships disturbing and mock-worthy. Words like ‘f*ggot‘ and “aids” are thrown around as insults, whilst ‘lesbian‘ remains a turn on.
This double standard means that to these types of individuals, it is okay and even admirable to absorb and enjoy lesbian porn, but the existence of queer males is shameful and repulsive. As stated, these are generalisations, but they are very common amongst many of my peers at uni and views throughout wider society in general. On the flip side, you get the girls who adore the idea of having a ‘gay best friend‘, or ‘GBF’, yet believe every queer woman has feelings for them and hence should be excluded. Again, a generalisation, but still a very common theme and outlook in society. None of these examples are enjoyable by any means, and all rest on ideas of sexualisation and fetishisation, i.e. girls believe all gay girls are attracted to them, and vice versa for boys with gay men, yet encourage and enjoy gay best friends and lesbian porn.
This fits with a longstanding theme of LGBT+ relations and identities being viewed as overtly sexual objects, either craved by opposing genders, or supposedly craving everyone of their same gender. Even throughout history the term ‘lesbian’ rarely appears, particularly in law. As gay males were penalised, punished and made illegal, lesbians and queer women weren’t even mentioned through fear that females who learnt of this sexuality may become overly excited and corrupted by this way of life.
These standards not only make identifying as an LGBT+ individual an awkwardly sexualised stance, but also means that same-sex relationships aren’t always taken as seriously as opposite-sex relationships. For instance, with lesbianism viewed as simply an idea for male sexualisation and pleasure, anyone identifying as a queer woman is often told it’s ‘just a phase’ or accused of identifying this way in order to gain male attention. As a bisexual woman myself, I can vouch that bisexuality is one of the sexualities that suffers most from these societal opinions. Many people struggle to comprehend the ability for someone to like more than one gender, and see this identity as either a stepping stone, or again a way of gaining male admirers. Similarly, for bisexual men, they are often told that they don’t really exist – bisexual men are simply gay men who are too scared to fully leave the closet. And whilst bi girls are often one of the most fetishised and sexualised groups of the LGBT+ spectrum, bi boys are some of the most feared and misunderstood. In both instances, whenever a bisexual individual dates someone of one gender, it is assumed that they’re then either straight or gay/lesbian. This is true of myself, often being referred to as lesbian for having a female partner, and getting catcalled as ‘dirty lesbians’ when seen together, as one car shouted when driving past us one day.
Both historically and in modern society, queer women (however they identify) have been sexualised, fetishised, and even left out of legal record to ensure men could not lose their women to other women. Though straight girls and women are just as bad with seeking GBFs, and fearing that queer girls are crushing on them, the sexualisation of my sexuality has mostly come from men. Lesbians and queer women are viewed as an object of desire through porn, their relationships are often mistaken for ‘gal pals’, and our identities have been hidden throughout history in order to preserve the patriarchal way of life.
Myself and most of those who identify as LGBT+ have most likely suffered the fetishisation and sexualisation of their sexuality, and it’s time for it to stop. My sexuality is to express who I am and who I love, it is not for your pleasure or fantasies. So please, stop sexualising my sexuality.