I'm Queer And I Went To Coachella

I'm Queer And I Went To Coachella

And here's the tea sis.

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When the Coachella 2019 lineup first came out, I scoffed. Not for disdain of the artists, but because A, I knew I could never afford to go, and B, its founder, Philip Anschutz, is notorious for being an affluent right-winger who donates to pro-gun, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBT groups. But about a month ago, one of my good friends offered me a free ticket to Coachella, and against my better judgment, I said yes.

My friend and I weren't the only queer people at the event. Gay couples held hands without fear. James Charles posted a scandalous booty-filled photo on Instagram. Even Janelle Monae, who came out earlier this year, and SOPHIE, the first openly trans artist to be nominated for a Grammy in the best electronic album category, made on-stage appearances.

But here's the tea: as much fun as I had, I wouldn't go again.

As queer folk, we have an obligation to support each other, and stand up against injustice even when it's inconvenient. Even if it means missing out on delicious spicy chicken sandwiches and the biggest music festival of the year. Because if we don't hold those who are hurting us accountable, we might as well be on the other side.

And there are so many musical festivals in California you can support that don't donate to regressive organizations. And Coachella is not that special. The performances themselves were great, but aside from the music it's really just an excuse for rich people to get insanely high in the dust for three days and get clout on Instagram. If you're a true music fan you'll have fun at any festival. It'll probably save you some money, and it'll definitely save you some guilt.

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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Yes, I Am 'Gay Enough' And Know That This Pride Month You Are Always Validly And Correctly Yourself

Now that it's Pride Month, I've got some news for y'all.

ashlyn
ashlyn
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Pride Month is underway, and corporations across the globe are cranking out rainbow-colored merchandise to rake in extra profit. It's my second Pride Month being out of the closet as a lesbian, and seeing millions of people like me celebrating who they are is incredible and empowering. While we celebrate this wonderful month, we still have to face the prejudices and stereotypes that face our community on a day to day basis. One of the more subdued issues facing our community is the power of snap judgments. Straight and gay people alike are quick to assume one's sexual orientation and gender identity, often times without knowing anything about this person.

The way media has portrayed members of the LGBTQ+ community has resulted in a number of enduring schemas in our heads of what a queer or trans person is like. This can include anything from how we look, how we talk, what we like, and how we present ourselves. While it may seem like standard stereotyping, which most people do with a variety of different subgroups and cultures, it can be incredibly detrimental to one's mental health. The desire to match the expectations of one's identity, or being "gay enough" or "bi enough" or "trans enough", is enough to impact self-esteem to a significant degree.

As a gay woman, I deal with this a lot. In these sorts of interactions, whether it's in person or after someone has seen my Twitter, it usually starts out with someone saying something like "Wait, you're gay?" and "Wow, you don't look it". Another popular question to follow is "So, like, are you bi?". I usually just correct them and say that I'm a lesbian, but that question has always thrown me off. It would be one thing if I got it sometimes, but it's something else given I get it a lot. Why, though? Do I appear bisexual? Do I radiate attracted-to-men energy? When I tell you I'm a lesbian, do I not look lesbian enough?

And perhaps what's even more offsetting is that my bisexual friends deal with that same questioning. Based on who they've dated in the past and how they present themselves, they are often mistaken for being either straight OR gay, not addressed or believed to be the sexual orientation they identify with. As I question whether or not I'm gay enough, they question whether or not they're bi enough. This same thing happens to LGBTQ+ individuals of all identities, for example, trans/enby individuals at any point in their transition.

Not feeling like what you identify with sucks. Plain and simple. I have a bisexual friend who hasn't dated women before but feels less bisexual because they haven't had a physical relationship with someone of that gender. Sometimes I feel less gay because I thought that I had crushes on guys in middle school and high school and that I should've figured it out sooner. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be the most acute version of our labels as we can, but it has always done more harm than good. Stereotypes about your identity don't define you, you define what your identity means to you.

This Pride Month, I'm here to say that there's no one way to be straight, gay, lesbian, trans, pan, bi, ace, aro, enby, queer, or any identity/orientation. Doubting yourself, being misgendered or misidentified, oppression, homophobia, transphobia, and violence are struggles that our community has to face every day, but we don't face these challenges alone. Together, during the month of June, we celebrate who we are — and break down the boxes society tries to put us into based on what we call ourselves. Whether you fit the stereotypes associated with your identity or not, you are validly and correctly yourself, and that's the real thing to be proud of.

ashlyn
ashlyn

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