Stereotypes: Who needs them? Seldom accurate or helpful, these socially constructed notions of identity are merely another tool utilised to ensure the hegemonic dominance of one social group over another. Put simply: they keep us repressed, gurl! Created for, and not by the groups they apply to, these constructs lampoon minority groups within society by creating inaccurate archetypes that those within the community are forced to adhere to.
They aren’t healthy. They place people in boxes; categories that don’t adequately describe who they are. They marginalise people by reducing them to a set of ridiculous pre-prescribed characteristics and create negative identities based on ‘what’ people are; not ‘who’ they are. Sadly, the Queer community is not immune to this.
Society informs us that because we are Queer: we should act, talk, walk, and dress all in a certain way. To society, it’s simply what we should be. The homos should be camper than Boy George and the dykes should look like Justin Bieber. It’s just natural or the ‘norm’ as they say. Right? Wrong! But any derivation from this so- called ‘norm,’ cannot be understood. If a rugby-playing jock comes out as gay—the world is shocked. Cue Gareth Thomas. When a glammed-up girl in a flowery frock walks down Lambton Quay, holding a handbag in one hand and her female partner’s hand in the other; she is stared at. “She’s not a real lesbian…” the looks on their faces say.
When we don’t fit these stereotypes we confuse and disturb people. We aren’t who they thought we were. We are, well, just like them… Not an imagined ‘other.’ When we look, sound, and act just like them we are no longer over there in our little box society has fashioned for us. The distance created between ‘us’ and ‘them’ by the stereotype has vanished and we stand before them as people. Nothing more, nothing less—just people. By breaking these stereotypes we are telling society that our sexual orientation does not determine other aspects of our identity. We determine that ourselves. I’m a camp bitch because I want to be, not because society says so.
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Stereotypes require people to all be the same. But, we’re not. We’re all different. So, be yourself and do as you please. And if you live up to a stereotype? Who cares. You’re just being you.