LGBTQIA+ partners and relationships: a bit of help
Dating queer partners - I have questions!
I'm genderfluid - meaning I was assigned male at birth, but my inner sense of connection or disconnection with that identity changes, driving me to find different ways to present or express myself almost every day. I'm trixic, meaning attracted to women; and my wife is a cisgender, heterosexual, demisexual woman. Which means on days when I'm male, there doesn't seem to be anything "queer" about our relationship. Regardless, my wife is always the most amazing ally in any fight for equality, whether it's sexism, racism, or any phobia against the queer community (you can be sure, by the way, now and always, I use the word Queer as a term of Pride, never of shame).
So this is a quick and simple little guide to being a genderfluid partner, or having a genderfluid partner - how to be romantic, how to help each other find looks that really express yourselves, learning and respecting each other's pronouns, and being each other's allies.
I'm going to give you four words, to help you find your way through like four points of a compass.
Let's take them in turn.
You may be your queer partner's first "straight"; you may be your straight partner's first "queer"; maybe neither of you know how it goes, or how it works, so be excited about finding out together. When you're together in public, it can be about finding out the best ways to back each other up. When you're together in private, it can be all about finding the best ways to turn each other on. You might face ignorance, fear or jealousy - either the kind you expect from other people outside, or another unexpected kind you didn't know you had inside yourself - but perfect love can be built up against all those, if it's built on a foundation of perfect trust.
The reason LGBTQIA+ people's lives can seem a bit of an alphabet soup or a word salad (not sure whether soup or salad is the right metaphor there, but now I'm hungry, so let's move on!) is that we and our partners and allies are going through things we've maybe never had words for before. Finding sides of ourselves we need to call by new names. A big one is pronouns. As a genderfluid person, I like people to be able to change pronouns when I change presentation; maybe I was "he" yesterday, maybe I'll be "she" tomorrow. People can sometimes pick pedantically at the use of "they" or "them" - it sounds plural - but our language, built on binary thinking, has always used "they" for unknown or anonymous identities, single or plural, from Shakespeare to Jane Austen. The only real alternative we have right now, as language evolves, is pronouns taken from some of the other root languages that feed into English, such as "Xe"/"Xir" or "Fae"/"Faer". You might say, or hear others say, they don't understand them. Not understanding is fine. What matters is what you choose to do about not understanding: ridicule, and deride; or listen, and learn?
Wanting to look in a way that makes you feel more like a man;
Wanting to look in a way that makes you feel more like a woman;
Wanting to look in a way that makes you feel more androgynous;
These are things that both queer and straight people can feel sometimes. So the two of you together finding the clothes and cosmetics to make both your looks pop, can be a fantastic thing to bring you together. The key is finding things that make you feel how you want to feel, and never mind if it's what other people think of as "manly" or "ladylike". Long hair, eye make up and tight black fabric may sound ladylike at first; but now imagine them on a rock star at a festival. Short hair, loose clothes and rough skin may sound manly at first; but for some people there's nothing sexier than a girl with a pixie cut and unmade face draping your shirt over her shoulders as she steps out of the shower the morning after. There's no need to shop for clothes or cosmetics with any clear ideas of what's boyish, girlish, non binary or gay looking; just look at yourself in the mirror til you feel that sweet flood of gender euphoria, and get the look that goes with how you feel.
One right way, one great way, to be allies to each other starts by simply spending time together. Know what each other go through on a day to day basis, and show each other that when it gets bad, you're there. Some cultures in this world will tell me I'm less of a man for sometimes being a woman. Some cultures in this world will tell my wife she's less of a woman for not being with a "real man". If we're side by side when these things happen, we can be each other's oasis of good in a desert of bad. Being an ally, at its root, is often as simple as that. If one person stays by you when others turn against you, then you'll know that you'll always have somewhere to go when you've just had enough of having to defend yourself just for being yourself. There are no right words, right thoughts, right actions or right feelings that can be written in an allies' guidebook to apply to every situation or relationship. Just show your partner you're there to try and turn the worst times into the best times by being beside them.
Ask each other.
And then answer each other, honestly and openly.