OPINION: Steal my aesthetic? You’re pathetic

An assortment of clothing on hangers forms a rainbow with their colors.
Graphic by Anaga Srinivas

Hey hey hey! Remember me?

The one with the bright yellow hair (this week), septum piercing and occasional light-pink booty shorts?

That’s right! That’s me. And it’s ok. You know why?

Because I’m fucking gay. Let me spell this out for my hetero homies.

The way you present yourself says a lot about you. At the very least, it says a lot about the way you want others to perceive you.

Let’s zoom out and consider social context. Heteronormativity is a thing. I would define it, but if you go to the 5Cs you know what it is. If not, look it up.

Because of heteronormativity, the “default” sexuality for any given person is heterosexual, or straight, whichever you think sounds less oppressive. The burden of the queer is to both demonstrate to the world that they are queer or, more importantly, to recognize fellow queers in nature. 

Stereotypes are bad, sure, but sometimes they are useful heuristics for people with little else to go off of. You see a cute guy in line and know you have 20 seconds to make your move before he’s lost in a sea of white neoliberals again.

So you go through the checklist. Quirky hair color, check. Single pierced ear, check. Wild shirt pattern and tight jeans to match, check. 

This guy is the one. You just know it.

Only he isn’t. He is yet another straight boy, one who has appropriated queer aesthetics with little to no regard for the repercussions it could have for queer people.

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While the concept of heteronormativity is generally understood, the concept of queer-baiting is far less understood. The Independent, a British news source, defines queer-baiting as “a term used to describe purposely teasing the possibility of being queer in an effort to appeal to audiences.”

Sorry, straights, but you don’t get to play queer dress-up when it’s convenient.

I cannot tell you how many times I have developed an attraction to a guy under the pretense that he was queer (because, let’s face it, crushing on straight guys just hasn’t hit the same since high school), only to find out they’re “not queer, just metro.”

Let’s unpack this. Metro — short for metrosexual — is a pseudo-sexuality describing men who put above-average effort into their appearance, through grooming and meticulous wardrobe choice.

People often cling to this as a means of setting themselves apart from the heterosexual majority, as a means of proving that they’re different, that they’re somehow special.

Let’s get something straight. You aren’t an oppressed class because you bathe.

I’ll be honest with myself (as we all should be): Straight people don’t listen. They never do (especially when a queer person is talking), but I hope they will hear me when I say this: You’re treading on thin ice.

Appropriating queer aesthetics will inevitably result in queer people expressing interest in you (a concept!), and in those instances, straight people, I urge you to BE NICE. You based your whole wardrobe on stolen fashion trends — the least you could do is show some respect.

Don’t lash out at queer people. Don’t get defensive. Acknowledge the origins of your “unique” look, acknowledge that you are complicit in a system that disillusions countless queers on a daily basis and move the hell on.

All of this said, I know that as soon as I finish writing this article and step out into a social space, I will see at least ten straight men who meet this exact description. This isn’t a thing I can change. But what I can do is tell you this.

Straight, queer-baiting “hipsters,” what you’re doing is wrong.

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Cameron Tipton PO ’20 is a precocious, pompous psychology pupil. They are currently working to unlearn the hostile attribution bias. 

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