by Zack Mink
Dating in Arcata can be rough. As a visibly queer person, I find that I attract all kinds of different people. The most frustrating breed is the queer-passing straight men.
This is the man who is either being friendly or flirting – you’re always questioning if they’re into you or if you’re just being delusional.
In the past, it has been super tricky because I wasn’t the only one convinced these queer-passing straight men were into me. What made it so difficult was my friends being able to corroborate my beliefs as audience members of my disastrous love life. For the two most impactful love interests of mine, my besties were right by my side, able to witness the main events, the flirting, the looks, the attention, etc. So after multiple experiences discovering one of my interests is actually straight, I have to ask myself… what made me think they weren’t?
Aside from a basic level of human connection, and the undeniably flirtatious energy I could feel whenever we would talk, my confusion about a guy’s sexuality ultimately would come down to two things: their emotional intelligence and their sense of style.
Apparently the bar is on the floor when it comes to the emotional intelligence of a straight man (no offense to straight men), because when a guy is comfortable with himself, confident and generally aware of others and his surroundings, I’m absolutely convinced he is queer. There’s just a certain depth that I find straight men don’t have because of their privileges.
When taking a step back, I also realize that I definitely don’t associate a good sense of style with straight men (no offense again). I did notice however that I was stereotyping clothes. When I saw something I believed was not traditionally masculine, it would lead me to make assumptions about people’s sexuality. As a breaker of many stereotypes myself, believing them is something I want to avoid.
With this goal in mind, I learned a few things about myself and this genre of man. The first thing I reminded myself of is that anyone can have a good sense of style because clothing is for everyone. I can’t gatekeep dangly earrings and head scarfs for the girls, gays and theys. The second thing was that by having a sense of style, trying new accessories and having fun with clothes, a man is fighting society’s standards of masculinity. This was my “A-ha” moment as Oprah would say, because as someone who partially identifies as a guy, I have never fit in with the standards of masculinity. I actually think that not fitting in and being treated differently encouraged me to not accept societes standards for myself. Yes, I’ll blame the conservative people from my childhood for me being queer.
So despite my struggles differentiating a straight guy with style from a queer person, and despite the time I’ve wasted on people who aren’t interested in me, I will show my appreciation for the authenticity of the ambiguous straight men.