At the risk of sounding overly offended/PC…
I have had an issue with people describing me with certain words for almost my entire life, and it wasn’t until recent that I understood why. And no, I’m not referring to people insulting me or calling me names because I tend to let that bounce off the thick skin I’ve built over the years as a queer POC.
If you don’t know me, then to summarise myself, I would say that I am an extrovert-introvert mix; when I am extroverted, I can be loud, brash, and the life of the party; when I am introverted, I keep to myself and like spending quality alone time. My introvert side is reserved for when I am at home or in a comfortable place, so when I am among friends and family, then my extrovert side comes out, and that is the side of me people tend to see.
I am carefree in that I wear whatever I want without fear of judgment or conforming to gender expectations. I like to put a lot of effort into my appearance – again without conforming to gender expectations – so as a cis male, I regularly get my eyelashes/nails/hair done, among other things. So one would look at me and make an easy assumption that I am very exuberant, bubbly, free-spirited, and outgoing. I fuck with these adjectives as they are, in a general sense on a surface level, very accurate.
Some of the adjectives that I have issue with (which is not an all-inclusive list), however, are fabulous and flamboyant. Let me tell you why.
Dictionary.com defines fabulous as:
1) Informal. exceptionally good or unusual; wonderful; superb.
With that definition, the word fabulous can describe a lot of different things, and a lot of different people. A flashy Lambourghini could be described as fabulous. Chris Hemsworth could be described as fabulous; I mean look at the man.
However pop culture has determined that this word is reserved for two groups of people: large female personalities, and large queer male personalities, and thus lies the “issue” I have with being called fabulous.
To me, when someone calls me fabulous, it’s somewhat of a microaggression because really they’re just calling me “super stereotypically gay” and they don’t know how else to say it because society has conditioned them to believe that only people like me and Sharpay Evans can be fabulous. I could opt to wear a more conservative outfit like a pair of trackies and a t-shirt and sit quietly in the corner on my phone, but because I still retain my sexual orientation, I would still be described as “fabulous” even though there’s nothing exceptionally good or unusual about my presentation.
Furthermore, Dictionary.com defines flamboyant as
1) strikingly bold or brilliant; showy:
2) conspicuously dashing and colorful:
3) florid; ornate; elaborately styled.
Even though the dictionary definition of flamboyant could be used to describe a lot of things much like the word fabulous can, I can assure you that the first thing that popped in your head upon reading the word was a gay man wearing a bold pink outfit throwing feathers and glitter around because that’s society’s definition of flamboyant.
The word ‘flamboyant’ is a more blatant case or microaggression than the word ‘fabulous’ in that over-the-top women are barely ever described as flamboyant, if ever; this word is almost solely reserved for the “stereotypically gay males”.
One could make the argument that I have a very similar (extroverted) personality to Gizelle Bryant from Real Housewives of Potomac, but because she’s a cis female, she would never be described as flamboyant, whereas that adjective would be thrown at me like darts on a board.
I remember I was once in a class for uni and my lecturer at the time described a female student, who on the surface level had a very similar personality to me, as ‘bubbly and outgoing’, and then turned to me and said ‘flamboyant’.
I didn’t like it at the time, and I couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t like it. It’s because it’s an adjective that society has reserved solely for gay/queer men, and like the term fabulous, it’s a microaggression that people use to describe someone when “over the top gay” isn’t appropriate or PC.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that it’s offensive to refer to someone as fabulous or flamboyant when really there is a compliment painted in that word. My main gripe with it as that when these words are used as a light-hearted way to just essentially call someone gay/queer, then you are pigeonholing that person into being just what their sexual orientation is.
We as members of the LGTBQI+ community have so much more to offer than just our sexual orientation. I have many friends within the community, and their sexual orientation or little microaggression terms like fabulous or flamboyant are not within the top 20 words I would use to describe them, and I would hope my friends think the same of me.
I am strong and resilient as I have bounced back from numerous hardships in my life.
I am fiercely loyal to my family and friends.
I am outgoing and love meeting new people.
I speak before I think, which can result in me either sounding really blunt, or really ditzy.
I am many several things before I am just pigeonholed into being queer.
– by The Black Widow