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I Am Not Your Fetish
by Corey Gray
I am a person. I am not your fetish. I am a femme
nonbinary AMAB (assigned male at birth) person. I am not
your fetish. Over the past year I’ve realized when it comes
to romance, I’m not a very lucky duck. I trucked off to
school in Boston after growing up in rural Maine and was
aching to be in a place with a larger queer community. While
I did find that, I for some reason could still only get the
occasional Tinder match, and could even more rarely get a
date with anyone. I’m not here to toot my own horn, but I
consider myself to be attractive and interesting, and have
been validated on both claims by many people, so I was
stumped as to why I was struggling to find anyone willing to
connect with me. It clicked near the middle of the school
year when I realized that most of the people who did show
interest in me thought I was a cross dresser and would ask
me to be their little girl or to dress up in lingerie (that they
offered to buy me).
When people pass me on the street I can sometimes
see in their eyes the confusion as to what I am. In this world
of labels and stereotyping, people don’t really know what to
make of me. A lot of people really just aren’t familiar with
any gender non-conforming identities. I’ve been asked more
times than I can count if I’m transgender, but never if I’m
agender or genderqueer. The world is still grappling to
understand, so where does that leave me? That leaves me
here to educate and fight for recognition so that future little
nonbinary babies won’t have to.
Over the past year at school, a school with many gay
men, two straight men targeted me. They both were in
relationships with women when they first started pursuing
me, and they both just really wanted to know what it’s like
to have sex with someone who is AMAB. They chose me
because of how femme I am and one of them even said he
wanted me to be his princess. They both made it clear,
though, that I could never under any circumstance talk to
them in public. Of course, I didn’t do anything with these
obnoxious boys because, shocker, they treated me as just a
pretty thing with a penis whom they could never be seen
with in public lest their bros think their gay.
Currently, I would say the most recognition we get is
as a fetish. Or as an affront to masculinity. Both are
applicable, honestly. I’ve gotten reactions ranging from, and
I quote, “Over the top. You have a penis, you’re a MAN not a
princess”, “You are terrifying”, to sexual ones that I really
shouldn’t repeat here. The gay community is already anti-
femme in the first place, but then add in some hyper-femme
presenting AMABs into the mix and you’ve got some real
dissonance. Luckily every other nonbinary person I’ve met
has been incredibly positive, healing, and inspiring. I’m not
exaggerating to say that they have all proven themselves to
be the strongest people I know, especially my POC
We really have picked ourselves over romance. It took
me a while to realize that I had done so, but when I did,
everything became clear. It’s all about priorities. I would
rather be alone in the romantic sense and try and add my
voice to the nonbinary cause and hopefully the ingrained
societal beauty ideals will become more forgiving in the
future so that being nonbinary won’t make you just a fetish.
No part of me is willing to concede any of my self-expression
or identity to better fit into this society. Nobody should have
to feel like they have to tone down themselves to make
themselves more palatable for a first date. Society likes to
spread this gospel of being yourself unapologetically and
staying true to yourself, but then goes on to tell us that we
have to still fit within this one societally acceptable box.
It’s not fair and it’s my nonbinary siblings and I are
bullied, raped, and murdered just for expressing ourselves.
We do want love, but we know that there are more
important things than that, like not getting murdered and
fighting for our recognition and acceptance. We are people.
We are strong and proud people. We will not be recognized
only when your marriage is failing and your wife is at work.
We will not be treated like nothing more than a sexual
conquest. We are not your fetish. We are beautiful and
interesting gender non-conforming people who deserve so
much more than we get.
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