My love is queer, but there is nothing queer about it
Love is one of those feelings that trip you up, make you spin round and throw you into a whole new equilibrium. All relationships require energy and effort, so this is as much for friendships, family, lovers, partners as it is for us who paint all the things with all the colours. Love for me is more than a rainbow; it is pink, blue, white, orange, yellow, all the people. Yet, above all it is an effective working relationship that requires communication, compersion, and compassion. I am a queer woman, and the loves in my life range from my rock steady relationship to the wonderful friends to my family; each requires energy and effort to succour, and to pretend otherwise is doing them a dis-service.
We all know the Disney version, the simple happily ever after if you find your one true love and soulmate. Yet, ever after requires a deep understanding, acceptance, and a mutual willingness to work at what you have. Soulmates does not equal romance; indeed I would argue that a deep platonic friendship can be just as meaningful as a romantic partnership. All the labels we place on love, all the descriptions thrown at us by adverts, music, and the media we consume tell us love must be this intrinsic monodimensional thing. Does it really have to be so?
All consuming passion is not just a sexual erotic thing. When we make new friends or join a new social group our platonic love develops and blossoms. With tendering these blossoms grow roots and become as deep sat within us as the amorous loves we kindle over our lifetimes. All require time and energy from us, especially those relationships that bloom from shared experience. Often queer relationships flourish in the twilight between the gaps of front-of-house lives, where we encounter the most amazing people cast in smoke machines and glitter balls, or in the midst of chat rooms. However those roots sprout, it is the efforts we take that ensure those bonds develop.
The media likes to portray queerness as either this archetypal loneliness that is found in snark and at the bottom of a bottle or an over-sexualised unable to fully commit abundance of love that must reach out and express itself. Who wants mundane queerness on screen? Queer relationships are tragic tropes, bound in a shared doom that consumes all who it encounters. Burn bright, embers scattered to the wind. To hell with that. My queerness is the sofa and Netflix curled up together on a Sunday; it is the hands held walking through a market square; it is the WhatsApp cat videos I share with her during her time in Israel. Our queerness is the silly little smile as I watch her give a seminar, all smart and hair done. It is the work we do as we discuss and dissect our problems.
It is not perfection, but feels pretty close.
My queerness is probably as normal and mundane as straight loves and losses. Well, as normal as my life has been. But, the bigger point is that queer relationships of all hues and shades requires as much work and emotional labour as straight ones. It is only because that society and culture makes queerness this exotic bird, demanding it perform Iago for them that makes it, well, queer. The very fact that I use the word queer to define my loves says as much for how society views me as it does about my distaste for personal labels. Maybe it should just all be called love, queer and cishet be damned.
Not that I would have it any other way. I adore the compersion I feel when I see relationships blossom, seeing two or more people merge into lovers, friends, family and beyond. English is the Greek’s poor relation when we discuss love, and if the seven plus Grecian concepts of love could merge into the English language we would be all the richer for it. Relationships would thus become friendships, family dynamics and so much more defined by the richness of the connection rather than the self-defined genders of those involved. In a way queer relationships require energy and effort above and beyond precisely because each one has to use emotional energy to define it according to cishet linguistics. Bring on the Greeks.
The best piece of relationship I have ever received is that all relationships, lovers, friends, family, require you to personally wake up every morning and actively want to be a part of them. This personal energy and effort shows you where your priorities lie, and no-one has a right to demand that you reorientate yourself to one particular relationship over another. This is the joy, and chore, of all forms of relationships, and one that queer folk work through every day to overcome the prejudices placed upon them.
There is nothing revelatory about what I am suggesting, only that we actively commit to being a part of whatever relationships we are a part of. I am possibly being reductive, as not all relationships are entirely voluntary or wanted, but for those that are and that who choose to be a part of require us to tend and water to ensure they do not wither away. I have to remind myself of this from time to time to ensure that I don’t take my partner for granted, that I actively do want her in my life, and that the love I feel for her is as much adoration and joy as it is amour. Yes, my love is queer, but there is nothing queer about it.