When you’re in the Bay Area, the question is not whether you’re gay or straight. At least not in certain circles. No, the question stands: how queer are you?

The pyramid of ultimate queerdom starts with a strong base of queer allies (straight-identifying and otherwise) and reaches the pinnacle at the kinky, polyamorous, pansexual, vegan, Marxist, local, organic sustainable, genderqueer, cycling activist. Phew. It’s enough to make any mostly-straight-but-queer-identifying high femme apprehensive about coming out of the closet.

You shouldn’t have to worry about being queer enough to be queer. Maybe this is one of those dilemmas that only the Sodoms and Gomorrahs of the world (i.e. San Francisco) deal with. Queerness isn’t defined by the degree in which you eschew heteronormativity (ooh, big words). In fact, I think one of the guiding principles of being queer is that anyone who thinks they’re queer is queer. Ta-da!

“Queer” is one of those nebulous terms that’s hard to define. It’s easy to say that anyone who is not straight is queer, but it’s also a little disheartening to continue to think of sexuality in binaries or to continue to relegate queerness to “other” status. Many people see “queer” as the umbrella term for the LGBTIQQA (am I missing any?) community. Here are some possibilities for you to mix and match:

  • umbrella term
  • someone who doesn’t fit into a heteronormative gender
  • a bisexual who doesn’t believe in gender binaries
  • gays and lesbians
  • a pansexual
  • anyone who’s not a perfect 0 on the Kinsey scale
  • even straight allies who want to align themselves with the community

The “queer” label is a hodge podge of sexual preferences, which is kind of the point. It allows anyone access to what can seem to be an exclusive club but prevents someone from pigeonholing themselves. “Let’s see. So, on Tuesdays, I primarily go for glittery trannyfags, but on Saturdays I’m all about the chubby bears and their motorcycle jackets. But then every third Sunday of the month I wax all my body hair and go out for high tea in my waist cincher, stilettos, pearls, and A-line halter dress. So there’s that.” Queer as fuck.

Many people also see their sexuality as fluid, ever changing on a daily basis or through various experiences and personal fancies. Just because one day you’re a college bisexual woman and the next day you’re slapping a ring on your finger and taking his last name doesn’t discount any of the same-sex experiences/fantasies you had or will continue to have. Oh wait, sorry, I mean YOU ARE ONLY ALLOWED ONE SEXUAL PREFERENCE AND NO YOU MAY NOT CHANGE IT EVER. Gah, heavens forbid you’re the indecisive type!

Sometimes, it can be overwhelming when you realize that being queer means liking and having sex with whomever you want regardless of gender or genitals or their orientation. I mean, you can go into the upper echelons of queerdom with this! A lot of power comes with the freedom from a restrictive label and from allowing yourself to stop worrying if this makes you “gay” or makes you less of an XYZ. Who cares? You’re queer, and no one really knows what that means either.

Front page image by lighttripper.

Video by Reel Boi Productions.

The Sexual Manifesto is Christine Borden’s weekly column on sex in the city, sex and culture, and, well, sex. Got a tip for Christine (and it’s not in your pants)? Email her at christine@sfappeal.com.

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