Image description: rows of neon rainbow lights silhouetting a clock
In a video called “Queer Theory”, Youtuber Abigail Thorn (also known as PhilosophyTube) introduced me, and I’m sure plenty of others, to the concept of ‘queer time’, and suddenly my life made a lot more sense. The basic idea is that queer lives do not progress in the same way as non-queer lives: experiences of queer people like coming out, or transitioning for trans people, warp time which prevents life developing in a linear way. Until recently in the UK, marriage and having kids were not possible for queer people- we were excluded from the ‘normal’ development of life. We were denied the same life events that are expected for non-queer people so it makes sense that queer lives often took a different path.
Queer lives do not progress in the same way as non-queer lives; experiences of queer people like coming out, or transitioning for trans people, warp time which prevents life developing in a linear way.
For me as a bisexual I feel like I experience two strands of time; my progression with dating people that don’t identity as men has been far behind than my progression with dating men, which has evolved in a fairly ‘normal’ way. The best way of describing it is that my maturity/emotional age with men feels like my actual age, but I feel younger when being with women and non-binary people.
This makes a lot of sense – whereas I could be open about having crushes on guys from the moment I first had them, and was able to have a very serious year 8 relationship and have a rather awkward first kiss, I didn’t even come out to myself as bisexual for another 4 years, pushing down and denying any feelings of attraction I had towards girls (which was a rather hard task, there were a lot of feelings!). Coming out to other people took another year and I didn’t kiss a girl for 2 years more.
Whereas I could be open about having crushes on guys from the moment I first had them…I didn’t even come out to myself as bisexual for another 4 years
For queer people, and especially bisexuals, our identities can be subject to a lot of doubt, both internally and externally. If you have a same sex partner people assume you’re straight, and if you have one of the opposite sex that you’re gay. What may seem like straight passing and therefore a privilege is actually bisexual erasure. This coupled with asymmetrical experiences with different genders threw even more doubt on my identify, and until hearing about queer time I felt like a ‘bad’ bisexual, if there can be such a thing.
‘Queer time’ has reassured me of my identity; sexuality is about attraction not action and it is perfectly okay to have different levels of experience with different genders. My life and the lives of other queer people may not develop the way they do for non-queer people, we might reach significant life events later or never at all, we might be ‘inexperienced’ for our age, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them.
‘Queer time’ has reassured me of my identity; sexuality is about attraction not action and it is perfectly okay to have different levels of experience with different genders.
Learning about queer time has been freeing and has strengthened my feeling of connection to the LGBT+ community. Although ‘queer time’ may manifest very different for different queer people, it is a shared experience. In pride month there are so many things for us to celebrate and to educate ourselves about, one of these being queer time.
Image credit: “Rainbow Clock” by Dave Lantner is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0