I've made an effort to surround myself with people who accept me; who are staunchly-sex positive; who understand queerness, feminism, race, the importance of intersectionality, and the difference between equity and equality. Sure, we all make mistakes and forget to check our privileges at times, but we do our best to not be defensive or circumvent difficult societal issues.
There's one thing though, that seems to still be accepted among the people who do take matters of social justice seriously: male objectification, specifically between two male lovers.
My boyfriend and I (who are both bisexual) were at a play party in Providence. While the vast majority of men and women there identified as straight, everyone there was open-minded and staunchly sex-positive.
While we were there numerous women, strangers and friends alike, asked me and my boyfriend to kiss in front of them. This isn't new. Many women have asked my boyfriend and I to kiss for their pleasure before. They find it hot, cute, etc. It's never really bothered me. I knew, of course, I was being objectified, but to be honest, I kind of liked it. I also knew that these women were good people, simply trying to illustrate how OK they are with same-sex couples and queerness. Not only are they OK with it, they like it! It turns them on.
When most straight women don't want to date a bi man, especially after seeing him make out with another man, these women desire me specifically for that reason. It feels great to be desired for something about your identity that most people reject.
But the high from being objectified has now worn off, as it inevitably does, and I'm tired of being reduced to an object.
At the club, not only were we asked to make out for female gazers, for which we received responses of oohs, ahhs, and metaphorical (maybe even literal) panty-dropping, my boyfriend and I were actually applauded after coming out of one of the private rooms.
We opened the door and saw two women smiling, nodding aggressively, and clapping.
"I don't know what you guys did but just wanted to let you know. I approve. You guys are hot and whatever you did in there is so hot".
Don't get me wrong. What we did in there was so hot, and I'm absolutely deserving of all the praise, but my rockstar sex isn't for you. We closed the door to the room, specifically, because we were tired of being objectified that night. Now I'm also an exhibitionist, and there are times when I'm all for onlookers gazing at me. But when I don't want to be made a spectacle, when I want to have an intimate moment with my boyfriend and boyfriend alone, I would like that to be respected.
The truth of the matter is my queerness isn't for you. The reason I kiss my boyfriend in public isn't for you. The reason I work out five days a week isn't for you. Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, please ask if you can touch my arms or pecs. You don't get the right to touch me without asking, even though I'm wearing a tight shirt.
Men aren't objectified the same way as women. We haven't been the objects of the male (or female) gaze for millennia, and there isn't an institutionalized system that consistently treats us as inferior and perpetuates a system of oppression. Still, it's tough not to draw certain parallels between when two women are asked to make out for the enjoyment of men, and when two men are asked to make out for the enjoyment of women. In both circumstances, people and their sexuality are being objectified. Even though male objectification is coming from a place of acceptance, a place of look, I know how you're oppressed as a queer man, and I want to show you that's okay, it's still objectification. Besides, there are much better ways to show your support to same-sex couples than to tell us how hot it is when they kiss.
So please, I know you mean well, and I'm flattered, I truly am, but stop asking me and my boyfriend to make out. Stop telling us how hot it is. Stop objectifying our queerness and love. No one likes to be constantly objectified, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.