“Does Billie Eilish market herself as queer for Pride Month, even though she may not be?” Hengameh Yaghoobifarah asks this question in the taz. The occasion was an Instagram post in which she wrote: “i love girls”. Now English is much more permissive than the German with loving, which sometimes only means to like. But since she seems to celebrate a kind of pajama party only with women in the video for her song “Lost Cause”, some understood this as a lesbian outing. But Eilish is currently living with a man. So there were people who accused their queerbaiting – i.e. pretending to make a profit from it. However, this raises the question of which image of sexuality underlies this? Isn’t sexuality much more diverse than the opposites of man/woman and hetero/homo?
Billie Eilish – Lost Cause (Official Music Video)
A little bit of bi never hurts
I’m a cis man and also straight – and I’ve enjoyed the way gays looked at me all my life. They were always very permissive in praising – and that helped me over some hard days. Conversely, it took me a while to dare to praise men for their attractiveness. Does that already fall under “I love boys”? Or does it simply mean that sexuality is not exhausted in binary? It was, I think, Truman Capote who said of himself that he thought he was 10 percent homo and 90 straight, only to realize it was the other way around. But can’t that just change in life? Or even more banal, is it perhaps related to the person you love – no matter what gender they are? Can love be stronger than sexuality? Just like Hubert Fichte, who was straight gay until he met Leonore Mau. This remained his partner until death – while he continued to have – if we may believe his novels – quite a few gay sex partners. And Virginia Woolf was firmly convinced that only from an androgynous soul could a truly great work emerge.
The Corset Gender
Sure, our society is heteronormative: it is pretended that a mixed-sex relationship is the rule, everything else is a deviation. But why do men dress up as women in carnival? Why is lesbian sex in porn a genre that many men are into? Are they trying to break out of their own sexuality in this way? Although this does not necessarily mean immediately switching to the other shore – it can simply remain a mental game, a sexual fantasy. Yes, we can enjoy no longer being stuck in the corset of norms, of having to behave like a man. Men in my youth were guys who rode mopeds, talked disparagingly about women, were interested in football and preferred to be trained on the gun rather than “wipe old people’s asses off”. I couldn’t do anything with that. Because I was almost beardless and had long hair, many confused me with my youngest sister from a few meters away – which I liked. I wanted to be a man who liked women because he didn’t look like a typical man.
Where, what does typical mean? Is a norm man really more genuine, authentic than my design of masculinity? Or just more customized? Then Machotum would also be just a disguise: to give oneself as required. This is exactly Judith Butler’s criticism of the claim that there is a biological sex. In doing so, it does not deny how we differ below. But she questions the fact that biology would clearly determine us, dictate to us almost in a very small way how we should live our sexuality. Maybe we are all a bit bi, homo and hetero? Or maybe it helps us all to understand this as a possibility so that we can act more freely in our sexuality, whether straight or queer.
Those who live differently also liberate me
What does not contribute to liberation or relaxation, however, is the imperative of unambiguity, no matter from which camp. It’s simply none of my business what sexual preferences someone has. And that’s why there is no obligation to come out or otherwise create verbal clarity. This also applies to celebrities and stars. Jodie Foster has the right to say she is single – and thus leave open what form of sex she appreciates. It may be that queerness is being commercialized. What is certain is that heteros are also interested in homos – because, as Emmanuel Levinas has repeatedly emphasized, we need the other in order to become ourselves. And even in every dismissal there is a piece of appropriation. Or even a liberation from constraints for each and every one of us. In “The Crying Game”, a man falls in love with a trans person – because he thinks he is dealing with a beautiful woman. Their penis is then a bitter surprise. But he doesn’t stop loving man because of it. The film was a box office magnet in the early 90s. Because he told a great story. But also because he made it clear that sexuality cannot be locked up in binarity.
The Crying Game | ‘Do Something for Me?’ (HD) – Jaye Davidson, Stephen Rea | MIRAMAX
It’s the wrong question of which camp Billie Eilish belongs to. It’s the wrong question of whether it might be doing queerbaiting for commercial reasons. The right question is: Does your video allow you to find a casual path to your own sexuality – whatever it looks like, however it changes? I never found drag queens and kings to dress up. I found them to show that any form of sexuality is also a disguise. We all have chromosomes – but also the men have a so-called female X. What we should all have is the freedom to find a variety of sexuality in which we feel comfortable. Whether mainstream or very special, whether hetero or homo or something in between. Not as an expression of our tolerance, but as a moment of freedom that makes every sexuality better, easier and more beautiful.