Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary

Cultural Response: Rose by Any Other Name…


The picture to the left is of Ruby Rose, a devastatingly beautiful human being who has recently been discovered by the general populus via her role in the Netflix-original series, Orange is the New Black. She has a 5 minute video online in which she goes from one gender extreme–very, explicitly feminine–to the other–rather masculine indeed, including a strap-on (for the bulge effect, but probably for other reasons which I’m not about to go into at present, because that’s a subject for another day) and bound breasts, which has also resurfaced*, causing straight girls everywhere to suddenly “question” their sexuality, and this is causing one helluvan uproar for the queer community.

I’m going to weigh in, because this is what I do.

Now, there’s a point that I must make now, as it is key to this discussion, even though I don’t want this to be the focus of my post. It isn’t really something that I talk about, and not because I’m ashamed of it, but rather because I never really figured that it was really anybody’s business.

We’ve most of us been exposed to the model of sexuality which presents it as a spectrum, rather than a binary with only two options: straight | gay. We now have a whole range of terms to describe sexuality, what we like and are attracted to, and how we respond to those things in terms of physical/emotional desire. This isn’t a new idea, at least not for most of us. I fall somewhere into the space between straight and bisexual. I find myself statistically more interested in men than in women, but that does not, under any circumstance, invalidate my very real interest in women. I like each gender for very different, and very similar reasons. At the end of the day, I’m a sapiosexual (attracted to intelligence, and often flagrant displays thereof) and so, with that in place, much of the rest of the person ends up being supplementarily attractive, gender notwithstanding. Scratch that: gender included. Because gender does matter, just like their face and their laugh and the way they look at me when they think I’m not looking.

That said, this isn’t about me. This is to illustrate that I have authority to talk about sexuality from a perspective that is not cis-gendered straight woman. I have, at no point, claimed to “go gay” for any person. At no point have I had a sexual awakening over somebody. There was, of course, a tipping point, whereupon I was forced to realize that my interest in women wasn’t purely casual aesthetics–it wasn’t just that I thought they were pretty. I was actually legitimately, physically and emotionally attracted to women. It was a wake up call, and it forced me to reevaluate a number of things in my life, the way I looked at and felt about them, specifically. Last year, when I saw Ruby Rose’s gender transformation video titled “Break Free”, I was deeply moved, and (sorrynotsorry Mom) really turned on. I showed it to a few people and moved on with my life. Now, suddenly, it has resurfaced thanks to her role in OITNB, and people all over the country are losing their minds.

I’m going to say this now: At no point has any straight woman had a sexual awakening for Ruby Rose. What these women are experiencing is recognition of another human being’s (admittedly astounding) beauty, and they are misinterpreting it because current society has placed us in a very precarious situation wherein we immediately question everything we know about ourselves once we find someone of the same sex to be more than casually attractive.

For some, yes, perhaps this has been a wake up call, the sudden realization that, yes, my appreciation for my own gender is a little bit more than casual, like my tipping point as mentioned above–but for most of these straight girls? They’re just riding the current fashion. It’s the new thing to “go gay” for a hot celebrity. It’s a trend–and everybody wants to be in on the trend. But this isn’t how sexuality works. Sexuality isn’t really a choice. The choice is how we act on it–and even then, only to a certain degree.

Technically, this has been a little bit of a coming-out post for me, but that’s not the point of this. The point of this post is to remind you all that finding another person of your gender attractive isn’t enough to call yourself gay, or bisexual. It’s to point out that by saying so, by announcing that you’d make a conscious choice to “go gay” for X celebrity, you’re trivializing the struggle of every non-binary person around you, who has struggled for years with culture and their own self to be who they are without fear of antagonism (and there’s always fear of antagonism), by implying that every non-straight person made the choice to be not straight, made the choice to be attracted to whomever they’re attracted, made the choice to be different and berated for it. Nobody has made that choice. I don’t choose who I’m attracted to, nor do you, nor anybody else.

So please, do everybody a favor and stop “going gay” for celebrities. Because you aren’t, and you wouldn’t if it came down to brass tax. If that person were actually, physically naked in front of you, you wouldn’t know what to do with them. They would know exactly what to do with you. And that is the difference.

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Author:

I am a Writing and Publishing graduate student at Emerson College. I studied English and Linguistics in my undergraduate career, as well as a little bit of philosophy and four other languages (somewhat superficially). I am interested in language and how we use it culturally, as well as a vast collection of current sociopolitical issues, including race, sex, and gender, and the ways that those issues intersect each other.

2 thoughts on “Cultural Response: Rose by Any Other Name…

  1. Very insightful post. I often wonder about people’s reasoning for saying they would go gay for a celebrity. To a lot of people it may be easier saying you’re attracted to someone of the same sex if they are already a sex icon. A lot of people may also say it just jokingly. I personally am a straight man but more attracted to intelligence than beauty. I find celebrities to be overwhelmingly idealized for their looks, and the characters they play, not for what is going on upstairs. I think if I was to ever go gay off someone it would have to be someone I know well, not a celebrity who’s personally is half fabricated in my own mind.

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    1. I still have to argue that there’s really no “going gay”. Sexuality is considered a spectrum for a reason, and it’s because it’s very, very hard for any human to be all one thing or another. Just simply because you found an individual who manages to speak to the small part of you that is interested in your own gender doesn’t mean you’re “going gay” it means you found someone with whom you ‘click’ on a very personal level.

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