Schroedinger’s Queer: Who’s Your Identity For?

*Women’s History has grown into a series! The first installment, featuring the oldest symbol of our oppression, will be up before next weekend. Meanwhile, we have a cautionary tale of validation mania…

Writer and Queer Theorist Kate Raphael struggled during lockdown.

Black Dog

OMG I wish we could go to the park!

“I felt flattened by so many weights: COVID-19, Zoom calls, the grind of winter running, depression. I was desperate for a change.” Her ennui is matched only by the drama as she sets the scene –

“I stepped into the bathtub in a sports bra and shorts and held the first ponytail perpendicular to my head. Wielding a pair of scissors, Cole sawed through my thick mane, tugging at my scalp as he hacked through the hair, and the first ponytail fell to the bathtub floor.” 

Grasping at straws in choppy seas is understandable, but Kate weaves herself a raft. As a personal affirmation, she explains how she sacrificed her hair on the altar of Queerness because she wasn’t getting her gender fix in quarantine.

“I felt that my queerness was drifting away. I found the pandemic invisibilizing.” …I think she means it made her feel invisible. “I sometimes feel one-dimensional in other people’s eyes.” Yes, it’s sad how little time everyone else has to pay you their undivided attention. Tragic.

But life for its own sake isn’t showy enough for Kate, “I imagine others see our relationship as straight and static. One of the many things this pandemic has robbed us of is the opportunity to present ourselves as complex, evolving individuals.”

Why are you imagining what other people think about your relationship? They don’t actually get a vote, you know.


Private life is for losers!

Kate is too busy gushing about her queer hair to define what exactly ‘queer’ is. She doesn’t bother to explain what makes a “Princess Diana-textured pixie meets retro ’80s mom-with-a-middle-part” a symbol of ‘queerness.’ Those short layers sound pretty feminine-coded to me!

But to Kate, it’s The Bob Of Many Colors – “This haircut was rejuvenating, dimensionalizing.” The dictionary is online now, too, my dear.

“It made me feel multifaceted and animated, pulling me out of my planar state as a flat form glued to the floor and giving me depth and permission to take up space – a prismatic affirmation of my bisexuality.” I don’t know if she’s actually read any social theory, but she’s definitely using her thesaurus!

“It felt dramatic and bold … Liberating when I’d felt trapped. When I looked in the mirror of my tiny apartment bathroom, I saw the haircut I was always meant to have.” The joy of the short bob should not be underestimated. But this is heavy lifting for a haircut!

Kate wanted the most bang for her buck, you see. She wanted to take action, but it had to be something quick because she was jonesing pretty bad.

“It was empowering to reclaim agency when our lives are otherwise out of our control.”

I bet it was. Kate’s story illustrates one way narcissism works for people – Unhappy? Uncomfortable? Unfulfilled? No need to worry – Just ignore it! Spin that shit like an LP! Hunt down that silver lining like your life depends on it… because it feels that way, doesn’t it?


But how am *I* supposed to know who I am??

Your appearance will elicit a variety of reactions, regardless of how you feel about it. How much influence the opinions of others have is up to you. And none of it has any effect whatsoever on your sexual orientation!

Kate knows this on some level. Deep into her confessional she remembers to tell us, “The decision to cut my hair was less about being visible to the world and more about being visible to myself,” which I don’t believe for a second.

The haircut is only ‘queer’ because her friends recognize it as such. “Within minutes, I received a text from an old friend, ‘I like your haircut, you definitely don’t look straight.’” Well, this 90s kid recognizes Princess Diana as a woman whose entire life was shaped by her marriage to one very famous man. But her coif was so empowering!

Mercifully, Kate is not entirely without reflection: “I was struggling with my mental health and feeling out of sync with my body.”  No kidding! A haircut is not a bad place to start, but it’s cosmetic. It doesn’t actually solve anything.

And Kate could use some real solutions – “In this tired solitude … I felt that my queerness was drifting away.” 

If your identity slips away without group reinforcement, it’s not your true core self.

But this doesn’t occur to Kate, even as old struggles reassert themselves, “I was constantly fighting against my mind as the pandemic resurfaced the eating disorder I’d struggled against for more than a decade.”

Scissors are not going to cut it here! But Kate is accustomed to the Hug Box, and she’s looking for other shiny distractions.

Luckily, her new bob gives her just the buzz she’s after: “I felt gay and gorgeous, sapphic and sultry. And I also felt profoundly in love with the man who had given me my haircut”

Wow, I think I got whiplash from that one! I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure sapphic spice and man meat don’t go together. You might have to pick a favorite.


Gee babe, I’m not sure I can help you with this one!

But maybe she’s not comfortable with the way she’s leaning. Great pains are taken to tell us how she Gets Her Gay On with her boyfriend“Cole created space for my queerness to exist in our monogamous relationship, invited me to be all of myself with him. He sends me videos from Lesbian TikTok and tweets about Doc Martens.”

There’s more to life than stereotypes, hon!

“I had never before been in a straight relationship where my sexuality was not viewed as a threat.” This is so stupid, I’m suddenly wondering if Kate is just a massive troll.

I have never had a boyfriend give me any indication he saw my bisexuality as a threat. On the contrary, they assumed it was an invitation for a threesome!

Not Kate’s unicorn, though. Honestly, he sounds like a pretty nice guy: “He is gender bending and comfortable in his own masculinity, enough to paint his nails, pierce his ears and nose,” Are piercings a girly thing now?  “…Suggest we do face masks, spend an hour deep conditioning his long curly locks,” Does a Real Man practice personal care? “…or let me give him a cute-ass tat.”

Yep, definitely a guy. Not that any of this challenged that in any way.

But dating a boy with a personality really makes Kate feel special: “His less conventionally masculine presentation and openness to all that is not straight or gender conforming are what allow me to be all of myself.” 

This is what needs to be normalized! No one perfectly fits their stereotype, and we all need someone we can relax with. Kate is only 25, and I hope she will come to understand it’s less about being all of yourself, and more about not having to worry about it.

Maybe someday. When she wrote this, she was still fishing for approval, “For months before the haircut, I’d tried to elicit a reaction or endorsement of a dramatic style change: ‘Should I just chop it all off?’ I’d ask him, flourishing my hand in a swift cutting motion through the air. ‘That would look great,’ he’d respond.”

He’s trying to be supportive, but she wants something bigger. “The real … gift of the haircut was … re-creation of my identity.”

Tired Drinker

Who’s gonna tell her that hair grows back??

I’m happy Kate had an uplifting bonding experience with someone she feels close to. We all need more of that in our lives.

Many of us fight the ache for a connection to something bigger. We can see our newly-secularized world down to the smallest particle, but the larger scales of existence are invisible to us. So we ignore them and pretend we’re at the top.

Many hands make light work, but fighting reality by yourself takes a lot of energy. Kate is discovering the labor involved in artifice and, true to habit, she wants to avoid it.

She gets pretty creative with it, too: “We invited queerness into the bathroom.” Usually people talk about inviting something into the bedroom. Is the tub necessary for the Queering?

“…And into our relationship.”

Ok, time out!

That’s a cute turn of phrase, but – despite your boyfriend’s best efforts – your bisexuality is what brings ‘queerness’ into your relationship. How much it actually affects anything is on you, Kate.

How your bisexuality interfaces with the world around you depends on how you act on it. At the moment, it looks to be fueling your problems. You might do better to focus on something else for a while. I suggest an herb garden; Practical, eco-friendly and fun.

Of course, All this assumes ‘queer’ still applies to the people it was used to slander for decades. And Kate never fills us in on just how her new haircut makes her more bisexual.

I’m also confused how she missed that butch women have been cutting off their hair for ages. But the distinction between making a statement and putting on a costume is lost on someone just looking to dull the pain. Her chosen method – projecting all her agency onto her favorite people and things – is pretty popular. But she hasn’t quite tied all the loose ends together.

Why is Kate Schroedinger’s Queer? She never addresses how her community’s perception of her establishes her identity. There’s no mechanism given for why it was fading away without them, or how any of this affects her sexuality. The only woman her short hair makes her more attracted to is the one in the mirror.

Maybe she’ll take some time to get to know her.