Quare Reactions: ‘Your red flags but your friends write them.’

Image Credit: Ellen Nugent

I’m sure that most of you have by now come across the trend sweeping across Instagram, ‘Your red flags but your friends write them.’ Naturally, the trend has swept across social circles, both queer and straight. And while the trend is lighthearted and a chance for us all to do our favourite thing, picking at each other’s deepest and my closely held weaknesses and calling it ‘slagging’, there are some quite stark differences between what queer people would consider to be green flags, but what the straights, I can only assume, would consider inappropriate and outright childish.

As I sat in the library, watching the clock go by, pretending that I was actually going to get any of my essay writing done one afternoon amidst finals season, I decided to partake in the trend myself. “G’wan so, what are my red flags?” I asked on my Instagram close friends story. Most of the answers that flooded in were lighthearted and honestly accurate, I can’t deny it. One of my friends accusing me of being a closested Harry Potter adult did hit a little too close to a nerve. Especially seeing as despite my ‘street cred’ as someone who would definitely be opposed to Harry Potter fanaticism in adulthood (which I am), I do on occasion still listen to the audiobooks when I’m sad...

So, we were off to a good start: “Lives in Bray”, “Secretly a Harry Potter adult”, “Can’t get through telling a story without laughing.” Then, came the real contentious stuff. The red flags that made me stop and think, “Wow, there really is a difference between queer and straight people and what they consider red flags, aren’t there?” It started with some mild queer humour, “Participates in he/himmery.” I laughed. I do parricipate in he/himmery, although perhaps quite a different type of he/himmery to that which the select few straight people privy to my close friends story might understand. Another response rolled in, “Knows about attachment theory!” And honestly, I can’t fault them for this one. The precision with which this particular response melded several distinct layers of queer humour really amazed me. What would my straight friends think about this? Do they even know what attachment theory is? “Surely they do,” I thought to myself. But then again, I thought, they might not.

I giggled at the response and posted it, turning graciously back to my laptop in the hopes that 5,000 expertly crafted words would simply appear before me on the screen, sparing me the agony of having to go head-to-head with my procrastination. When I turned back to check my phone, I saw another response, in a similarly niche, queer vein of red flags as the last, and I absolutely cracked up. It read “Still friends with all of your exes…” I did what any queer worth their salt would do in such a situation, I posted the story, tagging all of my exes, captioning it “RIP! Any last words?” The former response about attachment theory, although similarly queer in its niche slagging of red flags only those in the community would even be privy to in the first place, had not caused much of a stir in my DMs (bar the odd “that’s not a red flag in my opinion” message). The latter response, however, had quite the opposite effect. This particular response had hit a quare nerve!

Before I knew it a slew of messages were flooding my DMs in response to the story: “Being friends with your exes is a green flag in my opinion but okay…” “Since when is this a red flag?” “This is definitely not a red flag!” and my personal favourite “The attitude of this person is the real red flag because being friends with your exes is nothing but a green flag in my books!” What was the difference between the former and latter response to my red flags question? While both were evidently niche to queer circles in terms of dating-specific humour, the former was something we all knew we should work on in therapy (you know the drill), but the latter was something quintessential to the queer experience— the ever expanding boundaries of relationships, romantic or otherwise. 

I couldn’t help with laugh seeing all of my queer friends absolutely outraged by such a provocation, such a disregard for queer culture. I began posting some of the DMs, my exes chiming in that they also thought it was a green flag, much to my poor straight friend’s dismay, who had left the response in the first place. An amusing little insight into what the queers consider to be red flags, and perhaps the willful blind eye we cast to those ‘red’ flags we ourselves participate in. Although, you’ll never catch me saying being friends with an ex is a red flag…