The Emosexual Manifesto

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Fuck Off: TERFs / "gender-critical" / anti-xenogenders or neopronouns / whatever else transphobes are calling themselves these days, anyone who glorifies or romanticizes abuse or self-harm, anyone who refers to harmful and/or exclusionary talking points as "edgy"


Emosexual: Anyone for whom their experience of queerness is connected to emo fashion, subcultural identity, or music, or the emotional themes thereof.

Origin: Pun on "emo" and "homosexual", originated mid-00s as derogatory term.


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Description: A pride flag with black, grey, purple, and red vertical bands and a stylized graphic of a heart with a crack through its center. The heart is black in color with white outlines.

Some examples of folks this could apply to:

History Of The Term and Manifesto

TW for mentions of queerphobic violence.

The origins of the term "emosexual" are unclear, but it first appears on Urban Dictionary in 2003, with varying meanings. It's nearly always a derogatory term, used to otherize emos by treating them as a separate gender or invalidating queer expression by describing queer emos as only identifying as such for attention or to fit an aesthetic. Some more neutral 2000s definitions describe it as a combination of emo and metrosexual fashion style, but even those retain a sense of judgment towards the subject. Regardless, it does not appear to be a term that those affected applied to themselves.

The popular phenomenon of "emo-bashing" that the term originated from is fundamentally based in queerphobia. The emo subculture's encouragement of emotional expression in men and androgynous fashion presented a threat to the homophobic 2000s environment, which produced a toxic combination along with the rise of social media as a driver of adolescent and young adult culture. The link between emo-bashing and homophobia became clear on a global scale by the occurrence of anti-emo riots and killings during the late 2000s, including the highly publicized 2008 anti-emo riots in Mexico and the 2012 emo killings in Iraq. In both of these cases, considering emos to be queer was cited as the reasoning for the violence, with anti-emo groups in the Mexico riots specifically using the term "emosexual", taking advantage of the pun on "homosexual" by Spanish's silent H, to otherize their targets.

While the term "emosexual" has a bloody history, I believe that it can be reclaimed. Alternative and emo-influenced subcultures speak to countless queer individuals by providing a safe opportunity to experiment with alternate expressions of gender and sexuality and emo music's lyrical themes of disconnection and angst speak to the experience of gender dysphoria. Whether those involved realized it or not, the development and popularization of emo as a subculture furthered queer acceptance. While I'm certainly not saying that being emo makes one queer or is inherently queer in itself, its history is fundamentally tied to that of the community, in the 2000s and beyond.

Emosexual as a word got its start as a derogatory term. Being emo meant you were gay or an otherized "third gender", and that was a bad thing. But we are here. We remain here, we remain emo, and we remain gay, trans, aspec, and gloriously queer. Being emo helped us discover ourselves, express ourselves, find understanding where else, there would be none. It's part of our perception of ourselves and provides a sense of belonging, power, and connection to the past.

Yeah, I'm an ambiguously gendered emosexual. So what? It's a good thing to be. And also it's a multilingual pun, and those are treasures that deserve to be reclaimed.

-- Enforcer [they/them or xe/xem]


"This is made up!"

All terms for gender and sexuality are made up. There is no cosmic concept that states "this state of being must be called this and only this". That doesn't negate the sense of understanding, belonging, and power someone can gain from finally having a term that expresses what they feel. Just because you don't resonate with a term doesn't mean it doesn't have value.

"What's the difference between this and emocoric?"

Whatever you deem the difference between emo as a subculture and as a -core aesthetic to be, and the preference of the user.

"Isn't this glorifying self-harm?"

No. That's not and never was what emo was about, and the association of the subculture with depression and self-harm is just another aspect of otherizing emo-bashing. Many songs influenced by the genre discuss these themes, but that doesn't mean that the artists nor those who enjoy their work romanticize them.

"Does this mean you're condoning a lot of emo songs being misogynistic?"

No. Many emo songs undoubtedly contain misogynistic themes, concerning seeing women as "owed" to the men who pine after them, or an ex as a demonic figure who deceived the narrator by not being into them and as such, ruined his life. These themes are an unfortunate product of the climate in which the subculture was created, but they are not, should not be, and don't have to be a fundamental part of it. The point of Emosexuality is to take back the term, stop treating "emo" like a dirty word, and redefine it on our own terms. This includes confronting and taking on the prejudices embedded in its artistic output.

"Can I ID as emosexual and another sexuality or gender?"

Yes. This is intended as a blanket label and coordinating cry for queer emos of all stripes.

"Can I use the flag on merch/print it?"

Yes, with credit to me for the design.

"Why do you think you can reclaim this term?"

I'm queer, trans, neurodivergent, and emo, and the last thing helped me conceptualize and own the first 3.

"Being emo doesn't make you queer!"

You're right. It doesn't. Swoopy hair and angsty songs are for everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender. However, emo's fundamental link to queer history and the common experience of it helping queer folks find and express themselves means there's value in having a term for that.

"Is this a kink thing?"

Do you want it to be?

"Is this an activism thing?"

Do you want it to be?

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