Queerplatonic relationships is a close non-sexual, non-romantic relationship that is beyond what most would consider to be a friendship. It consists of emotional commitment and prioritization that is typically seen in a romantic relationship. People in queerplatonic relationships may be of any gender or sexual identity.
It may involve a greater degree of intimacy or commitment than a platonic friendship, but does not always include sexual or romantic elements. Queerplatonic relationships are not limited to the aromantic community; often including asexuals and those on the asexual spectrum, though it is not restricted to the a-spec community or any specific gender and sexual identities.
A queerplatonic relationships can be a relationship involving two or more people of any gender. Queerplatonic relationships, and the language used to describe them, are an alternative to heteronormative relationships and the assumption that everyone wants romantic or sexual relationships. It bends, changes, and challenges Western culture's understanding of monogamous and committed relationships. It involves more than just friendship or romance, but a deep mutual trust, emotional closeness, and loyalty usually found in romantic relationships.
Asexual and aromantic people might find utility in naming their significant relationships queerplatonic instead of using words that imply a sexual or romantic connection. Some queerplatonic "couples" live together, platonically marry, and have no romantic or sexual relations. It is a way to fulfill a desire for emotional intimacy without compromising an aromantic identity. Additionally, queerplatonic intimacy varies in how it appears. It might look like platonic physical affection - literally sleeping together, co-parenting, living together,, sharing finances, pooling resources and/or blending families, and even marriage or children.
Queerplatonic relationship structures tend to be non-exclusive, but can follow any model that feels right for the people involved. The amount of mutual intimacy in a queerplatonic relationship is determined by the individuals in the relationship.
"Romantic friendship" is a term coined in the 19th century to describe a kind of emotionally intense, usually nonsexual friendship in different civilizations, usually between members of the same sex, and usually between women. Such friendships offered emotional support and companionship in a society where women had few freedoms.
Meanwhile, men saw themselves needing the assistance of other men to realize their great material passions, and they foster "muscle values" and "rational values" to the exclusion of women. Women were forced to form their own communities, and so, began the era of passionate love without sexual gratification. The college slang terms became "smashes, crushes, or spoons".
By the early 20th century, women had access to quality higher education, which allowed for broader opportunities. A culture of romantic friendship became fostered in women’s colleges. Older students mentored younger ones, called on them socially, took them to all-women dances. Other gestures including sending one another flowers, cards, and poems that declared their undying love for each other. They were written about frankly in college publications such as Ladies Home Journal, Smit College Stories, and more - all without negative views. What is most notable is that sexual acts were consistently absent.
A study in 2007 discussed queerplatonic relationships without using the term "queerplatonic". It explored "non-sexual, passionate friendships" between women. Fourteen women responded to the open-ended interview questions, including two women who had been in a "passionate friendship" for 17 years. Another woman described her 26 years of friendship with a woman. One response included women who held an unofficial marriage ceremony in order to share the depth of their commitment to one another in front of family and friends. The women found these passionate friendships to be "unique, meaningful, and committed". The experienced "similar themes to 'traditional' intimate relationships, such as emotional growth and identity development fostered by friendship, jealousy, break-ups, and shifts and changes in the relationship". The interviewees shared a desire to have language that adequately described their intense friendships, as language helps one to express herself and helps create a culture that celebrates the nature of these relationships. Words like "roommate" and "best friend" do not quite fit, while terms like "soul sister", "soul companion", or "other-half" better express the intensity of their relationships.
I kind of like queerplatonic as a definer for the attraction I feel to my zucchini; it neatly avoids discussing the gender of either party involved, while emphasizing the idea that it is a deep (almost symbiotic in some ways) emotional connection that transcends what I think of as friendship.S.E. Smith about their coined term
In 2010, an asexual named Kaz posed a question regarding zer relationship - or "not!GF" as ze referred to her. In the comments, an aromantic asexual named S.E. Smith introduced the term "queerplatonic". Kaz seized onto it and proceeded to discuss the topic with S.E.
In 2011, S.E. created a post on Tumblr to introduce the term. It was coined for "relationships that are not romantic, that are also not friendships, and that play an important role in your life". They pressed that queerplatonic is an umbrella term that "encompasses many different types of relationship, rather than being rigid; it’s fluid!". They continued to post it on their wordpress website. The term spread from there, with many bloggers using and adapting the term to fit their needs.
In 2012, S.E. wrote a longer post about queerplatonic partnerships. They wrote about the importance of citing their and Kaz's contributions to the coining of the word.
By 2014, the term began to spread even further, reaching websites such as AVEN, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and Julie Sondra Decker's book The Invisible Orientation. The book has a short section on queerplatonic relationships on pages 24-25
In 2015, many noted that a broader discussion around queerplatonic relationships is needed, as the lack of media representation of these relationships and bonds contributes to people struggling to find an identity that works for them.
Terms of endearment
Queerplatonic partners sometimes refer to one another as "zucchinis". It is an alternative to the term "friend," which downplays intimacy, and "partners", which suggests a romantic or sexual relationships.
Zucchini is a non-romantic noun used to describe someone in an intimate, non-sexual relationship. The term started as a joke term in the aromantic and asexual communities in the 2000s to highlight how there are no appropriate terms for describing significant, intimate relationships and love that are not romantic or sexual. The creation of zucchini shows a frustration with societal expectations for a relationship, or the assumption that romantic and sexual relationships are universally desired, and the most important intimate bonds formed.
Squish is a platonic, or aromantic, crush. The term was developed by the aromantic and asexual communities to describe their non-romantic and non-sexual feelings of attraction, and to highlight that love and infatuation are not necessarily tied to romance or lust.
Optional section: If this topic has been the subject of any controversies, detail them in this section. For example, it could explain outdated or disputed terms, disagreements about how this identity is defined, identity-phobic discourse around popular flags, or other conflicts.
Perceptions and discrimination
This section focuses more on the specific kinds of discrimination and oppression that these people may face. Examples would be mentioning systematic transphobia and non-binary erasure on the page for agender, mentioning rates of mental health issues in this group, etc.
This section should be used to elaborate on the portrayal and representation of this identity in various forms of media, which can include a listing or links to various artists or movies, series, etc. Subheadings like Film, Television, Literature, and Music should be used where appropriate.
- Dyer, Harriet. From Ace to Ze: The Little Book of LGBT Terms. Summersdale Publishers, Ltd, May 10, 2018. ISBN 9781786852847.
- Holleb, Morgan Lev Edward. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019. ISBN 9781784506636.
- Chupkowski, Linda Christine. Are we dating? : an exploratory study of nonsexual, passionate friendships between women" (2007). Masters Thesis, Smith College. (web archive)
- Davis, Chloe O.. The Queens' English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2021. ISBN 9780593135013.