When you’re more vertically challenged than the average bear

This week's advice column The Q helps address which issues are yours, and which are other people's, to deal with, and how to be a little more understanding of both.


I’m a “pocket queer,” but I have a ginormous personality. Almost everything I can do for myself, of course, and I get insulted when others assume I’m helpless just because I’m smaller than the average bear.

Please, guys. I can order my own drink, step out at “Walk” light by myself, and no I’m not dying to unzip you because your crotch is at eye level. 

That said, sometimes I can use help but feel self-conscious. The most glaring examples are overhead bins on airplanes. The time it takes to get my luggage into the compartment is bad enough with everyone watching, but getting it down has me waiting until everyone else has deplaned to even attempt it. 

I hate to ask for help, and I hate to check my suitcase because they charge for that these days. Help!

Dear Just Right:

Queer or not, it’s tough sometimes to be below average in height. The top grocery shelf and roller coasters are just the beginning of how the everyday world discriminates against the vertically challenged.

You are right that no one should look down on you just because they might look down to see you. It sounds like you’ve made your height more of a signature to your big personality than a hindrance for the most part, but you also show a residual case of a disease I call “Worrying Too Much What Others Think” with a side of Overdefensiveness.

Maybe people buying you drinks are flirting. Either way, no need to turn down free alcohol. And don’t wait to deplane. It may take some self-coaching, but suck up your fears when your row comes up and ask, “Can I get your help with that bag?” Strangers don’t care about your issues and will happily assist in order to get off the plane faster.

Everyone has challenges, and as long as no one is directly giving you shit about yours, forget it. If they are, 1. Fuck them. 2. Be less defensive at least at the beginning. Humor can help. I once heard a 6’7” guy respond to “How’s the weather up there?” with “Put your mouth on my thermometer and find out.”


I make a good enough living that my wife was able to quit her job, but she slowly stopped handling day-to-day stuff around the house. Now she sleeps until noon. She over-reacted when I told her to find a hobby or volunteer, so how can I facilitate change?

Dear Helping:

She might feel useless. Maybe she stagnated into such a funk that even reasonable suggestions seem overwhelming to her. Professional advice might help her put one foot in front of the other, or perhaps try some real talk putting all the issues on the table. Until then, be more nurturing than bossy. 

The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected].

Illustration by Brad Gibson.

This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick yours up at queer and LGBTQ-friendly venues around town.