Queer /kweer /
(As per The Love, Sex, & Relationship Glossary by Rebel Love)
This is an umbrella term encompassing an intersection of identities and orientations. Individuals who identify as queer fall outside of the conventional distinctions of gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
“Open up my eager eyes,” are the words flowing through my headphones as I type this – the Killers describing that heart-wrenching experience of watching the person you love with another. I’ve never been in love with a woman, but the possibility was always there. I’ve definitely experienced jealousy over girls I’ve liked who liked boys. Truth is, I never let myself get close enough. I recall sitting next to one of my childhood friends on the bus to our high school, and I somehow mustered the courage to say, “I’ve thought about you being my girlfriend before.” At that time I had a boyfriend – the hetero-safety-blanket. Whether her following words came as a result of that safety, or a hopeful admission, I never pursued it further: Why didn’t you tell me? We’d make a great couple!
If you look back at my dating record, you’ll notice two patterns: 1) I’ve only had relationship with cis-gender men, and 2) I’m a serial monogamous. I pass as heterosexual because I married a man, and yet, I’ve never felt heterosexual. If I’m being honest, I’ve never felt a leaning in any particular direction. Who someone is has always meant more to me than what someone is.
Why then did I never give in to my feelings for women?
Working through this, I’m happy to say that I’ve found my bright side, which came from embracing my queerness. But, why did it take so long to do so?
Representation, Role Models, and Environment
I will fight with anyone, until I’m blue in the face, over why representation is critical in the media. Representation of POC, disabled individuals, elderly, diverse body types, and lgbtq+.
Like most of us, the primary characters (if not the entire cast) of the movies and shows I watched included straight, white cis-men and women. The argument against representing lgbtq+ individuals in mass media tends to be this:
They will “influence” children into “becoming” lesbian, gay, bisexual – or whatever outrageous thing a human can supposedly become.
Without getting into the nuts and bolts about why this is poppycock, my simple counter-argument is: why does that rule apply to lgbtq+ and not heterosexuality? In other words, if we work from that logic, is watching only cis-gender, heterosexual individuals in mainstream media not also influencing the young minds of our children? And if sexuality is something so influential, should we then not include the entire spectrum in mass media, so young minds can understand all the possibilities, and find where they’re naturally seated?
But this isn’t an article about why the media should be representing these communities; however, it emphasizes the impact it had on my inability to express my queerness growing up. Not having a narrative that resonates with you can be debilitating. Having no preference for the gender or sex of my partners, and recieving heterotypical information only influenced me in one way: I leaned into my attraction to men, and ignored my attraction to women.
My parents are both cis-gendered individuals. They are monogamous and their love is profound. They modelled healthy communication, admiration, respect, and trust. I will always be grateful for that. They raised us in a rural town that was dominated by christian values. Although my parents believe love is love, that wasn’t the message I was receiving from friends and their families. There were very few (known) gay individuals in our town, and the ones who grew up there seemed to flee as soon as they were old enough. Lesbian relationships were sexualized, and gay men were ostracized (sadly, sometimes that was the best-cast scenario). So, on top of not seeing this community in any media I consumed, the real-life version seemed dangerous – something to hide or escape from.
To this day, friends describe me as “hyper feminine.” In other words, they experience my presence as one that is typically feminine. I haven’t received a clear definition of what this means for each of them (because definitions of femininity/masculinity vary), but these observations first became clear to me at the age of thirteen, when my boobs developed.
I am conventionally attractive, with breasts that, I believe, are proportionally obnoxious to the rest of my body (my husband begs to differ). Even if I don’t resonate more or less with either energy (masculine or feminine), the world continues to remind me that I am feminine. This made it difficult to use the word queer, even if I identified with it most. I felt like an imposter in that space. Like I wasn’t authorized to be there.
What does that say about me and how I viewed queerness?
Queer individuals come in all shapes, sizes, colours, body types and genders (including genderlessness). This is fact. Yet, because the world saw a “woman” when they looked at me, I thought I was stuck in that box. I was made to believe gender and sex were the same…
Marriage and Privilege
I married a cis-gendered dude. Calling myself queer felt like I was slapping the faces of people who don’t “pass” in public as heterotypical, and experience discrimination as a result. I felt I was forcing myself into a community when my life, on a daily basis, is unimpacted by my sexual orientation or identity in obvious ways. Because of my relationship with my husband, and how this is perceived by the outside world, the criteria in my brain didn’t match up.
What Being Queer Means to Me Now
Going through this journey, and accepting some complicated parts of myself, I’ve learned that no one can define us but ourselves. Others may think they know you, but until they’ve lived inside your body – felt the soul that loves and hurts in there – they have no say in what you are, who you want to be, or the wonderful things you’re capable of.
For me, being queer has nothing to do with other peoples’ ideas of me. Being queer is a personal thing, and even if my relationship can be, yes I’ll say it, a hetero-safety-blanket, it doesn’t mean I don’t experience struggle on other levels, or feel lost at times (hence everything about this article).
Queerness is an individual phenomenon. If being queer has taught me anything, it’s not to assume things about people; not to judge what is on the surface. You see, queerness can be subtle or loud (“we’re here and we’re queer”)! It can be reserved or open! It can be kept to yourself or revealed. It’s your choice, and there’s no wrong answer!
There is no template to queerness, no label maker, no instructions.
I do understand the privilege I have. Navigating this part of the self can be incredibly tricky, more so when you aren’t in a heterosexual marriage. But, even so, learning to accept yourself – whatever that may be – can only serve the world. Whether you keep it to yourself or yell it from the top of a float headed into Time Square, your queerness is valid. As is mine.
Until next time,
Fuck well, friends and Happy Pride (all year round!)!
Quean Mo xx
So, tell me, what struggles have you overcome in accepting your own identity? What advice do you have for others?
Comment below or DM me here.
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