I’ve never deemed myself an expert, nor figurehead. I’m one person. When I started talking about this, there weren’t a lot of regular people I knew in person who neither gay nor straight but somewhere in between. It’s only been a few years, and yet, the landscape is different, bigger. Still, I get embarrassed writing about queer stuff, like I’m not gay enough not an authority. I’m right. Because I am the high priestess of imperfection, the arbiter of nothing. There is no high horse I ride on to my thoughts. I found each notion every time I got my ass kicked, looked like a fool, and sound meaning inside the embarrassment.
Below, I’ve listed some thoughts. They are imperfect. They are written in the same privilege as the author has experienced them. I am writing this because I get questions, DMs people who confess curiosities, but confusion or not being ready. I don’t have a great answer for those items because more unexplored things remain confused and curious. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt ready, only decisive. Because there’s never a perfect time to come out or get on the apps or try new things. But that also means there’s just your time. You get to decide that.
- There’s a lot of pressure to put labels on things. It makes us legible. Politically, it matters to say “hi, I am that “other” that “not normal”, and actually, I’m pretty normal. my life is not unlike yours.” But a label is not all of you, or even 10% of you. It is a descriptor. It is allowed to ebb and change and flow. So, if you’re a question mark, that’s cool. If you feel really proud to hold a label, that’s great too.
- People might talk or have feedback, but do you care? In the words of my best friend, “who are these people to you?” Because it is a comment on the character of the other people to weaponize your self-discovery. There’s nothing wrong or embarrassing about figuring out who you are now. There is something wrong with people who make you feel that way, but they aren’t you. This is your life. It was never intended to be narrated by other people
- Clothes/ Presentation- You don’t have to be someone else’s idea of queer. You don’t have to dress in a specific way to prove yourself. How you feel is enough. But if an aesthetic choice is something you want to try, go for it! You don’t have to justify your morphings to the greater world. You can completely throw gender norms out the window in your presentation, you can occasionally fuck around with some stereotypical apparel or present in a really clean cut way. It’s clothes. Just ask yourself, “what feels the most like me? What do I feel the most empowered in?”
- Being clumsy, weird or not knowing the etiquette of a community you’ve only just arrived in is normal. Don’t worry about being cool. Just be you. Your people will find you.
- Family– the family part is hard, complicated. No one family is an ideal, example, or realistic model for another. My parents are devout Catholics residing in Indiana. They love me very much. What I feel comfortable saying is that it takes time for certain people to embrace the same things that we struggled to wrap our arms around at first. And love is providing the time and space to do that, but not at the expense of my identity. This is my life, not my parents’ lives. But I want them in it. No matter what, I am half of each of them– strands of dna bind me to them forever, and my love does not give up easy. My family loves like a pro sports team in a rust belt city: gruff and hard and steadfast, and even when shit has hit the van and the words run white hot with rage, even then I am theirs and they are mine.
- Chosen families– I recognize that not all queer folx receive the familial love they deserve. And if you, my beloved reader, are one of those people. You are not wrong. You are not invisible or some wayward extra puzzle piece without a spot to call your own. You have so so many places you will fit. You are loved and belong and you do not have to beg on all fours for love wherever a semblance of that is offered. Do you hear me? I need you to know that. You are on purpose. The universe NEEDS you exactly as you are. I am so sorry and enraged that the first place you called home felt more like a house fire. There are people wandering about the earth who have spaces in their hearts in the shape of you, and they will hold you so dearly and feel homecoming in their embrace.
- You’re allowed to experiment on the apps and decide you’re straight or get on apps and realize something else. You’re allowed to sexually explore and decide if something is or isn’t right for you.
- It’s really hard to untangle the vision of a life from the life currently in motion. From my earliest memories, I knew I’d meet a boy and we’d fall in love and then get married and buy a house and have kids biologically woven from each of us. I was sure. So sure. Until I wasn’t. Acknowledging my queerness fractured that vision, something I’d clung to with fortitude. There’s grief in releasing heteronormative privilege, in the potential of not having those kids (the thing I’m the most scared of). And it’s equally hard to not be able to run fully in the opposite direction. Rather, suspending my desires in a purgatory that might have nothing at the other end of it. But that purgatory is mine, deliberate and uninformed by how other people feel about how I present. In the past year, I arrived at an ambivalence regarding the gender of my partner. What I first clung to and then grieved is just open space now. It’s liberating.
- I feel like a crazy exhibitionist writing about this stuff, prowling for attention. I also feel there’s the hypersexualization to the neutral topic of self-discovery. I think that leads to more shame, less conversations. What seems provocative or attention grabbing is really more of a process of becoming. I don’t know more than you do, Reader. The only way my being knows to exist is fully in the light, full force into every question. Nine times out of ten, I am agonizingly frustrated with how I never fit neatly into a box, the entirety of me spilling over. So, I’m write my experience in cyberspace because I hope someone feels less alone or less weird. I write it to remember what all of this felt like later on.
- Regardless of how you identify, you’re allowed to have preferences. You’re allowed to have exceptions and surprises. Attraction isn’t a hard science. There aren’t percentages or ratios or whatever. It’s about people. The most important question to ask is just, “Am I into them?”
- Maybe you’re like I am, darting in a million directions hoping something will tell you what you are, but you’ve always known, haven’t you? And I don’t me the attraction piece. I mean that you’re bigger than who you’re attracted to and who you sleep with. That is a part, but not the whole. That matters, but it is not everything. You are everything. My greatest wish for you is that whomever you choose, they know that you are everything, and those arms are attached to a person who handles you with care. And most of all, I hope you deafen your ego enough to hear when love calls your name.