Hello and welcome to It’s Queer Here!
It’s Queer Here is a ten days long mini blog series which will hold from June 14 – June 25th (skipping Juneteenth) to commemorate Pride month. The purpose of this blog series is to centre more often forgotten queer voices, especially those which intersect with other marginalisations and affect their experience of queerness. It’s Queer Here can be seen as reminder, that although these identities less are presented, that they’re still here and they’re still queer.
Today on It’s Queer Here, Arina (she/they) writes a very personal and very relatable post about figuring out or working to figure out one’s queer identity, and how for a lot of us, we really don’t have a single coming of age moment but a plethora of such moments
I’ve never been the type of person who could open up easily. I suppose for reasons woven into my upbringing and my mental health I have always had a difficulty talking about myself and exposing issues I haven’t even fully explored on my own. But I feel like if there’s ever a time to allow yourself to be vulnerable it’s when your words can possibly have the power to reach out to someone who is going through the same hardships as you and help them connect to themselves and others, to heal.
So if anyone who reads this finds even a sliver of peace in my experience, I know my reservations can forgive themselves the slip.
Being queer doesn’t amount to one single coming-of-age moments for me. I suspect many of you are the same, but I didn’t have that moment in my life where I can pinpoint was the turning point for me realizing I wasn’t straight. All I know is by the time I went to middle school my attractions (or lack thereof) made me increasingly aware that I couldn’t relate to many of my friends’ experiences.
Whenever my friends would talk about relationships I would just nod along and tell myself that I just hadn’t had the freedom to get there yet (I come from an extremely strict household). It was natural to me that if I hadn’t had the chance to explore much on the subject then I wouldn’t have yet arrived at those same conclusions. One day I would get there and I could productively contribute to those conversations. Until then, my nod would have to be enough.
By the time high school rolled around my nod was still in full effect. Then I had the space to reflect on what my nod required of me, to start exploring exactly where my identities lied, and to feel myself bursting at the seams enough to share those experiences with one of my closest friends. That ended up creating a hitch in my understand of myself, as I was forcefully outed. When I think back to the days after that (I believe I was lucky enough my mind tried to bury most of them in a haze), I often wonder if that contributed to my withdrawal from fully conversing on, and exploring with, my queer identity.
Even now, when someone asks me about my identity, I find there’s always a sense of uneasiness attached to my answer— “queer”. That’s because most times, that answer prompts a secondary “Yes, but what exactly?”, and that’s a question I feel as eternally grateful when it doesn’t come as eternally anxious when it does. Because if I have enough insight to admit I am queer, then certainly I have the same knowledge of myself to specify “what exactly”. Right?
My insecurity when claiming one identity may seem out of place to many, but maybe likewise, it can connect with so many more. If someone asks you to pick up a flag and you choose the generic one, does that show a lesser commitment? And if you feel like you need to pick more than one flag, a whole assortment of them, to make sense of all the parts of yourself that don’t, then is the same thing true?
I’m always afraid that others will think the crossroads my queer identity built could only be a call to attention. Too many roads, too many alleys, too many corners—oh, now you’re pan? Now you’re ace? But you have sex, are you even…? People —even those inside the community (though I dare say they know less about their place in it than myself)— can often make you feel like all those little parts of yourself don’t even make sense individually, much less when jumbled all together into a tangle of emotions you yourself can’t even make sense of. Even the intersectionality of my mental illness and my sexuality worked as a source of unrest. I often found myself wondering if my mental disorders directly affected my queerness — was I aromantic because of my mood disorders, which impacted the very way I could feel (or sometimes, not), or was my aromanticness inherent and completely unrelated to the effect these disorders had on me? Was even asking myself this fair? Was I tainting my identities with unrecognized prejudice directed both at my sexuality and my disabilities? I wondered if that ignorance stemmed from the fact I forcefully distanced myself from immersing myself into the queer community, both online and irl, because I never felt I had the right to sit at the table unless I knew certainly which seat to take, or because I was too distrusting after my experiences in high school.
I still think a lot about what being queer is to me, and specifically, exactly what “type of queer” I am. I’m confident one day when people ask me that I can shout out a clear answer. And I’m hopeful one day I’ll get to sit at the table and have that thirst-sating drink I’ve been craving my entire life.
Even now, at 24, I still don’t have a concrete answer to all those questions. I still see no definite surety to my identities aside from the fact I am here, I am queer, and I am proud—whatever it is I have to be proud of, it’s being myself, even if I don’t know exactly where that lies yet. Even now, at 24, I am still exploring this essential part of myself, my identity.
And for those of you who are going through the same, I hope this post helps you realize the most important part of your queer experience— you are not alone, and you matter more than you know. But I hope one day you do.