Thursday, September 26, 2013

So, I am claiming Queer

Whilst scooting around on Kyler, my mind follows the twists and turns in the road, leading me towards many new paths of thought. Oftentimes, it is about my friends or people with whom I want to be friends but am too awkward to pursue. Today, however, my thoughts became jagged and sliced through the shrubs I keep around sensitive topics to protect me from feeling too deeply and them from my self-destructive tendencies.

My thoughts cut right towards my personal sexuality, which is something that has weighed heavily on my mind for quite some time. It is difficult to look inside myself and see something with which I am not entirely comfortable. For the first 22 years of my life, I believed really hard that I was straight, and that I just wanted to be Her “best friend.” I grew up in a very heteronormative society; obviously, I wanted to be straight. But, it trapped me into thinking, “I am meant to be this way.” When I realized and accepted my lady lover leanings, I felt this rush of not giving a damn about what I am meant to be like and instead, loved the fact that I finally felt comfortable, secure, and hopeful.
I’ve spent the past four years dating women, loving women, believing that when I choose to create a family it will be with a woman. I believed I was gay. Or, a lesbian. But, as a linguist (a cunning one, at that) calling myself a lesbian doesn’t really fit what I feel. The necessary article placed in front of a lesbian or a homosexual, to me, means that I am a person with this other thing attached to me. But, being gay is not an attachment; it is simply a secondary facet to who I am as a human being. I am Irish-American, soft-spoken, gay, freckled, and left-handed.
However, being gay or being straight only allows me to be in one camp or the other. There is also bisexuality, which is an attraction to both genders, often with a proclivity towards one or the other. But, that still seems too rigid of a definition of something so fluid. So, queer is what I have left. I call it claiming queer because right now is the first moment in which I’ve allowed myself to think deeply about its semantics. I have never really enjoyed the word or the awful ways societies have used it as a pejorative. So, I cannot reclaim it. But, I am holding it now—caring for it, feeding it thoughts and attention, really hoping that it doesn’t lose patience with my clumsy ponderings.
So, as a newly-queer woman, I feel emboldened to confront the thoughts inside my head that make me uncomfortable. Yes, I prefer being emotionally and physically intimate with women. That is ultimately what I want in a long-term relationship. Coming out as a rainbow tossing, unicorn riding lady lover was easy all of those years ago; my friends and family have been incredibly supportive throughout this time. And, now, I fear that by retracting the statement of “I’m a lesbian” in favor of “I’m queer” will give the few people in my life who still want me to marry a dude hope that all of this gay malarkey was a phase, and they knew it.  
Now, I am more comfortable in my sexuality. I am able to navigate through it intentionally, and I do not have to adhere to someone else’s expectation of my intimacy. In the future, I could sleep with a man, and that wouldn’t make me less queer. I might even enjoy it, and it still wouldn’t change how I identify. It was difficult to come out as gay, but I would posit that it is even more difficult to shift back into the realm of queer. There is still a negative stigma attached to that word (in both camps—gay and straight), which is why I choose to embody it. I want to show the people in the straight community that queer is not synonymous with confused . I want to show the people in the gay community that being queer doesn’t make me less attracted to women. And, most importantly, I want to show the people in the queer community that I am present and ready to add my voice to the cacophony of rainbows, unicorns, Tevas, bowties, and everything in between.

PS Check out this video by Ryan Amador and Jo Lampert. It puts music to this emotion that words can't always define.