A coming out, and semi-coherent thoughts on queerness. Why did I choose “queer” over “bisexual” or “pansexual”? Find out!
If you saw me on a bus, or walking on the street, if you gave me a second glance, you’d probably assume 2 things:
- She’s straight
- She’s a woman
You’d make these assumptions because, well, I keep a normative feminine look, with my hair short but appropriate for a woman, with clothes that are mostly in the “comfortable” range but still styled for women. I have boobs. And possibly a vagina. (No, I actually have a vagina.) And even though you can’t know my sexual orientation from looking at me, you’d probably assume I was straight.
Because why not? I present as most straight women do.
But, guess what?
Hey! I’m queer.
I’m a normal-looking, perfectly cis- and heteronormative-presenting woman. But I’m queer.
And it seems important now, at this point in my journey, to own my queerness.
Labels, labels, labels
I could call it “bisexual”. I could call it “pansexual”. I’ve tried both labels over the last few months, but neither of them fit. And then today I chatted with an old friend from grad school, who ALSO presents as a completely cis, heteronormative man. And yet he calls himself queer, and kinky, and poly.
Just like me.
Owning queerness is not easy when you’ve spent your life up to now surrounded mostly by cis and heteronormative people. I have a few gay, trans and queer friends, but in general my relationships until now have been set within the monogamous, heterosexual model. I’ve only had relationships with men. I never went beyond making out with a woman.
Honestly, I don’t generally like labels. They are constraining, too defining. They don’t leave space for change, for exploration, for growth. For me, bisexual is too enmeshed in men’s fantasies to be a correct label. It also means, to me, that I’m only attracted to cis-presenting people of each gender. Although I have no proof of whether this is the case or not, it seems too restrictive. Maybe a person with boobs and a penis will present themselves in my life and I will fall in love. Who knows?
Pansexual is better, but it’s also constraining in the sense that it implies that I could be attracted to “everything”. Which, again, I’m not sure whether it’s true or not. I’ve been attracted to mostly very masculine men, and feminine women. But I don’t want to discount possible attraction to anything outside of these as well. But I don’t know if I’m attracted to “everything”. Maybe I like trans men but not trans women? I have no idea. I don’t want to discount–or by default include–any possibility.
So queer it is. Because queer is wonderfully open, purposefully vague, and amazingly flexible. Queer just means queer. For me, it means “I am who I am in this moment.” Yes, it means “strange”, but what is wrong with strangeness? Strangeness reminds us that the world is magical and full of surprises. Strangeness is adventure, courage, the Hero’s Journey. Don’t you think Luke Skywalker thought Ben Kenobi strange when he told him to come with him to Alderaan? And yet here he is, saving the damn galaxy because he followed a strange–a queer–man.
For me, queerness remains pregnant with possibilities, with openness and flexibility. It doesn’t tie me to specific attractions or identities. It defines without really defining. And that’s perfect for me.
I have not experienced the stigma and the violence attached to queerness. I have several privileges: white, educated, middle-class, and yes, cisgender too. Being cisgender is a privilege, people. I can speak maybe a little to bullying in high school attached to early expressions of bisexuality, but this was muddied for me with general bullying for no apparent reason. So it never felt like orientation-related violence to me–just violence.
Maybe they had a sense that I was queer–teenagers are cruel and sensitive like that. But it doesn’t really matter at this point. I’m an early 30-something cisgender white and middle-class woman. My queerness is not visible.
I am lucky to be surrounded by open, queer-friendly people. I have received no negative reactions to coming out poly, queer or kinky to anyone. Well maybe except my mom, just a little, but she always comes around. I am so privileged to live a life that allows me to be completely open without risk of losing my income, my friends or my family.
Yes, my queerness is invisible. And I am super lucky, and rather thankful, for that.
But I don’t want to live in a world where queerness must remain invisible to be acceptable. I want to live in a world where queernesses of all kinds are part and parcel of life–like glitter on already wonderful cupcakes. (Every person is a wonderful cupcake in this metaphor.) Blue glitter and pink glitter and silver glitter and black glitter and rainbow glitter. GLITTER FOR EVERYONE.
Let your motherfucking glitter shine, dammit.