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I think the heteronormative consensus is that us gaybies are just given birth to one day and in our first few moments of consciousness it’s then that we realize how truly queer we are. And I wish, I truly WISH it was that simple, and for someone, somewhere, on some planet far far away it might be. But when it comes to me... and pretty much every other person within the LGBTQIA community that I have ever known it was not and is not that easy.
I believe one of the biggest hindrances in our understanding of us gays is this idea of a selective superhuman power known as a "gaydar." It leads people to somehow believe that if they have this self proclaimed power that spotting a member of the LGBTQIA community is as simple and accurate as their sense of sight. The irony is is that this isn’t only a deluded power that straight cis people seem to have but it’s also a power that a lot of other people within the queer community believe that they posses. It all seems pretty harmless and frankly just kind of funny and I mean for the most part it is, unnntil the people around you start deciding what you are and who you are without any real insight. And as if the teenage years of self discovery aren’t already uncomfortable and awkward enough the added pressures of other people’s perceptions surrounding something as intimate as your sexuality don’t really do much in the way of helping that.
I mean we all know the stereotypes surrounding us gays and how to spot us from a mile away, you know, the warning signs that set off some super human’s gaydar, tingling their spidery sense and altering them when we’re within a 5 mile radius. So how, you may ask, do you express your gayness or feel that you have any real place within the queer community when you don’t feel you fit into many or any of theses stereotypes, (I mean other than being attracted to the same sex of course) and my answer to that question is... that honestly, I’m still trying to figure that one out. Personally I shaved part of my head, dyed my hair a bright colour, and started strictly wearing sports bras and clothes that were 2x too big. However turns out the "lesbian look" does nothing when people are aware that you’ve been with more men than women. Not only does this confuse the straight people in your life but it also confuses a lot of the queer ones too.
Of course we all know now that sexuality is a wide spread spectrum with lots of different terminology for people to group themselves into however this still seems to greatly confuses the masses and I’ve found that it’s almost easier to just let people group me into whatever they choose to believe I am, but when I’m actually asked I always answer using queer as my umbrella term. So let’s talk about the word queer; it’s a word that many people shy away from using due to a multitude of reasons whether it be internalized homophobia (which is way is wayyyy more common than you’d think), or that some people just don’t like how the word sounds in relation to the way they personally feel, or because it used to be a slur that some still feel offended by. All are completely valid reasons to distance yourself from the word but when it comes to me it’s my all time favourite word in relation to the LGBTQIA community. And it’s because to me the word queer is all encompassing, it’s not exclusively putting people into groups of some people being gayer than others, or more cis gendered than others, for me it leaves everyone at the same level within the LGBTQIA community. Not to mention the word queer is one of the few ways I avoid the questions from others about the ways in which I’m gay and how gay I am and that is a relief because although my explanation may last 5-15 minutes depending on the person in the end I never really feel heard or like the person understands what I’m saying even though to me it’s the only thing that makes any sense to me.
So, with that being said, my only real recommendations for those struggling as they come into themselves and their sexuality is to just find what works for you. Use the words you feel most comfortable with, and that best describe you. What works for someone else might not feel right to you, and that is okay. If you really want to put it into specifics I’m a pansexual cis women, but I will forever and always love my connection to the word queer and how it’s helped me on my journey through my own sexuality. I will always love the strength and inclusivity it holds, and above anything else I will continue to choose this word over any other because to me it offers nothing but love and respect.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a reminder to treat yourself with compassion and understanding, to remember that not everyone is the same and that sexuality feels different for every person and that is okay and to please please remember that you're never alone in how you’re feeling, and that I'm here and I'm queer, and I’m standing right alongside you.