Hi Suggestive! Here’s my question: what does it mean to be queer and how does someone know if they are queer?
Queer is an umbrella term for a kind of identity! That means it can be used by itself, or as a reference to one of the many identities under the umbrella itself. Though I listed only a few under the umbrella, there are actually hundreds of ways a person can identify that go far beyond ‘gay’ or ‘straight’. These identities describe our gender and our sexuality and the way we see ourselves.Someone may choose to use different language depending on who they are talking to, their comfort level, how out they are, or what message they are trying to convey.
For instance, someone could say “I’m super queer.” but they could also say “I identify as bisexual.” Someone may also only identify as queer. This may indicate more fluidity. The language someone uses to identify is personal and can change over time. There is also no right or wrong way to identify. For instance: some people feel discomfort with the term queer because it is a reclaimed word, and was once derogatory. In some parts of the states it still is used in such a way.
Figuring out what label suits you best can be a tricky process, since most people enter into the world with constant reaffirmation that they are cis (the sex they were assigned at birth matches to their gender identity) and heterosexual. Many people aren’t provided with information about identity to help them figure out where they fit in. There are also an endless supply of labels that are always being added to and changed – as mentioned earlier. I have a post on this coming tomorrow.
When it comes to finding yourself and choosing a label that makes you feel most comfortable, time might be the best option. A lot of people move from heterosexual to bicurious because they know they don’t fit into the rigid guidelines of what people say heterosexual is. (Ex: If you are heterosexual you will never ever ever enjoy physically touching or seeing someone else of the same sex, puhleeze.) Gay and lesbian are also easy identities to shift into because they are clearly defined and may allow someone to explore same-sex interests.
I both understand and detest the desire to find the perfect box to fit into. In some ways, queer offers a solution to that by being sort of ambiguous. Of course, as more people identify as queer, it develops its own little box that may make people feel uncomfortable. It’s a process. I think the best way to figure out “What am I?” is to just put the labeling aside for a minute and go about your life living in the way that you want to live. Instead of focusing on what behaviors or emotions you can or can’t have under a certain label, just do and feel the things you want to do and feel. Sometimes easier said than done and of course politically loaded advice. Not everyone has the freedom or safety to do this.
As you wade about the identi-sea, as it were, you’ll start finding communities of people, or at least collections of language, that helps you understand.
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