The dynamic nature of queernessBottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Queerly Forward Thursday, June 22nd, 2017
Commentary: Queerly Forward
Being silent is the furthest impulse from my nature. When I came out, I didn’t open the closet door; I blew it off the hinges. I threw my own personal Pride parade, painting the town red, then orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Validating my identity by speaking it out loud was the first step; joining a local community was the second. I began attending my university’s LGBTQ student group meetings immediately. Three semesters later, I became the first lesbian to hold the group’s position of president. My sorority superlative was “Lesbian in Charge,” equally for my activism across our campus on behalf of the LGBTQ community and alarming ability to multi-task. Even at a time when I was questioning everything else about adulthood, I knew one thing with complete clarity. I wanted to be a power lesbian – and I was on the fast track to getting there.
I met my husband within a year of us each coming out. We bonded instantly over that shared experience, actually brought together by the ever classic line, “I met a lesbian; you should be friends!” We were proud of who we were. We talked about Queer as Folk and The L Word; we gushed over our celebrity crushes. Yet our connection was so much more than that. Our love was made of music, marathoning Grey’s Anatomy for hours on end, and compassion for helping others. I fell in love with him as a person, and he fell in love with me as a person, and, in turn, we made each other better people.
His next coming out didn’t shock me. Although it had not dawned on me as a possibility before that day, I did not question it, nor was it my right to do so. In the same way I burst out of the closet all those entire years before, so did he. It was an act of desperation, fueled by the knowledge that life had the possibility to be that much better by living it authentically. He came to me with the honesty that he was transgender, and I embraced him with the one thing I knew every queer person needed – acceptance. I saw it as an honor to meet his truest self. I prepared myself to walk beside him on what I knew was going to be a journey.
Our place in the community shifted, and we are still working to find our footing. In gay bars, most people assume that either we are a gay man and lesbian who are friends or that we are a straight couple. In lesbian bars, I am riddled with anxiety that he will be misgendered simply by being with me, assumed incorrectly to be a very butch lesbian. This is a guilty burden I carry all my own, for cutting my hair short or wearing a bow tie, as he was the one who took me to the barber and helps me match my outfits, loving that I, too, am being authentic. Queerness permeates every dynamic of our existence, and yet we have a Mr. & Mrs. sign from our wedding hanging in our kitchen. We are two distinct beings, each with pride in the aspects of our sexuality and gender that make us queer. He is male, I am gay, and we are in love. Those things can all exist together.
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