No I Don’t Care That You Know Other Queer People

“By the way my coworker’s best friend’s sister is gay.”

“… oh, um that’s cool.”

This is a conversation that takes place constantly. If someone knows I’m gay, they always love to tell me when they meet other queer people; as if we’re unicorns. Don’t get me wrong, there are nothing but good intentions behind it, it’s just a little weird. Would you tell me if you met another woman, or some else who had blue eyes? Probably not.

This is different from the typical, “oh you’re gay, do you know my friend Sam, he’s gay too?” situation. People don’t think you know them, they just want to let you know they know other queer people. My older sister is the main culprit of this in my life. She lives in a major city, so of course she knows/is friends with/ runs into a lot of queer people, and she lets me know. Every. Single. Time. Maybe I’m a huge jerk for not caring, but honestly it’s just not that interesting to me. I consume a lot of queer media, so I constantly see other LGBTQIA+ people. Plus, I’m in college, so I see a decent amount of visibly queer people in my day to day life.

Being able to see visibly queer people is so so important, and I do get excited when I see other people people just living their normal lives. I feel a sense of familiarity and kinship with other people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Someone telling me about how their barista is gay though, isn’t really something I care to know. What is the correct response to “Oh! I was meaning to tell you my waiter the other day is gay.” ? Do you want me to jump up and down and beg you for more details? I usually go with, “that’s cool” or “oh wow” which both come out sounding incredibly unenthusiastic, no matter how much I try and pretend to care.

I never confront anyone about this, because I know they are just trying to be nice. It in no way makes me mad, or even annoyed, I just find it incredibly odd and kinda funny. Does this happen to you? If so, how do you respond? I feel like this definitely isn’t just something I deal with!

 

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Books I Read in 2017

Reading was always one of my favorite things to do as a child. My mom is an avid reader, and when I was little I always wanted to be able to read as much and as fast as she did. When I started getting migraines, I stopped reading for fun because it was no longer fun. I’ve been very fortunate to have a relatively small number of migraines this year, and I was able to get back to reading. In 2017, I read 17 books, which was a humorous coincidence. I know many people read 17 books in one month, but I feel like for someone getting back into reading after taking a few years off, it’s pretty good. Here’s what I read in 2017 in the order I read them:

  1. Scrappy Little Nobody By: Anna Kendrick
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings By: Maya Angelou
  3. The Difference Between You and Me By: Madeleine George
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklynn By: Betty Smith
  5. Been Here All Along By: Sandy Hall
  6. More Happy Than Not By: Adam Silvera
  7. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me By: Julie Anne Peters
  8. The Summer I Wasn’t Me By: Jessica Verdi
  9. Vanished By: E.E. Cooper
  10. Pretend You Love Me By: Julie Anne Peters
  11. Our Own Private Universe By: Robin Talley
  12. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit By: Jaye Robbin Brown
  13. History is All You Left Me By: Adam Silvera
  14. Take This Man By: Brando Skyhorse
  15. Bad Feminist By: Roxane Gay
  16. They Both Die At The End By: Adam Silvera
  17. Dress Codes For Small Towns By: Courtney Stevens

 

I feel in love with queer YA fiction, and have made it my mission to read as many as I possibly can in 2018. The discovery of Adam Silvera, has also been amazing. Both History is All You Left Me and They Both Die at the End quickly became some of my favorite books of all time. The Difference Between You and Me, will always have a special place in my heart, as it is the first queer book I had ever read. My personal goal for this year was to read 12 books, one a month, but I never wanted it to feel like a chore. Luckily, it didn’t, and I was even able to surpass that goal. In 2018, my goal is to read AT LEAST 24 books, or two a month.

What was your favorite book you read this year / What is your favorite book in general?

I’d love to hear any recommendations!

Should Non-Queer People Play Queer Characters?

There’s nothing more disappointing to me than enjoying a queer character in a show, looking up the actor, and finding out they aren’t a part of the LGBTQIA+ community at all. It’s not like there’s a shortage of talented queer actors; Hollywood just doesn’t cast them. With over 10% of the population being LGBTQIA+ in some capacity, there’s definitely a plethora of talented queer actors, probably even some that identify the same way as their character does.

Representation is incredibly important for every minority group. While there’s been more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media in 2017 than ever before, we still have a lot of progress that needs to be made. It would be ridiculous and wrong for someone to play a black character if they weren’t black, so why do we treat sexuality and gender that way? Sure, some non-queer actors do a pretty damn good job playing queer characters, but they just don’t have the experience. They don’t know the struggle, and it really shows when they do interviews about their show/movie. As much as I think we really need to support queer media as a whole, I would rather support queer artists making LGBTQIA+ content.

As a young queer person, I often find myself finding other LGBTQIA+ identifying people, mainly queer women, to look up to. I really needed solid representation when I was figuring everything out, and straight women playing lesbians on TV just wasn’t what I wanted or needed. I also have a problem with the specific type of cis-straight-heteroromantic people that are casted. They are almost always white, able-bodied, and financially privileged. The real LGBTQIA+ community is diverse in every sense of the word. Hot white gays are not the majority, and their stories are not the most important ones to be told. Queer people of color, and disabled queer people’s stories and accomplishments are constantly being erased.

The history behind the character is important. People who are figuring out their gender and/or sexuality need to see queer people living “normal” lives. Straight-Cis-Heteroromantic actors just can’t possibly convey that, or be that representation off the show. Recently, Stephanie Beatriz’s Character Rosa, on the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, came out as bisexual. The only thing that’s cooler than Hollywood actually letting someone say the word “bisexual” on TV, is that Stephanie is bisexual. She is a perfect example of good queer representation. I wish we saw this more often.

Do you think non-queer people should play queer characters? Who are some of your favorite LGBTQIA+ actors?

How did you know you were gay?

Even though I’ve been out for a few years now, I’ve never really had anyone ask me “How did you know you were gay?” until a few weeks ago. One of my lab partners (who’s also gay) asked me this kind of out of the blue while we were working on our lab report after class. Honestly, I didn’t have a great answer prepared.

I told her about an experience I had sophomore year of high school, where I randomly had a huge crush on this girl I didn’t really know in my Chemistry class. I wrote about that crush a long time ago, but I’ve since come to some other realizations. I think she could have been replaced with a thousand different people and it wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s not that I don’t have standards, or that I’m attracted to every girl I come in contact with – that’s far from the truth. It was just a period of time where I was questioning and figuring everything out, and she just so happened to be in the same class as me.

Now, my lab partner wasn’t exactly satisfied with this story. “But how do you know it wasn’t just her?” That question threw me for a loop a little bit. There’s no good answer, I just do. It’s a feeling that, I don’t feel the need to question anymore. For me, sexuality isn’t a complicated part of my life. I know how I feel, and who I like. It’s just that simple. It wasn’t that easy in the beginning, but over time the doubts left and I feel perfectly content with the conclusion. I don’t have some great story about being swept off my feet by the love of my life, and I don’t think having that kind of story is necessary. I wanted the experience to be casual and simple, and it was.

Her questions came from a place of curiosity, but they definitely made me think about a few things. Why are people so obsessed with knowing every thought that goes through queer people’s minds when questioning their sexuality or gender? Also, why do they feel the need to question it’s authenticity? One of my favorite qutoes from Denice Frohman’s poem “Dear Straight People” is:

” Dear Straight People, I’m tired of proving my love is authentic, so I’m calling the reparations on your ass. When did you realize you were straight? Who taught you?Did it happen because your parents are divorced? Did it happen because your parents are not divorced? Did it happen because you sniffed too much glue in fifth grade? Dear Straight People, why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?”

I get a whole lot of “I would have never known” and “Really???” This has to do with the fact that I don’t look queer enough in straight people’s eyes. I wear makeup, have shoulder length hair, and generally act feminine enough to be shoved (forcefully) into the straight box. I can look in the mirror and think, “wow I look really gay today” (in a proud way) and still no one suspects a damn thing. The authenticity of my gayness is questioned because I don’t look the part or fit perfectly into the tiny box created for the stereotypical lesbian.

I don’t mind answering these questions, or most questions for that matter. However, I am tired of both people in my day to day life as well as society as a whole questioning who I am because I don’t fit the mold. So, how did I know I was gay? I trusted myself, and through lots of introspection discovered the answer to this aspect of my life. Maybe it’s not the best answer, or the answer people want to hear, but it’s the most honest one.

National Coming Out Day 2017

Happy National Coming Out Day!

For those who do not know, National Coming Out Day began on October 11th, 1987 when half a million people marched on Washington for LGBT Rights. Since that day, October 11th has been used to celebrate coming out and being out. Many people also use this day to come out for the very first time, or come out to a new person/group.

I remember when national coming out day came around while I was still in the closet. I felt a sense of urgency to do it that day, but got nervous and waited some more. National Coming Out Day is not supposed to pressure anyone to come out when they’re not ready, so if you’re in the closet and don’t feel ready – don’t come out today! This day did give me a little nudge to bit the bullet and tell my parents. I think it was beneficial to me to have national coming out day take place during the time I was deciding when to come out.

Part of me feels like we shouldn’t have to “come out” per se. We should be able to just start seeing someone, or have it come up in conversation. A big dramatic “let’s sit down and cry moment” isn’t always necessary or wanted. If that is your experience, there isn’t anything wrong with that, coming out to my parents was mildly dramatic, but if that’s not the experience you want then it doesn’t have to be that way.

For me, being out is liberating and incredibly important. I always try to be the “out person” that I needed when I was questioning my sexuality. Being out for me can also be very political, especially right now. Having out role models is crucial for people in the closet. It’s also really important for everyone else to see that LGBTQIA+ people are not some far off distant idea, but rather are your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family members.

I hope everyone has an incredible National Coming Out Day, and is able to celebrate being LGBTQIA+!

My First Pride Experience 

This past weekend I went to Pride for the very first time!

On Saturday my sister and I went to the festival which consisted mostly of booths and they had a stage where different people performed. I got to see Alyssa Edwards ( a drag queen from Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 5) perform which was so cool! I’ve been wanting to see a drag performance for a while, but since I’m still a minor there aren’t any places near me that I could go to.

The festival was really fun, and it was cool to see a community of people being so unapologetic while living in a conservative state. We’re lucky that Dallas is one of the more progressive areas of Texas, but the state as a whole is still very conservative. Lots of great organizations like GLAAD, HRC, ACLU, and Equality Texas had booths, as well as some really cool queer owned companies!

Sunday was the parade, which is what I was most excited for. I was planning to just go with my sister, but last minute my parents decided they wanted to go too. To be completely honest I was a little apprehensive about having them come, because as open as they are, there are some things I thought they just wouldn’t understand. However, I was proved wrong and they had a great time!

It was SO hot on Sunday and right before the parade started I got really sick. My stomach began to hurt, my heart started racing, and I got that impending sense of doom that let me know I was going to pass out. Luckily there was a Walgreens just right there so I was able to stumble in and sit in the air conditioning for a few minutes, and got some Gatorade to try and bounce back. In around fifteen minutes I felt sooo much better and was able to enjoy the parade. It’s crazy how quickly things turn South for my body and how quickly they can bounce back!

Although a lot of the parade floats were catered more to gay and lesbian people, most of them celebrated the community as a whole. I saw a ton of trans pride stuff, and a decent amount of asexual pride stuff as well. Hopefully in the future Pride will become even more diverse, because everyone deserves to proud of who they are, especially when they aren’t one of the more well-known genders or sexualities.

I can’t wait to go to many more Pride events in the future. Next Pride I’ll be old enough to participate in a lot more, so that’s exciting. I feel so incredibly lucky to have such a supportive family. Maybe next year I’ll even have a good friend group I can go with!

Did you go to Pride? What was your first Pride experience like?

 

Trumps Latest Attack on Trans Rights

I would like to say I was surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find the tweets about banning trans people from the military, but honestly nothing he does shocks me anymore.

This however did seem out of the blue to me. No conversation, only a declaration. While technically nothing is set in stone or law yet, even stating these kinds of hatful things is harmful. This is the slow way to eventually ban trans people from existing. If they can’t go to the bathroom and can’t in the military, where can trans people exist then?

I wouldn’t say that I personally support the military in all of its endeavors, but being pro-military or not isn’t what this is about. Your gender shouldn’t determine what you can and can’t do or what you can and can’t be in life. If your willing to put your life on the line, you should be welcomed with open arms and allowed to live an authentic life.

Trump claims trans people are a “burden” due to their medical costs. The US military has quite the track record of not taking care of their veterans, or active duty member for that matter when it comes to health care of any kind. Not to mention not all trans people medically transition, and you shouldn’t assume they will or want to.

There are also over 15,000 trans people currently serving in our military. What’s going to happen to them? He acts like he’s stopping trans people from joining the armed forces, but no trans people are already serving.  You cannot end sometimes career because of their gender identity. Are you going to discharge them like they did back when “don’t ask don’t tell” was a law? We’re going backwards on the progress we’ve made.

I believe this is just the beginning of an attack on the LGBTQIA+ community. He’s gone after trans people multiple times now, and it isn’t going to stop unless there is enough backlash. Even then it may not end. Gaby Dunn made a video about this, and she believes that Trump is going after trans people first, because they don’t always get the support that other members of the LGBTQIA+ members receive. I completely agree, and since that’s probably true everyone in the community, and everyone who is a decent human being, should show up and support trans people.

The LGBTQIA+ community is resilient and we will not let him get away with this.