Creating Change: Finally Feeling “Queer Enough”
Posted by Katherine
February 7, 2014
The language I use to describe how I identify my space within the LGBT community changes day to day. Sometimes I call myself bi, sometimes queer, sometimes fluid (and sometimes, after some free Planned Parenthood Suite Cocktails at Creating Change, Queer Princess). However, a constant is that my identity is a non-monosexual one—meaning I’m not just attracted to one sex and/or gender. And for a long time, in fact ever since I first got into queer politics and communities, I’ve often felt that I’m just not “queer enough.”
Now, trust me—I am real queer here. Not that I should need to legitimize my queerness, but I’ve been attracted to/dated/slept with all kinds of people with kinds of bodies with all kinds of identities attached to their bodies: trans women, trans men, genderqueer folks, butch women, femme women, andrygynous boys, bois galore (SO many bois), anyone with a swell pair of oxfords, and yes, cis men. But despite all that, I’ve still been made to doubt myself, to feel like a straight person in queer’s clothing, because of the fact that I don’t identify as gay or lesbian. Because the LGBT community often times makes me feel as if there isn’t a space for me.
Yes, I’ve had straight people tell me I’m too “pretty” to be queer (meaning I don’t look like most people’s conception of what a woman who is not exclusively attracted to cis dudes looks like). I’ve had straight people ask me if “I prefer one sex over another?” I’ve had straight men ask me for threesomes, who have pressed for my sexual history, who treated my identity as a fetish.
But I’ve also had queer people tell me I look straight. I’ve had queer people comment on femme aesthetic—my lipstick, my dresses, and so on—in a way that was less than complimentary. I’ve heard in supposedly queer spaces, online and in real life, everyone referred to as gay despite how they may actually identify. It’s been implied to me that I’m just “playing gay” in order to get the attention of men as a young college woman, by straight AND queer people alike. Oh, and my absolute favorite of them all: “I don’t believe bisexuality exists.”
Right, because my sexuality hinges on your acknowledgement.
There is constant erasure, shaming, and denial of my, and so many others’, identity, and it can make you feel like a big ol’ sad sack queerbody with no place to go. But at Creating Change, I suddenly found myself surrounded by a huge number of people who identified as pan, fluid, bi, queer, so on and so forth, a huge volume of folks who identified as queer—but not as gay or lesbian.
I had never before been surrounded by so many queer people who didn’t identify as Gay or Lesbian. Who maybe land somewhere in the center of Kinsey’s Scale, but who also feel that maybe that scale doesn’t really fit their experience either. They are people who don’t want to feel like a midpoint, a glass half full, 50% gay and 50% straight. They are people who reiterated exactly all the experiences I’d had listed above. And more.
The most extraordinary thing was it wasn’t just one hour long workshop. There were caucuses, and workshops, and suite rooms, and more where to be neither straight nor gay was a’okay, and that meant, oh dear lord. It meant the world. It meant feeling like there was space for me. It meant feeling legitimate. It meant feeling visible.
You know, over Creating Change, I was selfie-ing like a beast: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. I stepped up to be part of a photo campaign, and let my picture be taken dozens of times. My visibility was tangible in a way I never get to experience and I reveled in my femme queer girl self, feeling with each click of the camera, 100% queer. I was at peace in at Creating Change, finally feeling queer enough and more.