Because I’ve met some discrimination, but others have met worse. Because it’s important for me to always claim that part of my identity always, not just sometimes when it suits me. Because I am marrying a woman, because I am a lesbian, because coming out was easy for me — incredibly easy for me — and not everyone (read: not many) people have that same experience.
My identity has always formed how I dress. Look: I am a tall, thin, very brown-curly haired girl wearing my private school uniform. Look: I am a sophomore in college and trying to figure out where I fit in wearing Doc Martens two sizes too big, and flannels from the men’s department of Urban Outfitters. Look: I am two-years post-grad and thrifting has become a daily habit, buy more for a smaller footprint, eco-conscious, et. al. Look: I am a blonde-curly haired girl, curvy, wearing tortoise-shell glasses and drinking coffee in a denim dress which exposes my pale long-legs to the long-awaited sunshine and 80 degree day.
Look: daily things change, but one thing has stayed the same: my identity. I have been queer forever, but I have acknowledged that side of myself in the last four years. Increasingly, when I see same-sex couples I ogle them with appreciation: you flaunt who you are, you give me permission to do the same.
In my previous fashion blog, I had no idea I was gay. I had never even had a first kiss. I have been struggling to figure out where I fit in for so long, that the sidelines started to feel like home. Today, that is less true. Today I do know that my words are needed, my little carved-out space on this planet is appreciated, that being who I am is the greatest gift I could get and give.
My nature is to be apologetic. You see me for who I am? I’m sorry. I don’t fit into the norms of who you think a style blogger is or what one should look like? I’m sorry. You don’t like my tattoos, my piercings, my dyed hair? I’m so so sorry. And it’s been like this until it hasn’t. Me freeing myself from the confines of who you think I am.
I once read an article where one of my favorite authors, Chloe Caldwell, whose book Women, is about her experiences with the same-sex and what that’s like in her early thirties, was asked how it felt to be coming out so late. Her reply (loosely): I never said I was gay.
Increasingly, I notice a need to categorize, file away, interpret then label, right-off, call, in order to grant comfort. Comfort is not: trans. Comfort is not: black. Comfort is not: queer fashion blogger. Comfort is not: the unknown. Comfort is not: uncomfortable.
Maybe, in the scheme of things, it does not matter that I add that five-letter word. Maybe, these words are never read by more than a handful of people, and those people already know me and my deep love with words and their intentions. Maybe they disagree.
Becoming a writer meant I put all of it on the line, I never hold back, I don’t have regrets for my growth, I never think any of it was “bad.” Being queer is different. I don’t hold my partner’s hand unless we are in a safe space (read: a place like her sister & partner’s apartment). I don’t kiss my partner unless we are surrounded by love. I don’t outright say, “I am looking to move in with to an apartment with my girlfriend.” I don’t say wife. I do say partner — a veiled term up for your interpretation, you on the line controlling if we get a place or don’t. When making dinner reservations, oftentimes I’ll just say friend or partner. Again, trying to escape a discomfort the other person may not even have. What I’m trying to say is this: homophobia is so ingrained into my understanding of how others interpret my relationships.
The other day, I read an excerpt of a book. It was the beginning pages, we were learning about a character. His aunt wants to set him up with eligible men. But, I think, they never said he was gay.
Maybe, now you see why I don’t leave the word queer out when I can wear it proudly. It’s just a word to you, but it’s my identity.