I’m here and I’m queer!

By Samantha Calderon
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I am not straight. Woah, that is forthcoming—but the only thing straight about me is my hair. I am Queer. To be more precise, I am Pansexual, but prefer Queer as my label. No, I do not have crushes on pans (skillets, anyone?). Yes, my sexuality is real.

My first awareness of being Gay was at age nine. There wasn’t a particular moment where it clicked with me that I’m not straight, it just felt natural to like women. I never questioned it, and I didn’t know there’s a term for it; I just knew. This is not to say I turned Gay at age nine, but this was the age where I began to explore my attraction for women.

Much like every horny 12-year old boy, I loved boobs (and still do!) At age 12, I learned about Bisexuality. At first, I used this label because it defined my feelings for men and women, but it didn’t feel fitting. I always knew that I just love people for who they are, so I felt restricted by claiming Bisexuality. When I was 13, I learned about Pansexuality. I shifted to this label because it means that I fall for someone’s soul and being, which felt right. I was too young to understand the spectrum of genders at the time.

That same year, however, I decided to not label my sexuality. To simplify conversations, I’d say, “I love people for who they are!” I then went back into questioning, and thought I was Lesbian. This story is complex, and I will try my best to talk about my experience in a summarized, clinical way.

I fell for someone who I will call “Star.” I had a massive crush on this person, who I originally perceived to be female. Because I thought star identified as a girl, I thought I was Lesbian. At the time, I wanted nothing to do with men. I questioned all the flings I’ve had with guys, and reflecting on these experiences felt a bit gross. I was all about women during this time period, but this was self-destructive for me. I didn’t know who I was anymore. As it turns out, I didn’t know Star well enough either.

After months of mutual infatuation, Star came out to me as Non-Binary. They use they/them/theirs pronouns. I cried when I found out.

I didn’t cry over this revelation because I considered it a bad thing, it was because I felt like a monster for misgendering Star for months. The tears didn’t stop rolling, and I apologized to Star for any gender dysphoria I might have caused them. I said I’d never forgive myself.

Star assured me that they were not hurt, because I wasn’t aware of their gender or pronouns. This person told me that if anything, they felt safe coming out to me. That if it were someone else, that person wouldn’t have been as understanding of their gender as I am. My feelings for Star remained the same, and all that really changed was the name I used for Star and their pronouns, which came naturally to me.

Terminology crossed my mind after every interaction we had. Although we were never an official couple, I thought about how officially dating would be like, and which pet names I’d use on them. I went from calling this person “princess,” to using gender neutral pet names. If we were ever going to be an official couple, I’d refer to Star as my partner or significant other. Anatomically speaking, I asked what they referred to their intimate body parts as. Star said when it comes to the body, they use the biological name of said body parts. It makes sense to me, because saying “vagina” or “breasts” isn’t inherently harmful, as they are not exclusive to women. I did a lot of learning and unlearning.

Although Star is no longer in my life, I always wish them well. I was their first female lover, and thanks to them, I learned that I can indeed fall for anyone. I no longer have a “type” when it comes to romance.

Given that Star is not a female, I could not consider myself Lesbian. I realized that I am truly—and I say this with 100% confidence—Pansexual. As I stated in the beginning, I do not call myself Pansexual, I use “Queer.”

There are some people in the LGBTQ+ community who do not like the “Queer” label, due to its former derogatory meaning. However, “Queer” is now a reclaimed slur. To me, Queer is empowerment.

I favor “Queer” over a specific label because it implies I am Gay, but it does not explicitly outline my sexuality. Using “Queer” serves as a shield, because there are some people who do not believe in Pansexuality. It gives me room to tell people that I am Gay, but not so much room that they lecture me on my sexuality. For others, “Queer” means that they are gender non-conforming (genderqueer), but they do not have to disclose their gender identity for the same reason that I opt out of telling people my sexuality sometimes.

There’s talk about how straight people need to be accepting of Gay people, but there is also infighting within the community. I used to have Gay friends who feel like they are the “real” Gays, and that Bisexuality is for selfish people who want to sleep with everyone. They also believe Pansexuality is a made-up term for people to feel special about themselves. There are people who claim to support the Transgender community, but do not believe in the spectrum of genders and discredit Non-Binary folks.

I acknowledge my privilege within the LGBTQ+ community. Although my sexuality is seen as “fake” to some, I have the privilege of passing as straight in my current heterosexual relationship. I also have cisgender privilege, and cannot empathize with individuals who question their gender. I can only sympathize, and I try my best to take direct action and be there for my Queer friends who frequently face criticism for being themselves.

The acronym, “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP” stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-spirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual, Polyamorous. At first, I thought it was a bit much. Now, I see it as a great thing! Let’s include everyone. Let the acronym be alphabet soup if it makes everyone feel welcomed. For those bothered by it, no one is forcing you to use the acronym. Don’t know some of these terms? Google it.

Don’t gatekeep someone’s gender or sexuality, you don’t have a saying as to who someone identifies as. Women are art. Men are art. Gender non-conforming individuals are art.

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