Q1: What is your earliest memory of realizing your sexuality/gender identity? What was that like?
A: As a child I was labeled as a “tom boy” for preferring boy clothes, toys, and sports. I also had a shared physical experience with a girl when I was just in elementary school, but I didn’t think much of it. In middle school lots of girls liked to “playfully” flirt whether that be with words or physical affection. See, my mind and body reacted towards those things versus the physical/emotional unavailability I had towards boys my age. Of course, denial set in because of the fear of being gay. Mind you, all of my childhood I’ve heard homophobic slurs growing up, but I never understood the big deal. A family friend once speculated I liked girls and said to me “You’re too pretty to be gay. There’s enough ding ding around to make you feel good..” Yes, I was a child. That was traumatic & I’ll never forget it.
Q3: What was it like for you to accept yourself? Was acceptance of yourself contingent upon the acceptance from peers/loved ones?
A: It was only hard for me to accept myself because of fear of not being accepted by my family, especially my mom. Not only that, I always felt something was wrong with me. I wondered why I couldn’t just be normal and do what I’m “suppose” to do by liking/dating boys. I found myself trying to force myself to be with boys (physically, mentally, & emotionally) which caused me to be in unsafe and uncomfortable situations. It actually took for me to not care about acceptance from peers, loved ones, and not let fear hold me back from living my life. I realized everyone else was living their life or got to do as they pleased, and I wanted to allow myself that same freedom. So, I did.
Q5: Did you come out or did you just start living in your truth? Do you feel like coming out is necessary/required? Why or why not?
A: I did a bit of both. I came out, It was disregarded and my mom was being delusional. I eventually just started doing what I wanted to do. I don’t feel like coming out should be necessary or even a thing. No one has to “come out” as heterosexual. They just simply exist, and I wish gay/queer people had the freedom to do the same.
Q6: Do you feel like your sexuality/gender identity is apart of who you are or a part of you that you can grow “in and out of”?
A: I think sexuality is something you can grow in and out of, of course, because gender/sexuality is a spectrum. I believe sexuality/ gender identity is something that can evolve over time, because just as life itself.. it’s a journey and we don’t have all the answers. All we know is how we feel and feelings tend to evolve as we go. They are forever changing. That’s the beautiful part about life and the journey.
Q7: Has religion/spirituality had any kind of affect on your journey to accepting yourself (good or bad)? If so, how does that affect your view and/or practice of religion/spirituality today?
A: Religion did not have much of a negative effect on my acceptance, as I did not grow up in a super religious environment, but just as everyone else, I’ve heard that you would go to hell for being gay. I had my own beliefs about God though and how he would not create something that he hated and would condemn to hell. That has helped me continue to build my own relationship with him and learning him for myself. I am more spiritual than religious and I think that may have played a role as well.
Q8: What do you see for yourself in the future? Does the current state of the world have any affect on that vision?
A: I would like to see myself getting married and being able to publicly exist/express as much as I can as a queer person. The current state of the world is scary and makes me wonder will I shrink to protect myself or will I fight to be all that I am. Lately I’ve been finding myself a little uneasy in public with my gf dressing masc presenting. You just never know what anyone is thinking or willing to do to cause you harm these days. I say this in regard to all my identities: black, gay, & woman.
Q9: As someone who identifies as ____, what do you wish heterosexual/cisgendered people were more considerate of/knowledgeable about?
A: I identify as a cis queer woman. I wish heterosexual people, especially men, knew not to associate my clothes with a gender or gender roles. There is no “man” in a lesbian relationship. I also wish they didn’t feel comfortable trying to socialize me as one of them. Just because I am masc presenting or love women, does not mean I want to partake in the disrespect, abuse, and sexualization of women. I don’t want to talk about it, see it, or be in on the jokes. It’s not okay and makes me uncomfortable.
Q11: How important do you think it is for people who “accept” you to be knowledgeable about your identity? Do you feel like language is important?
A: I think people who claim to care and accept me should WANT to be knowledgeable about my identity. To be knowledgeable is to be a true ally. I encourage questions from my loved ones and I love them wanting to know more about that perspective of my life, rather than disregarding it. Language is important because people saying that LGBTQ+ is just a “choice” or “lifestyle” really gives me the ick. Because quite honestly, why would anyone choose to be condemned, hated, and alienated? Or go through any of the numerous difficult/dangerous things that LGBTQ+ goes through.
Q12: On a scale of 1-10, how difficult has it been to navigate (platonic, familial, etc) relationships with heterosexual/cisgendered individuals? How do you hold space for those around you?
A: On a scale of 1-10, I would say it’s a six (6). It has been difficult navigating relationships with family on this matter. I’m not sure that they support me or that they’re just merely tolerating me or thinking it’s a “phase”. It’s also difficult when they say homophobic slurs and stereotypes about others around me. It shows me that they don’t see me as a part of that and that they don’t seem to think they’re talking about me when they say certain things. It makes me feel small and uncomfortable, especially since I'm still learning how to speak up for myself when it happens.
Q14: What does living in your truth mean to you? Do you feel like it’s important? Why or why not?
A: Living in your truth means returning to who you are at your core and being proud of that. It means expressing and living freely with love for yourself. It is important, because without being honest with yourself, you cannot be honest with others. It can also cause you to hurt others, but more importantly hurt yourself. You cannot truly love yourself and be free if you’re living with shame. Speaking from experience, it does not feel too good either.
Q15: What do you identify as? Have you always identified as ___? What led you to identify in that way?
A: I identify as a cis queer woman. I use to identify as bisexual. I think I only identified as bisexual to give myself a safe space to change my mind or to give others (most family) a peace of mind that I am still attracted to men and will get married and have kids one day. Or maybe I even identified as bisexual to feel as close to “normal” as I possible could despite me having no mental, emotional, sexual, or physical attraction towards men. Honestly, I am learning as I go and I now understand that sexuality is a spectrum and has multiple parts. I stopped identifying as bisexual once I realized I don’t HAVE to like men.
"..because just as life itself.. it’s a journey and we don’t have all the answers. All we know is how we feel and feelings tend to evolve as we go." - Kanijah W., Cis Queer Woman, She/Her/Hers