Q1: What is your earliest memory of realizing your sexuality/gender identity? What was that like?
A: My earliest memory would probably be when I was in elementary school. I was most likely in the second or third grade. I remember telling myself that "all the little girls were just playing house" and that I would eventually grow up and only like boys. I was convinced that is how it worked.
Q2: What is something you wish someone would’ve done for or said to you during your earlier years of finding/accepting yourself? What is something YOU would tell your younger self or others?
A: I kind of wish I had someone around who would've told me that I didn't have to rely heavily on other people's opinions and thoughts on my sexuality. It was hard for me to actually come to terms with my sexuality because I didn't want to deal with the negative and religious views on who I was. If I could go back, I would tell myself that I can love myself and be myself despite how someone else may feel because this is my life and I have to live it, nobody else.
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 has had a major impact on my journey of finding and accepting myself as a queer person. I'm a preacher's kid/grandkid/niece/cousin and Christianity was one of those things that you didn't question in my family, you just followed through because questioning the religion was not an option. As I started to come to terms with the fact that I wasn't going through a phase, I think that when a lot of my anxiety and depressive episodes became more common. At one point I remember doing research on how to be straight and was freaked because based on what I was taught, there was no way I could avoid eternal damnation. Today, I no longer consider myself to be a Christian, but I do still believe that there is a God. My religious/spiritual views are very confusing right now. I'm in the process of trying to figure out what works for me and what I align with. It's difficult because of my upbringing, so during this current time, I don't think too much about the spiritual or religious part of life. I'm more so focused on trying to establish peace and stability, and I plan to eventually find a belief or spirituality to settle into.
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 it's important to have basic knowledge about the LGBTQ+ community if you consider yourself to be an ally or to "accept" someone as part of the community. Language and basic understanding are important because, without it, things can come off as disrespectful and ignorant. I deal with this all the time with my parents. I know they mean no harm at this point, and I am grateful to even have a relationship with them, but the ignorance and refusal to learn about my community in order to not offend me come off as if there isn't real or true acceptance. Part of me feels like as time goes on, this is going to become a bigger issue so I'm preparing for it.
Q15: What do you identify as? Have you always identified as ___? What led you to identify in that way?
A: I currently identify as a queer and/or pansexual individual. I haven't always identified this way. When I first started to come to terms with not being heterosexual, I came out as bisexual. But, the more I learned about myself, I realized I didn't align with the definition of bisexuality. Now, I simply say I am queer because to me queer is another way of saying "I'm part of the community, don't worry about how, just vibe with me." I'm at a point now where I believe that labels put us in boxes, and I just want to live freely and comfortably in my truth. My truth is that I am queer, and I love individuals who love and align with me. It's that simple for me.
"My truth is that I am queer, and I love individuals who love and align with me. It's that simple for me."
- Ikara M., She/They, Pansexual/Queer or Free Queer Spirit