On Being Me
I’m struggling to write this. I’ve been struggling to write this since the beginning of the year. I’ll probably always struggle to write this piece ─ the piece about me.
My sexuality is...complicated. That’s the short way to describe it. The longer way is that I’ve put a lot of thought into it, I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and I’ve considered my options and I still come up empty every time. I don’t feel like there’s a label that fits me: I’ve only been in relationships with women, so almost everyone I know considers me straight. But I can see myself having a relationship with a man, falling in love with him, and being just as happy. And the same goes for people outside the gender binary. I know who I’m attracted to, I’ve just never felt like a label fit me well.
I’m also not sure if I’ve ever felt like I deserved a label. I’ve never been “closeted” in the sense that most people see no reason to ask me if I’m anything other than straight. Save for the occasional middle school bully, no one has ever made the assumption that I’m queer. And I don’t even know if I want them to.
What am I supposed to do if my queerness isn’t a part of my identity?
For a lot of my life, I’ve felt like who I am can’t be a part of my identity. I’m from the South, albeit a fairly urban area in a large state, but still ─ the South. With a capital S. I love my dad, but there’s no way I could explain to him that gender isn’t a factor in who I’m attracted to. We had enough trouble in the family when my cousin’s partner came out as trans, and I was the only one to support them through their transition. What would it say to my family if, all of a sudden, I told them I was queer?
A handful of my close friends from high school know about this internal dialogue I have. We’ve had productive conversations about what it means to label yourself, and how personal of a choice that is. Most of them, though, do label themselves. I’ve never felt comfortable taking photos with the Pride Flag that gets brought to our get-togethers. I’m almost always behind the camera.
Part of me thinks that the choice I’m making to not label myself is a mistake. Aren’t I supposed to be proud of who I am? Aren’t I supposed to go to Pride parades, to gay bars? Aren’t I supposed to feel like I’m part of a community?
Or have I chosen to exclude myself from that community?
This isn’t something I openly talk about with many people in my life. I don’t even know if I want to ─ when I look to myself for answers, I only come away with more questions. How can people have a clear idea of my if I’m unclear about myself?
I constantly find myself wondering what’s at the end of all this. Will I, one day, suddenly feel myself click into place? Will I understand what it means to be queer and where my place is in the community? Will I call my dad and explain to him everything I’ve ever known about myself? Would he be proud of me? Will I be proud of me? I don’t know.
What I’m hoping for is a comfort in my not-knowing. I’m hoping for peace, for love for myself. I want to know who I am on a fundamental level so I can use that to love the people in my life the best ways I possibly can. I’m hoping for a sense of self dictated by all the parts of my identity: as a writer, an artist, a friend, a son, a brother. And maybe, one day, a queer man.