Queerbrarian

It's National Coming Out Day.

It's been an interesting year.  In 2015 we celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage; this year we've seen floods of anti-queer legislation, shootings at gay clubs, and continued violence in rhetoric.

So fuck it.  I'll talk about my orientation, my gender, and my "coming out."

I literally cannot remember a time when I was not attracted to both men and women.  The first crushes I can remember having were on Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Dr. Beverly Crusher.  I was maybe five years old.  Did I understand it as a nascent sexual attraction?  No, I didn't have the concepts for that to even occur to me then.  I knew I wanted to be Han or Luke because they got Princess Leia (in my defense, the whole sibling thing didn't register for some time, even if Return of the Jedi was my favorite of the three).  Of course, Leia had her pick of those two as well as both rocking that bikini and kicking butt.

I remember my mom telling me, before I had even heard any of the common slander against gays and lesbians, that these lies existed and they were not only false but by and large nonsensical.  I didn't even understand the meaning of some of the lies, I was young, lacking world context and experience, and it didn't occur to me that there was anything to be considered weird that a family unit consisted of two women instead of a man and a woman (side note: the town I spent my childhood in is amazing).

On the cusp of puberty I heard about the death of Matthew Shepherd, about Brandon Teena when Boy's Don't Cry came out.  I started to understand the insults people threw at each other,  the defamation preached in the church services my dad took me to.  I was taught by everything around me that relationships were between a man and a woman, and that my label was female.  I took it as a 'whatever' and went on with my life, it didn't seem to honestly matter to me if I was male or female but if the label makes people happy, sure.  I've had numerous friendships where my gender has effectively been forgotten, except for moments of startled remembrance on their part.  But when it came down to it, I was myself, and most days I didn't suffer from gender-related dysphoria or the feeling that parts of my body were profoundly wrong or missing.

I'm not the greatest with labels.  "For girls" and "for boys" never really seemed to apply to me in my head, beyond this weird idea my dad had that I would like dolls and should wear dresses to church (confession, I did like horses).  It's taken me years to discover that dresses are actually awesome, because it means I'm not wearing pants.  They were just this horribly restrictive garment that got me in trouble when I climbed trees.  My default was androgyny, unless I was dressing up for play, in which case I dove into divergent gendered presentations.  To quote Ru Paul, "we're all born naked, and the rest is drag."  When I bothered to wear a dress to my senior prom people who knew me reacted with confusion, it literally felt wrong to them.  The discovery of drag was an epiphany for me.

During middle school, my mom and my stepdad rented The Rocky Horror Picture Show, handing it to me with a "You'll like this."  They were right.  A few years later my helped me buy pieces to create a Frank'n'furter costume for a shadowcast production at a local college.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch came out in DVD in all it's technicolor glory and I was fascinated all over again.  There was something in these chaotic musical fuck yous to gender and normality that called to me.

Puberty happened, and along with it the growth and understanding of sexual attraction and desire.  I remained clueless for awhile of my queerness.  It happens.  See above where I talk about being sort of shitty when it comes to labels and how they apply to myself.  Also the whole joy of puberty (and the development of depression cycles I still fight with today).  Then my best friend started dating another girl and I discovered I was upset because I wanted to date her, which led to the whole realization of "holy crap, I'm into ladies."  Clearly I'm all on top of that self-awareness shit.

These days I'm married to a man that I love, have dresses that I love to wear (they have pockets, btw), and sometimes even put on make up.  I am attracted women and men and non-binary individuals, but struggle with the fact that I "pass as straight."  I struggle in some areas of my life with the assumption of my orientation and the feeling that I'm not queer enough to count.  Other areas I rely on the assumptions of about me, using them as a protection.  The world doesn't need to know about my desires, for all that I'm talking about them to some extent in a public blog post.  I work in public service for a small town, and I worry about appearing "too queer" for the community.  At the same time I look back at my work history and notice distinctly periods of higher sexual harassment by patrons overlapping with the times when I presented more femme and enjoy the slight protection that I find within a butch appearance.

Professionally I do what I can to contribute to a well-rounded collection, but need assurance before I go forward with a Pride display or feel the need to justify my recommendation for a GLBT book, no matter how supportive my higher-ups.  I'm blessed with living within the sphere of a significant liberal academic community and just outside of a city known GLBT community center and destination.  But even within that people have told me that I'm "confused," "disgusting," or somehow damned.  I cherish the safe spaces I find, because they're not assumed.

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