What does the word queer mean to you?
To me queer has always equated with “outside of the other categories you’ve given me to choose from.” Which I like personally and I have always admired those who had adopted the label early. But then I catch the juxtaposition of choosing the “other” label (behold, it’s still a label) and wonder about the irony.
How do you identify?
Definitely queer, but my vernacular has always leaned toward “I’m gay” in conversation. The girl that I had a crush on in second grade called me gay, and I thought she meant happy. I had never heard the term before. She was right, and it stuck.
Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?
Right. I don’t think about much day-to-day anymore. I’m very fortunate that I live most of my life in a set of environments that I contact more acceptance than judgement for behavior related to my sexuality.
Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?
I’m originally from a small town of 3,000 people in WV, called Weston. It’s very similar to small towns here in Kentucky. I had a very good childhood, with very loving family, but I perceived a lack of gay men and women in town – and the ridicule and judgement that seemed to be part of the lives of those I knew. I certainly knew my predilections were something to hide or repress. I had to move away from home to feel like I could be myself openly. I transferred to Centre College after my freshman year of college. Kentucky has been home ever since.
What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?
Shew. It feels presumptuous to even try! It’s so personal. The simplest thing is – You are not alone. The right people will love you for being exactly who you are. It takes time. It’s time worth taking.
How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
I think I had so much early teasing and ridicule for acting/looking “like a tomboy,” or dressing in a way that doesn’t match my personal gender, that I have learned to be confident in a fluid or non-binary gender aesthetic. I’m comfortable with my androgyny, but it’s been an evolution of years, and is still evolving really.
Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?
No, I don’t feel excluded. I’ll quote Margaret Cho here on a somewhat related topic: “You feel left out? It’s like a group outing! Nobody’s invited. Everybody just knows to come!”
Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc).
At my home, and with my loved ones.
Who influenced the life you live now?
Family (given and chosen), and a plethora of art and artists.