Queer Kentucky

Arsini Music

Arsini, 24, Kentucky

I have a lot of songs about it which I would love to share with you later, but aren’t ready and won’t be for a while. Check out Arsini Music, here!

I’d say queer means being anything other than cis and/or heterosexual.

I identify as gender fluid, but the label isn’t that important to me. I think a lot of people get too caught up in labels.

At the end of the day, we’re all just humans expressing ourselves.

I’ve lived in Kentucky since a young age. I haven’t really minded until a little more recently, now that I see how closed-minded some people that live here are. But there are a lot of really nice people in Kentucky and interesting varied cities like Louisville.

To any person struggling to come into their own identity, I’d say it isn’t worth worrying about, honestly. We are not necessarily going  anywhere after death.

As far as we know for sure, there is this one life. Why not live it being happy?

My own identity really just means I dress and act how I want. I didn’t always realize I was gender fluid, but I’ve always been that way and been my own person.

Some issues I see within the Queer community is that sometimes we over-complicate things. We are all just people. Also, people sometimes get the impression that Queer people are weak. This is because there are a fair amount that get offended very easily and are sometimes attacking people within our own Queer community. I do not do that and I think it confuses people outside our community.

I think solving the issue would be a long process if even possible, but we basically should not get too caught up in labels or words, but to focus on equality at its core.

I do feel excluded sometimes from the mainstream Queer community. Many accept me, but many also don’t. I can be sort of edgy with my art and it can rub people the wrong way.

But like I said, I believe in self expression. And I don’t think that needs to be limited because of what some people may think.

I feel at my best when surrounded by people who accept me as just another human being and don’t treat me any differently because of my gender fluidity. But I’m OK with people appreciating me for my girly side.

My fiance, @lauren.is.an.artist, influenced me to be more open about it than anyone else. It was something we would toy around with. But she has always been really supportive of making me feel comfortable in my own skin and with me expressing myself how I want to, just in general.

Bless the gender journeys

 

Morgan Frierson, Kentucky

Queer to me encompasses bits and pieces of all identities/genders/attractions. It is a term that illustrates purposeful ambiguity in the spectrum of love. This ambiguity brings confidence and comfort. It is freeing.

When first coming out eleven years ago, I felt I had to identify as “one” sexuality, “one” gender, and following suit of this, play “one” role.

My identity has fluctuated as I learn more about myself and gain life experiences. Past relationships, literature, friendships, new environments, strangers, family, and self-reflection have all helped me be able to have a more solid idea of who I am today.

When I was 17, I honestly didn’t even really know the difference between many LGBTQ terms regarding gender or sexual preference. When I first came out in high school, I identified as bisexual. A year or so later, I identified as lesbian. I am still learning more everyday as a member of the LGBTQ community. I honestly think I am still growing and finding my place. I’ve FINALLY learned, (and feeling very at peace with) the idea that it IS okay to view identity as a lifelong process.

Continuous self exploration brings continuous enlightenment. Most recently, I’ve discovered/explored/questioned my gender.

I don’t necessarily feel I identify as female, but something in between and closer to the male gender. I tend to dress more masculine and my sexual/relationship preference is women.

If identifying myself, queer/gender fluid/lesbian feels right.

I am originally from Scranton, Penn. and I’ve lived in Bay City, Mich. as well. The majority of my life, though, I have lived in Louisville, Ky. I have been here about twenty years and I consider Louisville to be my home. This city definitely helped me to feel comfortable about coming out. I feel grateful to have grown up in a city where I believe the LGBTQ community members are embraced. There are of course still issues, but I do believe Louisville to be more queer-friendly than other cities in Kentucky.

Aside from Louisville friends and family, the city itself brings safe spaces, bars, and events to promote the community. Overall, Louisville has been a great place to start my identity in the LGBTQ community. I’m excited to see how much more this city will progress.

Having this luxury, I have never felt I have had to hide my partners, refrain from holding hands or showing affection to women I’ve dated publicly. In my younger years, I had basketball teammates and track teammates who were also unafraid at an early age to be themselves or come out in the Louisville scene. Seeing others do this successfully made me feel more encouraged to come out. My best friends at the time were amazingly supportive but also had been suspecting/waiting for me to tell them. And I could feel that from them.

Once I built up the courage for this conversation, it was certainly a relief but honestly not as difficult of a task as I know others have had to deal with. There were a few friends/acquaintances that sort of distanced themselves, but years later some of the same people came back to apologize that they didn’t understand at that time.

I think I felt the most fear in coming out to my parents. My mom was mostly concerned that she felt I had been “hiding” something from her. She felt more of a disappointment in me that I had waited so long to tell her. Luckily for me though, my parents quickly adapted to my sexuality.

I know that coming out stories don’t always go that way for some. With that being said, I whole-heartedly appreciate and love the ability of my parents to grow and expand their minds as I was also doing the same in understanding more about myself everyday. With their open approach, they now have reached the level where they sincerely want me to be happy with another woman.

Any effort, no matter how small, towards self-reflection should be considered a success in revealing yourself to you. I have come across people/friends/family who have been able to state their identity firmly and quickly. However, I do think there are plenty of people out there, including myself, who have a longer journey of self-exploration. You are not alone.

Do not deny your greatness for someone else. Do not let partners, strangers, friends, and family tell you that you have to be a certain way.

If dressing, acting, loving or just being a certain way is not what someone else agrees with, fuck em.

Do what makes you feel good. Follow your intuition. Be free. Don’t be afraid of personal change. Keep an open mind that is always accepting of new experiences, people, genders, love, and opportunities. You benefit others as well as yourself. Be patient throughout this process.

I feel like I have had to “come out” several times in life as I discover more about myself over the years. If your heart wants something or someone and it is not what you’re used to, go for it. If you are questioning your gender but someone doesn’t understand your reasoning, that’s okay. You figure out what works for you. Embrace that.

Pray for the Prodigal Daughter That returned home a Son.

Ken, 23, Barren County, Kentucky

Pray for the Prodigal Daughter

That returned home a Son.

Praise for the Boy who journeyed into Manhood

without the guidance of a Father.

Blessed is he, with a new name.


Pray for the loss of a Sister,

Fleeting dreams of children that would not be born

Praise for the birth of a Brother!

The new dreams and ambition he brings!

Blessed is he, that has a choice, the illumination.


Pray for the awkward mistakes,

Faux pas and mystery of a freshly made Man

Praise for the New Man who peed in public toilets,

That undressed among other Men in the YMCA locker room

Blessed is he, with a new body. Freedom.


Pray for the secrets he keeps,

The lies he tells to lead his life

Praise for him! The honesty he lives!

the hidden knowledge he holds!

Blessed is he, for his breadth of experiences.


Pray for him, to hold his tongue

When others assume he is younger than he is.

Praise for the alto who would become a bass!

Blessed is he, with an unrestrained voice,

remind him of the restraint of the past.


Pray for his heart, his spirit

The Mormons, the fellows of his youth, reject him

Praise for his Friends! his Lovers!

For they have turned a hostile land into a hospitable one.

Blessed is he, to live in the Ohio River Valley.


Praise for the Prodigal Son!

That returned home A Man!

A Lover!

A Brother!

A Friend!

Blessed be the transforming power of testosterone!


Pray that the coffee stains,

are removed from his white shirt.

 

Simple enough, right?

 

Owen McClintic, 31, Kentucky by way of Indiana

I don’t get “clocked” as queer too often and I used to struggle with that.

Am I queer enough? Do I suppress my queerness because of internalized homophobia?

I don’t like makeup, I don’t like leather, I don’t have a diva, Im not into pups, I don’t like using the word ‘Fag’ colloquially, so do I even have a right to the word Queer?

I do. Queer is all of those things and none of those things. I am queer just by existing and that is enough for me today.

As a kid I knew I liked girls but I also knew I liked boys. So, just because I liked boys that meant I was gay.

Then I heard someone use the word bisexual in seventh grade. And it really was an “ah hah” moment. It meant that how I feel had a name and if it had a name, other people must feel this way. I am not alone.

Then as I grew and explored my sexuality, Bisexual wasn’t broad enough. My attraction was more than the gender binaries.

Pansexual, or Omnisexual seemed to be too haughty of terms for my physical attraction to physical beings.

So today, I just identify as queer. And i am queer enough because I identify as queer.

Oh, be joyful!

Joy Wilson, 39, Lexington, Kentucky

Queer is a personally affirming identity that encompasses a larger umbrella of an LGBT scope. I identify as queer and use the pronouns she, her, they and them. I identify as dyke as well, so I can say the word casually. It’s a confident self-affirming female and I think it’s (the word dyke) making a comeback. We are reprogramming and reclaiming that language.

I never identified well as a lesbian and I never felt at any point in time I was a part of that community. Had I been 20 years younger, I would have had more thought about gender, gender non-conforming and gender reassignment. That concept was not even a thing in Kentucky when I was growing up. Until I knew I was gay I didn’t know what gay was.

I graduated high school in 1996. There was no RuPaul or Ellen. The only thing my parents had to go on was Indigo girls and Freddy Mercury of Queen. Ellen didn’t come out on TV until I was in college. It’s pretty wild to think about being a teenager in Kentucky.

I feel like I had a pretty blue-collar family in the middle to upper class and I was raised in the church. Ministers were on my mom’s side of the family or big people in the church. I played sports and all my free time played out in the church. That was the standard childhood of that region.

I had a conservative family but super loving family. When they found out I was gay they were completely accepting, but concerned about me living in Lexington—rightfully so. I moved out of there once I graduated.

Moving to Louisville was better then Lexington because there was a small Queer scene in Louisville.

It’s very important to really try to find a community that suites you. If you’re not in a community that feels right to you, move to one that does. Even with times changing, I feel like it’s really important to fit into a community where you fit.

I don’t fit in with lesbians here because I didn’t “look like” the other lesbians. I found my community in Chicago. I lived five years in Chicago and it took that to feel confident with myself.

For me, by the time I left for Chicago in early to mid 30s, I needed to have that time for a community and realized there were other people like me. I didn’t have to explain why I didn’t shave my legs or under arms.

I can’t say enough about location and being in communities and the people that you’re around. It’s either the most helpful or detrimental to your growth.

Now I am a parent to my girlfriend’s kids in Missouri and I’m comfortable in a city where people ask me about my gender all the time. It’s so helpful to figure out who you are and be really true to that. I felt I was flailing before Chicago.

Being a parent is by far the hardest experience I’ve ever encountered. I’m coming in after a cis white male was in their household. Now, I’m in a stepparent role to 3 and 5 year old girls.

We live in a very upper class neighborhood in Columbia and I’ll be out mowing the lawn with tattoos everywhere, with breasts and it’s a constant…

“what the fuck is that?”

That’s what creates change. It’s the sign of the times because I’ve found nothing but great people there.

My looks is a very stereotypical queer look wearing non-gender specific clothing. I look like a cut out of the machine that looks like Chicago Queer.

In a rural town, it’s a daily conversation or a passing glare that I have to communicate about or process internally. I also think about that when I get dressed going out in public. I don’t want to overdo it. I won’t be masking who I am when I go out because I want myself to be visible. Never try and hide who you are. Before I lived in Chicago, I did try to hide who I was.

Genderqueer

 

Jess, Crestwood, Kentucky

To me, the word queer is like a safe space to define one’s gender and/or sexuality. It’s taken me a long time to figure out where I fit on the queer spectrum. I’m honestly still trying to figure it out, but at this time I identify as genderqueer (person who feels that his/her gender identity does not fit into the socially constructed “norms” associated with his/her biological sex), and I use male pronouns.

I try to present myself as male as best as I can, despite being female-bodied.

I was born and raised in Crestwood, KY. It’s approximately thirty minutes outside of Louisville. Growing up I was kind of sheltered, not having any concept of sexual or gender identities that weren’t heterosexual and cisgender, but I knew I was different from everyone else, somehow even though I had no words for it.

It wasn’t until middle school, thanks to the internet, I started learning about cultures and identities outside of my personal experience. I found the definition to the way I’d felt for so long and through that found a community of people who were just like me, and even found peers in school who were gay or bisexual.

In high school I was introduced to the Louisville Youth Group, which is a place for LGBT teens and young adults to hang out in a safe environment. I went nearly every week for three years, from the age of fourteen.

LYG was vital to my development as a young queer person.

Just being away from the narrow-minded worldviews and limited experiences of people in my hometown and being able to encounter kids from different backgrounds did so much to shape me into a socially-conscious adult.

I would say to them [people struggling with queer identity] that acceptance of who they are starts with honesty with themselves. They ought to try to find people they can trust who either identify similarly or are open-minded. They don’t have to go through this alone.

 

 

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