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.