Navigating queerness from California to Kentucky

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Conrad De Chabert

What Does the word queer mean to you?

The word queer… man that was a real struggle hearing it growing up. It was tied to some very deep rooted self hate issues for me. Where I grew up, it was a majority white town and homosexuality wasn’t in the forefront of anyone’s mind. So the word Queer was used to bully me.

Queer was a bad thing for me when I was younger from ages 4-18. Now that I’m older there is no actual meaning for me. Most people would say its to identify anyone from the LGBTQI etc community, but I think its just another word to describe someone not of the “norm” so to speak.

How do you identify?

Up until recently i have identified solely as a Homosexual Gay Man. I have only dated men and only had sexual relations with men. Now that I am older, I would just label myself as a Homosexual man with some slight bisexual tendencies. I have recently been more open to being with women and it honestly hasn’t been all that bad. It wouldn’t be my first choice obviously but I am open to exploring that part of my sexuality.

Why?

Why i would consider myself a homosexual man is just because I ultimately see myself in a committed relationship with a man. I want to marry another man and have the family with two kids and two dogs. I could never actually see myself being in a physical and emotionally relationship with a woman or anything other than a man.

Or Why don’t you identify as anything at all?

I do but i feel like this identification of oneself is almost becoming out of control. Just be yourself. Authentically you and you wont need to “identify” as anything but you. I feel as using the word identify is still putting a label on who are you. Even though the whole reason behind the Self Identification is to remove the labels of society so that you can be yourself. JUST BE YOU!

Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up and living in Kentucky?

So I grew in northern California. I lived in an predominately white town called Danville. It wasn’t the best town to grow up in being an openly gay African American through my gay youth. I was able to go SF Pride and and The Castro and experience gay culture on a different scale at a young age.

Also having experiences as a gay youth that majority people do not get to have at those ages. Experiencing Folsom Street Fair and other Gay festival was amazing when I was so young but it also gave me a very misconstrued outlook on the gay community.

Sex Drugs and Money — with no boundaries which learned that at age 15 when I was doing questionable things. I was stripping at 21 and up clubs and doing drugs and having sex with older men. Things that I feel were a necessity at those ages but in reality was the beginning path to a long path of drugs and other extra curricular activities.

Now when I moved to Kentucky I was just turning 21 and it was ROUGH! You have to see it from my perspective. I am freshly “legal” leaving one of the Gay Meccas and being thrown into a extremely conservative town that is extremely slower than what I was used to.

I was devastated to say the least. I felt extremely out of place and just borderline very nervous in general. I wasn’t ready to slow down my life so to speak to fit in with the norm of Louisville. Luckily I was able to make some amazing friends that helped the transition process. If not I would have really hated being here in Louisville. Now that I am 32 years old and I have been here from quite some time I will say this: Kentucky is extremely gay friendly but in the right areas. As a state, they have really come a long way from when I moved here back in 2008.

What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own Identity?

Easy and straight forward. STRUGGLE. there isn’t anything wrong with not knowing who you are as a person. Some people know immediately and some people it takes years and years to figure it out. I believe that you always learn more about yourself daily.

It’s rare that someone just wakes up one day and is fully aware of who they truly are. Do not be scared of what you don’t know about yourself, or put limits on learning yourself. Take the time to have experiences that shape your mind into what you believe is right for yourself. I am a 32 year old man I’m still learning about what my true identity is as well. its a process so don’t rush it. ENJOY it!

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or Does it?

This to me is the most important question. I have struggled with what I wanted to be perceived as when I walk in the room or meet people or for any case. You will always internally be you. There is no changing that and you should never change that. But with the stigma’s of what a gay man is and how they are or how the social norm thinks they should act is NOT how I want to be seen nor how I carry myself. I am an educated Black Gay man that yes has done his fair share of interesting “gay” stereotypical things. but I am a respectful human being. I treat everyone with the utmost respect and I hold myself to a high standard. I want to break a mold or stigma if you will of the traditionally “Gay” man. We can do anything that anyone else does and still suck dick and eat ass.

Look past the sexually based gay stigma and see me for what I want to be seen as. Just another man doing what he is supposed to do and living his life.

What issues do you see in the queer community?

I am not going to elaborate to much on this question because I could right a full web series about it. But lack of inclusion and lack of support between the different races in the gay community. Gay people in general are constantly scrutinized by people not apart of the LGBTQI and then we turn around and do it to each other… That makes no sense to me. We should be uplifting each other to become better not the other way around.

What do you think would solve these issues?

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. That is a very good question that i feel has multiple sides and facets too. but I would say maybe just more respect for each other in the community. that would definitely be a good place to start.

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or Why not?

To be honest I don’t care. I have a social media and I do my best to keep up with all the parties and events and the new trends in the community. But who has time for that!? I work go to the gym and play with my dog and that’s it. I’m not worried about what I am missing out on or what the new fad is. I’m comfortable with me and where I am as a man. That’s all I need. Now if for some reason I was to blow up on social media that would be nice but i don’t need that type of validation to feel good about myself.

Where do you feel “at your best”?

Simple. The Gym.

Who influenced the life you live now?

My father. He isn’t a gay man, but he has been what I have strived to be my whole life. Successful smart caring and so on. He is the role model of all role models and I wanna believe that I could be a Gay version of that. Period. I know growing up I didn’t have many gay role models so to speak. I had television which was not the best depiction of gay culture. Queer as Folk and Will and Grace were what I would see and thought that’s what being gay was like. Luckily my dad made sure I had people in my life that were homosexual and successful in their own ways. My doctor, dentist, and therapist were all gay men. It made me feel like I could be that as well. So just having my dad be that supportive of me is why he has influenced me to be the best man i can be. I want to be able to show the younger generation its not about sex drugs and money. Its about being your authentic self always.

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