QKY Feature: ‘Queer means healing, Queer is community’

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What does the word queer mean to you?
Queer means to be free, to question norms, the predetermined structures put in place. Queer means making your own meaning, queer means healing. queer is community.

How do you identify?
I identify as trans non-binary.

What are your pronouns? Why are they important? 
My pronouns are they and he. my pronouns are important because my identity is a celebration. If respecting someone’s pronouns is prioritized so is their safety and happiness. I want to be safe and happy.

Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?
I don’t identify with the gender binary, it constricts me to traditional norms that do not align with who I am as a person and how I see myself. gender identity is a personal experience, unique to the individual. I want to uplift people and support the right to self-identify.

Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky? 
I grew up in Louisville, born and raised. I’ve found that I struggled with my identity much more when i was younger, the lack of control and decisions I could make regarding my identity. The alienation from not fitting in, for not maintaining other people’s perceptions of me. as I grew up and became more independent and self reliant, I was able to cultivate a space in Louisville where I feel truly valued and respected for who I am as a person.

What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?
I would say allow yourself to explore who you are, the choices and decisions you make regarding your identity are yours and yours alone.

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
My identity doesn’t run how I carry myself, it’s more of a steering wheel. I carry myself thoughtfully and intentionally. My understanding of my own identity, the solidity I have within myself works as a part of who I am, and as a part of the connections I nourish with others.

What issues do you see in the queer community?
I have found oftentimes people are sensitive about what they know best. I think there’s a lack of listening, a lack of patience, a lack of empathy, a surplus of gatekeeping. I want to work towards supporting other LGBTQ+ people, not tearing them down. We must look out for each other. I have seen how a huge portion of the queer community prioritizes whiteness, which upholds the power dynamic white supremacy creates by labeling the white man as the epitome of queerness. Black, brown and indigenous queer people are oftentimes left out of the conversation. These structures must be re-evaluated and taken apart. I want to see and create more support towards BIPOC queer people.

What do you think would solve those issues? 
I think actively understanding what privilege you have, and how it affects others, how it takes up space and work towards goals of how you can minimize that impact. Releasing the desire to control who is in and who is out and instead, investing that energy into affirming and uplifting others in our community seems like a worthy effort.

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not? 
“I personally don’t feel excluded by the communities I am a part of, I do my best to surround myself with those who cherish who I truly am.

Do you feel safe as a trans or nonbinary person?
I do not feel safe as a trans person. I still face transphobia and harassment on a regular basis. However, my whiteness gives me more protection, which comes from a place of privilege.

Who influenced the life you live now?
My higher self. Creative expression keeps me going, whether it be painting, drawing, collaging or the earrings I wear. Creating gives me my purpose. I try my very best to make art every day, my passion drives me to make it happen.

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