Timmy Singer, Oldham County, Kentucky, 24
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander Den Heijer
Queer to me is inclusion & pride, but Google will tell you otherwise. Like most marginalized groups taking back a word with negative connotations gives us power and takes the power from our previous oppressors.
As a Community we’ve grown to know that we have power in numbers. I believe that queer encompasses more of our community then gay ever did. I’m proud to be part of a community that includes some many different people with contrasting backgrounds.
I identify as a gay man, but I still fall under the umbrella of queer.
At times I struggle with the polarizing word of gay, its part of who I am but it’s not my entire identity.
I think we all struggle with the stereotypes that we all grew up with, I wanted to be more like Will, from Will & Grace. He had a successful career and fit into the straight world with little to no pushback , where the character Jack was unapologetically himself and unapologetically gay and happy with it. It wasn’t until my twenties that I realized you can have both and not have to hide any part of you.
I’m From Kentucky. Born in Louisville and grew up in Oldham County. I loved where I lived but growing up on the other hand was definitely interesting in Oldham County schools. I never dealt with a lot of physical bullying, but the verbal side of it was challenging. Being called a faggot in the halls or an obvious shoulder check was pretty common in school. Still I persisted and was one of maybe six or seven openly gay students in high school. This brought me a lot of strength because I wasn’t afraid to be who I was.
My coming out story isn’t the norm unfortunately. It was my freshman year of high school when I arrived home to both my parents in our living room telling me we were having a family meeting. I sat down expecting the worst and to my surprise, my parents said the following:
“We know you are gay and we want you to know that we love you no matter what but we also recognize that your life will be harder and we want you to have the best support system because of that.”
It was everything I needed to hear so I could grow as a person and be my best self. I’ve always found that when I stray away from my family it’s usually parallel with the harder times in my life. The more you talk about the hardships in your life, the more real they become. I think we are all guilty with not wanting to make certain things real in our lives. The only way to grow is to face those head on.
I am more than just a gay man, but how I carry myself is in direct reflection to my family and the strength they have instilled in me. I was lucky enough to have parents that were forthcoming and understanding of the struggles there only gay son would face. Identity in itself if a tricky concept for me because I’m still figuring out who I am who I want to become. What else are your twenties for?
My Family has been so influential in my life, but more specifically my sister. I got a built in best friend with her. She was the last of the important people I came out to, not because she was the least important, but because she was the most important. Her opinion of me mattered the most.
I’ve always looked up to her as my role model and the thought of rejection from her was unbearable. Her influence on my life is unquantifiable with words from music to culture to my coping mechanisms; she’s truly been the largest driving influence in my life.
She’s been my biggest supporter. When in doubt she’s the first person to call, whether it’s an internal struggle or an external problem, she always has the right thing to say.
She is fiercely loyal and the first to call me out on my bullshit.
She’s understanding to my struggles as a gay man. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. I struggled for weeks after I came out to my parents to find the words to say to my sister to explain myself. When all I had to do was just be myself because that’s all she ever expected from me.
We aren’t in this alone. Everyone is still figuring it out. I’ve probably been four different people by the age of 24. The best advice I could give to anyone is always trust your gut. Your body will tell you when something isn’t right. Take the experiences in your life and find the times you were individually the happiest and run with that. Remember, if we can’t love ourselves, how the hell are we going to love someone else?