The word ‘Queer’ is a catch-all

Jace Stovall

What does the word queer mean to you? 

The word queer, to me, means I guess anything that isn’t heteronormative. It relates to gender, sexuality, identity, presentation, really everything.  

How do you identify?

I identify as non-binary (using they/them pronouns) and as asexual and pan-romantic. 

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

I identify as these because I feel like these really are the best “categories” that describe me, though I usually try to shy away from using labels. That’s kind of why I like the word “queer” because it can be used as more as a catchall, I don’t have to explain everything about myself, because quite frankly, it can be a bit of a mouthful, and I feel like some people don’t take you as seriously if you use more than one label to describe yourself.

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

I’m originally from Louisville, and have lived here my whole life.

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

I would say don’t try to force it. These things take time, and you don’t have to know exactly who you are or what you want to be right in the present, and that in the future, those things might change. I’m 23 and I still don’t have everything figured out, and that’s okay. Figuring out who you are isn’t easy, and sometimes people around you might tell you that you have to be one way or another, but that’s simply not true. Do you. Do what feels right. Do what makes you happy. And do it for you, not anyone else.

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

I think in the past I let my identity decide how I carried myself because I fell into a really toxic view of needing to feel validated by those around me, and “prove” that I was also “queer enough.” That made me extremely unhappy. So in more recent times, I’ve tried not to let my identity run how I carry myself; I just try to be me. 

What issues do you see in the queer community?

It always feels like there’s a lot of in-fighting. Like everyone wants to compete to see who has it worse or who’s more “valid” than others. And I’m not say that the whole community is like this, but I’ve experienced it so often that I’ve ended up avoiding a lot of “queer safe” spaces. I feel like there’s also a lot of discourse when it comes to labels, such as people fighting about what labels “truly” mean, or trying to tell others that their labels are wrong or invalid, which is one of the reasons why I’m not fond of labels.  

What do you think would solve those issues?

I think if everyone was truly accepting and just let people do what they do, things would be a lot more positive. All in all, I think there’s just a lot of bullies, who need to work on themselves and worry about themselves as opposed to causing discourse. 

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

I do feel excluded a lot of the time, being someone who identifies as asexual, since, as I’ve alluded to above, a lot of people have told me I have no business being in the queer community, even though I’m also non-binary, and an AFAB person who’s mainly attracted to girls. That’s why a lot of the time I tell people I’m gay because I’m generally excluded if I lead off with anything else.

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)

I feel at my best when I’m with my friends. It doesn’t matter where we are or where we go, if I’m with them, I always feel fabulous because I know they’re always there to back me up and vice versa.

Who influenced the life you live now?

I think mainly my friends did. They helped me come out of my shell, and showed me that there’s more than one way to dress or act, and that I don’t have to constantly wear a mask of someone I’m not. They’ve helped me just be me.