What does the word queer mean to you? How do you identify?
Queer to me means an umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t use it at all until I got to college, I always heard it as a derogatory word in media growing up. I’m glad that the LGBTQ+ community is taking it back. I identify as a transgender male and pansexual.
Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all?
I label myself so I have a feeling of connection to the people who label themselves the same as me.
Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky?
I was born and raised in Louisville. Growing up, my parents were very accepting of the LGBTQ+ community and never really pushed gender roles onto me or my sister, which I’m thankful for. I never knew any queer kids my age until I got to high school, and I didn’t connect to any queer kids until my last semester of senior year. Living in Kentucky and just being trans alone is a rollercoaster.
Even though I pass as cis, I still find myself avoiding going to the bathroom when I’m in public. It still scares me shitless if I end up really needing to go.
What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity?
You don’t need to force a label on yourself. Everything takes its own time. Hell, I came out four different times before I figured everything out.
How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?
Becoming more accepting of my identity made me more confident in how I carry myself. I feel like I have this attitude of “Hey I’m here and this is me, if you don’t like it then you can leave.” I went to shabbat service about a month ago and the rabbi talked about Brother Daniel and his quote of “If I am not a Jew, what am I?” The rabbi later went on to talk about how we have identities and no matter how small we think we are, someone with those same identities is always looking up to us and we need to own our identities for them. Show them that we are proud of who we are and that they should be too.
What issues do you see in the queer community?
My biggest issue is that trans women don’t get the love they deserve, especially POC. Also for the cishet community, they are comfortable with white cis gay men and now it’s time for them to see the rest of the queer community in a positive light.
What do you think would solve those issues?
A start would be for queer folks that aren’t white cis gay men to kill it at whatever they’re doing. Singer, designer, scientist, whatever you are or want to be. Let the world know that you’re no different than cishets.
Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?
Not really? Whenever I do go into a gay place like Play, I find myself really out of place. I’d just rather be at a bar watching an ice hockey game. But not two gays are alike. Everybody has a different story when it comes to their queer life.
Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)
I feel most myself when I’m with my friends from college. They have all been super accepting of my coming out since day one. They will correct other people when they use wrong pronouns for me and it honestly means the world to me. As for an actual place, I feel really comfortable at the skatepark in Louisville. I always end up there with some friends. I get so distracted while skating and having fun that I forget everything else that’s happening in my life.
Who influenced the life you live now?
My friends at college for sure are the people who influence the life that I live now. They are just unapologetically themselves. Seeing their confidence in how they carry themselves made me realize that I’d rather be hated for who I truly am than loved for who I’m not.