Unapologetically Queer, 100 percent real: The only way of life

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To me, the word queer means to be different, unique, and special; to be unlike the others. I personally identify as a gay man, as this is the title I’ve grown to be most comfortable with and proud of. However, at the end of the day, I feel like we are all a little queer in one way or another! Let’s be honest, life is not black and white.

I am originally from Middletown, Delaware, an area of this country where (for the most part), people are more liberal and accepting of those who are different.

I came out the summer before my sophomore year of high school and quickly began to find that there were many people just like me, and many people that didn’t care either way what my sexual orientation was and supported me no matter what. Situated within a stone’s throw of large cities like Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York, there were thriving LGBTQ communities that I was eager to become a part of… then one day everything changed.

My father accepted a job offer in Owensboro Kentucky, consequentially pulling me away from the support system of friends I began to blossom within, and dropping me in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere.

I struggled immensely with the move, feeling extremely isolated in this small western Kentucky town that had a completely different culture than that I was accustomed to.

However, I kept my head up and went into my Junior year of high school in this foreign town, unapologetically myself. I made many friends on my track and cross country team that helped me through the next two years and always had my back. In addition, there were a few instances where classmates just coming into their identities asked me for advice!

Of course, I would occasionally hear slurs directed towards me in the halls, but I never let them get to me, and they only added fuel to my fire. To any person struggling to come into their own identity, I would honestly just say keep your chest up and carry yourself with your head held high. Confidence is hard to find when you are just beginning to sort things out, but I’ve found that people respected me more when I was 100 percent real.

Not to be cliché but, it truly does get better. With time you will find your community, you will find those who have been through the same struggles as yourself, and you will find a vast support system for whenever you’re in need.

For me, identifying as a gay man has made me carry myself higher and with more self-worth. I am different, unique, and fabulous, so that’s what the world needs to see from me. Within a community that is built upon struggle and oppression we definitely have our fair share of issues.

I feel specifically that the gay community has a hard time with vain. There is a need to be perfect in every aspect and this builds up a toxic cycle of self-depreciation and hatred towards others in the community who don’t fit within this high beauty standard. In addition, I feel we have left our trans family (and more specifically, trans women of color) behind as they tirelessly fought for the freedoms we’ve gotten so far. After all, the life expectancy of a trans woman of color TODAY in 2019 is only 35 years old. That is insane.

Finally, a huge issue that I’ve seen is the lack of safe places for LGBTQ youth to meet each other, socialize, and just feel free. I remember my first time ever stepping foot inside a gay bar here in Louisville, the feeling of being surrounded by a group of people who were just like me was euphoric.

For once in my life I wasn’t the token gay of the room, but I was a piece of a big beautiful queer puzzle. This feeling of love and belonging gave me hope, a feeling that a lot of LGBTQ youth could benefit from. I knew from that point on that I would move Louisville and immerse myself in the queer community and the shelter that the city offered.

As a whole, we need to get active in the community and support politicians on all levels of the system (local and national) who have our best interest in mind. Additionally, I feel there is a need to diversify the boundaries of the mainstream queer community.

Personally, I wouldn’t consider myself excluded from this demographic, being a privileged cisgender white gay who enjoys going out to the bars being a social butterfly and dancing till 4 am to all the classic queer anthems, I have had no problems fitting in. However, there are some aspects of the gay male world that I do struggle with.

There is a toxic gay masculinity perpetuated through social media and a strong yearning for perfection within the community that can leave one feeling lesser, not good enough, and insecure regardless of appearance. I feel at my best in the comfort of my apartment, surrounded by the company of good friends and good conversation.

I am currently enrolled at the University of Louisville for a BFA in Interior Design. I treat my home as my canvas and believe that the look and feel of a space is of the upmost importance.

I aspire to one day get a masters in architecture and make the world a more fabulous place to live! As for who influences the life I live today, I don’t think I’d be able to list just one person. I believe I am a collective whole of all the elders who came before me and guided me along the way thus far.

Whether it be family members, friends, or members of the LGBTQ community who’ve been through the ropes, I know I have a large web of people that consistently guide me to be the best I can be and get through this thing called life.

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