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I’ll focus on my own experience here but I know there are going to be things about my experience that many other queer people can relate to in this regard.
My experience with queerness has never been linear, it has indeed been very queered. It has consistently involved not knowing about a way of being queer and then being introduced to the concept, a moment of reflection and then realizing “oh shit that’s me.” But I’ve also consistently struggled with coming to terms with these new labels and seeing how they fit me.
From the age of 12 to about a month away from turning 21 I had been on a journey of denial, internalization, grief over myself changing and growing, complete secrecy, exploration, etc. etc. about me being bi. I had come out after years of being afraid of myself, but in that time I also developed a yearning for community. When I came back to UMBC after two years of community college I knew that I’d want to seek out my community. Since then my reality as a queer person has shifted so greatly. I feel so liberated. Yet I grieve. I grieve for the ways I have been, not knowing if they are different than who I am now. My sense of self has been questioned. I don’t know if my new state of existing is just blurrier, or if things have just been just out of my sight this entire time and it constantly feels like both. I don’t know how consistent this person who is me is.
Since then I’ve gone on a gender journey. I learned about the way gender exists in our society and saw that there were more ways of identifying our own genders than the way we were assigned at birth. It hadn’t been something I’ve had a name for before, but it was like a moment of clarity, a label for some of the questions about gender I never paid enough attention to as a child and an adolescent. I now identify as nonbinary/genderfluid usually occupying the space of transmasculine. With hindsight I think of countless things that make it seem so obvious now and like coming into my bi/pan-ness it was finding a label for an experience that has always been there, even though that experience lives, continues to grow and shift and form around new experiences and new realities.
Now I have a similar but unique path to follow now that I am questioning other aspects of my queer identities (e.g. being polyamorous, lying somewhere on the ace spectrum, etc.). All of this directly relates to the classes discussion about queer time. Like others in similar positions as me, our identities have us potentially seek out non-normative relationship structures. We abolish the reproductive timeline that is given to us as children as homework. We take it and we burn it and we fiercely write our own stories on a slab withered, rejected, and beautiful paper. We raise families as groups, we live alone, we live together, we build a relationship and then another, we marry or we don’t, we seek out riches or we don’t; the pen is in our hands and we can reject or partake in whatever we wish, taking as much or little inspiration as we want from the expectations our world places on relationships, romance, sexuality, reproduction, etc. It is a challenging way to exist at times, but with that it is also liberating and truly beautiful.