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Image Source: http://trauma.blog.yorku.ca/2015/12/south-asian-queer-community-lacks-visibility/  (Artist – Jinesh Patel)

(Content and Trigger Warning: Self Harm, Suicide, Substance Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Intimate Partner Violence, Bullying)

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I often find that mental illness and queerness aren’t addressed properly or constructively when talked about together. So often the public at large would have us believe that queerness is a result of mental illness or that mental illness is the result of queerness exclusively. With this in mind, the queer community will often push back on society’s behavior by talking about the two exclusively from each other, frequently ignoring all the ways mental illness intersect. That’s does not go to say that queerness is the result of mental illness or vice versa at all, but rather it shouldn’t be ignored that many people in the queer community go through both because of the way society has constructed and reacted towards queerness. For example, queerness has often been perceived as a deviant thing, it has historically been punished and worked against in a variety of ways. (more…)

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Image Source: http://www.avclub.com/article/theres-mash-rainbow-road-themes-all-8-mario-karts-206528

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. (more…)

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In 2011 I came out while simultaneously accepting Christ. Apparently, that is a very odd thing to do, especially on a Southern Baptist mission Trip in Lousiana. My camp counselor cried tears of joy for me, but looking back on it I think he thought I was rejecting my homosexuality, rather than affirming it. I thought I couldn’t be a good Christian if I wasn’t being honest with myself, my community, and God. So this decision made perfect sense to me at the time, and I stand by that, even though I don’t attend church much anymore (for many reasons that do not pertain to this discussion). (more…)

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There have been interesting parallels between our class discussions around queer crip time and my current life. This has only become more obvious post election as I scramble to rework my five-year plan. I am not sure how much to share because while I am a very open person there are some aspects of my life that I prefer to keep private.

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In the way gender and sexuality operates in our world, often times they are highly construed and mistaken for each other. Are they related? Yes. But they are still separate things. Because these identities are often mistaken in this way many people have this idea that being transgender is an identity that’s ‘chosen’ to receive some kind of access to heterosexuality and that to be validated as a trans person you need to be engaged in this effort to be on some end of the gender binary only performing gender in ways that are widely accepted in a hyper policed way, this includes heterosexism as it relates to transess. In fact there’s  a whole other level of heterosexism that is applied to trans people.

But sexual diversity is just as diverse in the trans community as it is in the cis population. I can only speak deeply about my own experience, and I realize it is but a mere single experience in a sea of many others and I do not speak for other trans people, though I feel like my story is relevant to this topic. My personal experience with my gender identity and sexual identity, has been a long and arduous journey that starts out in the closet as being reluctantly bisexual, often leaning towards my attraction to women. Then I was introduced to concepts of there being more than two genders, and it struck me. There were months of tears, denial, and confusion. Once exposed to different genderqueer, nonbinary, and trans identities that I suddenly felt aligned with I couldn’t go back to a reality where my sexuality was the same in relation to my gender identity ever again. Ultimately this ended up being a positive thing, something freeing, something that just ended up feeling more comfortable. But my initial reaction was fear, uncertainty, and feeling disingenuous because of the way the world saw identities like mine and I reflected that back into the way I saw myself. I still do feel internal conflict, I still get scared that I, in no way, have all of the answers about my identity, but as I come into my gender identity I find that I’m making progress in establishing peace with my bisexuality. It’s as if I didn’t want to identify as bisexual before, something about seeing myself as a ciswoman before I knew about the trans identities that fit me,  dating a man really did not sit with me well, it just wasn’t me and it isn’t. I’m finding that being trans and accepting it has essentially worked me into actually being more comfortable about my bisexuality. Now I find new complications in grieving my previously thought of lesbian/queer woman identity, but again I can’t go back, it’s just not me. I am a transmasculine person who is bisexual and with that I am queer and transgender. I think it’s a timeline and identity that defies this heterosexist view of trans people, as different stories and sexual identities of many trans people do. I wanted to provide my own experience as an example of how transness does not equate to gayness. There are certainly many other narratives out there that proclaim trans does not equal gay as well and encourage people inside and outside the LGBT community to realize that there is no one way to be trans or queer and that there is no reason someone can’t be both.

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The reading about manscaping got me thinking about the role that bodies play in the gay community, specifically fat and hairy bodies. They completely determine where you are and who you associate with. This especially apparent in gay dating apps, which, for better or for worse, have become a very important part of gay culture. (more…)

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Before  anything I’m going to start of by pointing out that I’m trans but I’m white. So my space in talking about this will come largely from the fact that I’ve had many people including my father try to invalidate transgender identities by saying “well if trans race identities aren’t a thing then I’m sorry transgender identities can’t be either.” So this is mostly coming from a place of defending my own identity but also calling out racism. But since I don’t actually experience racism or understand all of the complexities of this topic I invite this to be a discussion and something people can add to via comments.

So often I hear this argument that tries to invalidate transgender people, and a large response in retort to this attitude is “well you just can’t compare them because they’re different things.” I totally agree with this and it is in fact the reason. Unfortunately, for some, it’s not enough to understand. So in order to justify my identity and also keep people from muddling race and gender, I’ve thought about it a lot and decided to share my reasoning so far in explaining why we can’t simply equate the two. (more…)

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