Oh, to simply be #queer

interlocking pieces three yellow in a field of blueThat’s not even a real sentence, in my book.

Being queer is anything but simple, as far as I’m concerned. At least, that’s been my experience. I was a complete failure as a little girl, as far as I could tell. I mean, I did a great job of imitating what was expected of me — and the clothes my mom dressed me in did a great job of camouflaging me. But it just never felt right.

And in the privacy of my own bedroom, where this autistic queer kid spent hours behind a closed door, sorting my collection of pennies into stacks of 10, ordered by date and mint location, all the heads and tails pointing in the proper directions, I did get some relief. I also got relief from creating my own boy’s persona — I took the name “Billy” and wrote it on the wooden frame of the cork bulletin-board in my room, flexed my biceps in front of the mirror, created scenarios in my mind of saving damsels in distress and marching off into the Misty Mountains as a ranger brother-in-arms of Aragorn… creating, weaving, investigating, investing in my own world, my own persona, my own way of being in the world.

And it was good.

Plus, it was simple.

See, for me, being queer is supremely simple when I am alone. It’s just how I am, just the way I’m built. No explanations are necessary, no translations are needed. I just… am.

It’s also sublimely simple when I am undetectable by the rest of the world. During the deepest, most challenging winters in Boston, I’ve moved comfortably through the world as a man.  Under my think clothing, wearing my heavy boots, carrying myself … that certain way… nobody ever thinks to question my masculinity. They address me as “Sir”. They stand back for me. They don’t approach me on a whim, as they do when I’m presenting as female. Maybe there’s something about my posture that dares them to do so at their own risk. Or maybe it’s just easier for them to assume.

It’s always easier to assume, I suppose. I don’t blame them – either way, however they interpret me. Life is complicated. Outside the comfort of our own minds, our own refuges, our own homes, things are rarely simple. And people want to be socially successful. So, they assume.

It works both in my favor, and against me.

There it is.

But still, at times, it rankles. Having to navigate all the social intricacies… having to adjust and accommodate (as I do, since I’m all grown up now, and there’s more to life than getting to do/be/act however I want)… having to continually take others into consideration (which is simply my nature)… it gets a little old.

And I wonder, have I accommodated others too much? And put myself at risk?

At risk for what? Pressure? Lost of self? Loss of the sense of who I am in the world? Loss of my own individual sensibilities which are fiercely and strongly aligned in ways completely different from how the mainstream world is oriented?

Oh, most certainly, I have. It’s all part of the tradeoff — which we all pick and choose around. Doesn’t matter how pure you think your politics and sensibilities are — there is always a tradeoff, and we always trade on our identity, for the sake of personal safety or advancement. Especially those of us who are older, who have come up in the hostile world, balancing our personal expression against the requirements of simply making a living. Once upon a time, it was sheer luxury to live the freedoms that so many take for granted. Once upon a time, we were constantly forced to choose.

What’s the ROI? What’s the Return On my Investment in being a certain way? And is the return even close to what I invest?

Years ago, it was. It was worth it, to blend. It was worth it to camouflage. It was part and parcel of my customary life, so I could make a living. Support my partner. Have a life — and a great one, at that. It’s all a tradeoff. It’s all a balancing act.

And a necessary one, at that.

It just gets a little old, after a while.

If only being queer were a bit simpler…


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