Still trying to figure out where you fit on the queer spectrum? Here's a suggestion: Don’t

The entire point of the queer spectrum is to embrace inclusivity and acceptance — whichever way you choose to identify yourself. Unlike your closets, there’s no need for labels here.

Aniruddha Mahale July 31, 2019 10:14:25 IST
Still trying to figure out where you fit on the queer spectrum? Here's a suggestion: Don’t
  • The entire point of the queer spectrum is to embrace inclusivity and acceptance — whichever way you choose to identify yourself. Unlike your closets, there’s no need for labels here.

  • You can identify as anything you like, because it is your identity.

  • It is what makes you who you are. It is what makes you unique.

I was 12 when someone asked me for the very first time if I was queer. It was 2000, and the world was learning new things.

And apparently, so was I.

I remember going back home and opening the dictionary, flipping through pages, hungry for the definition. And there it was, on page 783, comfortably sandwiched between Queen’s Truss and Quell.

Strange, it screamed silently back. My smile faded. Eccentric. Peculiar. Questionable. Sick. Unwell. Bad. Worthless. Counterfeit. Definition after definition, the dictionary sniggered and smirked, throwing words that were too heavy for my 12-year-old brain. And then as an afterthought, it coughed out a succinct: Slang for homosexual.

I was a sight, yes, but did I ever identify as…strange?

Weird? Maybe. Eccentric? Possible. But strange? Uh-oh. I don’t think so. I slammed the dictionary shut, and never opened it ever again.

In the 19 years since, the word queer has evolved into a whole inclusive word. Countless movements and multiple debates later, the word identifies as an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not ‘heterosexual or are not cisgender’. It’s 2019, and personal identity is everything. The New Webster’s Dictionary would agree.

Nineteen years later, the dictionary still won’t let me be at peace. As a cisgender gay man, what really is my queer identity?

Still trying to figure out where you fit on the queer spectrum Heres a suggestion Dont

The entire point of the queer spectrum is to embrace inclusivity and acceptance — whichever way you choose to identify yourself. Illustration courtesy Amrai Dua

The word identify is so fluid. Who am I? Why am I? Where am I? What am I? These are questions we all (must) ask ourselves. It’s not an existential crisis; it’s an everyday struggle. So what (or more importantly, who) do I identify as?

A CIS man? A queer person? Gay? A writer? A meme maker? A panic-stricken squirrel? A night owl? A recovering alcoholic? An Instagram addict? A child? A friend? A human being who always takes too much time to text back? Someone who likes salted caramel ice cream? Someone who hates pigeons? Someone who asks too many questions?

Maybe all of these pieces (or identities) come together to form this giant jigsaw puzzle that is ‘me’. Being gay and being queer are two different things. You are queer if you identify as gay, but you aren’t necessarily gay if you identify as queer.

See, being gay is just one of the many pieces that makes up my identity. Do I like being an out and proud gay man? YES. Is it the only thing I am? Not really, but it is (most certainly) a ‘part of a whole’ that makes me who I am. For a long time I thought my sexuality was not something I needed to wear on my sleeve, but something I wore on my chest, out and proud. It took me more than decade of self-discovery to get here.

And then I met Suhana* (name changed) at a friend’s birthday party a few months ago. Suhana is a 20-something graphic designer with a pixie-cut and purple highlights, and I immediately felt drawn to her. Ten minutes into the conversation, I found out that she had a boyfriend. When I told her I was gay (and thus, meant no harm), she also told me she was pansexual.

‘I am gender-blind,’ she explained, as we found ourselves a little spot by the window. Over the past three years since her ‘coming out’, she’d been attracted to several people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Sometimes it was because someone was witty. Sometimes it was because someone was cute. Sometimes it was because someone spoke about books so passionately your heart welled up.

Their gender wouldn’t matter. Their quirks? Obviously.

Has it been difficult? I asked her. ‘People don’t understand it,’ she said, as we sipped our whiskey sours in a corner, ‘My friends pretend it’s all a big joke, and my parents avoid me every time I’ve tried having an honest conversation, but it’s not something I want to hide…we know we are queer, but it’s time people do so too…’

Here we were, two people at the fag ends (pun intended) of the queer spectrum, finding solace in each other’s company in an entirely heteronormative party. The world is funny sometimes.

I think every one has a different journey when it comes to navigating the queer space.

Fortunately for me, I’d had to deal with very few instances of discrimination ever since I’ve come out. I have a great support system of friends and a wonderful family that accepted me for who am I without batting an eyelid (or shedding a tear, unlike me). But then again, I know that I come from extreme privilege — because identifying as a CIS-gendered gay man is the ‘straight white male’ equivalent on the queer spectrum. We’ve just had it easier. So what advice would I give for someone who’s still trying to figure out where they fit on the queer spectrum?

Just one word: don’t. The entire point of the queer spectrum is to embrace inclusivity and acceptance — whichever way you choose to identify yourself. Unlike your closets, there’s no need for labels here.

You can identify as gay. You can identify as a trans woman. You can identify as bicurious. You can identify as asexual. Gender queer. Pansexual. Non-binary. You can identify as anything you like, because it is your identity. It is what makes you who you are. It is what makes you unique.

We’ve spent our entire lives trying to fit into the heteronormative formula (spoiler alert: there’s no heteronormative formula), so the least we can do is not have to struggle trying to find our place on the rainbow.

Until then, remember that we are queer, and we are here.

And that can be wherever you want it to be.

Follow the Guysexual on Firstpost. See more of Amrai Dua's art here.

Updated Date:

also read

In New York, some Orthodox Jews contemplate leaving their community amid lockdown, being isolated from their families
World

In New York, some Orthodox Jews contemplate leaving their community amid lockdown, being isolated from their families

Many of these formerly Orthodox Jews are contacting organisations that help "leavers" to adapt to life in wider society.

Nigeria's social satirist Julius Agbaje uses a skilled, confrontational style to critique brutality, hypocrisy
World

Nigeria's social satirist Julius Agbaje uses a skilled, confrontational style to critique brutality, hypocrisy

In Nigeria, there is an abundance of artists who criticise the political system, but many use only abstract images, few do so in such a confrontational way.

Hit by coronavirus pandemic, museums sell treasured works amid criticism about betraying cultural missions
World

Hit by coronavirus pandemic, museums sell treasured works amid criticism about betraying cultural missions

Some museums are seizing the opportunity to renew and diversify their collections, but others have been forced to backtrack after opposition from local communities.