June signifies Pride Month, where queerness is celebrated and acknowledged nationwide. While going to parades and wearing rainbows are always fun, we still have a long way to go to accept queerness and allow people to fully be themselves. The following is my personal journey of self-discovery when it comes to being a queer woman.
I’m a queer woman. Why do I use the word queer? To me, it’s a blanket term that covers the various labels I attribute to myself without getting too long-winded. Queer is gay. Queer is bisexual. Queer is LGBTQA+. The word has various connotations; some people like to use it to describe themselves, and some don’t. I use it interchangeabley with gay to describe myself.
So how did my journey start? When I was a child in school, I thought I was straight. I had boyfriends — or wanted to. It wasn’t until I was older, probably around college age, where I discovered that I liked women more. Then things started to click — what I first considered “normal” for a straight person turned into queerness. The first label I claimed for myself was bisexual. I liked men and women (and non-binary babes) with a higher leaning towards the femme. I realized sexuality was a spectrum; you can be bi and have a preference. This means I like most women and one man (Chris Pine, hello). In seriousness, it meant that I wasn’t straight, and it really opened my eyes to who I could be.
I then stumbled upon the terms asexual and aromantic. Once again, I found new pieces of myself that made everything in my past start to come together. My relationships were usually short-lived and did not involve a lot of romance or sex. In fact, I had no desire for sex with the men I dated. It felt more like I was just following the trend of getting a boyfriend, but was never happy or satisfied in the relationship, so they ended quickly. But I asked myself: can you be bi and ace and aro? Turns out, you can! It’s called bisexually-attracted aromatic asexual (or bi-attracted aroace). But that’s a mouthful, right? So instead, I call myself simply gay or queer.
I’ve been out and proud for a number of years now and have explored various aspects of my sexuality and gender identity. I am always happy to support the LGBTQA+ community, whether that’s donating to charities like The Trevor Project, showing up to events, or sharing my knowledge and experiences. I celebrate the victories of same-sex marriage being legalized while mourning my trans friends who suffer under the hands of bigotry. We’ve come a long way thanks to the Stonewall Riots and brave activists like Marsha P. Johnson — but we still have a ways to go.
I was on Tumblr when Leelah Alcorn posted her heart-wrenching suicide note before taking her life in the wake of her parent’s mistreatment of her. It was a big moment for the trans community, who had been facing murder and suicide due to transphobia for years without much acknowledgement from the mainstream media. But Leelah got everyone’s attention — even the president, who began banning conversion therapy for minors under “Leelah’s Law” to protect trans youth. As I write this, several states are trying to take away healthcare for trans youth to prohibit them from transitioning or receiving gender-affirming care like HRT, while others are trying to prevent discussion of sexuality in classrooms. It feels like a step backward.
I’m happily in a relationship with my girlfriend, Brooke. I dream of a future where we can be together without judgement or hatred, without the threat of our rights being taken away, and without the fear of being attacked or targeted. This month, I challenge everyone to go on a journey of self-discovery to see who they really are. I challenge everyone to confront their beliefs and ask themselves why they think homosexuality is wrong. I challenge politicians to step up for gay rights instead of trying to take them away. I also challenge you to show your support for the trans community, the queer BIPOC community, and the nonbinary community by donating to organizations that fight for their rights. Together, we can create a society of acceptance that we can truly be proud of.