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Queeries is an LGBTQ+ advice column catering to any individual across the gender and sexuality spectrum. Throughout this series, we will be answering questions or “inqueeries” that readers may have, and hopefully provide some closure and/or useful advice that can be used in everyday life. All questions are anonymous and will be answered to the very best of our abilities. Inqueeries can be sent to our Instagram’s DM @risenzine, Twitter DM: @risenzine, email address: email@example.com, or Tumblr page: risenmags.tumblr.com
- You’re queer, now what? (addressing queer individuals who’ve newly [or continue to] embrace[d] their identity)
Amelia: Something that really hit home to me as a queer person was learning about the 1980s AIDS crisis. It’s not a historical event covered in British schools’ curriculum or any curriculum I’m aware of, so I’ve had to learn about it through media - mostly media written by queer folk. Angels in America is one of those plays set in 1980’s America that really hammered home just how dehumanised and devalued queerness was and how that still feeds our culture today, not even four decades later. It showed how disposable queer people were to our governments. It was murder, what happened during the AIDS epidemic, and so many poignant and powerful voices for the LGBT+ community were lost. This is one of the many reasons why we have to keep fighting, why our movement has to be political. I refuse to assimilate into a culture that left many of my queer siblings, my queer elders, to die.
AL: Process and feel. I know when I first started to realize that I wasn’t straight, everything felt like too much. I spent the following week just freaking out night after night and feeling bad for feeling that way. And I hate to admit that it felt like the rug was being ripped from under me, that my entire world had changed, but that was how it felt. I was still me, in the same body and life I had always lived in, but my perspective on the world and myself had changed completely. It used to be easy to distance myself from homophobia, but after that, after I realized I hadn’t made the effort to truly rid myself of it, I was conflicted, confused and terrified. I wish someone had told me that everyone discovers their sexuality differently, that not every queer person always “knew”. I want queer individuals who struggle or are starting to embrace their identity to know that their feelings or valid and real, whatever it may be. Figuring it all out doesn’t take one day or a week or even a whole year - it simply takes time. So breathe and feel everything. And take your time.
Alexis: When I first realized I was Not Straight™, I immediately delved into trying to label myself, which I don’t recommend. Coming to a realization like this can be super confusing, and trying to conform to a label when you’re already (potentially) so confused can only make everything more chaotic. I would take time to figure out what you know and fully accept it before you take time to go into greater detail.
S: Breathe, do some Googling, talk to someone you trust. Take a step back. Realize that this isn’t a whole new you - it’s just another facet of yourself and your identity. There are plenty of online resources, but I know that you can definitely find resources in your area, too. (Online resources might be a better option depending on your situation, though.) And, if you’re in a position where you can, talk it out. Tell someone you trust how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and what you’re going through. You’ll feel a million times better.
J: Welcome to the club! You’ve just entered one of the most supremely powerful, interconnected, supportive communities on the PLANET! There are so many wonderful resources across the Internet and the world for you to explore within this colorful, vibrant sect of society. Gay ice cream parlors, gay research domains, gay churches, gay Wikipedia pages, gay festivals, gay guidebooks, gay communities, gay anything!
An important side note: within this diverse community of sexuality and gender, do not feel pressured to concretely define yourself at ALL. Some never do! And that’s completely okay. If you do concretely define yourself, then that’s great as well. To either side of the spectrum or somewhere in between: congratulations! Also, absolutely don’t feel pressured to define yourself within a group or perceived stereotype in response to pressure, societal views, etc. because you as you are perfect, and don’t need to change at all. Your sexuality and gender are a part of YOU and no one else, embrace it in whatever form you feel.
Where to next on this journey, you ask? Your school’s GSA, the Trevor Project, gay prom, pride festivals, aforesaid gay ice cream parlors (DEFINITELY check those out), the world is your oyster. Best of luck!
CJ: Discovering another layer of your identity can feel both liberating and incredibly overwhelming. For me, the latter definitely took the cake. I spent every spare moment over-analysing friendships and crushes I had in the past, sorting them out into categories in my head - trying to locate exactly what point in my life I “stopped being straight” and what person served as the catalyst in me “changing”.
Looking back, a couple of years later, I realise that me trying dissect myself was a coping mechanism; if I can put everything into chronological order and find a logical explanation, then I can begin to feel comfortable with myself, right? No. Identity defies logic. We are far too complex to try and dissect, and sexuality is fluid and ever-changing, just like us. Please don’t feel the need to justify why you are the way you are in order to feel comfortable. Time is your friend, and getting to know yourself can take a lifetime!
Stella: This is my favorite part of coming out- when you finally get to just be yourself. You don’t need to rush things, jump into a relationship, hold yourself to a label, prove yourself to anyone, or even change anything about how you’ve gone about things. Take time for yourself. Time to reflect, experience, and feel. Enjoy the liberation of finally being able to freely express yourself. Involve yourself in the queer community as a space to further find yourself. Nothing can make a person feel freer than finally learning to be comfortable in your own skin. Allow yourself to truly be yourself and love every second of it; indulge and enjoy the freedom of your beautiful identity!
- What events via the queer community, through queer culture, or in queer history have influenced and impacted you as a person?
AL: I think many people can agree that the Pulse shooting definitely changed things. It was at that moment that I remembered how much weight being queer holds in our society and that moments like those can't be ignored. Near that time, I read a letter written by French-Canadian singer Béatrice Martin, or Coeur De Pirate, in regards to the situation, that hit home hard as her past experiences and thoughts reflected mine. As 2016 was also the year that I realized I wasn't straight, the fact that situations like these happened was terrifying and reminded me that even in countries seen as “progressive” for LGBTQ+ folk, that our lives are still at stake.
Alexis: Hate crimes like the Pulse shooting have really affected me because they show how much damage a single homophobic person can do. It sort of brought me back to the reality that I could be in constant danger (however, as a white, middle class queer girl I am in much less danger than many of the victims of the Pulse shootings were because I am white and middle class).
Another thing that has affected me in a different way is representation. Not in movies and books where the character’s arc is based off of their sexuality, but representation in small things like music videos or commercials, . They seem to normalize more than fiction or large productions ever could.
S: I was definitely really affected by the Pulse shooting, living so close to it and knowing (personally or through friends or social media) people in the local LGBT+ community. Put simply, it was horrible, but everyone really came together. Things were solemn but hopeful. It was rough and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
J: I think kind of just coming out to my friends for the first time really affected me in a way I’d never really experienced before. It almost felt surreal, to be doing something like that in a world where most of the people I knew had never, and would never go through something like that.
It was definitely a rush, a good feeling without a doubt. Definitely had those jitters and butterflies but overall, so so worth it. I maintain so much trust and respect for my friends, and I’m so happy we’ve all grown up in an environment where we can all embrace each other fully.
- What queer role models do you look up to and/or admire?
AL: Although I’ve always loved his music, I feel like Frank Ocean has lately been someone I admire artistically and personally. I have been a fan for awhile, but it wasn’t until I heard Siegfried and Chanel and read a few of his posts on Tumblr that I saw another layer of him that really resonated with me. As an artist who is set on such a high pedestal who simultaneously shies away from stardom, having him be out and blatant about his queerness is comforting and revolutionary, especially as a black man. I find it hard to balance both being black and queer, especially as most representation of LGBTQ+ folk in the media are white, and for him to do so so openly and unabashedly inspires me in my artistic and personal endeavors. And although she may be younger than me, Rowan Blanchard is someone I really admire for being so outspoken and honest, while also being so young Disney star. Hearing her talk about her sexuality so openly was surprisingly one of the reasons why I started reevaluating my sexuality.
S: Is it corny if I say everyone in Queeries? I feel like this is just an amazing project to be a part of and something I wish I had a couple years ago, but they’re all so wonderful and knowledgable. I also love Angel Haze and Ocean Vuong.
J: Connor Franta is such a fantastic human being, and I’ve loved seeing his progression and successes over the years. In my eyes, I just see him as this modern gay man going out there into the world fearlessly and not letting anything stand in his way, and becoming incredibly successful in the process. I just think that’s such an admirable way to be and sets such a great example to queer kids everywhere that people like you can make something great of themselves and the world really does offer so many incredible opportunities. Franta started out as a successful Youtuber, and has since launched a clothing brand, record label, written multiple books, gone on multiple tours, and has received countless honors and recognition from the LGBTQ+ community and the world at large.
A: I really like Hayley Kiyoko. When I first heard Girls Like Girls on an 8tracks playlist a year or so ago, I wanted to know more about the artist, because a lot of WLW (women loving women) playlists don’t feature artists who are actually WLW, but just girls doing covers of regular songs with the pronouns unchanged. I was so happy to find out that the reason she wrote the song was because she wanted young WLW to feel confident and know that they aren’t alone. She also has music videos that center around WLW: Cliff’s Edge, Sleepover, and of course, Girls Like Girls. It’s so refreshing to see and makes me so happy that she is unapologetically being herself and writing songs and creating music videos for WLW.
Stella: There is a handful of WLW youtubers who are constantly addressing LGBT issues and offer a normalization and understanding of WLW through light hearted videos. Youtubers like Stevie touch on lesbian sex education which isn’t offered in schools and Ash Hardell who talks about other LGBT issues, both offer a space for young WLW to voice their thoughts, ideas, and passion about their sexuality. Having a place even if it’s in the comment section of a youtube video, is incredibly important to further understanding yourself and your sexuality. These women offer something so vital to many of us who have nowhere else to openly discuss our personal struggles and overlying LGBT topics.