I'm so excited to share with you my next guest post, and what a post!
Harris is a coach, based in Hertfordshire, who focuses on helping the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones, navigate life, love and other people's opinions!
They run the Transection podcast (you can find that here) where Harris and co-host Jordan aim to make every story as familiar to us as our own.
Nobody told me I might be queer, so both times I had major realisations about my identity, I was completely unprepared. I’d watched enough Disney growing up that I was very confident I knew how the world worked and how predictable sexuality and gender were.
It was the early noughties, I was 14, I was watching Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty video on MTV at my school mate’s house. Suddenly I was aware of my feelings as I watched the video, then looked at my mate to see if there was any sign she was feeling the same. I couldn’t detect any cues, so I asked her, ‘do you like this video?’
‘Yeah,’ she said, slightly puzzled.
‘But do you like-like it?’
Realisation dawned on her face, ‘ohhh! No, not like that’.
‘Oh...I think I’m bisexual then.’
‘Oh right,’ she said. And that was it.
I don’t use that term anymore, but it’s a similar ball-park.
It took me years to get used to the simple fact that I was queer. Surely if I was queer, someone would have noticed before, or talked to me about it? Why didn’t anyone warn me this could happen? Was I supposed to keep quiet, as well? Was I supposed to ignore the ignorant questions from people assuming I was straight?
I was lost like a fart in the wind.
At 26 it happened again. AGAIN. I came across the nonbinary world online after looking up a word I didn’t know and BOOM. That was it. There I was, staring back at myself from a glossary of genders. My face went hot, and I knew instantly that this was me, long before I understood the words and the language and the concepts. I just knew.
‘Thank the baby Jesus I’ve come out once already,’ I said to myself. ‘I just have to do it again one more time.’
Coming out about my gender is something I have to do constantly. Younger me, so sweet so naive. Six years down the line and I’m still having to correct people when they misgender me or use the wrong pronouns. It’s an ongoing transition for society, not just for me.
So, I want to say, in case nobody has, that you might be queer. You might not be cisgender, you might not be straight. Maybe you have already worked that part out, but are otherwise confused AF.
Thus, a few pointers:
You don’t have to know right this second which labels fit you. You can try things out and talk to people and work it out over time. I started out using the label ‘bisexual’, whereas now I use a bunch of different words like pansexual, demisexual, demiromantic, and androsexual (attracted to masculinity). I started out identifying as genderqueer, whereas now I use words like agender, trans, and nonbinary to describe myself. Basically, there’s no rush. This stuff takes time.
Find other queer people if you’re feeling isolated or alone. Online groups can be great, although they will struggle to fulfil our basic needs of connecting with people in person. For me it’s been essential, though, to find online spaces with people like me.
The language around this stuff is new and can feel difficult at first. You will put your foot in it. There will be a load of assumptions you make at the beginning that you don’t even know you’re making. Be really open to genuine advice people are giving you, and make sure you spend plenty of time listening to other people express themselves. It’s the best way to learn.
The people with the most complex identities often have the most complex experience and understanding of these issues, and yet are the most talked over. Find those smaller voices who really know their stuff.
Only come out to people as and when you want to. You might never feel ready. Coming out to my mum about my gender, I was not ready, but the time was right, so I went for it. It wasn’t terrible! Some people you may never want to come out to, and that’s valid. It may not even be possible for you right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Make sure you look after yourself A LOT, whatever your situation.
If you come out, some people will surprise you and be passionately in support of you. Sometimes people will surprise you and be really crappy to you. You’re not in control of that. Do not agonise over how to come out or how to express yourself for anyone else or to try and control their reaction. Do it purely in a way that makes you happy. Be prepared for life to change.
You have nothing to be ashamed of. You deserve to live your life the way that makes sense to you, and learning to do that takes time. Be excited that you’re not doing this any later in life and that you’re courageous for beginning to explore something so personal.
In the words of Alicia Keys ‘the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom’.