A series of watercolour paints in the colours of the rainbow flag

LGBT History Month – Being genderqueer makes me neither angel nor demon

I’m playing catch-up with the posts I’d planned for this LGBT History Month but, hey, at least I’m writing – and, hey, how about that? I’ve made it to the end. I’m discussing my gender identity, in the hope that sharing my thoughts, feelings and experiences will help people to see not only beyond the gender binary, but that each gender identity can be split into as many different ‘types’ as there are people who assume that identity to describe themselves.

I mentioned in my introductory LGBT History Month post that identifying as genderqueer does not mean that I should be subject to deification, nor does it mean that I should be subject to demonisation.

I really struggled with this post – partly what I wanted to say, but more so how and why I wanted to say it. It’s why it’s taken me months to finish it. Over the course of this series, I pretty much said everything I wanted to, and wanted to use this one to tie everything together, to really show the relationships between and amongst all the areas I discussed; and talk about how this, for me and others, was ‘normal’ – nothing special, nothing worthy of celebration or condemnation – hence the title.

But, I ended up thinking that wasn’t necessary. Reading these posts once again, it seemed obvious to me that everything I talked about was one part of a very complex identity, and the relationships I talked about could often be even more complicated than the sum of their parts. I didn’t think I could make it any easier to understand without reducing the significance of each of these posts and devaluing what I’d written under each title; so, I abandoned this plan. I also felt as though I didn’t need to reiterate that this was my ‘normal’. I became less inclined to write something that might be interpreted as a ‘justification’ of this.

But what to write about instead? Well, in keeping with the ‘theme’ of this post, and with the word ‘normal’ ringing in my ears (despite the fact I am loath to use it) I thought I’d share a few of the thoughts I often have… That, I guess, are about navigating that space between being celebrated and shamed; between being something more and something less; between being smack bang in the middle and standing on the outside looking in – just a few clumsy thoughts about being average and typical. About being ‘normal’. And I’ll say this now – if it feels as though this post doesn’t really have an ending, that’s because nothing about which I’ve spoken in this series does. It just goes on.

I’ll start with a basic, simple fact: I’m human. I’m a human. Nothing other than an example of animal life on this planet. I didn’t ask to be here, and whether I ended up here by coincidence or design, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just here. Like everyone else, I was born into a world where the rules were decided by other people based on the history written by the winners, and it’s anticipated I’ll live according to these as well as meet their expectations.

But, like everyone else, I want to live my own life. I want to be who I am. I guess it’s the only thing I’ve ever really, really wanted. Growing up, this was often at odds with the world around me, and I found myself dismissed, derided and discriminated against at different times because I wasn’t ‘their’ idea of ‘normal’. Then, I found a community who celebrated me in ways beyond what I thought was either possible or appropriate. For them, my identity was something to be signposted – the acknowledgement and acceptance of this a benchmark for progressives and liberals; its visibility a standard to be hoisted in defiance at marches and used to rally others to the cause.

Sometimes, it was as though my identity was being co-opted by people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me, used without my permission to further an agenda imposed on a community rather than one that responded to and respected each individual found therein. I could agree I was different and/or ‘special’, or even ‘better’ than other people and join them on this type of ‘pantheon’ that set ‘us’ aside and above cissexual, cisgendered and heterosexual people; or I could walk amongst these latter groups and accept the shame of the internalised homo/queerphobia such an action would supposedly betray.

Few times have I ever simply been allowed to ‘be me’. And, as time marches on, this is getting… Worse? It feels as though it’s becoming harder and harder to just ‘be’. I feel challenged. I feel as though I have to defend myself. I feel as though have to justify myself. I feel as though I have to fight. People weaponise their opinions and rally great numbers behind ideologies that would segregate me and erase me from much of the world in which we all live, not understanding that many of their own reasons behind their thinking aren’t their own, but some kind of inherited bigoted rhetoric, distilled from religious puritanism and amplified through their own ignorance – their refusal to learn and their refusal to empathise with anyone who doesn’t fit their idea of what should – must – be ‘normal’.

It feels as though I’m increasingly pulled between these two extremes, but… Honestly? I’d sooner be left alone than have to choose between falling in with one and fighting the other. I wish I felt less pressured – that I’d simply be left to get on with it. I’m making the best of this world and my time in it, as much as I can, and I’m aware that every other person has the same right. I leave ‘them’ alone as much as possible and would ask that the same courtesy be afforded to me. You can spend your life ignoring the beauty around you and not really enjoying your own short time here as you give other people shit for who they are – something that goes for people on each side of the fence – or you can just shut the fuck up and get on with it, and let them get on with it. The only time you really need to get involved is when someone is doing something directly to you that is stopping you from just living.

And with that in mind, I’ll note that there will be times, as I’ve mentioned previously, when I’ll choose to stand up and fight for what I believe in, but I’m both satisfied and happy, as I get older, to simply enjoy the everyday, every day, rather than going out looking for allies and enemies. So, if anyone needs me for anything, I’ll probably be over here watching a bee stumble about in a flower, listening to someone play some music or wondering if I should get another ice cream, because I had a massive one just the other day and don’t want the beautiful ritual of devouring one slowly to become a routine. I am, in fact, doing all of these things as I write this. Just being here. Being me. Being ‘normal’.

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