“I Can’t Really Find An Instance Where Queerness Wasn’t Animating My Experience.”


I formally came out in my freshman year of high school, but it has been such an evolution over time. When you think about what queerness means as an idea beyond gayness, which is about sexual attraction—there’s a lot of other sociocultural things that are tied to it, but at the core it’s about attraction, right? Whereas I think of queerness as the feeling of otherness that straight people have imposed upon me. And when I look back, I can’t really find an instance where queerness wasn’t animating my experience.

I took a hip-hop dance class at this after-school program, and the fact that I wanted to take a dance class became a thing. So it became this grueling decision: Should I do it? I’m already not the coolest kid in this school…. And an actress who taught the class—her name was Euridice—sat me down and was like, “Look—your whole life is going to be like this, but in the end you have to do it to become you.”

Not everyone in the community responded in the same way to the wordy, precocious, slightly effeminate Black kid in the neighborhood. Some people were like, “Great—let’s raise up a child.” Some people were like “We’re not picking you for our team.”

Queerness is the totality of the experience: When people call you a fag at age seven, you’re beginning a negotiation of the way that people perceive you with your ability to perceive yourself in an honest way. The world is starting a conversation with you, like, We see you in this way and so we have this claim that you have to either refute or accept.

That was maybe my first experience [of queerness], even before I was able to fully conceive of what attraction was in a real way. I wasn’t even really processing it on that level—it wasn’t about the actual attraction, it was about, Your wrist moves too easily
[As to homophobia], I’ve gotten the same response from family members and from random people on the Internet, like, “Why is it called homophobia? I’m not afraid of gay people.” The point is that you’re not actually afraid of gay people—you’re afraid of the net set of societal shifts that might be needed to accommodate gay people as something other than a non-class in society, and the ways that would challenge you to look at parts of yourself that you’ve decided that you’re not willing to.



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