I dislike cheese as it is but then again, I don’t mind cheesecake. This could imply that I’m in the middle of the cheese-liking spectrum. If asked about my cheese preferences, I would not have to strictly label myself as a cheese enthusiast or critic. Cheesecake is a perfectly acceptable neutral delicacy that exists for me to express my fluid cheese predilection. Additionally, cheesecake with blueberry jam for instance amplifies the cheese metaphor as it suggests that exciting new flavours can be created, and that I now might have more of an inclination towards this new taste.
Essentially, what I’m trying to get at is that just like my cheese preferences, and most likely yours as well, your sexuality is equally as fluid. You may like or dislike one thing as it is, but you should not restrict yourself from seeking alternatives, because who knows the right food or person could just walk into your life and change your preferences interminably.
Just don’t be a square.
Having put yourself in a box for most of your life to then realise you expand beyond the four corners of this metaphorical box to an extent you’re uncertain of is possibly one of the most frustrating, and occasionally invalidating change you can go through.
How is it possible that heterosexuality is assumed to be the default sexuality you’re meant to inherently have and obey? Likewise, if you’re not strictly on opposite ends of the sexuality spectrum; either straight or gay, then you’re just greedy or in need of attention? Why is being sexually fluid so antagonised? There shouldn’t have to be a right or wrong way to love because how you feel about someone goes beyond their gender or sexuality. Love is not a choice and your desires do not deserve to be limited or strictly binary.
Queer is a term that denotes ‘not being straight’, but still ties you to the larger LGBTQIA+ community without strictly categorizing you as gay. The vagueness of the term is purposive as it is meant to create an identity for anyone who isn’t heterosexual but emphasises acceptance, inclusivity, and fluidity within the LGBTQIA+ circle.
Figuring out who you are, who you like, and how you’d like to identify is not easy, it might never be. Preferences change over time and identifying as queer highlights that you are not obliged to strictly label yourself. It is perfectly fine to sexually identify as whatever you like at any point in your life; straight, gay, or anything in between. Label or no label, your identity is your authority.
Feelings of invalidity can arise especially if you’ve been identifying as straight for the most part with occasional shifts, unable to decide if you’re envious or sexually attracted towards an individual, defying what it means to be heterosexual. Your feelings are personal and there is no right way of validating your attraction. The stigma and shame around sexual orientation has made individuals who aren’t straight or still questioning their sexuality to repress their feelings.
To illustrate, I’ve not been in a relationship with either a man or a woman, but society’s stigmatisation has made me feel as though any feelings I may have had towards anyone of the same gender is invalid, because “how can you possibly be queer if you’ve not dated a woman before?”. My rebuttal to this is “how can I possibly be straight if I’ve not dated a man either?”. The ingrained heteronormativity is perplexing as it functions to tear down or rehabilitate desires, establishing heterosexuality as the norm, and anything beyond that as societal deviance.
Equality should not feel oppressive. You should have the choice to sexually identify as whatever you like despite your experiences or lack of. There is no pressure to figure out your sexuality, take your time and it’s perfectly fine to change your mind. It’s complicated, I get it.
There is no wrong way to love, because love is love in whatever way, shape, or form it takes.
Whether you’re out or not, you do not have to act or look a certain way to identify as queer. If you’re queer, you’re queer, its as simple as that. Identification and acceptance take time, and it should come from within.
Become your own self-fulfilled prophecy.
Happy Pride Month!
Written by Shabnam Sidhu
Header by Ryan McGinley
“love always wins. love has no gender. love is love. i am born this way. i am who i am”
Happy Pride Month