Portfolio of Hope

I used to say that I didn’t want to label myself

in terms of my gender or my sexuality,

but,

over the past year or so,

I have felt almost ‘pulled

(by myself)

to attach a label to who I am.

And,

now?

Now I gain a great degree of strength

and

empowerment

from labelling myself.

It helps me

to feel

like I

belong‘-

providing me with a sense of belonging

in a world within which I have,

for so long,

felt so…

disconnected

from/

so…

out of place

within.


The label I attach to myself now, then?

Queer.’

I am a Queer*, Gender Non-Conforming Woman.


*I understand that, anyone reading this whom is of a slightly older generation might question this label,

but,

it’s important to recognise that the meaning of the word ‘Queer’ has changed

so much

since ‘back in the day’

when it was used as an insult…*


For a bit of history behind the word ‘Queer’, then/

for a bit of context


The word “Queer” first appeared in the English language in around 1513,

referring to something ‘unusual‘,

peculiar‘,

and/or

odd.’ *

* (based on this definition, I think we can all say we’re Queer)!*

It wasn’t until much later,

in around 1914,

that the word was more commonly used in society as a derogatory term/

as a ‘slur

to portray homosexuality,

thus earning it links with hate speech

and

homophobia,

with it increasingly being used to express hatred,

anger,

and

prejudice

towards any “non-straight” person in society…

The arrival of the 80s though saw activists begin to reclaim the word Queer,

as they would write it on their banners and flags when they marched down the street to protest for equal rights,

transforming its meaning from that of a derogatory term

used by heterosexual people to describe homosexual people

as ‘strange

and

abnormal‘,

to a positive self-descriptor

used by homosexual people to describe themselves and their community

in a positive light.


Although ‘Queer’ is still deemed to be an insulting word by some

based on its derogatory origins,

(for people who were on the receiving end of the word Queer as an intended insult

‘back in the day’,

it can, understandably

and

unsurprisingly,

be triggering,

bringing up unwelcome memories for them),

on the whole, it’s negative connotations have been replaced

with positive ones,

and,

it is now a word that has been reclaimed

by the LGBTQI+ community,

as a big; ‘up yours

to homophobia.


In terms of why I like using the word ‘Queer’

to describe my identity,

I like it because;

it is very much an ‘umbrella‘ term,

welcoming anyone who exists outside of the cisgender

or

heterosexual

identities and norms of society

(i.e., anyone who does not identify as straight,

and/or,

anyone with a non-normative gender identity)…


Now, because of this-

because the word ‘Queer’ is such an umbrella term,

encompassing anyone

and

everyone

within the LGBTQI+ community*-

*(a Trans Person is as Queer as a Lesbian is as Queer as a Gay Man is as Queer as a Bisexual-

you get the gist*)-

it is also very flexible, too.

With no single meaning,

it is open to interpretation/

it is…

ambiguous,

which means that,

using the term,

I don’t feel ‘tied down’

to one specific label,

and,

nor do I feel any pressure

to

explain myself fully’*. ..


*I know that some people who identify as bisexual, for example, can struggle when they enter a relationship with feeling like their bisexuality is somehow no longer valid

(people who enter a same-sex-

Homosexual relationship-

can be made to question whether they are;

“not really bisexual but actually gay/lesbian”,

and, likewise,

people who enter opposite-sex-

Heterosexual relationships-

can be made to feel the same

made to question if they are;

“not really bisexual but actually straight“)…*


Similarly to this,

the labels ‘Lesbian’

or

‘Gay’

can also feel somewhat “too limiting”,

particularly if,

like me,

you have an identity that is quite…

fluid.’


In contrast though,

on a personal level,

to use the word ‘Queer’ just takes away some of those pressures,

I feel,

allowing me to navigate

and

question

the shifting elements of who I am for myself/

allowing me to be who I am-

fluid

and to feel empowered by it,

not constricted by it…


An analogy of being Queer that I heard recently that I really love…

the idea that, us Queer folk are;

the broken biscuits in the box‘-

the “broken” ones-

that we’re;

the kids that never fit in‘-

the ‘weirdo’s

who have,

finally,

found their place

in the world,

within the Queer community-

a community which is filled with so much

love,

inclusivity,

creativity,

humanity

a community which I am,

genuinely,

so happy to be a part of,

so,

pardon the pun,

proud.’


And so,

this is why calling someone “Queer” is no longer an insult

(to me, at least)

because,

to be Queer is so fkin amazing.

So amazing that,

even if being Queer was a choice,

I would still choose it-

every

damn

day.


~ <3 ~

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