Unlearning Groups

When I left undergrad to “romantically” be with my first boyfriend, I did it because it was a dramatic and interesting move.  To me it made me as worldly and spontaneous as my college friends.  After that and the rest of my twenties, I un-learned the group mentality.  I wondered what about who I was that was unacceptable.  I separated myself into different baubles, guised with adjective-derived masks to fit in, which denied myself a confidante.  Because I was scared that if I shared my real fears, secrets, and thoughts, with anyone they’d not like me – and that there is no possibility for repair. I imitated others’ expectations, hoping to be included, itself predicated upon adopting various skins that brought me affection and attention.  My not being seen combined created a spiral of neglect bound with being loved.  I had observed my peers and saw what I wasn’t. Growing up, I was bombarded with the norms you’re transgressing, or will come to transgress. Passing and normalizing have great benefits in day-to-day ease of life—what they meant for my spirit was an entirely different issue, of course.  Compliance allowed me to go unseen

I felt punishment was warranted. Over time I learned to express feelings and practice self-compassion, by putting a strong spotlight on the dried and cracking leather hid of my baggage.  I embraced my uniqueness – shown self without a mask.

 

Identity in Separate Baubles [2018.02]

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My high school façade was designed for survival

In high school, I didn’t go to parties because I wasn’t invited.  If kids were doing drugs and drinking it wasn’t with me because no one asked.  Popular was the jocks or musicians because they got all the attention; and paid attention to all the girls, and not to.

My high school façade was designed for survival, leaning heavily on the cartoonish geek persona from middle school.  The comic books that had sheltered me in middle school became the defining trait in high school.  The differences I had from other boys was easily masked by the label “geek.”  I welcomed being considered a geek because it allowed me to avoid being ostracized as a “sissy.”  While this got me socially accepted, it limited the depth of my character.  I allowed peers to dictate my identity and silence my own interests. I strived to fit-in but gained attention because the adjectives that allowed me to nonchalantly shift cliques fixed a spotlight on me, and the impending question about my outsider status.

I knew acceptance wasn’t me being made into a token, but I sabotaged acceptance by defensively rejecting labels.  Instead my rejection came from refusing my own skin, which was rooted in the denial that was needed in high school to survive.

In high school I met Luna, an openly butch lesbian.  We ended up meeting over Erykah Badu, Live, in Freshman English.  I do not know what Luna’s true feelings were towards me, but our friendship was one sided.

Luna seemed embarrassed by me and our friendship.  She aligned herself with me while in school, but when it came to life outside of high school she dissuaded me from participating in the same, and only, local gay youth group.  The handful of times that I asked Luna what happened at the meetings, she told me they talked about what was going on and their problems.  When I followed-up with inquiries to go, Luna told me that I would hate them and that they weren’t filled with my people.  Luna was confident in her identity, her labels – similarly to those in the youth group who had already presented to their parents – gave them the bravery to confront the world that I lacked.

After asking Luna those handful of times to participate, I got the hint that I was not welcomed into that part of her world.  I could not discern what it about myself that kept me from being acceptable for a youth group targeted at my group.  I had made my friendship wholly unconditional and fully.  It was when I discovered the usage of the internet and Gay.com as linkage to fellow young gays, was I able to comprehend why.

The homosexual teenagers I conversed with through the internet, just as the youths in the gay youth group, had an acceptable idea gay youth: Bruce la Bruce models.  Repeatedly from the other teens, who lied that they were 18 as well for access, I was not an acceptable because of comic books.  The geek façade that protected me in the halls of school isolated me from the homosexual community because I didn’t appear to fawn over pop-idols as porn stars.

Queer Identity: Against Homonormatives

News reached me that my cousin, my mother’s sister’s son, came out as gay at the age of 44 years old.  He’s met a man that he is moving to the Carolinas for.  I wonder how his journey went – what lead him to realizing he was gay; why couldn’t he say sooner; why didn’t he at least tell me?  “Your cousin finally came out,” my mother had said, informing me.  Was I oblivious, wrapped in egocentrism?  Ex-boyfriends had told me that he was gay when they first met him, but I brushed their observations off with an aloof, “Okay.”  I never felt obligated to care or take notice to welcome him into the tribe – or it appears him towards me.

Over the years, as I have embraced my uniqueness – shown self without a mask – I have found the term queer to better suit my identity.  I never felt as if homosexual was my tribe.  The punks and outsiders always felt like my people – the ones who believed normal was an insult.  A sexual identity has never felt important to my survival – rather not being alone, having a sense of community, of empathy, is what I have been after. Continue reading “Queer Identity: Against Homonormatives”

Why We Need To Be Unapologetically Authentic

 

Art by Malika Favre
Art by Malika Favre

Authenticity is something I struggle with, so much so that I have made it my resolution for 2017.  I realized towards the end of 2016 that I covered up, diluted, or ignored the parts of myself that I thought would alienate me from those around me.  In truth, those aspects of my identity (which I am still peeling away to discover) are what make me unique and an individual.  For years I struggled with the idea that there was something false and untrue about my place in the world, only to realize that those feelings come from the fact that I was not living with authenticity – I was going to events to celebrate people I didn’t like, putting time into covering up my true ideas, and putting myself in places that I didn’t want to be.  Exhuming personalized experiences and exposing to others my personalized allows for facades to be dropped. As masks are dropped deeper connections are formed.  As I have worked through this by analyzing my past, celebrating my interests and what they mean to me, and connecting through failures, I have deepened my relationships with friends and family, resulting in an increased quality of life.  Authenticity is being politely selfish by connecting through shared hardships and joys.

 

Check out: Why We Need To Be Unapologetically Authentic