Am I queer enough? Help!
Growing up I remember feeling like I always had to like guys and feeling very lucky that I did. From a young age my socio-sexuality(1) was pretty high and I was always curious about sex - particularly sex with them masc passing peeps. Zuko from Avatar, McDreamy from Grey's, Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You, and the entirety of my enormous "celebrity crush" list can go on and on. Junior year of high school I even had a group chat with some girl-friends that was called "Hotness Loading," a group in which we would constantly send pics of hot shirtless men. In retrospect, I was most definitely compensating.
However, I will never forget the way I felt the first time I saw a "sex scene" in Grey's that starred Sara Ramírez. It was a warm feeling in my gut that sent chills down my legs. My face got red to the point that I could feel my heartbeat in my ears, and my palms started to sweat. I was terrified. "What does this mean?", my 13-year-old self would ask. Of course, I knew what it meant, so I decided to play stupid. I didn't want to like women. Since I was born a people pleaser and a spotlight seeker, I didn't want to dare step out of the limits of what was "acceptable" and "loveable."
I know today is a different world. I know today's world is filled with millions of brave individuals who speak their truth and be out and proud. I have very accepting parents, I mean, my brother came out when he was fifteen, and even before that my parents had books–"Mom & Dad, I'm Gay" specifically–lying around just in case. However, I remember the way people would judge and criticize: people in my family, people in my school, people on the news...
So I pretended, a bit. I was very attracted to people and sex, and sex with people jaja. I just wasn't fully honest about everyone I was attracted to. I would say dumb shit like "she's very beautiful, but like in an objective way you know? Not in a way “I wouldhavesex with her way." (Sighs in retrospective) Then, thank god, I was able to leave my hometown. I went to college - in New York. Everyone. Was. So. Fucking. Hot. It became impossible. It became impossible to pretend that only cis-men were hot. I mean, come on. I was far away from home, almost no one knew me, and I felt brave enough to try being more myself during this time. I made a huge act of bravery: I allowed myself to understand who I was attracted to and why. This time with full honesty, kindness, and with nothing but genuine curiosity.
I realized I had a type. Strong, silent, mysterious. I was very attracted to honest people with ambition that knew how to set boundaries. I liked curly hair, I liked strong hands, I liked brunettes the same way I liked blondes. And then I realized that it never came down to genitals nor gender expression. Those two never really factored in a decisive way to whether or not I wanted to make out with someone. Like David Schitt said, "it's not about the label, its about the wine."
And kids, this is why I actually fucking love Tik Tok. Scrolling through it, I saw videos of a sex educator explaining pansexuality. I had seen all the memes. I followed a couple of accounts of people that called themselves pan, but I never looked it up. This video made so much sense. I know a lot of people find labels limiting and dividing, but the fact that so many people felt this way that it was official enough to have its own word... made me feel part of something bigger than me. It made me feel safe and loved.
So, what is pansexuality?
Pansexuality is the romantic, sexual, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexuality rejects the gender binary (which I personally love) because it is inclusive of people that don't strictly identify as men or women.
Pansexuality for me is a beautiful home that gives space to one of my core values: love is not a limited resource, but rather an infinite one. There is love for everyone.
I'm very privileged and very lucky. I'm in a relationship with a person that not only accepts me for who I am, but loves me for it. I'm in a family that would never judge or hurt me for who I'm attracted to. I am straight-passing, so I've never been one to suffer from people yelling hateful slurs, unlike my brother. However, when I hear people talk about me as if I were straight, or as if I weren't part of the community because they have assumed I'm straight, my stomach always ties into a knot. It touches a place in my heart that has always felt like I'm not queer enough. I’m a femme woman that is straight and cis passing. Even though I'm ethically non-monogamous (2) and in a monogamish relationship it is still "straight-passing." So yeah, I pledge guilty to having full-blown queer imposter syndrome, and YES, that is a thing.
Even though impostor syndrome is kind of a buzzword right now, it's always important to refresh our memories.
Impostor syndrome is the consistent fear of being outed as a fraud. Queer impostor syndrome refers to the fear of not being queer enough to belong in the community.
After googling: "How do I know if I'm queer enough?", and reading the first 15 entries, I found out that apparently, it is very common amongst femme-presenting, bi, and pan folk. Not only is not feeling queer enough an actual thing, but there is also a lot of advice on how to address it!
I'm here to share the wealth after going on a google rabbit hole (references at the end!):
If you've ever doubted or felt insecure about your queer-ness remember:
You don't have to look, fuck, or act in a specific way to be queer.
"Queer is less about who you're sleeping with, and more about your values and how you navigate the world." -COREY MORE, TRANS NON-BINARY SEX WORKER AND SEX EDUCATOR
2. Violence and struggle do not need to define your queer experience
"I want to remind all queer people: You don't have to experience violence to be who you are ... the idea that violence is part of a queer experience is not a queer idea it's a state idea." (More) Even though being queer is a possibility thanks to the honor and sacrifice of thousands of queer folk that fought for our rights, one can honor that without having gone through the same experience.
3. Being queer is an ever changing individual experience!
"There is not a ‘right’ way to be queer. Queer people's experience, expression, and degree of emotional investment in their queer identity differs from person to person and over time.”
PAVEL BLAGOV, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY
To conclude, it’s ok to feel insecure about the validity of your identity. However, never forget that this insecurity isn’t a reflection of your worth or your right to belong to the community. It’s just a fear of not being good enough, and when it comes to being queer, we are all good enough.
- Nicole Poiré
The individual difference of tendencies of desire to engage in sex outside of intimate monogamous reationships.
Passionate love comes from Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love. Where there are three individual parts that can stand on their own or come together to define 8 different types of love. Passion can be associated with either physical arousal or emotional stimulation, and it can be defined as strong sexual or romantic feelings for someone. (Sternberg, 2007)
Is polyamory queer? "To the extent that queer is defined as a rejection of what is normative, in a mononormative world, polyamory is queer. Polyamory refers to emotionally and sometimes sexually intimate and committed relationships that include more than two adults." (Expanding the Rainbow, Schippers)