Upon reflecting on my last post and having some conversations about my experience with good friends, im starting to see that these sort of radical queer circles are everywhere and they don't get any more inclusive or inviting.
I do identify as queer (specifically as queer), and its easier to identify as radical sometimes, rather then explaining all of my standing beliefs and politics behind certain notions concerning the LGBTQ community as well as elsewhere. It bothers me that instead of branching out and embracing one another, some queer folks are beginning to retreat into their very own cliques and rejecting others around them. It's beginning to seem that in rejecting the divisions within the mainstream gay and lesbian movement, the queer community is forming many divisions of its own. This is not, at least to me, what being queer identified and radical is all about.
Let me quickly put in my own two cents about being queer identified and radicalism, because I certainly think that the two go hand in hand. Something that the queer identity lends to many people is the ability to not be categorized into the sexual binaries provided for us by society, which in itself is radical, seeing as we live in a culture that primarily respects us when we adhere to certain labels and stereotypes. Queer for me, is also about alternative thinking, alternative politics, and alternative presentation. Part of the reason that I identify is queer is due to my upbringing which goes against many of the conceptions behind what growing up is in our culture. Also, the roads that I am choosing to take in my life and my reasoning behind that is considerably alternative to those complying with the paths awarded to them by society, this also makes me feel more connected with a queer identity. The queer identity within itself is purely one that goes against the grain. I feel that the original objectives behind the term "queer" is becoming lost to appropriation in the mainstream LGBTQ movement, along with other terms such as "butch" and "femme".
While talking to my friend last night, she mentioned to me something that Andrea Smith said (author of The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence) concerning radicalism in all forms. She said that being radical isnt about you and your friends and your beliefs and their beliefs, being radical is about you and your friends sharing those beliefs with others and including others in your beliefs. So why is it becoming more and more difficult for younger queer folks to gain access to their community?
This whole realization hits close to home for me, as I had a difficult time being accepted by my gay friends in high school after beginning to recognize my attraction to other women. Most of my friends had started coming to terms with their sexuality at young ages, my first friend coming out to me as bisexual in the 6th grade. Honestly, if it wasn't for my being surrounded by the community I was surrounded by, and being exposed to such discoveries at such a young age, im not sure that I would have unearthed my own sexuality at 16. I remember specifically sitting in the car with one friend, who had openly been attracted to other women since the 8th grade, and when I began telling her about my crush on a girl I had been spending time with, she reacted negatively. She told me the same things that many conservative parents may have told me, that it was unreal, it was a phase, that she refuses to take me seriously. After being considerably deligitimized and embarrassed, I felt as though I had somehow gone somewhere I was not invited, invaded her space and done wrong to the gay and lesbian community by "switching over". I automatically cut off communication with the girl I had feelings for, and fell into a full frontal sexual identity crisis, hooking up with the manliest males I knew at parties, and flirting endlessly with the boys in my grade, trying to somehow gain my "straightness" back. Eventually I ended my efforts, I had been rejected by the straight community and the gay community. I was unable to cross the threshold and this is when I started becoming familiar with the queer community, which embraced me with open arms.
The notion that the queer community is becoming more and more segregated and closed off scares me. Im 19, it has been only a mere two years since I finally began to feel confidant in my sexuality and find solidarity with others who were just as complex and different as I am. But as I move on to different places and new people, new social circles, it makes me nervous that I will be rejected by the queer community, that I will fail initiation, I will fail the test. Perhaps this is a insecurity of my own due to past experiences, but also has been my experience as of late, and apparently the experience of many others I know in their towns and cities.
I guess all I can do is beg the queer world to stay inviting, stay inclusive, and stay accessible, because god knows that I, and tons of other youngsters out there need it.