Why I Love “Queer”

| Apr 24, 2017
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Elron Steele

By guest contributor Elron Steele

I’ve always occupied an odd place on the LGBTQ spectrum. In one sense, it’s always been very easy to find my place in the spectrum . . . smack in the middle, firmly inhabiting the “B.”  I’ve known I was attracted to people of both sexes even before I knew what “bi” meant. From the first time I became aware of the categories “Straight” and “Gay” I knew I didn’t fit properly into either of them and that I was attracted to both boys and girls, and frankly, most of the gradients in between. Essentially, I’ve always known that I was attracted to humans, and their “gender” wasn’t as much of a consideration as factors like personality and intelligence.

So from one perspective, my place on the spectrum has always been very clear . . . I am bisexual or pansexual to my core. But there’s another side of me that’s harder to pin down. There are various terms and descriptions in the public consciousness, some more negative than others, but I’ve always found it hard to find myself in any of them.

I enjoy “crossdressing” but I rarely see people who “crossdress” like I do. I see “trans women,” both pre and post op, who are stunningly beautiful examples of the feminine form. I see “drag queens” who rock an-over-the top persona with devastating confidence and grace. I see people clearly struggling with their gender identity, finding comfort and grace in expressing their true gender. And I see “two-spirited” people who seem to fluidly move from the feminine to the masculine and back as easily as changing clothes.

And none of those people seem to be me. The only public expression of “crossdressing” I’ve seen that even comes close to reflecting my own internal state comes from British comedian Eddie Izzard. Izzard often performs in drag, and also often performs dressed as a male. No matter how he is dressed however, he usually presents as a very “masculine” image. He describes his act as “drag” in many places, but crucially, he talks most often about the idea of “total clothing freedom.”

I’ve always had the urge to wear clothes traditionally reserved for “women” but I’ve never been confused about my gender in any way. I’m male, and I always have been, and while I completely understand the different experiences of others, I’ve never had any urge to “transform” myself into a “woman” in any real way. As Izzard says, I simply want “total clothing freedom.”

In everyday life this can present some challenges. In the case of Izzard, he can use the “discordant” appearance of a burly male in women’s clothing as a crucial part of his comedy routine, and he does it to great effect. But in a non-performance setting, the dissonance of a very masculine body and face mixed with traditionally female clothing can’t be denied for most of the people I interact with during the course of a day.

It’s not something I see as “prejudice” or “oppression.”  Rather, it’s simply an expected result of me presenting a discordant image to a general public that doesn’t expect it and, generally, never sees it in their daily lives. While media exposure for trans women and drag shows has increased acceptance dramatically in recent years, the “image” of a fully transformed “feminine” look is naturally less discordant than someone who intentionally leaves himself stuck in the middle.

As a result, I’ve always had a difficult time situating myself within the “trans” label. It captures some of what I am, but has also always felt “wrong” to me, personally, in fundamental ways. I’m always going to be a bald guy with a goatee in a skirt and cool boots, and while I’m very comfortable personally with that identity, it’s also never felt properly “trans” to me either. Compared with people who I know are clearly struggling with a gender they feel is wrong, and who are transforming into something new they never felt they were in their previous form, there doesn’t seem to be much “trans” in me at all, frankly.

It’s people like me who make the “Q” at the end of “LGTBQ” so vitally important. I am but one example of the millions of people who simply don’t fit into the “easy” categories of the other 4 designations. Being lesbian, gay, trans, and even bi, in my experience, is a pretty clear thing, and there are many people who can clearly find identity in one of those categories. But there’s also a wide range of people for whom those categories just don’t quite work.

The “Queer” at the end of the string isn’t a lazy catch-all . . . it’s a vital part of the idea of the “spectrum” of LGBTQ expression. It captures all of that variation within the community in an inclusive, yet expansive, way. It’s under that “Q” at the end that people like me find a community, an identity, and it’s that “Q” (or “Q+”) that makes the rainbow banner one that covers an entire community of people who don’t fit into easily definable categories. People like me, the bald pansexual guy with the goatee in a cute skirt and snappy boots . . . if that’s not “Queer” then I really don’t know what is.


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Category: Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Opinion

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