I have mixed feelings every June.
And at every pride parade I’ve ever attended.
Because I don’t fit neatly into one of the first four letters.
I can fit myself approximately into pre-existing microlabels — the ones that many people roll their eyes at (I’m approximately agender/aromantic/asexual, but not exactly, because I’m sort of pansexual in some ways not related to attraction, and sometimes I think gender is more how other people see you rather than how you see yourself)— but even those distinctions, those nuances, aren’t entirely helpful to me. There are a lot of ways to exist in relation to others and in social categories like gender, but I don’t feel fully comfortable with any label except “queer.”
Of course, a lot of people also take issue with the “Q” and with those of us who use the word to describe ourselves. Because “queer” is not well-defined enough for people who like to discriminate or for people who like to gatekeep. It makes people uncomfortable when they can’t immediately file something into a clear category with specific and well-known boundaries (which isn’t to say, of course, that the well-defined categories don’t also make people uncomfortable).
You can’t hate me as easily if you can’t point to why you hate me. You can’t exclude me as easily if you can’t point to why I’m not welcome. And I think that’s partly why the word fits me so well.
The way I exist cannot be simply or satisfactorily explained to other people. I never feel understood when I tell people that I don’t have pronouns because I don’t strongly identify with gender as a concept at all. Or that I’ve never wanted to get married and prefer to spend most of my time alone. Or that all the categories of attraction people use to explain how they relate to others just don’t map onto my experience of people or of sex or of my own feelings.
People often just don’t believe me. As if the only way for something to be real is if we can pin a specific word onto it or if it fits within a narrow set of rules. Surely I must be something. I must be a woman because of how my body is shaped or because I keep my hair long. I must have a distinct sexual orientation because I’ve been in partnered relationships in the past (never mind that they weren’t good…