FIND YOUR TRIBE
Earlier this weekend, I called my friend Hannah on FaceTime after joyfully crying through episode 4 of Queer Eye (which EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER should be watching on Netflix if you aren't already), and we went on to discuss and debrief on the episode before slinging jokes and talking about our hilariously conservative upbringings. This whole time, we're also throwing back glasses of wine and shots of cinnamon whiskey.
Last week, my friend Kevin called me as he was driving home from work (also to talk about Queer Eye), and we went on to dream about creating some kind of summer camp for the queers of the internet to all meet in real life someday, since everyone we know tends to be spread across the country. I think he also asked me if I was drunk at one point because of how much I was gushing about Queer Eye, and I had to tell him that I was actually sober and just that over the top.
I have so many little stories like this from the last several months, and Hannah and I were actually just texting about just how crazy it is that we became friends and how many other HELLA COOL people we've met over Twitter. Social media tends to get a bad rap these days, but for many of my queer friends and I, it's served to facilitate the formation of some really sweet community.
SOCIAL MEDIA TENDS TO GET A BAD RAP THESE DAYS, BUT FOR MY QUEER FRIENDS AND I IT'S FACILITATED SOME REALLY SWEET COMMUNITY
Growing up in conservative churches and equally conservative schools all the way through college, it goes without saying that I didn't have a ton of queer friends to surround myself with. In those kinds of environments, it was hard enough to find other queer people, before even adding the complication of whether they were actually out or not. And that's how you quickly end up being the only queer person in your friend groups.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but just like being the only person of color in predominately white churches, schools, or friend groups, it's easy to lose sight of your own self when you're generally the only queer person in your social circles. It makes you keenly aware of the fact that you're different, that you're outside of the norm, that you're not quite like everybody else. Again, that's not always a bad thing, but there is something to be said about being able to find your tribe, your people, and in my case, your queer people.
There are shared experiences, similarities of stories, and snippets of queer culture (not to be confused with "the gay lifestyle" whatever that's supposed to mean) that don't need to be explained or prefaced when you find a communal space occupied by people like you. Because the people in those spaces understand that you're not bashing the church when you talk about all the ways you were burned. They understand that it was a daily tension to go to the small Christian university you graduated from, because of how much you loved it and also how much it hurt you. When you enter those spaces, they understand what you bring into the room, and it's refreshing to not have to unpack everything you hold inside because they're holding the same things.
there is something to be said about being able to find your tribe, your people, and in my case, your queer people.
The most beautiful part of this whole thing comes to me when I think about the metaphor of seasons I've been using to conceptualize the recent stages of life I've been walking through. Though the last season of life felt a lot like the dead of winter, I see all these new connections and friendships sprouting up as being signs of the spring that's coming. Even as I've reflected on the fact that fully owning your queerness is costly, I can also see that I've been becoming ever more so myself.
As my friend Corrin joking said to me the other week, "I think all these things falling into place is God's gift to you for surviving everything that came before."
I suppose I can't be completely sure if that's true or not, but I definitely feel as though life has been paying me back some of what was spent in fully stepping into my own queerness. The new queer friends I've been making over something as trivial as Twitter, Instagram, and social media have been profoundly life giving, and perhaps as cliche as it is, these new queer friendships remind me that it does get better.
Sometimes, it getting better just means a safe place to sling Queer Eye GIFs, and sometimes it means getting to debrief about shared church trauma or relational trauma. Sometimes, it getting better means joking about boys (or girls, or both) you like without having to feel the slightest bit of hesitance, and sometimes it means unpacking those losses you've experienced because of your queerness.
THESE NEW QUEER FRIENDSHIPS REMIND ME THAT IT DOES GET BETTER
When I graduated from college a few years ago, knowing that building and maintaining life giving community was going to be more of a challenge as I moved into working life and all that, something I prayed for regularly was that I would be able to find a good group of queer friends to have around me, so that we could all routinely remind each other that we're here for a reason and that we're not alone.
So, to all my queer friends, both old and new, wherever you may fall along the spectrum of faith these days, know that you have been an answer to prayer. And to all the queers out there who are still feeling a little lost, a little alone, hit us up. Find us on Instagram. Find us on Twitter.
To quote my friend, Hannah:
When I first joined progressive Christian Twitter, I committed to myself that I would always welcome new folks into the fold, regardless of follower count or platform or any of that superficial nonsense. It's elitist and boring.
So what I'm saying is, please never feel like there are cliques you can't join or places you can't say things or friendships you can't make. If you're here & you love folks & are committed to learning, you belong.
Those words remind me of the benediction my church gives at the end of every sermon, and I'm here for it.
Love, the Queers <3
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