lgbt

why I use queer as my identifier

why I use queer as my identifier

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way over the last two years or so, I've gradually shifted away from using the term 'gay' to describe myself and towards the term 'queer' as my new preferred self-identifier. This is something that everyone has probably started to pick up on, but for me, it was such a gradual transition that I didn't even realize it had happened until one of my good friends/mentors pointed it out while we were having lunch the other day.

We were sitting in the dining hall of my old university where she works, catching up on all the different life happenings that had transpired since the last time we had seen each other, and she mentioned there was something she wanted to ask me. She noted that I had been referring to myself and many of my friends as 'queer' rather than as 'gay,' 'lesbian,' or even just 'LGBTQ' as I had in the past and was curious about that shift in language. The question took me a little by surprise, not because it struck any particular sensitivities, but because I hadn't been fully aware that I had changed the way I referred to myself until that very moment.

yuri on ice: the queer love story that changed my life

yuri on ice: the queer love story that changed my life

I actually shivered a little from nervousness as I sat down to FINALLY write this post. This story is one that I've been wanting to write since all the way back in October, but for a long time, the ability to put it all into words had been eluding me, probably because, like I said up there, this show, this queer love story that I watched is solidly in the running with the top 5 most life changing experiences I've had. Within that top 5, I'd say that the life changing magnitude of this queer romance ranks higher than any formal church experience or anything else that's happened in a strictly "spiritual" context, which might surprise some people, especially other Christians.

And if you know me, you already know I'm talking about Yuri!!! On ICE.

just wanting to live

Sometimes you just reach a breaking point. It’s not that you don’t care anymore or even that it’s not important anymore, but sometimes you just grow weary of the constant tension, the constant sensation of being “always on.” Because why wouldn’t that be exhausting? That’s sort of how I feel right now when it comes to Christian LGBTQ things and LGBTQ things in general, the dialogues, the conversations, the controversies, the debates, the activism, all of it. I feel burned out if I’m being completely honest.

 

And it’s gotten pretty darn close to the point of cynicism when it comes to these things now. Maybe it’s because I’ve already had 4 years to think about and process all my own thoughts and conflicts. Maybe it’s because I’m already out to my friends, family, and whoever else might care to know. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to deal with many of the harsher realities of what this life and what this identity means for some people recently. Maybe, like Taylor Swift, it’s been a case of overexposure over the course of the last few years, with all the writing, rambling, and rallying I’ve been a part of.

 

I feel burned out if I'm being completely honest.

 

But maybe it’s also just a natural part of the ups and downs and cyclical nature of life itself. Maybe feelings and sensations like this come and go in waves. Maybe in a few weeks, months, or a year I’ll be back on the activism train and maybe even working in a position that would require that. That seems logical to me. It’s burned into my heart and soul after all, and there’s no running away from this existence, from this life that I’ve been living and will continue to live until the Lord decides my time is up.

 

For now though, I just want to live. And maybe this is a pipe dream or a symptom of some sort of privilege I didn’t quite realize I had, but I just want to be able to live my life without having to continually defend my own existence, my own convictions, my own identity, my own choices. I just want to be able to live my life without endlessly needing to explain why I think a certain way or why I’ve reconciled my identity with my faith and the rest of my life. That’s all really. I just want to live. I just want to be, and I long for the day when people can look at me, another anomaly among many (read: LGBTQ Christians), and others like me and just accept it at face value, without needing a long, drawn-out explanation or a theological argument to satisfy their own inner nagging curiosities or bouncer-to-the-Kingdom mentality.

 

I just want to be able to live my life without having to continually defend my own existence.

 

I just want to live, to wake up in the morning and go to work, to go to dinner with my friends every once in a while, to love the people I love, to hold someone’s hand, to talk about the future, and to be able to go to bed at night not feeling like I stick out in the church pews with a neon sign above my head just by virtue of being here on this earth.

 

And maybe one of the ways to fulfill that longing to just be, to just live is take a step back and do it. Obviously, this is always going to be something kindling in the depths of my heart and spirit, but I think I’m also willing to go with the ebb and flow.

 

So, who knows? Maybe now that I’m starting to get settled at work and having a functional computer again (long, strange story…haha) I’ll be back to writing here semi-frequently, but maybe I’ll also just lie low for a while to try this whole “just being” and “just living” thing. I have no idea. That’s where I’m at, and I’m going with the flow.

Being Gay at Bethel: Revisited

Here's a piece I wrote back in the spring about some good changes and things I see happening back at my alma mater (that sounds weird to say...). Bethel is one of my favorite places, and I'm thankful for the ways God is moving there, especially in the sense that LGBTQ students are starting to feel safer and that the atmosphere is shifting for the better. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

inhale, exhale (you're okay)

Sometimes, I think fiction is one of the hardest styles and genres of writing to want to excel at. Maybe it's just me, but I think the inability to churn out piece after piece of fiction (since I've been finding that even short stories are challenging to mass produce, for lack of a better term) makes it seem almost like the loftiest of writing goals. Unlike poetry, nonfiction, or other types of essays, it takes time to develop the voice, style, characters, flow, and all the other elements that go into crafting quality fiction, which I think frequently prevents writers from being able to showcase their fiction ability regularly. It seems to come down to actually publishing a popular novel or getting a short story published in a good literary mag, and that can be discouraging for a lot of writers I feel like.  

This has been something that's run through my head a lot as of late, especially since I've mentioned that I've been doing a good deal of storyboarding and outlining for fiction the past few days, and it almost feels like all of that work has nothing to show for itself, since I haven't actually written anything yet, just conceptualized ideas and thought through them.

 

At any rate, that's some of my internal process I've been going through while trying to write fiction the past couple days. So, today, I'm publishing another piece that I wrote a little while back. Even reading through it now, it sort of seems all over the place, but that makes a little sense since it was originally born out of a sort of literary pep talk I was trying to give myself at the time.

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inhale, exhale (you're okay)

You said it. It’s done. It’s out. But somehow, it still feels almost as heavy as the first time. Or maybe it always does.

 

You inhale and tell yourself it’s okay. Then you exhale and let the silence tell you’re okay. Because the stillness isn’t tense. There’s no thickening of the air. Instead, the quiet invites you to continue telling your story.

 

So you inhale and tell yourself you’re okay, and you exhale and let the empty air affirm that you are indeed okay. Because there’s no hesitation. There’s no held breath, no ellipsis, no comma at the end of the sentence. For once, a period and its finality are comforting, because it means you’re okay.

 

Your emotions are okay. Your feelings are okay. Your desires and every unspoken thing are okay. And by extension, that means you are okay.

 

So you inhale and exhale nervously.

 

But you’re still okay.

 

There are no arguments. There are no reasons. There’s no theological rhetoric or overspiritualization. There’s just stillness.

 

So you inhale and you exhale. You’re okay. Because there are no questions, no comments, no concerns. You’re just okay.

 

So you inhale and you exhale, letting it sink in, to the depths of your soul and being, something so fundamental, yet something so often misplaced.

 

You’re okay.

 

You’re okay. You’re okay as a person, and your love is okay too, not bound by binary systems or arbitrary rules. And your heart is also okay, not strange or out of place because its love pulls you toward an identical set of chromosomes.

 

It’s okay.

 

So you inhale and you exhale. You breathe it in deeply so that it settles in your lungs, so that it puts down roots, so that it fills every empty space of your being, so that it echoes within, constantly reminding you that after everything you’ve even been told:

 

You’re okay.