I was given a language with which to describe myself. When I found this out, I jokingly told my then-boyfriend that I was ‘fairly’ nonbinary; that I did not subscribe to the gender binary.
I am still at a point in my life where being non-binary is something I hold close to my chest. Having just embarked on another chapter of my life, I have taken a step back from fully expressing myself in the ways that I am used to – being a queer person and entering new spaces, personally, I find it hard to fully be myself. I take a step back for some time to scout the territory, to read the room, and understand which parts of my identity will be palatable and which will not; and as much as that is counterproductive and detrimental to my sanity, it is something that happened automatically. It has since led me to question so many things about myself and my being, and that is terrifying.
I cannot fully say that I am conforming, because, if we’re being honest, I am not where I want to be in terms of my gender expression and this is only because of how I hope to be perceived by my family. They do not understand that I am non-binary, and that my gender identity is something constant for me; that I am still trying things out and seeing what works and what doesn’t. It is something that is happening now, recurring, and is pending – I am both being and becoming something; which, according to a former lecturer of mine, is something of a contradicting scenario to be placed in between.
Think about it in this sense: I know what it means to be non-binary, both personally and as a whole shared experience, and I also simultaneously do not fully grasp its enormity. It has been a while since I last shared a personal blog post – in all honesty, it has been some time since I last shared anything on my blog. I have been going through some stuff, some changes; both good and not so good. Whenever I am met with a hurdle in my life, I tend to dissociate from these platforms that require me to be productive and creative – my blog, my Instagram, my writing. The last time that happened was when I was dealing with a friend’s death when I updated the ‘Signs’ blog talking about suicidal ideation, and the other was this time when I had an identity crisis.
I am a person who believes in reinvention as a way of self-preservation. I very much admire people who know when to cut people off, even if those people being cut off are past facets of themselves that no longer serve them or the ideals they hold themselves to. That is why most people who knew me in High school do not recognize me, they don’t even know me enough to even say they knew me back then – it is like a cycle, this thing of reinvention. So at the time when I battled my demons, I was feeling very constricted in my identity as a writer, and more so as a queer* writer.
I had centered so much of my life and my being on being queer that it felt like I was asphyxiating; you have got to understand something about that, I was very young, and I had just discovered that something like genderqueer* existed and that I could be that. I was given a language with which to describe myself.
When I found this out, I jokingly told my then-boyfriend that I was ‘fairly’ nonbinary; that I did not subscribe to the gender binary. I was regurgitating everything I found out online about this exciting gender identity – telling him that I did not at all feel like a man, let alone a gay man. I told him that, in my newfound knowledge of myself, building on these feelings I already knew I had, I discovered that sexuality, too, is fluid, and I may not even be attracted to just men.
He understood, but I could tell that he did not want to think too much about it because he knew himself too well to know what my being genderqueer meant for him and what it would mean for our relationship. At one point he told me he loved men, was sexually attracted to men and described this manly body he loved – it may have been an effeminate body, but it was a man’s boy. It did not have any female or womanly features, and he was very deliberate in his want. He was valid.
I won’t lie, I jokingly told him that his way of thinking was very limiting. But I also failed to acknowledge something – my thinking was also limiting. This discovery of literature that spoke to me, of me, and about me, came at a somewhat cost to my other identities. I understand that creative representation matters, and I understood it then, too, when I started labeling myself as a queer writer; but it was some kind of a limit to my, dare I say it, greatness as a writer. I mean, yes I am a writer and I am queer, too. But there needs to be a divide between these intersections. I felt like my creativity was stifled and it made me cringe, made me fall even deeper into a depression. I wanted the space to be both a writer and still be queer, without being labeled a queer writer. You get me?
It reminded me of an Instagram post I saw from a friend of mine; it was this very post that prompted me to question myself and how I had packaged everything – this was from a YouTuber who stated that there was more to him than just being a gay vlogger – that while there was space for both these parts of him, there was also space for him to be either of the two separately. Why was there a need for one to be a hindrance to the other?
Of course, I have since taken a step back and looked deeper into myself and my position; the things that I stand for, and the kind of person I am and hope to be in the future. Having done so, it wasn’t so hard to snap out of that funk and see things a bit clearer as opposed to just trying to force me into a box – I am a queer writer, a great one at that; and my platform exists to highlight the stories that exist within the queer space and to advocate for the representation of the people that have continuously been marginalized, silenced and erased.
I did that on purpose, the positioning of my blog to be a space for representation and advocacy, for sharing work that belongs to authors, filmmakers, and creatives within the queer umbrella so that it becomes a kind of archiving of some sort. It has taken me quite a long time to find myself and to nurture my passion for authentic representation, and even when I was going through this identity crisis I knew something about myself, I knew just how deep my confusion about my gender identity and myself was.
I also knew that this was birthed from this need to find myself in things – as a queer writer, there was not much of a pool to dive in to find the experiences of young, Black openly femme gay boys* at the time, and to add salt to the wound, should you add nonbinary to the mix, the list becomes shorter, and even shorter when you add the issue of my background and my battle with depression and all my trauma.
It seemed very simple that as a writer, you did not have to go that deep to find a place to belong as there are so many writers out there and you need not even have to question their gender, sexuality, and race. That was a compromise I was willing to make, to silence the other parts that formed my identity, in order to fit into a wider pool of people. I was prepared to erase parts of me.
My life has been engulfed by this new change in my life – like getting a new job that is basically a step into what could possibly be my dream job and a move-up in terms of what I have envisioned to be a career for me. I have also moved into a new place very far away from home, so that has also been something to adapt to, to live with and sort of attempt to plan my life around. It is an exciting time in my life. I am accepting this change, and I am very welcoming of any other positive energies that arise from it.