An Exploration of Queerness

Queer is nebulous. It’s ambiguous and indeterminate and murky. While human nature outlines our need to define, categorize, and solve the unsolved, the beauty of queerness is in its openness; it’s a term to make your own. What it means to each person becomes a personal act of self-definition.

While it may be an umbrella term for some, it’s very specific for others. To me, being queer means my sexuality is not fixed; it can evolve and fluctuate as I evolve. I distinctly remember sitting in my parked car, staring into the fold-down mirror, stating matter-of-factly that I was gay. Coming out to myself was by far the biggest coming out. But looking into that mirror, I realized there was more.

This sentiment of queerness didn’t stop at sexuality; it crossed over to mindset. In my eyes, queerness is a way of living and thinking more so than a label for identity. Being queer is about embracing gray areas, committing to change beyond the realm of my own individuality. Living as queerly as possible means seeing the world without heteronormative assumptions about the relationship of two people walking down the street together, about their genders, about my gender, or about how I need to look and talk and love and live.

To me, queer is a self-proclaimed label declaring unity with others who are mindfully transgressive in relation to gender and orientation. While I identify as lesbian, I live in a world that transcends binary gender boxes, and so ‘lesbian’ isn’t powerful enough to cover the way I see the world.

The first step to coming out was realizing that I don’t, and never have, (see ‘refusing to wear everything but tractor pajamas for the majority of my childhood’) seen the world through straight eyes; I see the world through queer eyes. I do still identify as lesbian, but that doesn’t usurp queer identity; it’s only a slightly more specific addition. Identities consist of so many elements that to generalize people on the basis of one shared characteristic is wrong. Instead, queerness proposes that we deliberately challenge all notions of fixed identity in unpredictable ways.

As I found queer writers, artists, and creatorsseeing other queer visions all around meI couldn’t help but feel reassured; Reassured that there was a space where I didn’t have to conform to the heteronormative mold. We can take the big namesAudre Lorde, for instance, who dauntlessly claimed and fought for her ‘otherness’ day in and day out. Or the notable ex-Disney star, Miley Cyrus, who came out as genderfluid in 2015. As such a bold and shameless icon in today’s media, many seek comfort in seeing her queer visions, her contributions to this non-heteronormative haven.

But, of course, there’s also queerness in abstaining from all labels, including ‘queer.’ Take Ilana Glazer’s character, Ilana, in Broad City. I tried recalling the moment(s) when she came out or commented on her gender or sexual orientation. But she never does; She never has to. She’s just Ilana, and that’s enough. As much as it might ease someone to see a public figure announce their queerness, there’s some peace of mind seeing a character like Ilana lack labels. She is intrepidly undefinable.

‘Queer’ gives the space to explore gender and sexuality. It’s not just for homosexuals; it’s for non-heterosexuals. It’s not just for transgender people; it’s for non-cisgender individuals. It accepts all degrees of not-normalness, because, by definition, it’s for those who deviate from the norm; for those who see the world through unconventional eyes.

By Avery Adams

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