For those who are unaware, I’m gay. Very gay, proudly gay, and vers gay — but I was not always privy to that information.
Sexuality is confusing for everyone, especially for queers living in a heterosexual and largely homophobic society, so things were not always so clear.
Because of this lack of clarity I have a trail, a trail of queer breadcrumbs.
So, to lighten the mood of this awful month, I’ve decided to share some of my queer breadcrumbs to give my fellow queers some laughs, and possibly help others connect the dots.
As I’m sure many queer readers can relate, there are those “oh of course I’m queer, I loved X, Y, and Z” realizations as we grow into adulthood.
My first clue came in first grade, while I was running home through the bamboo forest to make sure I didn’t miss “Sailor Moon.” Sailor Jupiter taught me never to back down from a fight and to defend the ones you love, Sailor Mercury instilled my love for academia and books, and Sailor Uranus is why I’m non-binary. They were one half successful masculine race car driver and high achieving student, the other half? Fierce, beautiful, and passionate in not only in their conviction as a Sailor Scout, but in their love for Sailor Neptune. Uranus’ gender bending and coded queerness – in the North American version I watched, at least – spoke to me. I’m now just understanding what those words are.
The second was Deacon Frost from “Blade,” a vampire fighting the classist and purist system that only used him and never rewarded him. To the purebloods—heterosexuals—he, a convert, or queer, was not worthy of the same respect and power, and was lucky to have what he had. Yes, he was trying to dominate mankind and pulled a coup d’etat against the ruling vampire elite, but he had good reasons. Frost’s plight was no different than every openly queer high schooler and every organization advocating for queer rights, they all and we all just wanted the respect and equality that we’re entitled to.
There’s that scene in “Titanic” wherein Rose tells Caledon that she’d rather be Jack’s whore than his wife. I don’t know why, but that definitely made me gay – and so did the outfit she wore while attempting to end her life.
The glitz, glam, and dancing of “Showgirls,” a film that a seven year old me watched while the adults were sleeping, impacted me immensely. To this very day my mom likes to remind me of the time she caught me watching while I tried to perfect my bead toss and dance routine. I didn’t want these beautiful and fabulous women I saw on screen, I wanted to be them. Nomi Malone’s red lipstick and curly hair unlocked something in me that still makes me swell with both happiness and comfort. Seven year old me loved to wear my mom’s panty hose, play with her make up, and dance around the house whenever a 90s dance bop came on the radio. “Showgirls” visualised the fantasy I was playing in my head: they were what I wanted to be, they were my Barbies come to life.
When I was eleven, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out, and despite the growing signs that I was different, I was still very much in the dark. Ron Weasley made me extremely frustrated. A fiery passion engulfed me and I could not place it: why was my breathing tense and my chest tight?
Well, as it turns out, eleven year old me was just super horny for a red-headed Gryffindor.
When a friend asked me why I was attracted to Ron when Sirius Black was in front me, my response was that because Lana Del Rey hadn’t released music yet and I didn’t know I liked daddies.
My obsession with making and wearing flower crowns while helping my grandparents in the garden was another early sign that I was queer. My grandparents always knew I was a queer, and it was celebrated in their own Oregonian way. They got me Barbies for my birthday. My gardening gloves were always pink, and whenever queer people we’re discussed in front of me, it was always a conversation that came from a place of love and respect.
When my uncle Matt said “boys don’t play with dolls,” my grandma Violet told him to “shut the fuck up or leave.”
She was always a little spicy after a double scotch.
When I officially came out to them all when I was 19 all I got was a smile, a hug, and of course “I/we always knew.” Despite all of my family’s faults, homophobia was never one of them. Their acceptance did not make me gay, it just made it easier, and for that I’ll always be thankful.
So what does this all mean? What’s the big picture in all of this?
Well, Queer youth identify with the outlier, the bad guy, the woman who’s fallen from grace. Why do we identify with those who normally we’d be told to stay away from?
Because we’re marginalized.
We are the villains in our society, though we often see ourselves as the heroes. We aren’t allowed to see ourselves in the protagonist, only the antagonist– we’re relegated to the shocking and grotesque.
Thankfully our society is progressing to a healthier, safer, and accepting one for our Queer youth and we’re starting to see more of ourselves on screens and billboards. However we still love the macabre, the outcast and misunderstood.
Being true to yourself—a pillar of queer culture—means never forgetting your roots.