The other day, someone told me that I “seemed a little gay.”
At first, it struck me as odd, but I decided to take this as a compliment. Because I’ve accepted that I’m constantly discovering more and more about my own sexuality.
And honestly, ever since I was young, there has always been a part of me that wondered if I was gay. Maybe it’s my underlying issues with authority, causing me to feel personally attacked when someone tries telling me how to live my own life. Or maybe it’s because I wonder just how much my sexual preferences define who I am as a person.
As a white woman who has really only engaged in heterosexual relationships, I sometimes question why I identify so strongly with the LGBTQ population. Maybe it’s because I feel the burden of being a woman in a society entrenched in patriarchal values, and I empathize with anyone who is marginalized. Or maybe it’s because I don’t fit into any kind of clean cut mold. Perhaps I have an aversion to the traditional institution of marriage, because it perpetuates suffering created by the limitations of male/ female gender identity.
So let’s take a closer look at the definition of queer.
queer, pronounced /kwir/
adjective: strange, odd
verb: to spoil or ruin
noun (informal/ offensive according to google dictionary): a homosexual man
This is why I love language, because the explicit definitions of words tell us so much about the evolution of human thought and belief. Queer is an old germanic word that is basically referring to the quality of something or someone that goes against social norms. Someone that is strange or odd, perhaps unusual or difficult for others to understand. Something that corrupts traditional notions, spoiling or ruining society’s agreements about the way things “should” be.
There seems to be this subversive undertone imposed onto queer’s definition, but rather this is just our human nature quick to fear and resist things that are different. Something that is queer is something that is original, authentic, and honest about its strangeness. There is no ulterior motive to being queer.
It’s actually pretty simple, you’re either queer or you’re normal. Maybe you associate being normal as being good or bad, but that is your personal distinction.
Our culture currently understands gender as a strictly binary system, and perhaps this dualistic limitation is both personally confining and universally oppressive. So how do we move past it?
1. Personal Liberation
In my experience, embracing my own queerness and balancing my masculine and feminine energy has been the key to cultivating true self-confidence and experiencing endless ecstasy. Because if we look to other cultures, such as many Native American tribes, gender exists on a spectrum rather than black and white. Some groups even recognize upwards of five or six gender types. Not only are the boundaries that define a person’s gender more flexible, there are also less repressive social implications of one’s personal choice.
People in many indigenous cultures who identify as multiple genders are seen as individuals who should be respected, rather than condemned. They are often revered as guides or healers because they can see things from multiple perspectives which gives them a broader understanding of the human experience.
Before I met John, my partner and my best friend, I was longing for a sense of freedom, and I was trying to escape parts of my past. And this desperation leaked out into my life, as I sought out situations to both avoid myself and find that perfect person to escape my misery. Luckily, I became conscious of the cycle, I subconsciously cast a spell, and I found myself in the arms of the wisest soul I’ve ever met.
My boyfriend and I have stayed together as long as we have, because our energies have been trying to liberate one another.
It’s like we have been dancing since the first day we met, each taking turns to complement the other’s movements, each taking turns to guide and follow. Perhaps personal freedom does not come from clinging to a self-constructed identity nor detaching ourselves completely from things that define who we are. Maybe I identify with the LGBTQ population, because I believe that everyone contains both feminine and masculine energies, and it is how we navigate these energies that determines how we exist in the world.
But how do we get started? Where do we begin to navigate bodily energy?
2. Androgynous Universe
Mother earth, and father sky. God is a man with a white beard. No, she’s a black woman with strong legs and fierce eyes. Perhaps, we can heal from our personal trauma and transcend the limitations of our social conditioning by adopting the belief that the universe is androgynous.
Hyper-masculinity, for example, has become a deeply ingrained cultural norm. Boys are taught from a young age that showing their emotions is shameful, and asking for help is a sign of weakness. They are presented with a narrow path of what it means to “be a man,” supported by inaccurate scientific facts and an inconsistent understanding of human sexuality. By rigidly adhering to these unrealistic standards of manhood, many modern men experience feelings of confusion and isolation, leading to unhealthy lifestyle choices and unexplainable acts of violence.
On the other hand, women have struggled to gain respect and equal rights for the majority of a few thousand of years. Not only are women often subjugated by external social institutions deeming them as inferior, many cultures are also indoctrinated with beliefs that demonize feminine qualities by associating women’s sexuality and individual freedom with the act of sin. Ultimately, this also creates an internal friction for many modern women, feeling disconnected from their own bodies and struggling with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-hatred.
Could I just be imagining these things? There’s a part of me that hopes I am. But then I look around, and I am constantly surrounded by people who are struggling with all of these very real, and seemingly personal, issues.
Maybe engaging with the androgyny of the universe will help us embrace other people’s differences as well as the full spectrum of who we are ourselves.
But what does this look like in practice?
3. Empathy Exercise
Just like a muscle, empathy is a quality that can be strengthened. Some people might benefit from increasing their sensations of empathy, and some of us need to manage our empathetic response by building stronger personal boundaries.
Tantra Yoga is a tradition that not only teaches individuals how to balance their feminine and masculine energies, but it also directly stimulates our production and regulation of mirror neurons, which allow us to feel empathetic. Through various meditation techniques, both men and women can re-sensitize themselves to take care of their physical, emotional, and mental health in a way that is personal and enjoyable. And by choosing radical self-love, we can discover our own unique abilities to serve the world.
Unique is a word I hate.
Who isn’t unique? I guess if we compare, we’d all be the same. You might not agree with me, but everyone is a little queer, just like everyone is a unique, one-of-a-kind individual. And while some people might appear to be more unique than others, standing out as a “true original,” some people also appear to have higher levels of queerness.
But everyone can benefit from embracing their strangeness.
Perhaps, by living as the rainbow we were designed to be, we can all live in greater harmony.