College student. Nervous young man. Queer trans guy. Absent-minded, socially-inept weirdo with terrible pack-rat tendencies. Thinker, not much of a doer. Insomniac. I welcome emails. But if you see me around, like at Homo/Sonic or browsing a bookstore, feel free to say hello (though I'll tell you now that I am VERY shy).
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I am pretty fresh and sheltered when it comes to the history and realities of HIV/AIDS in our community; I wasn’t born until the early 90’s, have almost always lived in suburbia, and have never known anyone who has HIV/AIDs, let alone died from it. According to Larry Kramer, that puts me in the league of the lazy, uneducated gays of my generation by default (after he admonishes me for calling myself queer). However, I strive to be neither purposefully ignorant nor excessively fearful.
Now, this not to say that all Orthodox kids are sheltered and completely aware of LGBTQ identities, because that’s certainly not true. Actually, my two best and most accepting friends on campus happens to be a straight, cisgender Orthodox guy and his girlfriend. Yet, on the whole, it hasn’t been a pretty picture. There are people who have known me for almost a year, have heard people refer to me as “he” or as a guy, but still call me “she” or include me in statements such as “we have x number of girls right now”.
There is this intense feeling of numbness and exhaustion in the days following a horrific event in a family (or family-like circle of friends,) especially when one hasn’t really been sleeping anyway. The headache that I had for a week probably wasn’t helping to cure the numbness and exhaustion either.
The fact of the matter is that I haven’t had chest surgery and probably won’t be able to for at least 3 or 5 years. Try as I might with layering, binding, etc… the chest exists. I can cover it up as best as I can, but I am hyper-aware that they can be felt when someone hugs me… or at least that’s what I worry. I also worry that it prevents the other person from really just thinking of me as just a guy with no adjective in front of that word (and no unwelcome flesh in front of me). Doesn’t matter who it is hugging me, the person could be queer, straight, cis, trans, whatever; it is always a concern in floating around in my head.
I know there are other “young adults” like me out there who are frustrated by this; I’ve talked to them before (yes, sometimes I do actually associate with my peers). When I was still at community college, I remember hearing at least one girl lament that she couldn’t find a lesbian bar that wasn’t 21+ where she could go and openly meet and dance with other queer women. Even when school is in session, you really feel the need to occasionally escape often-incestuous queer group of you college (sometimes you don’t want to make out with someone and have to see them in your Economics class on Monday). At least, Apex, for the mixed feelings people had about it, was actually a place where gay 18+ young adults could go hang out and dance (there was even a weekly free night for college students), but it has recently shut down. That pretty much leaves us up shit’s creek until something changes.
Trans people are very much at high risk for assault; the statistics are rather abysmal, to say the least. There’s reason to be vigilant. I’ve written before about crimes against trans people, ones in my area. It is nerve-wrecking even just to walk into a public restroom in a new place (in fact, I know some who just flat-out avoid unknown restrooms, even at their own health/comfort expense). Groups like the Pink Pistols arose because of real threats to the queer community.
This is not the Summer of Love (unless you’re offering to make it such); this is the Summer of My Netflix Account and DVR. In my adventures in screen-viewing, I have learned one basic tenant: You have to go through a lot of shit to find a gem. This is especially true when trying to find portrayals of trans and intersex characters that aren’t cringe-worthy or hollow two dimensional characters.
As someone who is quite new (and young in terms of age) to the queer and trans communities, one of the main pieces of advice I get from friends is that I really need to watch my back. But when they say that, they aren’t just talking about the homophobes, transphobes, and hometown bigots, those threats are well-known. No, what they are really trying to warn me about are the people WITHIN the community who prey upon others.
College can be a wonderful thing, the chance to experiment, explore, learn, and be open about ourselves. However, let’s not forget the fact that it doesn’t last year-round. Come May or June, most of us have to pack up and go back to our families and hometowns. Depending on where you’re from and your situation, that’s not exactly a good or exciting thing.
I attended my first wedding this past weekend, at the age of 20. Interesting to be new to the wedding scene at that age, an age where conflicting emotions about love and lust are raging inside of you; becoming an angry young man (or however you personally identify) and a gentle romantic, and switching between the two in a matter of minutes.