Thursday, 31 January 2013

My Invisible Freak Flag

Last night during a post-dance class pub discussion on changing identity, I was made to think a lot about how my identity has changed over the years, Mostly, about how I see myself, and about how to world sees me.

The thing is, right now, when walking down the street, or passing through my daily life, I appear as the epitome of privilege. White, middle-class, heterosexual male. This realisation was a bit of a shocker for me. Other than the fact that I’m white, something I cannot change, none of the others are things that I have been, or appeared as, for my entire life. For most of my life, I've been - rather visibly, some sort of marginalised group. I've been a woman, I've been in poverty, I've been queer, I've been homosexual, I've been ‘alternative’. I've also spent most of my life trying to appear ‘normal’. And now that I do, it just feels weird. I've always felt like I had been born with a freak flag etched into my forehead, but I suppose that isn't true.

I think the most shocking of all, was the realisation that I’m pretty much straight these days. I could never say that I was completely heterosexual; I still find men attractive, and it is likely I will have sex with a man again at some point, but the truth of it is, is that I no longer have any interest in dating men. When walking down the street, I no longer find myself ‘checking out’ guys. I seem to be adopting more heteronormative behaviours and mannerisms. It’s all a bit alarming!

I still remember when I started dating women again some years ago. The ability to hold someone’s hand in public or kiss them, without the fear of having the shit kicked out of me was foreign, but exhilarating. I was then, and still am, aware of the privilege this gives me, and I hope beyond hope that in my lifetime, everyone will be able to experience that, regardless of who they are or who they love. I also never have to think twice about disclosing the gender of who I date when talking to new people, colleagues, etc. I have to admit, that most of the time I like this.

I think this sort of ties into some sort of ‘queer-invisibility’ issue. Despite my ‘normal-looking’ exterior, I still feel like an outsider, an ‘other’, a deviant. And I know that I am. I’m trans, I’m kinky, I’m poly. All of these things firmly put me in the ‘not normal’ camp, but I no longer present as that in public.

As someone last night pointed out, there is nothing wrong with all this. We ebb and flow, and change. Who knows, maybe some years down the line, I will be something completely different. But for now, I suppose I need to get used to the way the world views me, how that affects the way in which I move in the world, and how I can use that advantage to help others.

All the while, finding ways to still fly my freak-flag high.

1 comment:

lipsticklori said...

A fantastically thoughtful post. It's sometimes weird to be reminded what people will assume about us because of the way they 'read' us. That very rarely matches exactly to how we feel inside or the persona we really want to portray.

Perhaps there needs to be some kind of 'undercover freak' badge so that we can all recognise each other? :-)