Queer was born out of rage. My rage.
When I was growing up, I remember being always extremely angry. I felt uncomfortable doing anything other teenagers were doing. I felt out of place.
I remember the crying. And, trust me, there were tons of it.
I recall the bullying. And, still, plenty of that happened.
As I sit here, trying to write the first piece for this new adventure, I look back at everything and it seems like I can touch some of those memories, and sensations, and incredibly deep feelings.
Don’t get me wrong. My life was fine. I had a wonderful loving family, great friends. I was going to school, doing sports in the afternoon, and living a normal peaceful existence. But, still, I could not find myself.
I was neither on tv nor on the radio. Nobody talked about me in the newspapers and at school, everybody avoids talking about it. Teachers were saying I was just overreacting to my classmates’ jokes. I was listening to words I don’t even dare repeat.
“They were joking. Don’t be so sensitive about it. It is always you who has a problem, maybe you can’t take a joke?”.
I couldn’t stop asking myself why.
Why was I the wrong one?
Why were my feelings so invalid for everybody?
Why was my existence, my way of living, my behavior, being denied in front of my eyes?
I felt impotent as if the world was slipping out of my hands.
And I was young, too young to handle that.
I remember the night that changed everything vividly. I cried so hard that I couldn’t breathe anymore. And then I stopped. No more tears were allowed. I vowed myself I would have changed. And I did. I am who I am. I love who I love. I refuse to give up my life because other people are unwilling to understand, to learn that there is not only one way of living, to respect LGBTQIA+ people. I demanded respect. And that is what I have done ever since then.
I don’t want your acceptance; I want your respect.
QUEER is this.
QUEER is the place where you will be represented. Here you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone: you exist, you are worth it.
QUEER will be hard to read sometimes because we will be honest. But you are ready to hear that honesty.
QUEER will be lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, pansexual, queer, non-binary, asexual, intersex, gender fluid, drag queens, crossdresser, demisexual, polysexual and beyond.
QUEER will respect you. It will respect how you feel, your sexual orientation, and gender identity and it will try so hard to make others respect you as well.
QUEER will fight for you. Your battles are our battle.
And here I am. Asking you to be kind to one another. Be cautious in the words you use.
Words are deadly weapons and we – as a society – have the duty to use the right words. There is nothing to laugh about in homophobic words. There is nothing funny about misgendering people.
It should not make anyone laugh. And we just feel a little bit more broken every time we hear that.
We deserve your respect. We deserve to walk on the sidewalks without being scared to be beaten to death. We deserve to go around holding hands without spiteful glances thrown at our way.
Each and every one of you is responsible for that.
Time is up.
And to anyone reading this: wherever you are in the world, whatever is happening around you, whoever is making fun of you right now for who you are, you will get through this.
Everything is going to be alright.
You will be successful. You will find a place to call home, a person to love, and an accepting environment.
You will be happy.
And I know it is hard. I have gone through that. And I fight every day. For you and for me.
But we can do it.
We are queer people. We have unbelievable strength. We dare to live every day as our true and authentic selves, despite the odds and the constant judgments and hostile societies.
I salute you all. I hug you tight. And I hold you in my heart in this fight we will win. We will be respected. But now, right now, it is the time of our fight.
“At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along
You think I’d crumble?
You think I’d lay down and die?
Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive
I will survive
It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart
And I spent oh, so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high and you see me
I will survive”
Gloria Gaynor – I will survive