Struggling with Pride

Having realised that I am queer last year, I am struggling with Pride Month this year. Is being queer something to take pride in?

I’m not ashamed of it in the least! Being queer is an essential part of me, like the color of my eyes or the way I thrive when I am outside in the sunshine. But I don’t take pride in being grey eyed or phototropic. Those attributes and many others add up to the whole me.

Queer is a label for one attribute of my self. Recognising the label last year didn’t fundamentally change me. I have been queer all along.

To be honest, having a label makes it hard to be honest about it sometimes. The label puts me in a box and makes it more challenging to talk about the nuances of my experience specifically. I can barely talk cohesively about it in English and my Japanese is simply not up to the task of discussing this at all. Plus, the politics of gender and sexuality go way over my head most of the time.

Fortunately, my gender identity and sexual preferences are mostly irrelevant to the people I know and the things that I do. Am I a queer artist, queer neighbor, queer yoga teacher? Well, yeah, but no. I am an artist, a neighbor, a yoga teacher. Same as always.

I am queer but it isn’t my identity.

As if the broad label of queer weren’t complicated enough, if I dive in deeper and point at flags that represent some of my specific preferences, then I am labeling myself into those groups, too. Nothing wrong with them at all but I am not a flag-carrying member, despite having designed a Q flag last year.

It was a revelation when I acknowledged my life as one with queer experiences all the way through. Sort of like getting a diagnosis for my heart condition, or finally feeling free to call myself an artist. It expanded my self-awareness, but at the same time became a new thing to manage in my mental space and to live up to in my physical world: make art; take my meds; and carry on as always.

I am proud of myself for all the things I do, the thoughts I think, and the way I interact with the world. The individual labels and attributes are threads in the tapestry of my life and its hard to be proud of any of them individually.

That said, I will defend and support my LGBTQ+ fellows. Be proud. Be yourself. Let’s stand together against injustices and help the world to understand that we are all humans in this life together.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.