I grew up in a small white, Heteronormative town where anything in conflict with that identity was seen as unusual and unwanted. Where people who looked like me were teased, mocked, and abused. Needless to say, as a Queer female of colour, I did not fit in.
I was raised Catholic where the seeds of disdain for anything Queer were planted early in my mind. I realised at around sixteen or seventeen that I was different to my peers and in the eyes of the Catholic church, there was something wrong with me and I was terrified of that. I, in turn, outwardly and aggressively rejected that mentality and consequently Catholicism and the hate it reinforced.
At home I led a secret life, as many of us have done. I struggled quietly with what my new found identity meant for me and my future. What it meant as a child and a sibling of those who could not understand or empathise with me. When I finally worked up the courage to come out to individual members of my family, their reactions were disheartening and my feelings surrounding them complicated. While I recognised I was more fortunate than others, death by a thousand cuts was painful life management. I was told that my choice to be queer was fashionable, that I would ruin the Holidays if I lived in my authenticity, that I had never demonstrated “gay” tendencies, and that my personal diary detailed eye-opening accounts into my private thoughts and experiences. I fought through the pain and betrayal of those moments and chose what seemed easier at the time… just be grateful. I would spend the next 11 years walking on eggshells, coming out over and over to the closed minds and ears of those I wanted only to love and accept me.
But I knew I needed to survive in the world outside of those doors. I utilized my unique experience as a racialized person to develop my moral compass and fight for what I knew was right. Racism provided me the tools I required to initiate my rebellion. My Catholic high school became ground zero for a budding activist; my shenanigans pushed the boundaries of nearly every educator as I challenged their narrow-minded ideals and perpetuated their bigotry. The sideways glances and disapproving glares were met with the sexual awakening of a curious and ferocious defender of all that was different in the world. At home I would hide my true colours but elsewhere I would make choices and take actions which fought the enthusiastic homophobia plaguing my external life. I fearfully faced my identity outwardly and publicly as best I could.
But living two lives is not without consequence. It takes its toll on your emotional state and affects the way you present yourself in the world. When I was 22, my first niece was born and I knew I could not keep up the charade. I would do everything in my power to love her unconditionally and show her that whoever she became would be celebrated by me. I made the promise that this world would be gentler and more tolerant for her no matter the cost. And then my second niece was born… this fight was no longer for me; it was for the future and health of our society and all of the littles out in the world who need positive Queer representation.
I swallowed my remaining fear and gave my family no choice but to accept the world as it was about to evolve. I actively used language that created discomfort which encouraged conversation. I consciously expressed compassion while issuing necessary ultimatums. For the future of my littles, Homophobia was no longer a viable retreat and I was hellbent on dismantling it and every ignorant viewpoint and expression that which accompanied. I used tact and leverage. I tapped into every resource I had to provoke antiquated mentalities and educated everyone within earshot. Queer was now an identity to be commended not concealed.
Though I continue to use my platform to deconstruct hate, I recognise and acknowledge that not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Neither my life nor my livelihood, as I understood it, were ever in immediate danger or at risk. I feel this an important detail for those curating their paths to Queerness. All we can do is our very best to make this world better for our future little ones and the Queer lives they may live.
Randi R ❤️