Growing up queer

Posted for a friend:

My journey of self discovery as a queer person has been slow and arduous, hobbled by the shame and guilt drilled into all of us who grew up on the Hof. Bodies, sexual interest, exploring one’s self, I remember all of those things being taboo. Either completely ignored, or villainized. It took me years of mentally and physically punishing myself for having urges, or daring to act on them, before I could outrun all of that guilt, all of that shame. And I only experienced it for a relative few years of my life. But now that I’ve left all of that behind me, now that my brain has developed, now that I’ve left any semblance of organized religion in my past, I’ve been able, over the past 5 years, to figure out who I actually am. And wonderfully, I’ve learned that who I am is who I’m made to be, and that I’m worth loving.

I think I came to this place by very deliberately and very thoroughly pruning away what I grew up believing, one poisonous branch at a time. First went the belief that sexuality is something to fear. Then went the conviction that only married people should share their bodies. Then off came the gnarly, prickly branch that said that anything other than man and woman was abhorrent. I spent several years exploring my gender identity and expression, and finally managed to unwind the binary vine that was choking me to death. Ultimately, I established for myself that my body reflects my mind, but I freed myself in that process to grow and develop and evolve, which is what people do all through their lives.

Here I am, now, nearly 20 years gone from the Bruderhof, and finally able to love and accept myself for who I am: a queer woman, capable of loving people of any and all gender identities and expressions, choosing to share my life with a wonderful woman, leaving ourselves open to loving others as well. Here I am, able to demonstrate to my child that there is no “normal,” there is no “right way” to be a person, there is no “good” way to love. I don’t believe in God or gods. I don’t believe in souls. I don’t believe in any myths or mysticism. But love, in every expression, is sacred to me. Love is holy to me. Sharing your life, your heart, your hopes and fears and flaws and failures, cherishing those of others, that is love, and that is more powerful and meaningful to me than any sermon or scripture. So I’ve crawled out of a place of shame and self-loathing, and discovered that I can love myself, and out of that, I can love others infinitely.

It is painful, it is a huge challenge, it is exhausting to escape what was inflicted on us as children. It takes years, or decades, or a lifetime to leave those burdens behind, and to replace them with the things that you want to carry. But it is possible, and it is so worth the struggle.


4 Replies to “Growing up queer”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey of discarding the old that was keeping you chained. I is wonderful to know, even though I do not know who you are, that you are now fully who you where meant to be, that you can love yourself and others.

  2. It would take a huge amount of courage and inner resources to manage the complexity and confusion of being different than not only what was / is “allowed,” but that is acknowledged to even exist (!) Congratulations. I’m so glad a child is sharing that joy and achievement with you, and you with them.

  3. If a person holds an ID – let’s say from from Washington DC so it is not state recognized, it is actually federally-issued (which has generally carried more weight throughout the US’ history i.e. abolishing slavery, reunifying the north and south, and the Civil Rights Act as examples of federal authority ‘trumping’ state’s preference.)

    If I had my gender marked as X, it is protected by law. And if I wanted to access housing, and was denied it based on my legally protected gender of X (DC does issue an X gender as a third option to M or F), that would be illegal discrimination as legislated by Fair Housing laws.

    If an organization holds 501c3 non profit status, they are required to comply with Fair Housing Laws, or can lose that tax status which saves them *a lot* of money (it’s also a status from which political support cannot [legally] be issued – in the form of monetary contributions certainly.) Think about the Bruderhof in that context. Would they respond equally / allow membership (which includes, necessarily, access to housing besides employment, healthcare etc) to someone with gender X? If not, and we all know they don’t, that means they are violating Fair Housing laws, discriminating based on a protected status (gender or “sex”) and are in violation of federal and state laws, and in the provisions of their obligations as a 501c3

  4. I should add. I personally experience that with my family. I wish they’d just admit their homophobia, transphobia, elitism, desire to control + dictate. But they won’t. Like the Bruderhof. As I’m drawn to ostensibly kind, generous and certainly fairly intelligent partners – I was drawn to the Bruderhof. I waited until 1 hour until I could leave (not that they made it easy) to make it *perfectly* clear that I “saw” them. It was slightly frightening, but not nearly as verboten as leaving children – abuse victims – and women – abuse victims, and abusers themselves – without someone to say that THEY were seen.

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