Vincent, in his own words: “Lately, I identify as queer.
I choose that term because it feels more inclusive and allows me to connect with many other folks in the community going through vastly different experiences, but also because I believe it’s versatility is powerful. Queerness gives me the reigns of my own identity — rather than being defined for me by politics or other peoples perceptions. It’s something that always rests in my own hands, and can be molded to serve a better me at any time. Like a lot of folks in my generation (maybe), I feel a freedom in my queerdom, not unlike a talisman or amulet of sorts.
This image of power and even magic contained with queer identity is something I’ve carried with me since coming out as a teenager. Early on I was very taken with the Native American (My grandfather was born in the Navajo reservation) term Two-Spirit. I liked it immediately because it seemed to suit me. It allowed for how I could dream of myself as a mother, express myself with a softness and emotional intelligence, and also be comfortable in my body. I generally refrain from using words like masculine or feminine, because I don’t think they exist, and question their role in how we define ourselves. But in those limited terms, I have always connected with both, and feel incredibly blessed to be queer so that I can dance between them without any self-doubt.
Of course, the years I’ve spent “out”, could be measured in degrees of how comfortable I am in that very thing. It can be challenging to know if one’s limits are self-defined or made by society. Am I disinclined to wear a dress because it isn’t in me? Or is it out of fear? In those instances lately, I’ve been choosing to do it anyway and evaluate afterward. Charge into the fear, as my roommate puts it.
Queer as I am now, I first came out as gay, though not quite in the traditional (if coming out can be seen as traditional?) sense.
I was lucky enough for my parents to find some incriminating evidence (**cough** porn) on my laptop when I was about twelve, and so I was thankfully spared having to come out to my entire Christian family and church for that matter. Looking back, I can safely say it didn’t go well. Having to answer questions of faith and heaven and hell (neither of which I believe in) early on, was far from fun and nothing I would have chosen for myself. The upside was that going through it all relatively young, allowed me at seventeen to casually say to friends “oh yeah, this is my boyfriend so-and-so.” I trusted that they could fill in the blanks for themselves. I had no interest in self-identifying myself for anyone and still don’t to this day. But I make a point of being open about my life — which includes my relationships and even sexual experiences — at all times.
This is relatively easy I’d say in Portland, so I am extremely grateful for that, knowing that in most of the world this is not the case. Though it’s true, Portland very much still lacks in diversity in terms of color, I can’t really say I’ve lacked for a moment queer connection of all sorts. I moved here just two years ago (new years day 2015) and it’s the first time in my life that I struggle to think of one friend in my personal life that isn’t queer in some way. Which is surprising to me, given that I spent the last decade in San Francisco. I’m not sure why it is but Portland to me has held a welcome sign for me that no other city’s queer community has.
If I were to speak to my younger self, I would tell myself not to give too many fucks about what anyone else thinks, to follow my own path, make mistakes without fear and above all not to get too debilitated by comparing myself with other people’s successes.”