Navigating the Queer identity as an Ongoing Journey

By Brian Figueroa

LGBTQAI+ youth and adults are marginalized due to practices of assumption and a lack of cultural sensitivity fostering fear and mistrust in many spaces in which they navigate. Heteronormativity encourages practices of marginalizing folks who fall out of the realm of “normal” sexual, gender, marital, and reproductive conventions. Our LGBTQ+ communities have been historically and presently stigmatized as being at risk and othered. However, consistently, the community has been scapegoated as the ones who are the issue when in fact we are targets of fear projected onto humans who have the bravery to be their truest selves. While we are ostracized, humiliated, or ridiculed for identifying or expressing ourselves outside of heterosexuality or the gender binary, LGBTAI+ identities are reversely encouraged to exist in socially constructed heteronormative conventions. For example, gay men are flamboyant, men aren’t supposed to act like girls. The implicit and explicit pre-determination of one’s identity from birth has created a life-long journey of intersectional challenges for LGBTQAI+ folks to continuously push outside of that identity and justify our existence.

As we age, there’s no limit to the boundaries of our identities. The beauty of the LGBTQAI+ identity is that one’s identity has no limit. It can be so intersectional to the point where folks generate their own names, pronouns, fashion identity, and idealized version of what they see and feel as normal to them. The limitless nature of the LGBTQAI+ identity illuminate’s identities that have always existed and will continue to exist. The heroism of the varying LGBTQAI+ identities to take the step to exist allows so many folks to form communities of inclusivity and connection.

Progressively, education about the LGBTQAI+ identity has evolved in many ways. I think one of the most impactful is encouraging discourse around the separation of sexual orientation and gender. Sexuality is the emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to another person while gender is how a human identifies based on how they feel and perceive themselves, ultimately leading way for transgender and non-binary folks to be acknowledged. Here allows for this journey to be so expansive.

Our identity is internal, social, environmental, and physical. Our internal identity is based on how we feel and the sexual organs we have that dictates the predetermination of our sex/gender. Socially, our identities can be influenced by the people around us, cultures, their values and perspectives, etc. Environmentally, our identities are influenced by our neighborhoods, where we live, what we have access to, our opportunities and resources, etc. Physically, our identities include how we dress, how we appear, how we envision ourselves, and our external sex organs.

The LGBTQAI+ identity in itself is a life long journey. Our internal, social, environmental, and physical parts of our identity can easily become in question as our lives progress and circumstances change. Sometimes I feel like life challenges are so normalized as part of discussions in daily conversations, but one challenge not normalized is speaking of queer sexuality and gender identities. I constantly feel a struggle to speak on my challenges around this as a person who has mainly straight female friends. This brings up the importance of community and surrounding yourself with a diverse community where you can see yourself in other people. Queer people are commonly battling these discussions and unspoken role of educators alone in spaces. As I’m getting older, I notice my journey of sexuality and gender expanding, opening up questioning of what I was taught, what fears were projected on me, challenging the clothing I wear, identifying with terminology that helps me communicate my identity, etc. As liberating as this may seem, it’s so challenging to sit with our expanding identities, questioning ourselves, and dealing with our fears and discomfort of what hasn’t been normalized. Nonetheless, we have to battle and normalize it for ourselves as our experience.

The LGBTQAI+ identity and its evolution has made limitless opportunities to continue to reinvent and work closer to our authentic selves. That is one of the most liberating opportunities of growth, but it can also be the most terrifying. To embark on the ongoing journey of the Queer identity means being willing to show up bravely without consent and continuously be tolerated, under scrutiny, and breaking invisible boundaries in spaces where sometimes we are the only one present. If you’d like a safe space to process LGBTQAI+ challenges, let’s set up an appointment to meet!