As a kid I had no idea what being queer meant. What I did know, I learned on the playground in elementary school and that’s definitely not the queer I know now. After exploring and experiencing my sexuality for what it was, I was finally able to find out what being queer meant to me.
When I started figuring out my sexual identity, I thought I was completely straight or at least that’s what I thought I was supposed to be. I was raised in the Dominican Republic, which happens to be a staggeringly homophobic and patriarchal country. That sort of thing can really screw up your idea of what “normal” really is.
I went into middle school confused by my sexual identity. Like most kids my age, I lacked the information and resources needed to help me understand my feelings. That would have really come in handy as I worked through the maze of my sexual identity.
So, here is little ol’ me who thought I was straight. Then I started to get the idea that boys were just as interesting as girls. Liking boys made me think, “oh, I like boys! I must be gay!” That was literally the extent of my ten-year-old logic. I had no concept that bisexuality, queerness or sexual fluidity even existed. What 10-year-old did?
In the middle of 5th grade, I caught feelings for a girl. That brought me back to thinking I was straight, which led to several unfortunate years of heteronormativity. You would think, with so much back-and-forth, my little boy self would take a minute of introspection. Nope.
Eventually, in high school, I came up with my own sexuality: “If it looks good, fuck it.” Classic teenage Billy, always coming up with loopholes to navigate his sexuality. It was around then that I begin to understand the dynamic of sexuality and what being queer meant to me.
Figuring that out, it’s a freedom. Yes, I can tell you that sounds positively cheesy but that’s how it feels. I didn’t have a well-defined term that others would understand but I do now. Being queer is boundless. Because I’m queer as fuck, I can fuck whoever and however I want. I find that beautiful and slutty and fun.
I can choose how I define myself and my sexuality. Being queer allows me to navigate my own sexual desires without feeling conflicted. I can explore the layered complexities of myself that I never would have known existed, under the common sexually binary. Now, I can do what feels right and good.
As a man of color, there are a lot of strong ideas about how you should act. I grew up with misogynist Dominican men who taught me to cat call women and hate weakness. But, now that’s behind me. I am the real me. I have a raw soul that’s still untrained and malleable to change but I can finally let it be what it wants to be.
What does being queer mean to me? A whole lot. As I learn more about myself, I can tell that list is going to keep growing. Whatever I add next is just going to reaffirm why I love being a queer man of color.