From the time we are prepubescent children the “birds and the bees” are taught to us by our parents, TV, churches, and occasionally our peers. I, myself, was asked if I was a virgin in the fourth grade, scoffed and said no… because I had no idea what a virgin was, but I certainly wasn’t one! Obviously, to my ten year old mind it had to be something bad. I went home and asked my mother what it was and she explained a few things to me. I hadn’t yet been exposed to the “birds and the bees” talks, but I knew where babies came from. I just didn’t have all the lingo down.
This story of mine is a perfect example of the trouble with not being exposed to things. And though we live in a society where sex is all around us, at ten years old I hadn’t completely been taught everything I needed to know because I didn’t need to know about it yet.
But the truth is that even throughout my entire public school education and the three years of required Health class throughout it, I wasn’t taught everything I needed to know about sex. I was taught the functionality of it and the reproduction side of it. But we were not taught about sexuality. I knew what it meant to be gay, and during my teen years, it was not an accepted thing by society. From what I understand though, Health education is starting to become more broad in the sense of teaching homosexuality, but there is still so much more that needs to be done.
The trouble is, is that homosexuality is not where the queer spectrum ends. And for many teens and young adults a health education system that has failed them causes a chasm between the reality of what and how they are suppose to feel and what they really do.
This is why online community sites like Tumblr and YouTube have so many LGBTQ+ users. It is places like these where the “misfits” come and find home. They find their identity. It is where I found mine. It is where I discovered, despite what I was taught, that I wasn’t alone in feeling attracted to women and that, that was okay. More so, it’s where I learned I wasn’t broken because I didn’t feel like a girl; I just felt human.
Unfortunately for me (and for so many others now in their thirties or older), both Tumblr and YouTube were not created until I was in college. Queer representation and exposure in mainstream media was very limited in my teen years, and though I was (and still am) a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my obsession with Tara and Willow’s relationship couldn’t be explained outwardly. “Because they’re kick-ass girl witches, that’s why!” I’d tell myself. But I knew it was more than that.
**[Trigger warning:] However, I was still left feeling confused as to why I didn’t think or feel like all my other girl friends. Sure, even if I didn’t like boys and I liked girls instead, I should still feel like a girl right? Why didn’t this label fit me the way it was suppose to? As far as I knew, science said there were men and women and that was how biology worked. I knew about asexual reproduction in plants and people born “wrong” because they had both male and female parts… but that was super rare and those people were broken. None of this fit me. Until I found the YouTube show Carmilla and the character of LaFontaine (played by Kaitlyn Alexander).**
[Disclaimer: Uneducated mind of my younger “I’m definitely not gay” self. These thoughts were never malicious, simply ignorant of reality due to the lack of exposure and fear of my own truth.]
This show was pivotal in my self discovery because it taught me the term “non-binary.” LaFontaine’s self discovery of being non-binary and what that meant for them was a subplot in Season One of Carmilla that I, and so many others watching, didn’t know we needed. Non-binary in the simplest of terms just means that you do not fit in the gender binary of 1) male or 2) female. Instead, those who identify this way (or other related terms like genderqueer or gender nonconforming) fall somewhere in the middle of that binary, which is known as the binary spectrum. And some, like the character of LaFontaine and the actor that plays them, use pronouns like “they/ them/ theirs,” as these pronouns more appropriately match their gender. Not she, not he; They. For myself, however, after much self education, found that though I do not necessarily fit into the female gender, “she/ her” pronouns do not bother me or feel wrong. At the same time, neither do “they/ them” or “he/ him.” Because of this distinction, I have come to find that I most closely identify as grey-gender and simply feel very “meh” about my gender in general. In other words, you can’t really mess up my pronouns… but it’s always important to ask!
It is through my self discovery process that ultimately led me to create Queer Quality. I realized that having LGBTQ+ representation was the key to helping queer teens and young adults figure out exactly who they are. And though platforms like Tumblr and YouTube do exist, the content that queer people may come across is not always safe and supportive. In fact, YouTube right now is facing huge criticism from the LGBTQ+ community after anti-queer ads have been showing up on LGBTQ+ YouTuber’s videos. But that’s a story (and rant) for another time.
So since this is Queer Quality’s first Pride month, I wanted to focus this month on highlighting lesser known sexual orientations and gender identities, that might not otherwise be even mentioned in mainstream media.
True Pride comes with positive representation and inclusivity within our own community, first. We love that we are seeing more gay and lesbian characters in TV and movies, but there are more than just those two identities. We want to highlight that.
This month, we will be featuring a segment called “Pride Talks” where we will be chatting with:
-YouTuber and Mindfulness teacher Alayna Fender, who identifies as bisexual.
-Actor, writer, and YouTuber Kaitlyn Alexander, who identifies as non-binary.
-YouTuber Damian Parker, better known as Damo, who identifies as homoromantic asexual.
And hopefully more. We have reached out to people to discuss being intersex, gender-queer and transgender. Our hope is that we will hear back from them before the month is over but maybe we will make “Pride Talks” something permanent. These are important conversations to have and the exposure to these identities and orientations are even more important for the queer community to know about.
If you like “Pride Talks” please let us know, we’ll make it a permanent feature. If you want to recommend an actor, writer, YouTuber, ANYONE to discuss their sexual orientation, gender identity, and the intersectionality they have PLEASE do not hesitate to shoot us a Tweet or email. We read every single one and we will get back to you.