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Issue 17 Out Now

In Real Life


CHANTAL REGNAULT, CARSTEN WINDHORST

Since middle school, I have been drawn to social media spaces searching for people to relate to my experiences. Finding places online where other black queer people existed loudly was hard. When I discovered that space, I enjoyed hearing people like me who weren’t around me in real life. My addiction to social media came from the escape it gave from reality, and the many different ways it allowed me to express and present myself. Expressing myself through music, pictures, poems, and poorly put together mood boards. Being able to express myself online was critical to my survival. I never allowed myself to present some aspects of who I am to family members or certain friends throughout life. The comfort that the online world brought me in my early years of sexual orientation and gender self-discovery was easily favorable to the real world. Helping me to figure out how I want to present myself in all spaces that I exist in. For 18 years of my life, I presented myself to my family and friends as a cisgender hetero man. To a select few I was a gay black male with a bad Lana Del Rey phase. In those 18 years, I repressed myself to blend in to my environment and adapt myself to who I was “supposed” to be. I decided to say what anyone wanted to hear about my sexuality and gender and not to talk about it further. I mainly hoped to avoid the backlash of non-accepting parents, as I have before. Through time spent in online spaces for black queer folk, I came across the word “nonbinary”. It was a beautiful moment to look at people like me who don’t fit the white androgynous looks of being nonbinary. It allowed me to see myself in a new light. Seeing other people I related to in a social space so large allowed me to feel like myself. It helped me come to realizations about my gender and finally see how I exist in the world. Being nonbinary to me is no longer existing for others. Writers who experience pain from repressed sexuality and emotions like Zora Neale Hurston once said “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it” I no longer want to hurt myself just to be silent and shrink for others to perceive me. The hardest part of this self-discovery is that everyone does not see me the way I see me and they probably never will. Online I am respected as a nonbinary person with They/Them pronouns and feel comfortable in myself and who I am. In my everyday life, I’m constantly misgendered by friends, family members, strangers who don’t know me, and white people who speculate on me. The real world reinforces the binaries that I was born into hindering my growth and exploration. Every day that I’m called “Sir”, “He”, “Him” stops me from seeing myself the way that I want and deserve to exist. Paris Is Burning Documentary Resources Lindores, Mark. “Voguing: A Brief History of the Ballroom.” Mixmag, Mixmag, 10 Oct. 2018, mixmag.net/feature/a-brief-history-of-voguing.


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