C.Q., 23, He/Him/His

How did you come out to your parents? How was the coming out process?

I came out to my mother one night after a homecoming football game I attended. My mother didn’t attend the game, but a friend of hers spotted me and shared her disapproval, telling me she’d pray for me. I returned home from the game to see my mother on the phone, angry and frustrated. The call was from the disapproving friend at the game. I overheard her saying that she saw me looking “very feminine” and that my mother must “watch and pray” for me and wondered if I might be gay.

My mother responded very angrily and told the woman to mind her business. The next thing I know my mother is looking up at me and asks, “Well, are you..... are you gay?” I responded, “Well, yeah. ”Since even before high school I’ve been participating in performing arts. Makeup, hair, and costumes were all a part of my childhood. However, all of my schooling up until high school was uniformed, so nobody ever knew my personal sense of style. When high school came along, it was my first chance to become myself, appearance-wise, so out came the skinny jeans, tight tees, and occasional boots. My mother never questioned my gender identity, nor my preferred gender. She was so used to seeing her boy performing and dressing up that she never noticed it was actually something that was becoming not merely a costume, but my life.

How did things change after you came out?

After the night of coming out to my mother, everything changed. I felt as if I could tell her everything and that I didn’t possess the feeling of being suffocated or trapped anymore. After I came out to her, that same night she was asking me a million questions that I was more than happy to answer. “So are you the guy or the... more feminine one in a relationship?’ “How do you have sex?” “Have you had sex?” “Do you have someone in New York?” I was so excited to answer everything and I did in great detail. The night that I came out was over a year ago. Now, I see that my mom has become more supportive and interested in my life more than ever before; it’s the best feeling in the world.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

If I could go back to my younger self, I would explain that I shouldn’t be afraid to be me. To never hide or hold anything back. That I should take chances and not ever be afraid of the judgmental beings of the world. I would tell myself, “You have the power to create positive energy, and a problem is something that only YOU can create. Life isn’t supposed to be made up of problems and stress. It should be simple.”

However, I’m beyond appreciative of how far I’ve come with all of the struggles that were—and still are—presented to me. Without the obstacles I’ve had to overcome, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Of course, no one should have to go through bullying or a hard time to feel a sense of self-worth at the end of it all. But I do believe that you should push yourself past your pain or your unwanted circumstances, and strive to be great at whatever you feel in your heart you want to do.

How do the media’s images of queerness relate to your own life? Do you see yourself in the media’s visions of queerness?

The media, I feel, is only interested in one or two sides of the queer spectrum. One is the gaudy side that consists of drag, sex, and parties covered in glitter and unicorns. The other is the portrayal of gentle or safe queer individuals who are always busy kissing and cuddling, all while trying to live a peaceful life that appears close to a heteronormative one. Both are great targets for brands to use and exploit commercially whether they are in support of them or not.

Personally, I see that the media does care about working pedestrians like myself who just happen to identify as queer. But I also feel that queer depictions have been played safe for the most part. Where are the androgynous professionals? Because they do exist. I feel that we belong to a niche group of individuals that focuses on multiple orientations at once. When I go to work, I would say that I have a uniform, but it also consists of heels and a bag. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I work in fashion. I do see a slight improvement happening in the media’s representation of people like me, but I would still love to see more androgynous direction.