The Queer Elephant In The Room

AdobeStock_94910634.jpegI get the happy chance to go on vacation in two weeks with a bunch of people who don’t understand my identity. My partner’s extended family. It’s been eating at me for a little while. I’ve been stewing over whether the elephant in the room should be discussed. On one hand, I hate having to explain my personal gender identity and what it means to every single person who thinks they are entitled to the information, but don’t care to understand it. I hate that the society we’ve developed has bred a need for it. But on the other hand, I do want to help educate people on queer issues. 

My first reaction to my partner asking me what he should tell them was, “I’m genderqueer,” there shouldn’t be a need for more. If people are curious there is this wonderful thing called the internet and they can do research. There it was, put out there. Gray is genderqueer now, like it was some overnight revelation. The phrasing irritated me. I’ve called myself genderqueer for about four years now. Before that point I didn’t have a word for myself. It’s not a secret I write queer fiction, so it surprised me this was a sticking point. (I will add this is extended family we don’t see more than once or twice a year.)

I’ve always kind of been the ‘weird’ one, even among the LGBT members of my partner’s family. A point which has never bothered me. It was set for a little while, and then the questions started pouring in. They grated at me. But this, so many questions, from people I felt should be allies, and yet, I’ve found so little understanding. I think I’m a little skewed from the wonderful community I have online, where now I expect people to not only know what genderqueer means, but to also have an understanding of whats considered rude to ask a queer person.

Words like sex change, and trans got thrown around a lot in the group text messages, as well as Katlyn Jenner. A person I can’t stand to be associated with because of other comments she’s made about the queer community and gay rights. I felt like I was back at square one in a matter of days. Was I going to have to come out again? Was I going to be asked about my nail polish since I’m a guy? (This also drives me crazy as my cis partner and son paint their nails on occasion, but I have to over think it because I identify differently.) Was I going to have to give a big speech about what I am, field questions about genitals, which honestly, are no ones business I don’t care how you identify. It blows my mind people think it’s okay to ask about genitals of a queer person, or a trans person, when they would never dream of asking a cis person about such a thing. I couldn’t imagine going up to my cousin/aunt/brother/ and asking, ‘How’s your dick? Still have it? Planning on changing it?’

Now I am dreading the down time I was looking forward to this summer. I wanted to call the whole thing off. People are not my favorite thing as it is, and this hanging over me made it so much worse. I’ve pretty much always had an ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks attitude,’ with people. I explain as much as I feel comfortable with and they can either figure out the rest or live with me as I am. I’ve never dealt with a closer family type situation where they might feel like I owe them an explanation or might press for answer I don’t feel they are entitled too.

Wish me luck. 

Books by J.R. Gray

When not staying up all night writing, J.R. Gray can be found at the gym where it’s half assumed he is a permanent resident to fulfill his self-inflicted masochism. A dominant and a pilot, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. He frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns and conversations, to jot down notes or plot bunnies. Commas are the bane of his existence even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave. Although the idea of haunting has always appealed to him. J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns.


4 thoughts on “The Queer Elephant In The Room

  1. You know how in polite company one shouldn’t discuss politics or religion? I think we should extend that to issues of a person’s gender identity and sexuality. It matters only to you, your partner, and your son,no one else. If your close family and friends are on board, so much the better, but their approval or understanding would not influence how you’ve come to understand yourself, so distant family? Yeah? No. Maybe you can find a genderqueer definition up, include it along with an fyi section on manners, print it out, then hand it to people who ask. I do hope you can have a good time, but if you don’t, maybe you’ll need to rethink your participation, at least for the full two weeks, come next year. Good luck!

  2. Oh my gosh. I would dread that vacation too. I wish we lived in a society where the outside of a person didn’t matter as much as what’s on the inside and how they treated others. Well, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you can find something fun on the vacation. Good luck.

  3. Good luck with your vacation. People, especially family related suckered at the best of times. Take what you want and leave the rest.

  4. I don’t think people ask questions to be rude. To some, it’s just new territory. It gets confusing. Sometimes it hurts. My son dated his wife nine years before he married, They were married thirteen years, with two children, when she had a “journey of self discovery”, and ended the marriage to be with another woman. It required some ‘adjusting’, even if not total understanding. Someone I know, married with two children, now identifies as male. For people who don’t go through that, or don’t even fantasize about that lifestyle, it brings questions. You know who you are, but others didn’t go on that journey with you. I hope you were able to enjoy your vacation with your family despite the apprehension. Maybe everyone just enjoyed the time together and didn’t focus on the ‘elephant’. Just a bunch of individuals who are family. BeWhoYouAre:-)

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