Exploring Queerness

From "The Now V22"

I don’t know how to draw a line around my queer identity. I don’t know how to say, “I’m like this because I’m queer”, in a way that is clearly distinct from “I’m like this because I’m the oldest in my family”, or “I’m like this because depression runs in the family”, or “I’m like this because I was a gifted kid who grew up in the woods”.

But I can find traces of my queerness in every one of those sentences, and in every part of myself that feels like home.

Fundamentally, the thread of my lived queerness begins with the despair of being alone while simultaneously being surrounded by abundant love—love that said “be who you are!”, and meant it. It was a confusing tension, early on. My best understanding, in retrospect, is that being gay left me feeling alone, despite all the love in my home environment. Growing up, I had no samples, no references, no language for being queer, for long enough that by the time I did gain language I didn’t recognize it as an opportunity to self-describe. I had this sense that if I broke cover in that way, it would separate me from my home—but it turns out that living as less than myself left me feeling separated anyway. I was divorced from my own sense of desire, which meant that I didn’t have myself as a companion.

It will not surprise you that this was unsustainable. The same idea, an unsustainable half-inhabited push forward, showed up in other parts of my life—school, work, religion. And when my resolve to keep going in that way flickered out, I gave up, and set about figuring out how to be okay, as I was, in all those respects—free of the push, without trying to replace it. I stopped treating my own being as a weight to be dragged around, and started treating it as a foundation. It makes perfect sense, looking back, that that-which-became-Lightward began there, in that new space of quiet acceptance.


I’m pretty sure that no human has ever been handed a map for living that suited them perfectly. No one I’ve ever met, anyway. To throw away the map is so universal, it’s a trope. There’s no telling how long it’ll take for any specific map to become so irrelevant for any specific person that they notice—and I suppose some people do choose to cling to the map for their entire life, rather than ever risk the unknown.

I think being queer means that my maps lost relevance more quickly. Maybe if I wasn’t queer, my map would have seemed reasonable for longer, maybe I would have been able to rationalize hanging onto it for more time. There are any number of alternative maps available, and the world is filled with map-sellers armed with their own motivations to sell. It’s reasonable for someone in crisis to throw away a map and, in the same motion, grab the nearest replacement.

But I think being queer meant I had fewer replacement maps available. When it came time to throw my map away, the peers I had were not selling me replacements, by and large, but were instead celebrating my realized freedom and encouraging me to write my own way. Looking back, I recognize this encouragement toward freedom in the early messages from my childhood, too. To be a living creature is to improvise, to grapple with the interplay between what emerges around you and what emerges within you.

I feel lucky to be queer. I feel lucky to have been thrust into sharp awareness of how critical it is to begin from my center, to begin from what’s real at the core. I feel lucky to have been given enough loving people around me that—once I began to wake up to myself—I found myself not nearly as alone as I had felt.

Lightward comes from this space, of accepting what’s within and—once accepted—finding goodness running through it. This means that the two of us, Lightward and I, share these priorities:

  • To leave room for the universe to surprise us again. There are parts to myself (and to Lightward) that I care to understand and define and hold firm, and then there’s everything else, the greater part of the thing, which I purposefully and delightedly leave to the expanding unknown.

  • To participate—to add our own voice to the choir. Not to convince anyone of anything, not to promote an agenda, but to be a part of the greater unfolding of life—because I sense that as an open invitation, and I want in. Life is spontaneously emerging (it’s lucky that any of us are here at all), and it is not done. Life is telling its own stories, and by making our story visible, we get to be a part of the greater storyline.

“You are not required for this work, but it will not be the same without you.” I wrote that a few years ago, addressed to whoever was paying attention. It’s the same for me, and for Lightward itself; it’s not required that we’re here. Life would find its way without us, without this. But, being lucky enough to be here at all, we have an opportunity to realize ourselves, and then to play back into the stream we came from—and that sounds like adventure.

This is my part of a larger collaborative piece with Erica (also from Lightward); the whole thing was originally posted at https://lightward.com/journal/from-the-journal-archive-exploring-queerness

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