Find Yourself in a Queer World

By 06/09/2021No Comments
Pride 2021 came to a quiet and sombre close in Nelson this weekend. With the reality of the pandemic, the queer community here took a considerate, low key and COVID-safe approach. The events were small, sparse and with an eye and hope for celebrations next year. But the queer community still found itself, albeit in a smaller humble way.
But pandemic itself loomed large over this Pride in other ways. Our personal reflection also had to compete with an endemic of partisan politics. Demonstrators under different flags chanted for respect, freedom and preservation of their privileges. Little room was left over for the positive examples we try and provide for our queer youth.
If that was not enough this summer our own federal MP voted against banning conversion therapy in Ottawa. Stating at the time that he wanted to protect the freedoms of grown adults to challenge and coerce queer youth during their formative years of self-realization. Having lived firsthand through such “voluntary” conversations with religious and family leaders this struck me as deeply naive. The pain and ostracization of such “voluntary” conversations actions reverberate through many of our lives to this day.

In the personally uncertain times that many queer youth experiences growing up, they are often inundated with immense pressures to conform from the adults in their community. It can be both a liberating and dangerous time depending on the voices that surround them. Projecting personal values as universal truths can come from both ends of the spectrum at great cost to these new adults.

So this is a message for them:

What is hard to recognize while growing up is how such well-meaning advocacy can be built on faulty premises or unrealized personal insecurities of adults. Much of it often amounts to nothing more than ingrained political agendas. Consequently, it bears saying, not everyone has your best interest at heart, even when they think they do.
The advice I wish someone had given me when I was young and impressionable was to ignore the adults more. To be secure in my feelings and to defend my self-interest. It’s right to be comfortable in your queer awkwardness and nonconformity. And you may grow to appreciate the powerful perspective it would give you as an adult.
In the face of all the agendas of the elders around you know that you can stand strong in your uncertainty. Youth is about being uncertain and trying on different experiences to see how they fit. So be open to new experiences but always be aware and protect your own best interests above all others. But be willing, at times, to help those around you who have been knocked down
Being queer will push you to work on your self-awareness in ways others will go their entire lives never doing. Age won’t measure this, you have to learn to recognize who’s put in the work and who’s faking it. But it can also force you to grow up so fast you find yourself in situations and with people you aren’t mentally or physically prepared for.
Through all this, remember that your queerness is your own, whether you come out to everyone or just those you have established deep trust. Either way caring for your emotional and intellectual health is just as important as your physical well-being. Because it is only when we reconcile the voices of our heart, body and mind do we begin to know who we are and who we want to become. Do not hurry the process, there is no destination to arrive at.
So celebrate your diversity in the ways you see fit, on the timeline you feel comfortable with, and with those you want around you.
You can adjust your course at any time, for any reason, just challenge yourself to reconcile your truth. And that too will change as you go forward.
Keith Page
Councillor – City of Nelson