In the past few months, I have had the privilege in participating in two new groups, the first being my women’s leadership course and the second being Hoshen, an LGBTQ group who does education and advocacy work with the general Israeli public. The first group has caused me to think about how my queerness has affected my womanhood, and second has made me question how it has affected me as a person.
I have a bunch of answers to this, ones I am constantly evaluating. In honor of *PRIDE*, I will share some with you, internet.
Being queer isn’t who I am, but it is a big part of me. Being gay has been the best gift this world could have given me, because it demanded that I be myself. My pre-knowing-I-was-gay phase was a hard one in many ways. I had a difficult time accepting a lot about myself. I hated my body. Sometimes I was kind of skinny, sometimes I wasn’t at all, but no matter my size, I spent most of my life feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Social pressure and personal pressure built up, and I would stare unhappily at myself in the mirror and wish I could just be a little more this and a little less that.
Coming to terms with my queerness allowed me to come to terms with my physical self. I realized that when I looked at a woman, I wasn’t looking at her boobs, her butt, her waistline or her face. Instead, I was looking at her, a person. There was a light bulb that went off one day: if I love other women for who they are, they probably feel the same way about me. More importantly, I should probably feel the same way about me. Throwing out my full-length mirror 5 years ago was the best present I have ever given myself. My body isn’t a series of parts, but a wholeness that allows me experience life fully.
Before I came to terms with my queerness, I was mad that I wasn’t girly. I used to secretly blame my mom for not teaching me to be more feminine, for not teaching me how to put on make up and wear high heels (PSA, my mom is the best). Coming out allowed me to play with gender in a way I didn’t feel comfortable doing before. I stopped focusing on being feminine, and started focusing on being Becca. The results were that I felt more comfortable in the way I carried myself and more feminine with each day that passed. I stopped putting womanhood into a list of characteristics that are described repeatedly in cosmopolitan and started defining womanhood in way that fit who I am and how I present myself.
Another gift I’m thankful for is the way I was treated. I’m not sure how the switch happened, but when I was 14, I became a lesbian to my peers. I realized I was gay when I was 22, but I had been hearing it for 8 years already in most my friend groups and in all possible frameworks. A lot of people talk about being bullied for being gay… I don’t think most people ever tried to put me down intentionally, but that there was just a running joke that made people laugh that involved me liking girls. The thing is, it still hurt, even when I laughed (and I did). And while I can’t say I would wish that upon others, I am happy, 10 years later, that I went through it. I am happy because I learned how to approach people better, how to read them, and to understand that my words have value. What my peers unknowingly taught me was empathy, a trait I treasure above all others. it’s another gift that has made me who I am.
And lastly, being gay has taught me to never take anything for granted. We are born onto a path society has chosen for us. We can take it or we can leave it. When I realized I love women, I realized I couldn’t continue on the expected path, and suddenly, my world opened. My thought process changed; it began to challenge the obvious and question the norm. Not just on LGBTQ matters, but on all matters. Work, travel, babies, marriage– none of these things felt obvious anymore. I got to think about each one and decide what makes sense for me. It’s a process I have learned to welcome.
The other day, a 15 year old in a 10th grade class asked if LGBTQ people would be straight if we could be. I only know the answer for myself. Knowing all I know now, I would choose queerness. It’s not that I am proud of being gay, it’s that I am totally proud of being Becca, and part of being Becca is being gay.