David Wood joined me as my special guest. David is Pagan musical artist, Wiccan High Priest, Reiki and Hoodoo practitioner. While David and I discussed several topics, including how being queer in the music industry can lead to abuse, the subject that we kept coming back to is the evolution of queer identity. We especially talked about the many ways that queer people identify today versus when we came out.
How describing queer identity has changed
It was interesting when David mentioned that as an older gay man he struggles to keep up with the various labels used to describe various queer or queer aligned identities. I remember when I was a student at the University of New Mexico in 1988, we had a “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Student Union”. In those days, gender identity wasn’t really discussed much less included. Everyone wanted to sort you into one of the buckets of where you sexual orientation landed.
Fortunately, with greater acceptance of sexual orientation and a wider definition of gender, we’ve arrived at a place where we are more aware that not everyone neatly fits into a bucket based on who they shag. We now think of the previous GLB as LGBTQIA+ which doesn’t encompass all identities but certainly allows for a wider spectrum to feel seen and included.
Has marriage created greater understanding of queer identity?
Personally, I’ve always felt that gay marriage may have been the wrong thing to focus on for our community. Interestingly, David disagrees. He argues that marriage has led to wider acceptance and as result, more energy can be devoted to talking about our different queer identities, what they mean and why they’re important. During our conversation, it was certainly clear that older gay men like myself and David, have a lot to learn about how others in our community identify.
For example, when I was first coming out, it was much more difficult for trans people to transition and it certainly wasn’t safe to openly identify as trans. As a result, it wasn’t until my 30s that I actually met anyone that identified as trans. I’ve done a lot to educate myself on many of the issues facing trans people and as a result, I have more understanding about gender in general. This has made it easier to have productive conversations with people who identify as non-binary.
Greater awareness leads to understanding
As I’ve worked to understand the lived experience of all kinds of queer identity, I’ve found that I have had many more meaningful conversations about what it means to live as an LGBTQIA+ person today. These conversations have helped me to create connections beyond simply other gay or bisexual men or lesbians. I think it is important that we also continue to educate one another.
Any discussion of queer identity and creating greater understanding would not be complete without acknowledging the right to nondisclosure of queer identities. Everyone has their own view of whether or not they wish to disclose their identity. It’s important that we remember that the choice to self-identify or not is a personal choice and to respect it.
Listen to the full conversation below.
Key Talking Points:
- As queerness has become more mainstream, it’s easier to just be yourself
- The queer community has evolved to understand many more types of queer identity
- Understanding one another requires taking the time to learn and educate
- While many advances like gay marriage were focused on a small group of the community, it also released energy that had gone into defense to understanding the broader spectrums of queer identity
Connect with David Wood at https://www.davidwoodmusic.com