We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We Disappear
My first time marching in a Pride parade was also the first year I came out as pansexual. I was thirty-three. I wore rainbow socks and a t-shirt with the pan-flag colors (pink/yellow/blue) blurring together in the shape of a heart. I carried a homemade sign that read “The P Isn’t Silent” (but almost nobody got the language-nerd joke). I had a wonderful time. I felt like a part of a rich, diverse, beautiful community. I felt empowered. I felt like Captain Jack Harkness (at least until I looked in a mirror).
And then I went back to work the next week. And I kept wearing the rainbow socks. I wore the pan-flag shirt to the gym. I put a pan-flag pin on my satchel and stuck a pan-flag bumper sticker on my car.
“Do you think perhaps there’s such a thing as too much pride”? someone asked.
But I wasn’t doing it to be ‘proud.’ I wasn’t flaunting my flag or flashing my colors simply to show off.
I was doing it because I was single, and in our heteronormative society, people assume you’re straight unless you actively show them (via a partner) or tell them (in words or symbols) otherwise. But even if I had a partner, people would still automatically default to binary assumptions about my sexuality. I am a recognizably cisgender man (I have a beard; I wear masculine-styled clothing; I use he/him/his pronouns). Therefore, being publicly paired with a female-presenting partner lets people assume I’m heterosexual; being paired with a male-presenting partner lets people assume I’m homosexual. (And while I’d love to have — or be — an androgynous-enough presenting partner to make people pause in their assumptions, nobody should have to be reduced to that kind of usefulness just to make the system question itself.)
Mind you, I don’t particularly care what people think, except for the fact that in either case, my actual nonbinary sexuality gets erased. If I’m single, I don’t feel fully seen. If I’m partnered, I still don’t feel fully seen.
So I wear swag. I fly my flag. I do it not simply to label myself, not just to feel proud, but to be represented. I am the allied advocate I need to see to remember I’m real.
© Kent Clark, 2020