By Chase Lawrence
Growing up in a conservative household, it was embedded into my mind at an early age the classic and damaging examples of toxic masculinity. “You’re a boy, Chase…you need to do boy things like play sports!”, my Father and Mother would say. Knowing that I was one way and what society wanted me to be was the opposite of that, I grew to wonder if I would ever be able to live a life that was true to my most authentic self.
As I got older and the society around me that had once tried to confine me to a box had evolved, I felt liberated and confident that I was a queer man and that was my true self, to my very core. Being queer, for me, means being able to be free, to be liberated, to be able to look at oneself and say, ‘I am not bogged down by a bunch of righteous beliefs, gender confirming stereotypes. I am free to be me!’ But most importantly, being queer means not apologizing. I’ve learned that as we move on in life, meet new people, and make changes in our own lives, we encounter individuals who are not so understanding of who we are born to be. They use their own insecurities, lack of cultural understanding, and general ignorance to try and bring you down. Being queer has given me the ability to not allow people to try and disrupt my journey towards happiness and self-satisfaction. It’s a superpower, almost, that allows me to overcome all obstacles that life has tossed at me from any direction.
Despite all of this, I am always mindful that the road that lay ahead of me was paved by those who did not have the privilege to live lives that were true to their unique and authentic selves. I believe another part of being queer is being able to know not only where you are going in life, but to reflect on those that laid the ground you are walking on. People like Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, to name a few of the many trailblazing pioneers that allowed people like myself to live the kind of life we live today. We can never move forward towards full equality for all queer people without recognizing and appreciating those who helped us get to be where we are and who we are today.