What Queer Means To Me

By Jonathan Shuffield

Representation matters! We have said it a million plus times and it has never rang cliche. The more ground we make here the truer and sharper the cry. In the more than two decades since I came out a lot has definitely changed. Media finally has begun to show my fellow LGBTQIA+ siblings in the tapestry they portray as life. May the celebration of this not go unnoticed, but we still have a ways to go.

I am not satisfied, we have not fully integrated into the creative reflections around us. It is not just the hetero-normative culture of Hollywood, it is in the very portrayals of us in our own media, in the production companies developing our stories, in the editors’ offices choosing our models. I have lived in that starstruck city, I have sat in meetings in that land of illusion, I have fought to sell the idea that I exist.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than an “LGBT” production company foregoing you simply for being you. “You are super funny, but….” “You’re writing is great, however……” I checked the line up that was chosen for public consumption. I didn’t need to be given a memo, the truth was laid out in front of me. I’m not 30, my body isn’t just this side of porn. Sex was chosen over substance, as if I am not a sexual creature.

Before you put me on the shelf and label me bitter, don’t get me wrong. I remember the days when we were nowhere to be seen. I remember the thrill of witnessing a gay character on television, even if just for a second and even if it was a neutered stereotype, just an embodied punchline. I am thrilled that we have come so far, but why should we be satisfied? Especially if in that word lies complacency, settling for just enough.

We all grew up wanting to see ourselves, our stories reflected in the art we consumed. I will not apologize for continuing to fight to see my reflection, to see the rainbow of the men and women in the world around me. It is our innate human desire drawn on cave walls from the dawn of humans to the launch of this very publication, QueerCentric.

We are here to offer a voice to the rest of us. To represent a queer world not so homogenized. We do not want to take away from the version of us that is currently allowed the spotlight, we simply want to add to it. Instead of waiting for permission, we choose to boldly move forward creating our own path. We celebrate all of us, the rest of us! Because there is room for everyone, sometimes you just have to make the room yourself.

So if you have ever felt “othered” in your own community, maybe felt a little left of mainstream, or you have always felt like the odd one out. Don’t get bitter, raise your voice, take your place, stand tall in exactly the person you are. If you look around, you will find an endless sea of people celebrating with you. You will find QueerCentric here, celebrating the rest of us!

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