Between Fear and Bravery: Being Queer in a Small Town — My Latest Bitopia Article

Two strangers pass each other in Target. One is an old man pushing a shopping cart, and the other is wearing Revlon candy-apple lip butter, a black t-shirt that says “Proud to be Genderqueer and Bi,” baby blue nail polish, women’s capris, and women’s flip-flops. The two exchange glances. The old man keeps looking, not knowing what to say, while the other looks back and thinks two things: “That’s right, go ahead and say something” and “please don’t stare at me, sir.”

That sums up being a bisexual AMAB genderqueer person living in a small town. I walk the line between being out and proud, and secretly wishing to run back inside the closet. Some days I want to walk down the street yelling: “Ask me about my pronouns!” Other days I just want to say: “Um, I just want to use this gender-neutral bathroom and go home.”

Despite all the recent progress made towards transgender equality in my home state of Maryland — the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 and the more recent transgender birth certificate law — it’s still hard for me to be an out and open queer person. Maryland is considered a blue state, but there are some areas that are quite red. For example, I live in a small town in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. It’s a beautiful town full of art, culture and probably the best coffee shop in the world. And yet it’s still a small town, so when it comes to LGBTQ equality, the general attitude around here is: “I’m okay with it as long as I don’t have to see it.” Hence, the LGBTQ community is almost underground around here.

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