27 September 2011

there is no magic word for how i feel

Thrifted Shirt, Vintage Leather Shorts, c/o Rebecca Minkoff Bag, c/o Steve Madden Silver Oxfords, Zana Bayne Harness. It looks like I have a weird rash on my leg but IT'S THE PHOTO FILTER I SWEAR OK

 I was initially reluctant to talk about it (uhm, my being queer) on FP.... it's not that I was ever in the closet, or hiding it from the internet, but FP is a personal style blog and most of my random talking falls into my tumblr. But I have been getting dozens of tumblr asks and emails talking about femme invisibility lately and lesbian self doubt, being uncomfortable with labels, et all and I guess the short of it all is that I've been there too, and I am still there. Being un-straight is hard. For anyone who doesn't identify as strictly heterosexual, we constantly deal with labels, with coming out, with finding others like us, with presentation, with whatever. It is kind of like falling over yourself in the dark, over and over again. Everyone deals with wondering who they like, I guess, but for a lot of queer kids it's not just wondering who they like, but how to translate your feelings about people into a word. Just like, a single word.

Straight kids won't ever have to do that, because their sexuality is normal, represented everywhere, all the time. That is their privilege. They are lucky to have that. Good for them.

Privilege is not something to be ashamed of, and I don't hate straight people, or anyone with privilege.....not on the basis of them having privilege, anyway. It is just imperative that those with privilege acknowledge it. That, of course, is the funny thing about privilege: it's privilege because you don't notice it. It's just there. You don't wonder about it. You don't question it. You dismiss it as the way the world works. Queer kids will never have straight privilege, not in this system, not in this society, not how it is right now, but I mean, it's getting better. But we're still operating under a system where there is one normal, and everyone else is just that: someone else. The other. Queer kids fall into that category.

Now I don't mind being the 'other', and that is perhaps because I don't "look" gay. I don't "look" gay enough to get bullied, I am too femme for people to be like, "look at that dyke," or for people to come up to me and say they've always wanted a gay best friend, or any of that stuff. In fact, lots of people don't realize I'm queer at all. That, you could say, is it's own form of privilege.

I didn't realize there was a word that fit me for a long, long, time. And sometimes there are days that I feel alienated all over again, and I sit lost in thought shuffling through the words that are available: queer, fairy, lesbian, gay, homo, dyke, fag, etc trying to find something that has a ring of meaning to me in it and I can't find anything and I just give up. I do! And I think that is ok. It's scary and weird sometimes, not having a magic word that encompasses who I like, how much I like them, how I like them, and all that stuff the word "heterosexual" or "homosexual" entails, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's different.

 I think we fear that if there isn't a word to describe us, that it means we don't exist or that something is wrong with us as functioning human beings. But there isn't anything wrong with us, it's the system that is fucked. We're changing it though, by talking about it, by acknowledging that it's fucked, that is has to be better, because we have got so much to lose and so much more to gain.

There are so many more things I'd like to talk to you about, and I will, but for now I just wanted to get this out first. I was at my college QSA meeting the other night and we all discussed this exact topic and I wanted to write down my thoughts, so that people who weren't there but want to talk about these things know they are being talked about, and we can talk about it together if you want. This is so, so long, sorry!!!! Anyway. Thank you, love you, bye.

48 comments:

Oscar and Anna said...

Fabulous post. You've got courage and style so what else is there? ; ) Thank you for such a candid post - it's very refreshing in the fashion blog world! Anna

Laura said...

I love this post! You are so brave to talk about this publicly, and although i don't know you personally, it makes me proud of you.

As someone who is in a longterm relationship with someone of the opposite sex i am well aware that people assume i am straight and that I am, as you say, privileged. when i mention to people i meet i have a partner, only one ever asked if they were male or female.

I have queer friends, and as a kinda feminist or whatever you call about it when you care about all sexes and sexualities, these issues are important to me. I want to see a more open forum in this world where people stop seeing in this old fashioned way of heterosexuality as being normal. I have news for them, in the real old days, noone cared. In Ancient Greece people had male and female lovers, if it felt good, and right, they did it!

Recently, in class, we have been talking about categorisation, and although it mostly didn't relate to sexuality, since it's mostly a subject about technology, it made me think of that a lot. Because i don't want to be labelled. I used to be a goth, but now i don't want to be anything but me. I don't want people to be able to describe me and i don't want to describe others. I don't want people to say if i am gay, straight, subculture, smart, dumb, whatever. Categories can so easily become labels.

Performance poet Staceyann Chin (who you have to check out if you don't know her, she is awesome!) said that "I want to go down in history in a chapter marked MISCELLANEOUS because the writers could find no other way to categorize me in this world where classification is key. ~ Staceyann Chin~

I love the sentiment.

but of course, at the same time, we need to see a queer prescence out there, because the more people that can come out without fear, the more we can build a better world!

Oh, and by the way, your outfit rocks!

Laura.

http://frustratedwriterstyle.blogspot.com/

Laura said...

oh i forgot, here's the link to Staceyann performing one of her awesome poems, the one from the quote.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t04H0VnBaZc&list=PL297D2B95C6C20F40&index=57

Sorry i went on so long.

best,

Laura.

Arabelle said...

Laura, Staceyann is one of my favorite poets! I love all her performances, i found her last year or so through Mos Def. :)

Hazel said...

Love your courage!

It's a shame that society makes it so awkward for people to talk about their sexuality and other issues of the same sort.

Totes jealous of that harness, btw. It's pretty badass.

x
Hazel

Style Astronaut said...

Thank you for this amazing post. I cannot agree more with what you're saying. I think it's completely wrong how people can think it's disgusting or wrong if you arent straight. I think you are amazing and brave
xx

http://styleastronaut.blogspot.com/

Andie Bottrell said...

A greatly articulated post. There is too much pressure put on children from a young age to be this mystical thing called "normal." And if you're not it, you become, as you say, "someone else". Things in life are rarely, if ever, so black and white. These strange guidelines of how people should be, who they should love, how their lives should be conducted do not serve us a society because they simply encourage harsh, rash rejection, judgements and violence of anyone who dares to be true to themselves, instead of encouraging what it should: a commitment to being open minded, empathy and understanding and a head which functions as it should, by listening before blurting out opinions based solely on assumptions and a knee-jerk reaction to classify and reject.

Dayzee said...
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Roma said...

arabelle, not to song like a corny bitch but I really really admire you. I have a friend who recently came out of the closet. This is gonna make her feel all special n cool.
On an unrelated note, your harness/hairdoo is sicckk

Lydia said...

My favorite posts of yours are when you open up like this because you always have such poignant things to say. For some of us, you ARE normal, and one day that will hopefully be the mindset of the masses.

Ev Krebs said...

You are wonderful. Thank you.

Nahar & Nazia said...

so true. there is not always a need for us to "define" ourselves. we should just do what makes us happy.

Ria said...

Such a good post. Dead on on being privileged. Always proud of you. Can't stand labels...what if I wanna mix it up. If I'm labled and I deviate from my supposed category am I now being weird...I just wanna do me.

Love your outfit also and the filter.

Ella said...

I know exactly what you mean!
Try being pansexual and having to explain that to people :L
Everyone thinks its just another way of saying Bisexual but its realy not, and for a fifteen year girl to try to explain something so serious to adults and they just think its a 'phase' or whatever, does my head in -.-

Cristina said...

I think that this is a very courageous post for a young girl to display publicly, but I am also going to say that as you get older, you are going to find that things get easier. I myself am a heterosexual and I am married with-out the paper work, but I do have family members and friends who are not heterosexuals. (To be honest, most of them are more comfortable with where they are in life than I am at the moment.)

People who are judgmental about these things, tend to be judgmental about everything. When you live your life and just do "you", they will fall to the side. Everyone struggles with love, gay or straight, but as we grow older and focus on what we want out of life, the need to define ourselves also falls to the side.

As a straight person, I don't exactly think of myself as being privileged when it comes to my sexuality. I feel fortunate that I found someone that I love in a way I never thought I could. When I was your age I felt just as lost and confused about sexuality, what I wanted out of life, and who I was as a person.

You are fortunate to have had the experiences that you have at such a young age. You are farther along professionally than people much older than you, and in the security of your passions and dreams coming true, acceptance in all aspects of your life are sure to follow.

You are a bold girl, on the outside at least, and soon you will realize you don't need a magic word for how you feel. You are Arabelle.

http://mostlyclothes-cristina.blogspot.com/

alice-jane said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts. It's very honest and candid. Thank you!

Audrey (hkittygirl) said...

This is the first post I've read by you and I find it very brave of you to open up to the world about who you are and to be so proud of it! ^^

Madi said...

thankyou for writing this. i relate to this so much right now, and its great to know that im not alone in how i feel.

this is the first time i have put this into words, although im not really sure how to go about it - i think im bisexual. but i hate that word, because i dont feel like it really describes me. i feel attracted to guys like i always have, but im recently feeling new things for girls, and its confusing me. i suppose i feel sort of pansexual lately, but i dont think thats the word either. i tried to talk to my friend about it, but she trivialised it, and convinced me for a little while that i was just going through a phase and that it didnt matter. But it doesnt feel like that, and it does matter, but im afraid to talk to anyone else about it. i really admire how brave you are for being so open and willing to talk about this. sorry this is so long, but this post inspired me to admit to how i feel, if only for myself. so thankyou.

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madeleine said...

that's the point: everyone's always looking for a label. but there aren't labels for things that are just natural. i also don't think that it's right that people say it's "brave" to talk about it publicly, because this would mean there's something to hide. but there isn't.

i'm from a very conservative country (austria), where homosexual couples can't adopt children. there has been a discussion about it and i tend to get very furious, because i know so many great same sex couples who would make better parents than most heterosexual couples i know.

but especially with speaking about this in public forums and on blogs, something will change eventually. hopefully.
//dariadaria

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rae said...

you are brave and awesome!! <3

Sophie Andersen said...

i follow u sometime now and i really enjoy your page!
please check my streetstyle-blog too, i just went online a few days ago :)
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Luna Nicolette said...

thanks for this babe. outfit is very hot.

Nemo said...

I love that photograph, and also quite inspired by your writings, on my blog, there are hints to the fact that I am a lesbian such as stating the fact that she [my gf] takes my photographs and suchlike - I do not feel that being gay is something that particularly matters or makes a difference, but I guess what you say about privilege is true. I am lucky to have thick skin and an accepting family so for me it has never been a big deal.

Anonymous said...

I think you're amazing and courageous for putting yourself out there like that. It's about as inspiring as things can get.

And you're right: the system is fucked up madly. Because, when you think about it, it isn't at all the big deal people can make out of it. Love itself is a beautiful thing, no matter who's involved.

Oh, and I found you a word: human.
xxx Minella

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faye said...

Love the frankness and beauty in this post. Very well said and beautifully put! Love your outfit btw especially that beautiful top :)

The Other Sister of Death said...

Hey there!

I enjoyed reading that post of yours!
It's pretty cool that you talk about that sort of things openly. I have quite a lot of queer and bisexual friends, and they all deal differently with that matter. Some don't really label themselves, and some just put the label on themselves too big, if you know what I mean. So in my opinion I guess it's better not having a word for what you feel and not labeling yourself instead of acting according to what others consider or describe you as.

Well, all there's left for me to add is a huge compliment for your blog. I only discovered it recently and your outfits are so vibrant and colourful! Keep on doing what you do, cause you're doing it damn well!

Bye!
http://theothersisterofdeath.blogspot.com/

http://theothersisterofdeath.blogspot.com/

Magnet said...

Ugh, I hate the idea of what 'normal' is in society and I hate the pressure that so many people feel to be normal. It's such a restriction of creativity and life in general. I had no idea that you are queer from reading your blog, which makes sense, I mean, I don't really talk about that many personal issues on my blog either, well not enough for everyone to know anyway. I don't think of you any differently now that I do know though.

I can't type too much as I'm pressed for time but I will say this, I'm honestly often still shocked at how pathetically society behaves these days. It's amazing to me that homophobia and racism still exist. I don't know what the hell people who feel that way are thinking. In fact, I find it quite frightening and disturbing that so many people hold such irrational views.

canvas print said...

Brilliant post and feel you've done the right thing talking about it, it's good to get it out there and help others.

Bria said...

this is an amazing post! thank you for your honesty :).
its just so odd though because right now we DO have to talk about it so that one day it becomes the norm. but one day we shouldn't have to talk about it! nobody talks about being straight. nobody who is straight is perceived as having "decided" they are straight at one point, and they sure as hell don't have to come out. they don't have to wear straightness as a badge, and when you meet people they just assume you are straight (for the most part). i hate that there has to be this whole dance associated with it. its such a confusing mess, and yes- a totally fucked up system.

herheartatmidnight.blogspot.com

Trashy Student said...

beautiful photo :) i love the shorts.

and i think its stupid that people still think that sexuality needs to define the person, anyone who knows anyone gay will realise that they are no different, and like you said, might not even realise they are gay.

:)

effortlesscool said...

such a stunnning look! love the body harness <33


XO Sahra
EffortlessCool

BobbieAustin27 said...

nice look!
love the blouse
your blog is cool :)

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Oofie said...

:)

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Elaine said...

This post made me come out. I was so afraid because of all the stereotypes and I didn't identify with any of them. But this calmed me to realize that there are people out there like me! Thank you so much.

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Maanii said...

Thanks you for writing about this. Being "a non-stereotypical" queer, It's hard to hear my parents say, Neither of my kids are gay, And ask about boys. i hope to someday be strong enough to come out.

As for the word your searching for, I found one that I identify with, (more than most) it's important to my first nations culture, it's called two-spirited. I really wanted to share that with you.

Thanks again

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I really admire how brave you are for being so open and willing to talk about this. sorry this is so long, but this post inspired me to admit to how i feel, if only for myself. so thank you.
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