Just Like Your Friends: Terrel in conversation with Bryan Patrick

This week we’re back in conversation with another of the bloggers on this site, Bryan Patrick. Two weeks ago, Bryan Patrick came out as queer on the site and we have a great conversation about the development of that post and the aftermath of such a personal revelation:

T: Well, it’s part interview, part discussion so we will talk about things we have in common, I definitely want to hear a bit about before during and after releasing your first post which I purposely (read accidentally) scheduled for national coming out day.

BP: okay! So yeah, where should we start? I can talk about sorta how I came to realize I was queer or like my “queer role models” you being one of them or the reaction I got afterwards. I got thoughts on all of em.

T: yup! All of that lmfao, take it away.

BP: Coming out has been really… interesting. Not to make it sound like it hasn’t been fulfilling (cuz it has been) or that it’s been bad (as I said in my article, I knew it wouldn’t becuz privilege), but it’s been sort of a weird rollercoaster of feelings.

T: yeah, what was WILD was that over 300 people read that post. Which is crazy, but I’m not surprised. Seeing as how we’re actually friends I saw the outpouring of love you received on social media.

BP: Yeah! I was SHOCKED by some of the comments and messages of positivity I got just from some very random folx that I rarely, if ever, hear from. I think my original goal with the whole piece was to, first of all, come out, but was secondarily to, I dunno, like show people that there isn’t a “standard” of queerness, yaknow? Like, I don’t fit many of the stereotypes I’ve seen of queerness and I guess people connected with the fact that I’m someone who seemed VERY hetero when internally I’ve kinda been feeling this way for years.

T: Well, that’s what’s wild to me. It’s weird being close to someone and knowing something about them other people may not know, because I forget that people don’t know you’re queer. To me you’re obviously queer. I want to make an important point also: we don’t dilute queer by including more people in it. Many queer ancestors would love to queer all types of identities. I mean, challenge what expectations are, and that’s what you’re doing, no?

BP: For sure! And the people that are queer who saw the post, and sent me a quick message or comment are the ones that honestly made me feel the most comfortable with such a public “outing”. It’s nice to know random folx from high school support me, but being called “queerthren” by someone who I respect in SO MANY WAYS, including their fierce ownership of their own queerness, was honestly the shining star of the whole experience of coming out.

T: I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. How do you FEEL though, has anything felt different, or changed since admitting that to yourself? As “editor” of this blog, I also push and challenge in different ways and I kinda pushed you to really take ownership of your words.

BP: And GOODNESS do I appreciate it. As you well know, I almost titled the post “Not Straight” and I was hesitant to claim queerness when in reality, my article was just me screaming “I’m frickin queer and I can’t say it yettttttttt.” It felt like a cop out; it felt like I wasn’t really allowing myself to dive into the real thick of my emotional self and that I was denying this identity that I knew would fit better.

T: I didn’t realize this was going to be your first post honestly.

BP: Nor did I, at first!

T: I’m not sure if you realize this, but this whole journey was why I wanted to hear more from you, and offer you this “permanent” space on the blog. I was back and forth because I want to make more space for marginalized voices, and as you stated in your post, you have a lot of privilege (and quite frankly so do I). But we’ve had so many conversations about masculinity, the different types of love, which often blend with time and development, and yes, even queerness.

BP: Well and so many of my closer friends or my girlfriend sorta had that idea of like, “yeah, Bryan. Yr queer. That entirely checks out.” I don’t know how long I’ve been queer since I just claimed that term, but I’ve definitely felt many things for a good bunch of years and being able to find a label for who I am with those feelings is really fulfilling. Saying I’m queer, in a weird way, let’s me really take a step away from who I thought I was and let’s me engage with those abstract ideas of love and romance and masculinity in a way that is much more direct since I don’t feel like I need to BE this one type of person. I’m not just the straight dude who has celeb crushes on men and women and other folx; I’m a queer person who just feels stuff for lots of people.

T: I actually had to explain why I choose to use the term queer to my great aunt who comes from a generation where queer is a term that is negative almost to the point of being a slur. I explained to her that queer had been reclaimed and that a lot of queer people of color (qpoc) actually prefer queer because it doesn’t have the same history as words like “gay” which honestly feel significantly whiter and problematic. I guess I wonder what trajectory do you hope to take now that you have found your voice? I am personally still trying to unlearn a lot of the same things you just mentioned!

BP: Well, I actually came out to my parents and my dad had a very interesting reaction. He said “no, you’re not queer, you’re normal and have a tremendous capacity to love”. And while that’s a beautiful sentiment, I had to explain how I deny this idea of “normal” and that I’m specifically borrowing the term queer from a long line of folx who similarly identify and how if directly opposes heteronormative traditions.

T: That’s an excellent point. I challenge notions of normality with every fiber of my being. I really want people to fight “normal” by making the decisions that fit most closely with their personal existence.

BP: Well and you fighting normal has inspired at least one person to fight their own normal (hint, IT ME). I’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of strong queer and non-hetero folx around me that have given me, even just through their existence and my observation, a sort of model to build my idea of queerness around. It’s a sort of amorphous blob that doesn’t look like anything and I REALLY like it hahaha.

T: right, we honestly learn from each other. I think we always feel like we have to fit into the shoes and clothes of our immediate forebears and a lot of them were miserable. They bought into this idea that they had to do one thing or another, but I think we both are looking for more autonomy, which will hopefully lead to a more full life.

BP: Definitely. And other folx struggle was simultaneously one thing that encouraged me to come out so publicly while also scaring me a bit. My story is a bright shiny one. My parents are 1000% okay with all of this, but like, when my cousin came out as gay a few years ago, everyone FLIPPED. So without him and his bravery and his ability to help his family understand who he is, my story would not be so simple. I have to recognize the struggles of others if I want to fully embrace this identity.

T: RIGHT! Honestly it’s so different coming out now as opposed to when I came out almost 14 years ago. One thing about coming out is that it goes in phases. You kinda cling to these different ideas of who you are and eventually you learn more, you listen more and you end up needing to come out again haha

BP: My dad also had a moment of being like “are you sure? This could change” and while it sounds harsh, he literally meant “you could become even queerer so why come out now?” That gave me pause. How do you navigate the seemingly constant flux of your own identity?

T: haha I’m taking all that in because that’s secretly profound. I am personally a thinker, really an over thinker, so I’m always checking in with myself in some capacity, “am I doing this because it’s going to make me happy or am I doing this because it’s going to make someone else happy”. I’ve decided to be kinder to myself. Every year I want to be the most “me” I’ve ever been. What that means is getting to know myself a little better every year, doing the things that scare me. Because we do so much masquerading as a part of fitting into society, our identities HAVE to be in flux. Lol is that an answer yet?

BP: Absolutely, actually. Like, I’m happily out and queer now. And yeah, who knows, maybe I’ll be less queer tomorrow or something, but the glory of the term to me is how flexible IT can be which allows me to be flexible within it. As I said in my post, I’ve not  experienced sexual activity with anyone aside from a woman. Saying I’m queer and really feeling it to me means that I can also be open to feeling the vast emotional landscape I often feel toward so many folx who aren’t women and I recognize the fact that I’ve felt those sorts of things, something deeper than friendship that is heavy with love, and that it indicates that I’m not exactly straight or comfortable with claiming straightness. Maybe those feelings will grow eventually to something newer and queerness allows me to grow that way.

T: the capacity to love without boundaries is important. I think claiming queerness is powerful. And unlike other labels that can often begin and end explanations at the same time, queerness allows for you to express yourself on your own terms.

BP: It really does and it has allowed me to really openly discuss things about myself I’ve never talked about out loud. Like, coming out was the most direct conversation I’d ever had about sex with my parents. How does that go with your family?

T: Well, that’s very complex with my family. It took a long time for my family to fully embrace everything that being gay then queer meant. I think that there is growth that has to happen with your family. I remember my mother thought some guys were flirting with me when we took a Zumba class together. There were only 5 guys in the class and it was my first time there. I said they were just being friendly and she said they were never friendly to her. Lol I asked her what was she going to do when I started dating, and she didn’t have a response. As if that thought hadn’t really crossed her mind. I don’t really talk about sex with my family mostly because our values are different when it comes to romance, dating and sex. But like everything else, it takes time, patience and communication.

BP: Interesting. Again, I’m in that sorta special situation where, as I told my parents, nothing really changes about me to them since I keep my personal life mostly separate from them and I’m still going to date my girlfriend. That definitely helped them to not be so scared of the whole idea of me being queer, I think. It doesn’t affect them in any way, really.

T: Right, and to your earlier point. You are dating a woman, people would assume you’re straight. However, eventually you may date a man, trans, or nonbinary person, which may bring new challenges to you, but right now, in a “heterosexual” relationship, you are still queer. That’s super important for people to understand. That’s really what I love about all of this.

BP: Yeah, and lying to myself and denying this part of me just wasn’t gonna fly anymore. But I also recognize how I need to recognize those folx who came before and paved a path for me and other people to come out to a less hostile and more accepting world. So thanks for that ❤

T: Much love as always, can’t wait to share more of these conversations with you

BP: omgyesssssssss these are going to be my favorite for sure. Yr my frickin hero and i love you. Sending you cuddles from afar ❤

 

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