The 5 Stages of My Queer Existential Dread

There's a certain kind of burden that comes with being born outside the safety bubble of heteronormativity that leaves you feeling constantly vulnerable.
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Painting by Shindoku

Time is a flat circle. At least that's what Matt McConaughey's character Cohle says in HBO's True Detective. To be fair, it's like the 8th time i've seen season one. Nothing against Season Two, but even HBO admitted that it was rushed. It's an amazing show, but I'm fairly certain it's the sense of existential dread being lorded at the helm of McConaughey's character that makes it such a work of art to a viewer like me. It speaks to the fear of working a meaningless nine to five that will amount to nothing. It speaks to our desire to deny a life of predictable mundanity. This list is for those absorbed by the routines of living, but the relatable struggle with the fact that your twenties are so almost over, and you are too queer to function.

1 | You're Always on Edge

It's those days where everything feels as though all the colours could just run together. There's a certain kind of burden that comes with being born outside the safety bubble of heteronormativity that leaves you feeling constantly vulnerable. Coping with this vulnerability can tempt us to the ultimate bait: pessimism. Speaking from my personal experiences, I think a lot of this comes to us naturally, stemming from out adulthood. This is the tipping point of our existential dread. Our clocks our ticking, and our time is running out. For queer folks, that clock looks and operates a lot differently, because for many of us, a family does not come unplanned. Homes do not welcome unpaid for. There are obligations that face us just like every other person, but at this very moment in 2016, there are over 100+ bills floating around small governments around the country aiming to destroy us. We all feel the unsanctioned breath of a system on our feeble necks. This is a moment where you must choose to stand strong and fight, because ultimately you will come out the victor if you allow yourself to succumb to your natural path. If you try to force who and what you should be, it will always feel exactly that: Forced.

2 | You Rely on Social Media to Fill Your Void

Let's face it. It's two thousand sixteen, and the technology has slowly begun to ingest us all. The robots are rising! Only kidding. Okay, not really. So, of course me being the old hipster fuck that I am, still use a flip phone. Regardless, even I can see the jarring effect it's had on everyone. I grew up in the nineties, when the internet was still an idea. I never would of pegged myself to be a digital journalist, but alas, here we are. I feel like not only has technology left an irreversible imprint on us as a society, but it's also become a go-to for us who are anxiety ridden. When I once clutched an iPhone in my daily life, I found myself taking it out at the most unconventional of times. More and more, it become less of a cell phone and more of a device to shield myself from the world around me. So, me being the oddball that I am, got rid of my digital device. I didn't carry a phone for a year, and I felt a whole new level of freedom, but also anxiety. In many social situations, I walk into crowded rooms where everyone has a phone, or a tablet, or a computer crammed in their face. I'm empty handed. Part of my feels as though I cannot keep up, but in reality i've only chosen to abandoned what I refer to as "Tick-tock." It's the feeling that you've always got somewhere else to be, as if time is slipping all round you faster and faster. The worst part of it all being that it's completely and utterly out of your control. This is where I would offer a bit of advice that I feel Rust Cohle would offer too. Stop and smell the roses. Take time to enjoy the little things in life, and take the time to love yourself. Every little second you spend on yourself accumulates and one day you wake up who you want to be. This is me encouraging you, my queer, straight or queer-questioning friends, to expand your own narrative by allowing your authenticity to speak for you. Even if people don't like it. Even if it makes people uncomfortable. The more you love yourself and the the differences between us as humans, the more difficult it will be for people not to accept you in their heart of hearts. True authenticity is undeniable, by even the most brittle of bigots. As a trans queer woman, most people would be surprised to know I have a lot of friends that are not like me. Some offend me. Some piss me off. I have even managed to befriend some red pill reading thwarts, because despite their anti-women way of thinking, I transcend that. And hunty, I didn't learn it from some forum. My femininity is for real.

3 | Religious Zealots Will Push You to Your Core

This one is jarringly personal. In the show, Detective Cohle faces many challenges, but one of the biggest being his moral fight with religion, or lack thereof. I'd like to clarify one thing about this before I go any further. There are plenty of LGBTQ Christians, Catholics, Atheists, people of all beliefs and walks of life. However, many of us, religious or not, are not welcomed by many establishments of religion, So we practice our faith or lack thereof at home. We believe behind closed doors, because to be who we are, is against the interpretations of the majority of believers today. Despite the fact that there is some old verse in the old testament about lying with a man or wearing a woman's garment, God decreed a new testament, deeming the old testament exactly that. Old. However, on the ten commandments, I see no sins of the LGBTQ. However, I did spot adultery, but that doesn't stop Kim Davis from having 4 different husbands.(Not to slut shame bc sluts rule ) Most of us outside of the majority see these beliefs as selective and superficial. The bible can offer beautiful insight simply as a metaphor of ways to interpret difficult situations in your life. It truly becomes problematic when people begin to assert their religion into law, as many states have, because that in turn creates an evil paradigm where the government gets legal power to discriminate and take away rights from us. Civil rights, like basic rights. Everyday shit. Rights to people to deny us employment, housing, loans, and for trans folk in a few states, a god given right to use the restroom they feel comfortable in. Sure the gays got marriage, but now the supremely anti-LGBTQ religious have set their sights on us. It's up to us to either do one of two things. A. If you carry beliefs, hold them proudly and let nobody sway you. B. If you don't, don't let those who believe pressure you into thinking what will be right for you. Ultimately, it's condescending if somebody claims to be "for equality" and then tries to convert you to their religion. Oh, and for us queers, chances are, your conversion is not much help to us, because most of us have already been offered the chance. First from our parents, then from our church, then from our anti-gay therapists in these legal "reparative clinics" that still exist in cracks in the system. We don't need a conversion. Just like any other person, we are entitled to our personal beliefs, and we are entitled to the right not to share them or fraternize in spaces we feel are not comfortable to us, no matter what your pastor says is "in" now. To you allies and queer people who have faiths, I respect you for having your faith and keeping your boundaries. To us, you are key to our lives and to the nourishment of our souls. We need friends who believe differently, who are still willing to put aside their differences to seek something better in the middle. This is not an article I'm writing to change anybody's mind, but only as a blip of encourage you to step outside the box and challenge yourself if you haven't already. Pick up a book written by a woman, or a trans/queer person of colour, hell, you could go over a tab away right now and pick up a copy of "Brew" by Lady Dane Edidi. Open up your mind, and believe from the bottom of your soul not from the perceptions of your eyes. Think for yourself. BELIEVE for yourself.

4 | The Demanding Air of Heteronormativity Sometimes Gets to You

Every party you go to feels like Carcosa. You never know what's around any corner, who's ringtone that is, or why becky with the good hair keeps spilling her drink on you every time "Flawless" comes on. Social environments have become temples of doom that you don't know how to navigate anymore, perhaps you never did. Most folks have at least walked the walk and talked the talk, up until they came out. Queers can see through the facades that some straight people just don't seem to. It's because there is an element of duality to queerness, an element of dark and light. I mean, why the hell else do you think I love the new Star Wars. A woman?! Beat Kylo Ren?! How dare she!?!?! Okay, so I liked The Force Awakens. I'd rather talk about Star Wars than why the hell Hilary was meddling around in Libya enough for Obama to call it a "shit show." Sue me. It's not exactly my fault that social environments, especially ones with a lot of people, there is a layer of pressure for me that not every one else feels. It's in the subtle way that those around you communicate, it's all so much more gendered than many of us realize. How could we realize what is supposed to be so natural in us if our society is designed to repress it? Queer folks, rather they be trans, gay, bi, or anything in between, have a natural affinity to their internal divine feminine and masculine energies. We all just feel the need to express that differently. Some of us, just wearing un-gendered clothes that make us comfortable. Some running in the daylight, with the sun in our hair, whatever colour or texture it is. We are also born with a desire to express ourselves, with a conflicted energy within us that begs us to deny what makes us different. What makes you different is what makes you special. Don't feel the need to conform or assimilate to a culture that is not designed for you. You do not have to line up with white supremacist respectability politics to make people like you. All you have to do is recognize that there is something deep and cathartic to simply existing. Just don't let society's ideas of gender and what people should be define your perspective. Don't be afraid to think broadly. After all, shaving was invented by men at the dawn of western civilization to sell feminine hygiene products ultimately.

5 | The Future Doesn't Scare You So Much These Days

So, at this point, if you are still reading I assume to you that the dread has been recognized. You are waving your little white flag of surrender, ready to understand what exactly needs to change in your life. My advice? First off, don't get caught up in the details. Don't think in "Tick-Tock." Look at the bigger picture, and consider the possible effects of what you say. Not everybody is going to poke you on the shoulder and tell you what you what hurts their feelings. Sometimes you have to be a sleuth in your own life and seek out the details. Presentation is not just something trans people have to learn when we transition. Everybody on this planet presents themselves to the world in one way or another. The way you present yourself can alter the dynamic of everything you are, even if you are wearing the same shirt for the second day in a row. Loving yourself and who you are with an unapologetic spirit can result in chaos, wonder, and many things. Ultimately, it will result in your happiness. And besides, cheer up kid. These anti-gay bills are not doing so hot when they pass. There are a lot of groups, charities, and active organizations who are working diligently to ensure that you can be you, anytime, anywhere. We are all actively engaged in finding answers to the problems in our community. Those in this fight know that now, more than ever is the time where the internet is giving us a chance to make this about #MoreThanMarriage. As long as we walk forward, forward we will go. As Rust Cohle once said, " I know who I am. And after all these years, there's a victory in that."

Gifs Courtesy of HBO's True Detective.

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