Empowered By Queerness

For many years I’ve struggled with identity. From identifying as a fundamentalist Christian to my current identity as a strong queer woman it’s all been a journey. Like all journeys it’s had it’s dips, turns, stops and starts.

Small town Texas was not the most “queer” fostering of places. In fact it was rather opposed to it. As a child who was assigned a male gender it was anything but supportive. I grew up in “the church”. Mostly Baptist in denomination, but many variations followed all within what would be called fundamentalist. I loved my God and wanted to do the right things so that I didn’t go to hell, so the many times I was called queer were not highlights to say the least. As I grew and realized that the religion I grew up with wasn’t giving me what I needed as a human being I began to search for identity. An identity that made sense to me and that was affirming of all parts of me.

Throughout my life I have identified as a gay man, a pagan, a bartender, a new age practitioner, a stand up comedian and as a woman. Just because we have one label or identity it doesn’t mean that that’s all we are.

As I began a newer journey into womanhood I found myself conflicted about somethings. I realized for the first time in my life that being a woman made sense to me. It made sense in terms of how I thought and how I felt as a human. It made sense in terms of existing and moving through society. It made sense to me in terms of my inner life. I’d finally found who I was and damn happy about it, but there was still this word that was bouncing around me. Queer.

It took many years for me to become comfortable in the labels I took on so proudly. It took far longer to become comfortable within my own skin, so why wouldn’t it take a little time to become comfortable with my sense of queerness.

It took me forever to be able to be a heterosexual woman and for some reason queer was following me around. Many of my friends were proud to be queer identified and to say that they were queer. The definition of the word had evolved quite a bit from my youth, but there was still a bit of a sting with it.

When I thought of queer, I thought of genderqueer. I thought of gender non-conforming people. I thought of the queer liberation movement. I thought of gay people. For the first time in my life I realized that I wasn’t gay, that I was a woman, but there it was that word looming like a dark cloud.

So why was I so afraid of being identified with the word queer? I was called it most of my life from one person or another. My family utter disapproving phrases like “queer as a three dollar bill” and “only queers are hairdressers”. It was embedded into my social dna that being queer was wrong, and just all around unacceptable. Why then did I find it easy to identify as gay or even as transgender? Was it that for me those terms were far less hurtful? I’m not really sure the answer to that, but I do know that I was ok with who I was, or was I?

It took many years for me to become comfortable in the labels I took on so proudly. It took far longer to become comfortable within my own skin, so why wouldn’t it take a little time to become comfortable with my sense of queerness.

I’m by no means a radical queer activist, but I’m proud of who I am.  I’m proud of those who make their way into their own sense of self. I’m proud that we as queer people are visible. It’s a beautiful thing to see self hatred start to diminish in people. We are all just people after all and deserving of dignity and respect, are we not? So why is it so difficult for us to just ease into our identities no matter what they are? Why do we fight against labels as if the label is an oppressor?

It is our journey that defines us. We grow through living and if we don’t then what is the purpose? Throughout all of my hardships I have me. I used to not like that person, but getting to know her has been one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’m still on this journey. I’m still moving forward with excitement of what’s to come and what I can know about me.

As the journey continues and the self hatred subsided I began a new journey in regards to queerness. I began to realize that queerness it a fantastic thing. Queerness carries history of who we are in the LGBTQIIAA community. It carries pride and respect for self and others. Queerness now carries honor. I identify as a straight, queer, spiritual, funny woman and am finally finding empowerment within all of what my identity holds. I am finding peace with my past and a strength that comes from it. I am finding shared experience and reliability with those of us who walk the path less travelled. I am finding love. Love of self and love for others. I am a woman and I am queer.


Dina Nina Martinez

Transgender Writer, Stand Up Comedian, Speaker, Activist. Looking for her bearded lobster and waiting for her bearded clam.