While working at the Human Rights Campaign this summer, the two identities that have been reflected upon the most, and have actually changed quite a bit, would be my sexual orientation and gender identity. I’ve identified as a cisgendered, gay male since high school. These identities have remained pretty static since then and on into college, however I have become more comfortable with my sexual orientation as I began to occupy more liberal and progressive spaces in Ann Arbor on campus.
D.C. is an incredibly progressive and queer friendly space. The Human Rights Campaign is also a very safe space when it comes to matters of intersectionality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. With that being said, it only makes sense that I’ve had a ton of time to reflect and also engage these identities in new ways.
My second week here, I met a friend who identifies as gender queer. We instantly hit it off. This friend always has the most amazing outfits and is so true to themselves. We started spending more time together and he helped me with some of my outfits. While I don’t think I identify as gender queer at this point in my life, I do think him helping me “queer” a bit of my attitude and wardrobe has shifted my gender from the rigid norms of masculinity that are typically enforced by our culture.
Now, I don’t mind wearing a crop top or girls shorts from time to time — in fact, I can rock them! I feel much less restricted by gender roles and norms than I’ve ever felt.
As for my sexual orientation, I still identify as gay. But my comfort level has also increased. Living in Ann Arbor for the past three years has really given me plenty of space to explore this identity, but not as much as DC. There are so many queer spaces here — whether its a neighborhood, restaurant, bar, or social activity. I have never had so much freedom to express my sexual orientation in ways other than simply dating and acting on my sexuality.
D.C. has been a fantastic space to explore and experience both of these identities this past summer.