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Queer Strangers and The Importance of Visiblity

I think one of the hardest parts about being queer in such a cisheteronormative world is how isolating it feels. When things go haywire, when you are bullied or harassed or what have you, it can be hard to go to non-queer friends. Often, allies- try as they might- do not fully understand the ache that comes with being misgendered, the sneers that accompany discussion about love life. The internet has made this less of an obvious problem, but seeing strangers online who are like you does not often hold a candle to the experience of meeting a queer person and knowing that you are safe in an otherwise unsafe or questionable environment. This page is about the one-off strangers I've met in scenarios where visiblity has brought me comfort.

For some context- I am very, very openly queer. I wear pronoun pins daily, I have bright red hair and wear big stompy boots and tons of hand-made bracelets. My face and voice don't quite match, I have thick, obvious scars, and I do my best to assert who I am. This is, frankly, not a situation many can be in. I am very lucky to live in a place where I don't get killed for this. I have been yelled at, had things thrown at me, coughed on, and so forth- but nothing where I truly felt my life was in danger. The bar is very low! But there is a bar, and I am lucky to clear it. I am often the only visibly queer person in a room. I am often the only trans person that people have known, let alone the first nonbinary person. I understand the risks I take to do that, and I am happy to.

With that out of the way, onto the strangers :)


The non-binary person I met at the arcade; they were killing it at DDR. I watched them play for a while, and they noticed my pronoun pin and excitedly showed me theirs. They invited me to dance, encouraged me not to push myself too hard and promised nobody would think less of me if I failed a song or two while I got my footing.

The gay, bisexual, and lesbian people at my first retail job, who helped me out by correcting my managers and coworkers on my pronouns whenever somebody messed it up. I was the only trans one but they did their best to ensure everybody respected me. There were also a couple older gay men there, one of whom introduced me to management as "a lovely individual" and did drag and costume work at a local theater. He had five dogs, and brought them in occasionally. Another one told me stories about being gay in New York City in the 70s during our breaks.

The elderly lesbian couple I met at Homegoods, who bought vegan granola and wore flowy skirtrs and talked excitedly to me about how cute the bird statues they bought were. They told me to be good to myself.

The old butch woman I met while working at a grocery store, who quietly asked me if I'm family, and then proudly declared that she is, too. She told me she's so glad to see young people like me being so open about these things and she hopes to see me again.

The young lesbian at my workplace, who tried to flirt with me before realizing I am in college. She called me old.

The tall, green-haired non-binary person I met at the previous year's pride festival near my town. I got their Discord, but we haven't spoken. We held hands that day to avoid being swept apart by the crowd. It was the first drag show they'd ever been to.

The trans person who defended me on Facebook when a job posting I made got a lot of transphobic comments. I'm not sure of their exact identity, but they said that they're trans too and they will try being more visible in solidarity with me.

The old gay man I met at a pride event who complimented my cane and said he's so glad I can have fun with it.

The girl I met in the waiting room of my campus's health department, who pointed to my bisexual bracelet and said "me too!". She's an architecture major.

The bisexual father who was shopping with his son and expressed to me how glad he is that "Love is Love" and pride themed merchandise can be seen on store shelves, and how he never thought he would see the day. He showed me his bisexual pride bracelet and said that's all he had to show his pride for a while.

The girl who works at Olive Garden with neon red hair, who always compliments my hair and I always compliment hers. There's a knowing smile there, yet I don't even know her name.

The person on my campus with a beard and a skirt every day, who is cool as hell but I will likely never know the name of.

The guy at a local Pokemon tournament, who pointed to my pins and then pointed to his own; he said that he passes so well now that I likely couldn't tell, but he's trans just like me.

Hot topic employees.

All of the people who have relaxed immediately at my cash register when they read my pronoun pins. All of the people who have thanked me for wearing them, and told me it makes them feel safer.

♥ Jay(click to go back!)