️I am Queer ️
You will have to excuse me, this is like the third time I have ever expressed those words in relation to my sexual orientation out loud. I am Queer.
Queer, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is an adjective that describes a person as strange; odd or as homosexual. Wikipedia defines queer in a much more progressive description – “Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender. Originally meaning “strange” or “peculiar”, queer came to be used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late 19th century”.
I have lived most of my life as a heterosexual woman. I have 2 kids, a myriad of ex boyfriends, an ex husband, and grew up with NKOTB (New Kids on the Block) posters on my walls. I read YM magazine as a young girl and learned about how to properly “give head” from Cosmopolitan magazine. I grew up cisgendered (a person whose identity relates to their birth sex) and really only ever participated in any sexy girl on girl acts to turn on a dude. Yet, deep down, something was always missing.
Jump forward to my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training that took place with 20 women. The first time in my life I ever allowed myself to open up and participate in an all woman setting. Many of you may know the deep introspective and transformative work that takes place during such an intense time, and some may not. It was a lot. I was always a guys’ girl and could never get along with women. I would describe them as catty, mean, and ridiculous. I mean, I was in nursing and that had been my experience. I would choose hanging out with men anyday. So teacher training starts, and I allow myself to open up to these women (we won’t talk about how it ended) and in that I start to recognize just how incredible and important fellow women are. I dive into stories around my dad and recognize that my past sexual behaviours and constant attention seeking from men is related to wanting my dad to see me. From there, everything changes for me in relation to women as friends. I see the value in female friendships and I really start to feel a shift. Men don’t fully understand women, and there is this beauty in relating with another female on a deeper level that I had never felt. I started to feel understood, seen, heard and more comfortable with who I was.
I also started to express myself verbally around my attraction to more androgenous (the combination of masculine and feminine features) women to my friends and family. I felt open to share if I had a “girl” crush and spoke of some women being good looking. Yet, no one ever really caught my eye until I went to a women’s circle (I know, what happened?) and met a really cool person named Mo. We spent the evening talking about sexuality, gender, life, and feelings and I felt I opened up to the idea of exploring something beyond what I had always been used to. Another vagina.
Life is messy. I shifted careers from Nursing to Medical School to Yoga and my kids had grown up and moved out to pursue their own lives. I found myself in an unhappy relationship with a whole stack of unexplored dreams. It felt like a perfect time to shift, and I did. And as fate would have it, I met the woman that would support me in exploring another side of me that had been dormant for far too long. She was different from any other woman that I knew and she was all the things – patient, gay, experienced, gentle, free and I liked her. I was nervous to explore this other life at the age of 39. I felt too old and inexperienced, but I think I did ok.
Since then, I have struggled and questioned and fought to find a term that I can share with people around my own sexual orientation. Seems the world loves labels. Yet, I can’t seem to settle on one. Most people look at me and assume I am a lesbian (super stereotypical by the way to assume short hair = lesbian) yet, it isn’t far off. I also don’t hate men and find many of them attractive. I have been in relationship with a transman and think that I could rock a girl on girl relationship. I have no attachment to what gender or identity I will be in partnership with, when I choose to set down that road again. What I do care about is what kind of person I end up with, but that is for another blog. My intention here is to start to share my story and relate it to Yoga.
I teach Yoga Teacher Trainings. That is now my career and what I have noticed for the entirety of the last 22 years that I have been involved in the teachings is a lack of queer community, a lack of body friendly options for asana postures, and a lack of empathy for less flexible and sometimes older bodies. I feel the need to share, and educate, to speak up and to bridge this gap. I want to make teacher trainings that have all body shapes in them, not the usual 19 skinny people and 1 person with more meat. I want trainings where the whole group is over 40, and I want to host circles where a majority of the students already know about pronouns. So here is the shift. It starts with me. More stories, more vulnerability, more sharing and more education.