Pride month ended a few weeks ago, with that so has a lot of the LGBTQIA+ discourse. Queerness, or rather the word ‘queer’ itself has been popping up more and more in discussions and posts concerning identity and usage (Xicanx/Latinx discourse, I believe, dances hand in hand with Queerness and identity). In skimming different social media platforms, ‘queer’ is held on by some as a derogatory word, others yet claim it to be a word taken back from the oppressor to be used as a positive, and/or general term. This argument I don’t see ending anytime soon, I however consider it as an umbrella term without a sense of erasure, more so to use as a collection of expressions and identities that encompass cis-gendered homosexual folks to trans* to gender fluid to asexual folks, etc.
I have made myself reflect on the person I am today, I don’t consider my story to be extraordinary or uncommon, in regard to our community. I grew up with certain aspects of machismo still retained by my grandmother, and a confluence of catholicism, and more liberal Gringo American culture. My identity, thus also my sexuality were dictated by my peers, because of my effeminate nature, in grade school, I had to develop a thicker skin. ‘Gay tendencies’ during my preteen years were suppressed with superstition, e.g. “¡se te va caer el pito si haces X!”
At Wiggs, and El Paso High I was still trying to keep under the radar, but I’m afraid I was just born to stick out. My mom always assured me I marched to the beat of my own drum (it’s only became louder as I have grown into myself), but she could not accept her oldest son to be gay, then. In high school I discovered for myself XY Magazine and its hyper saturated pictures of lean and slender white twinks, and how escandalizado I felt when I saw two boys kissing in a Prom spread. I hid these pieces of me from everyone, watched Will & Grace always with my thumb on the ‘previous’ button. I called myself gay to my close friends and slowly began to let more people in, but rejected the more out and proud gay people at my school, (this stemmed from fear and ignorance back in middle school).
I somewhat explored my sexuality, not only the sexual part of it, but other parts of it as well. At 19/20 I started going to the OP, and slowly began to enjoy the gay bars, though I was incredibly timid, and my heart always raced thinking of who I might run into, what if my family found out? Would I go to hell?
College came, and with that so did many opportunities for self examination, and betterment. I was eventually promoted at my job, and I moved to Phoenix to work in Scottsdale. I jumped at the chance to leave the city, and start anew, and ‘find myself.’ I was out, out of El Paso, out of the closet, eventually out of a job (my company re-restructured and liquidated my position.) I returned briefly back into the closet, and a month or two touching down in El Paso I moved to New Orleans. It felt as though I never left home, small town mentality with a French last name. I cultivated who I was, however, and who I wanted to be. Pretty much three years away from this city, I was rejuvenated, when it came time to return, I would strive to be unapologetically myself. “They may not like me, but they will know me…” I had written in an old journal.
I am 32 now, obtaining a teaching degree, writing, doing poetry readings and shopping around a collection of poetry. When I find myself feeling self-conscious for whatever reason I say ‘fuck it’ put on my favorite skirt, or some piece of ostentatious jewelry, and go out on the town. It has taken me so many years to become myself, and not concern myself with the opinions of others. I’m here, I’m Queer, Get over it!
Ernesto is a local scholar, poet, dreamer, and trend setter. His voice has equal parts wit, charisma, intelligence, and heart. Follow him at: