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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Ideas for Dealing with Invisibility as a Queer Person


The discussion about queer visibility typically focuses on representation and the portrayal of queer people & culture in the media. What sometimes gets overlooked, however, is the visibility of queer people in their day to day lives.


Many queer people feel invisible whether due to being closeted or simply being misread by others based on their appearance and/or the appearance of their relationships. Invisibility comes with some perks, but leaves a lot of people feeling isolated and less-than.



Each experience of queer visibility vs invisibility is unique.



Visibility as a queer person is not always safe. Invisibility for many is a privilege, though a backhanded one, so to speak.


The discussion is nuanced.


Scroll for some ideas to get you started ...


 

Before we even have an opportunity to get to know people, we form ideas about them.


Our curious minds jump to quick conclusions about others based on just a few initial cues, with our own “stuff” gluing the pieces together. The resulting picture is inevitably distorted, a co-creation between us and them that abstracts from their deeper layers and true self. 


Queer people whose outward presentation blends in with the normative culture are frequently assumed straight, invisible in their queerness unless they make it a point to out themselves, a choice they are forced to consider over and over again. Many straight-passing queer people struggle with feeling less-than and left out of the queer community due to their invisibility.


Some may choose to pump up their style to match the queer-coded trends of the time, others will find that fashion is just not their favorite mode of self-expression. Just remember, regardless of what you are outwardly serving, your queerness is beautiful. Surround yourself by affirming people who don’t let you forget it!


 

Let’s talk more about queer erasure


To a large extent, we are at the mercy of others’ assumptions and projections when it comes to how we are perceived. People tend to default to the normative culture when making those assumptions, unless we can find a way to signal our identity in an easily recognizable way. Many queer people live invisibly as a result, hidden due to the passing privilege they have or that their relationship provides. 



 


INVITATION ~ Practice noticing your assumptions!


How can you be more aware of the assumptions you make about other people? Where do your assumptions come from? What information are you basing them on? What other possible conclusions exist? How do the assumptions people make about you impact you? Do you ever outwardly adjust yourself to fend off incorrect assumptions?



 


Gatekeeping within the queer community perpetuates feelings of not belonging and not being enough. There are numerous queer identifying people who may not outwardly “seem queer” who frequent queer spaces, not to mention people who are closeted who visit queer spaces as part of their initial exploration. When ridiculed and made to feel unwelcome, they internalize the message that there is no place for them to exist.


HOT TAKE ~ The energy of gatekeeping matches the energy of the oppressor. 


Gatekeeping is a defensive move. In queer spaces it is usually intended to maintain strong protective boundaries, necessary to provide a respite from the harm queer people are otherwise exposed to in the world. The issue with gatekeeping within the queer community, however, is that it regularly harms and excludes the very community it purports to protect


What if we defaulted to acceptance, instead? 


In order to truly empower and lift up the queer community, we need to invite all queer people to the revolution.


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