“To love someone isn’t so much to know them, as it is to know their never-ending becoming.”
When someone confronted me with the question, “How important is it to you that you’re queer?” I couldn’t answer. Unsure whether to feel confused or insulted, I fumbled awkwardly through the conversation. It felt like there should be an answer: a way to quantify the importance of my queerness in concrete ways.
A few days later, the answer arrived unexpectedly. I was flipping through skirts in my local Goodwill. I was wearing a shirt declaring “love is love” and a mask with rainbows.
Soon, I noticed a teenager hovering nearby. They were tall and slender, wearing super long, bulky cargo pants and a long-sleeved shirt that hung past their fingertips. Their hair was dyed black, shaved on one side, and long and silky on the other.
“Hey,” they said finally. “I like your mask.”
“Oh thanks!” I said. “I love the rainbows.” I held up a skirt and asked their opinion. The teenager nodded, cheeks turning pink, and affirmed, “It’s really cute.”
“I thought so, too,” I said. I gestured down the row to their approximate size. “They’ve got some cute stuff today.”.
They nodded and then disappeared. A few moments later, I glanced down the row and saw them running their fingers over the skirts. They looked at me nervously, and I smiled.
“Good luck,” I said as I walked away, but I don’t think they heard me. They were holding a long, shimmery skirt that reminded me of a mermaid tail, and studying the way the fabric caught the light.
I suppose they’re my answer: that teen with the mermaid skirt. That my body could signal safety to a teen in Goodwill is the only answer I could ever give: my queerness is that important: as important as their life and their necessity in this world. It’s as simple as a rainbow mask and as beautiful as the galaxy of identity.
Our queerness is as important as haircuts and rainbows signaling safety and love. It’s as important as mermaid skirts, sequins, and cargo pants. To be queer is to know the ways of holding each other. To be queer is to know the ways of holding all that shimmers to the light.
Spirit of Life, may we love ourselves and one another into our fullest selves and truest expression of our identity. Help us to know the shimmering of our own beautiful spirits, and remind us of the ways we—each of us—are an essential piece of this rainbow world.