Navigating my queer identity

Your identity should be designed by you, not others

Image supplied by: Supplied by Paige La Fraugh
Paige doesn’t have a coming-out story.

As a queer, non-binary woman, I don’t have strong opinions about queer culture.

I don’t always follow the latest trends and celebrity updates that are iconic to the LGBTQ2IA+ community. However, fragile heterosexuality—feeling that straightness is being infringed upon or erased by queer culture—has greatly overtaken a large part of what makes queerness special.

My journey with identity was made possible by the queer community as I stumbled through the most profound parts of queer culture. Identity is a significant part of queer culture and has allowed people across gender and sexual spectrums to feel validated.

Unfortunately, the word identity has lost its deeper meaning in society.

From the moment I knew I wasn’t straight, I knew my identity was special. Something about the specificity of my queerness made me proud to explore the world around me.

Not once in all my years did I ever willingly tell others who I was. I was secure in who I was, knowing that I was special but ordinary, never feeling the pressures of being “different.”

It wasn’t until I faced uncomfortable questions about my identity that I realized the degree to which society viewed me as different. I didn’t understand the concept of straight until proven otherwise.

My coming-out story doesn’t exist.

Whenever someone asks me about my coming out story, I never know what to say. I never had that sit-down moment where I told someone I was queer. I’ve never had to go through the motions of admitting who I was to someone else.

To add to this confusion, I’m often told, “you don’t seem gay.” Not only do these words negatively impact my identity, but they impact the identity of the queer community.

As gender and sexual diversity have become mainstream topics of discussion, society has normalized identity and its connection to the queer community. Identity is what makes queerness personalized. How we choose to identify within the queer community is part of what brings queer people together.

I think the most important part of identity that society has forgotten is that it starts with “I.” The true meaning of identity lies in what identity means to you, not what society wants it to mean.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to understand the word identity. When I first started to explore my sense of self, the social pressure to label my identity was suffocating. There was this unspoken expectation to disclose every detail about my identity to cishet people.

It’s hard to explain your identity to others when you can’t describe it to yourself.

I first noticed the deeper meaning of identity when I started to label myself as queer. Using the term queer has been liberating for me. I finally found a word that allows me to identify with the world beyond the gender and sexual binary.

Queer is my favourite umbrella term, but society still doesn’t understand what it means. The common question I get from straight people is, “but what exactly does that mean?”

I didn’t think I would need to further label or explain who I was. No matter how many ways I choose to identify, there’s always someone who needs clarification. I found myself having to educate others only to end up isolated when they were unaccepting of my queerness.

The constant feeling of needing to define myself to satisfy cishet social norms brought me to one conclusion: my identity is for me to determine and for no one else to dictate. 

Putting labels on queerness is no longer my prerogative. Understanding the deep complexity and personal connection I have with my evolving identity is what matters. I will no longer let fragile heterosexuality pressure me into pointing out my differences and reinforcing the straight agenda.

I do not owe anyone an explanation of my identity.

The hardest part of not owing anyone an explanation is, the cishet facet of society feels entitled to know everything about your queerness. I wish telling people, “my queer identity doesn’t concern you” didn’t result in backlash, but it does.

I was once told that I had no right to keep my sexual orientation private because I refused to explain why I call myself a woman and use they/them pronouns.

I don’t owe anyone an explanation of why I use certain pronouns. My pronouns, gender, and sexuality are not meant to be invalidated by others. Those aspects of my identity exist for me and those whom I choose to confide in.

I continue to deny people access to my identity. I share when I want and only what I feel like sharing. The same way others don’t have to disclose their heterosexuality, I don’t have to tell you about my queerness.

My current predicament with identity is knowing that nothing is set in stone.

Part of understanding identity and the journey of self-expression is also understanding that you will change over time. I fear that change because changing your queer identity means every other cishet person is going to have to understand a new detail.

I believe in reminding society that you don’t owe any kind of explanation to limit the fear of change.

My identity was and is still being designed by me to be enjoyed by me. Part of queer identity is embracing the deep and personal meaning that it has to your existence. I’ve given myself the time and care that I deserve to make my identity one of a kind.

I can’t explain the identity I have created, and I’ll never be able to fully understand the complexity of it for myself. I just know I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

I am who I am.


identity, Sexuality, Society

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content