Outside Voices: Adrian
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
Welcome to the newest installment in my Outside Voices campaign.
As I continued to write about the LGBT community, I came to realize that I didn’t want to create the impression that my personal experiences as a white, gay man were representative of the experiences of the entire LGBT community. I could never, ever, begin to understand how different other queer people’s experiences have been from my own.
So, instead of speaking for them, I want to use my blog as a platform to give other people a voice. Every LGBT person has had different experiences, different challenges, different triumphs, and different lives. With the Outside Voices campaign, I hope to expose my readers to the endless facets of our community - those sometimes complicated, sometimes difficult differences that make this community so beautiful.
The name - Outside Voices - is an ode to being out. It’s an ode to being loud. And it’s an ode to letting others use this platform to share their own stories. I feature a new Outside Voice about once every month.
So. Without further ado, I’d like to pass the torch to Adrian.
Name: Adrian B. Mora
From: New York City
Identifies as: mixed-race, non-binary gender
Hi, Adrian. Can you explain your identity to those who may not know what it means?
With gender, I identify as non-binary. To me, being non-binary means I don't perfectly fit into the box of male or female. I don't feel entirely like a boy or entirely like a girl. I'm just a human being.
What even is gender? Does gender mean “gender expression?” If a boy wears makeup, does that make him a girl? Is it your body parts? Is it the different social roles and expectations of men and women? Who knows. It's strange, because all these concepts of gender are just meaningless stereotypes society has randomly assigned to different things.
Gender doesn't make sense to me. I think in 100 years, gender will no longer exist and people will just be themselves - hopefully. But until then, I'm a little bit of everything.
Sexually and romantically, I identify as a lesbian. When it comes to sexual/romantic relationships, I feel more comfortable seeing myself as feminine and am comfortable with my girlfriend calling me her girlfriend. I'm more okay with being a girl in the context of sexual/romantic relationships. I feel attraction toward girls and feel comfortable and even empowered by being a girl that likes other girls and being a girl other girls like. This might not make any sense to others, but it works for me.
Tell us about yourself.
I love theater, music, singing, songwriting, reading, creative writing, baking, watching movies and TV shows, and just creating stories in general. I'm very passionate about art and I love making others feel happy and inspired and empowered and motivated. I am very empathetic and care deeply for others, but that isn't always a good thing. I'm very invested in the well-being of others, even when it's something beyond my control.
When I grow up, I hope to be on Broadway, make movies, publish books, and release music. My dream would be to win Best Picture or Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Writing my own musical sounds amazing.
I want to learn how to play the piano, ukulele and guitar. Maybe even the violin or cello. Or flute. Who knows?
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face as a result of your identity?
The biggest challenge with my identity has been accepting myself and fighting internalized homophobia. There were many negative forces in my childhood that suppressed me and made me not want to be who I am. I haven't always been honest with myself, and it's pretty hard to know who you are or what you want when you can't be honest about it.
From the outside world, I'd say it was people not understanding my identity. They say, “It doesn't make sense, there are only two genders, are you sure that's necessary, yes we accept how you choose to live but you'll still always be a female, no matter what.” It hurts to have people make you feel like it's all in your head, or you're being over-dramatic. They made me feel like I couldn’t be comfortable with who I am.
I went to a very heteronormative elementary school with kids that badly bullied one of my childhood best friends for being gay. I was raised around a lot of religious Hispanic people that told me being gay was a sin. I also felt like my family was very heterosexual. I barely have any queer relatives (besides my trans bisexual little sister, but she didn't come out until long after this time of being uncomfortable with my sexuality) and it made me feel very alone.
What’s your favorite aspect of being a member of the LGBT community?
I love seeing how uplifting and beautiful and moving queer people can be. It's very easy to feel like things are hopeless, or you'll never be happy or get to be yourself. But you're able to see other queer people that went through difficult times who made it through and are happy with themselves. That's why I'm very grateful for the internet and YouTube, where there are people like Miles McKenna and Ash Hardell making very important LGBT content and reassuring queer and trans kids that it's okay to be who they are and showing them that they're never alone.
Seeing Miles’ journey has brought me so much hope, because he was able to get top surgery and go on testosterone despite the fact that when he started YouTube, he wasn't exactly comfortable with his gender and went by a different name and didn't really clarify his pronouns. Now he's open about being a trans guy - and that gives me so much hope for my journey. It lets me know I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be happy. I will get to the place Miles is, eventually, where I'm happy and proud of who I am and live the way I feel I should be.
Could you tell us a story about your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community?
In health class, our teacher told us to write down one question we have about sexual health. I wanted to ask about protection for lesbian sex, but I felt awkward about it. I wrote it down on the paper and my teacher was cool about it, but she was like "I'm not a..." and I figured she wasn't queer.
But the next day, she talked about staying safe with guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl sex and I really appreciated it. It was nice to feel like my voice was heard.
What’s the most common misconception people seem to have about you?
As a lesbian, the most common misconception people have about me is that I'm sexually experienced. At my old high school, I'd tell people I'm a lesbian and they'd be like "so you've had sex with a girl." And I'd be like, “no, I haven't had sex with anybody” and they’d be like, “so how do you know then?” But I just know.
Relationships are more than sex. I think those types of questions come from the fact that there are a lot of straight men with a fetish for lesbian sex. Many of them see lesbians as a porn category and reduce our entire existence into a sexual experience.
With being nonbinary, people always expect that if they get my pronouns wrong I'll be mad - but I'm not. I understand it's hard to fall out of habit and it's easy to forget. I'd only ever be mad if someone used the wrong pronouns on purpose, and that's never happened to me.
If you could say one thing to the world to help them understand you better, what would you say?
I would say gender and sexuality are just boxes in your mind. Break them. Love and life go beyond social constructs. We're all just people, and we shouldn't have to dress or behave or act a certain way or love a certain person just because society told us to. Let's all be who we are.
If you stop thinking about labels and stop seeing people as words with no real meaning, you'll realize people are really made of their passions and beliefs and interests and goals and philosophies and thoughts and ideas and actions. What makes someone interesting or different or worth being present in your life is how they treat you and what kind of person they are.
You can't define a person by something they can't control about themselves. Queer people can't choose to be queer any more than people can choose to be straight and cisgender. We're not that different in the end.
Any last words?
I want to say to any people who are questioning their identity or have trouble accepting themselves or are in a family or community that doesn't agree with who they are: you're going to be okay. I promise. There is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful and strong and you are exactly who you should be. You're perfect just the way you are and I swear it gets better. I know from experience.
Thanks for reading Adrian’s story, folks. And thank you to Adrian for sharing it with us.
If you identify as LGBT and you would like to be featured in a future Outside Voices profile, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d absolutely love to hear from you.
PS - If you like what you see, feel free to click here to subscribe to my posts. If you’re not ready for that type of commitment, start by following me on social (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). Wishing you all the best.