Natalie Gilbert (she/her)
Q: What are some common misconceptions that people have regarding your identity?
A: Well when I initially came out to my mom she assumed that I was just bisexual and not queer. A lot of times when I tell people I identify as queer they don’t really understand what I mean. I think in a way they try to categorize me in their heads but queer means so many different things to different people and when they can’t do that they just seem to get confused. Being gender fluid can also sometimes add to this confusion for people. For me, I've never identified with any of the labels. I’m queer and non-binary which allows me to be fluid. In a lot of ways my sexual preferences and romantic preferences often change and being able to say I’m queer and nonbinary offers me flexibility in terms of how I choose to define myself. My motto is: I am a queer, nonbinary, and polyamorous individual, “I’ve never made a decision in my life, and I am not going to start now!”
Q: How do you cope with individuals trying to invalidate your identity?
A: Growing up I have always understood how identities can impact others’ perceptions of me. As a black and Queer individual it is pretty common to face adversity and have individuals just look at you like a stereotype. In regards to being nonbinary specifically people often try to say that nonbinary people don’t make sense because they can’t choose a side, but ultimately there is a distinction between sex and gender, and there is no reason that people can’t identify with both male and female characteristics.
Also a lot of people have questioned if I a queer or not, or whether queer is a valid term of identity. I don’t think that we should be debating on who is queer and who deserves that title. For myself I have reclaimed the title Queer. Being Queer means understanding my identity and being true to my sexual preferences even if they vary from day to day, I don’t owe it to anyone to disclose my preferences, and I definitely won’t make it easier for people by just “picking a side.”
Q: Does your identity affect your dating experiences?
A: Dating as trans queer polyamorous person has been an experience. I got out of a relationship a while ago and since then I have just been doing a lot of online dating. Online dating can sometimes be easier for the LGBTQ+ community because you can just set your preferences and then you know that the people talking to you already know how you identify so it relieves some of the pressure, but then again online dating is a mixed bag. Sometimes I’ll end up messaging someone for a few weeks and then just get ghosted, it’s weird.
Q: What are some struggles that you have to face that other members of the LGBTQ+ community don't have to?
A: Being black, nonbinary, and queer is a big struggle for me. When I am in Queer spaces sometimes I am the only black person in the room, which can be difficult. Sometimes when I am in Black spaces I am the only Queer individual in the room. That isn’t to say that you can’t be a person of color and also LGBTQ+ because many people are, but rather it means that my identities intersect often which can be hard to navigate at times. It involves a lot of code-switching.
Q: What's the weirdest question you have been asked after you've told them you are genderfluid/ Queer?
A: The weirdest question I have received about my identity was from my mom. After I had told her I was queer she asked me whether I had been with a women. I think for a lot of LGBTQ+ people in general they get a lot of questions about their sexual history that are really invasive,and often times I ask ironically, “Do you really want a spreadsheet of all my past sexual experiences?”
Q: What is your biggest tip for coming out?
A: One of my biggest takeaways from coming out is that it often takes some time for people to adjust their perceptions of you. For example, my mother was at first really shocked when I came out, but she was supportive after a little while. I think that is really important to remember, and try to be patient with your loved ones.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your identity?
A: My favorite thing about my identity is that I have gotten to connect with so many people, and get the opportunity to support other queer people and its so fun. Queer people have an immediate camaraderie and Queer people are down for the cause. It’s just such an amazing community to be a part of. In addition to the community aspect, I also participate in drag and it’s an amazing experience where I feel like I am fully able to be myself and then also mentor younger queer people looking to do drag.