AI: Queer Role Models
One of the ways a lot of us learn things about the world we live in is through the media we’re exposed to, especially as children. Books and television raised me as much as (if not more than) my parents did. Growing up, Sesame Street taught me it was hip to be a square, Matilda showed me that sometimes your family may not really get you, but that’s ok and eventually you make your own family of people that care about you, and Dana Scully made me realise it was possible for a woman to be both a scientist and a bad-ass detective.
I recognise these role models sowed the seeds of scientific inquiry and feminism in me, but now that I’m older I realise there was something missing, something I had to learn as I grew older, by asking questions and seeking out answers for myself. However, there is no doubt that I’m one of the few incredibly lucky people that lived in a place and had the support of close friends and a partner that enabled me to ask those questions and not feel afraid or ashamed to. And I’m really glad I did, because I’ve now met people that inspire me so much, that give me strength and hope in my new-found identity. But for all the people that may not have been so lucky, it sure would’ve been nice to have some more people of colour and queer role models (either in the media or real life) to look up to as we grew up, to tell ourselves and the world we exist, that we’re not weird or aberrant, and that we can live and love the same way everyone else does.
Who was/were your role model(s) (queer or otherwise) that you looked up to, or took inspiration from, during your formative years? Who do you think might be fulfilling this role now? How visible are they and are there enough?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.
The Character Mr Humphries from the British sitcome Are you Being Served? was very important to me as a child because he modelled of much of what I felt and wasn’t treated as abberant by his coworkers.
Quentin Crisp has been an important figure in my life for many years. His misanthrpoc wit and insight have inspired me in many significant ways.
Erich Fromm work in philopshy and psychology has profoundly affected my life, giving me new ways to effective ways to understand others and myself. He gave me something to believe in.
Ernest Becker: His work is largly responsible for my interest in psychology.
Anna Varney: Her music fills me with joy. Her insight inspires me. Her ability to be (not unlike my other role models) fuels my own hope and strength of character.
Alan Turing has been a hero to me since high school. Not really my formative years, but I don’t really remember them much.
The Scooby Doo Gang, especially Velma. Talk about sowing the seeds of inquiry! I was obsessed with Scooby Doo as a child and at the end of every episode what do we find out? There’s no such thing as monsters or ghosts!
Oddly enough, Babylon 5.
The show taught me to question authority, not to trust the media without critically examining it and, hey, there was even a queer couple for a while! Also, if you’ve seen the show, then you know what I mean when I say it was basically a humanist bird-flip to the idea of Gods and Devils ruling our fates.
Also, Wishbone the reading dog.
Seriously? Roger Penrose. His books showed me when I was about 15 that math could be fascinating, and probably changed the whole course of my life.
I wish I’d had any queer or trans role models when I was younger, because maybe I would have figured out I was trans a lot sooner and saved myself a lot of pain.