AI: First Exposure


I remember the first time I became aware that transgender men existed. It was when I read an article about Brandon Teena, which I think was in The New Yorker but I’m not totally certain of that. I was in high school then, and fascinated by the idea, but also horrified. Amazing that someone like me could live as a man, but horrifying because a lot of attention was paid to his criminal behavior and of course his murder. This was not a shiny happy story about transgender life – it was a warning.

Still, it lead me to looking more into the possibility that I might also be able to live my life differently. It got me onto a path that looks nothing like the story I read in that magazine.

Do you remember your first exposure to some part of queer life? Was it something that applied to you? Does any moment of realization stand out in your memory?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka communtiy. Look for it every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 3pm ET.

Featured image is of Brandon Teena.

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  1. I can’t remember my first exposure to the queer community, but I do remember the first time I watched “Boy’s Don’t Cry”, the movie about Brandon. It was only a few weeks ago at a queer event at my university, and it was a very emotional experience. I had to go for a walk after seeing it just to collect myself before rejoining the group at the pub.

    You are right though. These stories usually only depict the tragedy and violence that too often trans people experience, as did “Soldier’s Girl”, which I saw a few years ago. I wouldn’t mind at all having a movie with a happy story involving a trans person.

  2. I started reading the Kushiel’s Legacy novels when I was twelve or thirteen, and while I certainly knew homosexuality existed before then, I had not previously encountered a queer narrative that I directly related to. Those books are what first prompted me to start examining and resolving the attraction I felt to women, which I had previously written off because I had also been attracted to men (so of course I must be straight and just mis-parsing those other feelings), because they treated sexuality as the continuum it is rather than a binary. (They were also my first exposure to kink, so I have a lot to thank them for!)

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