Saying Yes and Showing Up

Although 2019 isn’t over quite yet, my calendar year feels like it’s already restarted. In early November of last year, I decided to leave behind nearly a decade of opting out and saying no to being gay; rather, I figured it was time to start embracing it rather than wishing it would go away. This past year has primarily been about showing up and figuring out my place in the queer community. Quiet Deviants gave and continues to give me a channel to express this journey.

Every interesting person I’ve met, every new experience I’ve had that’s been outside of my comfort zone has come from opting in and showing up. More often than not, it’s been uncomfortable and lonely. I’ll be the only person in the room who comes alone, or I fall back on being on my phone rather than awkwardly staring in to space. I allow myself that though, and try to remember that a lot of knowledge can be gleaned from simply observing others rather than artificially interjecting myself in to conversations.

So much about the queer experience is traced back to no. We constantly hear about stories involving rejection, violence, denial, and being an outcast. I’m not saying those stories aren’t valuable or true, but I do want to reinforce the idea that these are not our only experiences. Saying yes and showing up has led me to many things: my first Pride at Columbus Community Pride, photographing people I’ve never met before, hearing people talk about how they’ve grown their relationships with their parents, and intimate personal anecdotes about journeys through transitioning. Each of these instances gave me a chance at getting to know the queer community, and through that I’ve gotten to know myself.

Am I always excited about showing up? Absolutely not. Do I sometimes regret going to open mics and community events? Of course. But through practice, I’ve seen that the payoff of saying yes is greater than the risk—after all, no screen can ever replace real life.

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