Surfacing: Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)

He said "it's all in your head," and I said "so's everything," but he didn't get it.

Surfacing: Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)

First things first: I get to end the year on a good note. My new horror series with Boom!, The Neighbors, is coming out this March. It's about the things that scared me as a kid, and the things that scare me now as a parent, and about being queer in a small town where bad things are always just under the surface. You can see a preview and read the announcement here. Get excited. I am.

Coming out happens in your own mind before it happens anywhere else. Medical transition, the most obvious way I've come out, is usually seen in terms of the body, or maybe the body’s relationship with the soul: You are “male,” but your body is “female,” so you alter your physical container to make the two shapes line up.

It’s sort of like that, but it’s not like that, not really. I did not “always know” I was trans, because I didn’t always know that being trans was possible. Even once I knew the category existed — even once I had read about medical transition, and knew what changes I could expect; even once I knew I wanted those changes — it took a while to understand that the words “trans” or “non-binary” could apply to me, and that I wasn't just a cis person with an unusually strong interest in transition.

Which is to say: Coming out is about desire — who you want to be, who you want to be with — and people are famously bad at knowing what they want. In a repressive, sex-negative, Christian-dominated patriarchal culture, we all put a lot of energy into not allowing ourselves to feel things.

Queerness is self-honesty. It is the willingness to trust your own desire — to believe that if you want something, it’s real, and you might even deserve to have it. This is profoundly scary in a culture where desire and passion are seen as corrupting forces. One of the queerest things I do every day is meditate; it forces me to sit still and pay attention, not only to my thoughts and feelings, but to all the ways I try not to feel them. Anxiety will float up, and I’ll tell myself there’s nothing to worry about. Anger will arise, and I’ll push it away by declaring that I’m “not an angry person any more.”

But I am anxious; but I am angry. The fact that I have to deny or downplay those feelings is proof that they exist. Telling myself I shouldn’t feel something doesn’t make the feeling go away.

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