Humans of Qualtrics: Colin
QPride is highlighting the diverse stories of its members throughout June for Pride Month with the Humans of Qualtrics project. Introducing you to Colin.
I like to say that I had a true, middle-American upbringing. I grew up at the edge of downstate Illinois, right across the river from St. Louis. Here, everyone aspired for a “normal” life - a white picket fence, 2 and a half kids, an impeccable front lawn - the whole shebang. When you're raised in a place that is so invested in upholding its sense of normalcy, your own differences become amplified, as if put under a microscope. Kids called me gay before I even knew what that meant. Before adolescence, I didn't have a grasp on what being gay was. My impression of a gay man was Carson Kressley from Queer Eye: extremely flamboyant, kind of rude, and manicured for the Gods.
Looking back, I realize my perspective was a warped caricature of homosexuality where gay men are hyper-feminine comedic relief without any depth. However, what's more worrying is that I was not alone in this belief; this belief was shared by my community, where any difference was ostracized and punished. In school, I was targeted because of my effeminate mannerisms - I crossed my legs when I sat, played double-dutch with the girls at recess, and enjoyed playing pretend over playing ball. But to a young queer boy, I didn't understand what was “wrong” with these behaviors. Nevertheless, I tried to change them to fit in with my peers. I paid closer attention when I sat so as to not sit like a girl. I made sure my voice was deep when I spoke so I wouldn't get teased for talking with a high voice. I was miserable.
Luckily, I've since divorced from that mindset (and that locale) to live my true, authentic self. To me, queer people are the light in the world; we're able to think differently and challenge preconceived notions. We illuminate injustice and strive to create a society where everyone is included, not just those deemed normal. Into adulthood, I find the things that I was teased about as a kid are some of my greatest traits. The moment I embraced what made me different was the moment I became free.
Technical Writer, DSX | Seattle | Gay/Queer
Thank you for joining us to hear from the Humans of Qualtrics. You can explore the entire series through the links below. Stay tuned for further stories throughout the month.