As I submit my last assignment for this year and before I start my dissertation last year I start thinking about my research synopsis that is due in a few weeks for final approval for my thesis topic "The journey to identifying as a Queer Femme".
Identity is something that is very personal, how we identify is a combination if various factors that change in their level of importance over time, our sex, gender, ethnicity, faith or spirituality, familial role, sexual orientation, work role, hobbies and sports, values, beliefs and personality all come into play.
As we go through life and have a variety of experiences the level of importance of each factor will vary: the new parent, employee, partner or recently 'out' person may feel that this is their primary identity.
In the training I deliver we discuss identity, especially gender and sexual orientation and all of the various terms people may use. I don't talk about labels as I personally believe a label is something we put onto something else to make sense of it and to know how we will interact with it, whereas an identity is chosen by the person and cannot be put on them by another.
But how do we come to our identity? For some the journey is smooth but for many the journey is a rocky one, ups and downs, twists and turns, steps forward and back. It may have moments of celebration or grief, joy or despair and when it is reached there may be a sense of coming home and living your truth.
For me the journey to my identity was slow and winding, with ups and downs.....as an adult it twisted and turned......from girl to woman, daughter and sister, uni student then worker, singer and actress, heterosexual wife then single woman then lesbian partner, DV survivor then thriver, mother and grand mother, business owner then uni student again, bellydancer then latin dancer, avid reader and gardener, trainer and advocate, monogamous then polyamorous, vanilla then kinky, heterosexual (40 years), bisexual (2 weeks), lesbian (10 years), and then queer femme (5 years).
Who knows where it may take me over the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years......Masters graduate, Sexologist, Business owner?????????......the world is a never ending ride and I am going to grab it with both hands and hang on.....what about you, what has the journey to your identity entailed?
Richelle has had a passion for sexuality and sexual health since 2001. She has worked in the field since 2006, providing sexuality education in schools, and adult education in the topics of diverse sexualities and gender identities, LGBT health issues, sexual health and LGBT relationships.
This is a space for me to share with you my journey as a Sexologist, the things I learn and the people I meet and what I think and feel along the way.