Feeling queer is already such a unique experience, finding that identity that makes sense and feeling accepted by your family and friends is such a rush of positive emotions. However, there is a downside to being in the LGBTQ+ community, and it is the feeling of not being queer “enough.” The feeling of not feeling queer enough can dilute the support and positive outcomes you can experience while being in the LGBTQ+ community. Not feeling queer enough feels as though you do not present as the identity that you hold because of how people with that identity are portrayed in the media or because of how you think they “should” be.
This feeling can make someone feel like they must change their appearance, mannerisms, or even their identity, etc. which is not true whatsoever because no matter how someone dresses, acts, or presents themselves they will always be queer enough. According to Heathline, “if you are queer, you are queer enough. Full stop.” This is one of the easiest ways to reassure someone who is feeling inadequate about their identity. Most people who feel as though they are not queer enough feel this way because they are in a “straight-passing” relationship, no one knows their identity except for them, they are a new member of the LGBTQ+ community, or they do not have many queer friends. One way to fix not feeling queer “enough” is to get involved with the queer community in any way, shape, or form. This could elevate stress or feeling like you do not necessarily belong within the community. A sense of acceptance within yourself is the first step of healing from not feeling queer enough.
Rachel Kleinhenz, a sophomore at Kent State University, shares their identity as a form of understanding of the struggles they may go through because of it. “I identify as a bisexual person somewhere on the nonbinary spectrum, but my pronouns are for now she/they,” Kleinhenz said. “I felt as though people judged me from ages twelve to eighteen because I had only ever dated men and I fell into the bisexual stigma of “oh you’re with a man, you are in a straight relationship” which was just never the case.”
For me,being a pansexual nonbinary person I had always kind of felt disheartened that I would never one day “pass” as anything but a girl because I was AFAB. Through hearing the stories of other nonbinary folks, I realized that I never really need to “pass” as anything except for Ivory. Which was a feeling that I have had to hold onto within the struggles that are gender related.
Kleinhenz continues with some words of wisdom regarding feelings of not being queer enough. “Being queer is not a race, there is no finish line. Even if there was, we would all help each other to finish it together; if you’re queer then you belong. There are no other rules or regulations to be in the community,” Kleinhenz expressed.
Being in the LGBTQ+ community does not require admissions or have a processing fee, you just are queer and that means you are within this community of other queer people who are most likely feeling the same kind of doubt, or have gone through it themselves at one point.
A current EMAT (Emerging Media and Technology major) student and intern at the KSU LGBTQ+ Center shares their experience with feeling like they weren’t queer enough to be in queer spaces.“I work at the KSU LGBTQ+ Center, and sometimes I wouldn’t feel like I could contribute enough to the discussion because of my specific identity. I identify as bisexual, so this sometimes makes me feel as though I do not belong,” they shared.
Being a person in the LGBTQ+ community, and also not feeling queer enough can make someone feel as though people do not want them there, but for the most part other queer people will accept you no matter what your identity is. Just like Kleinhenz had shared before, there are no standards to fit into the community, if you have an identity you’re with the community.
The student enrolled in EMAT continues with when they first felt as though they belonged within the queer community. “The first time I felt a good sense of community was within my high school’s GSA, at least when I initially joined. This was the first time I was with a group of people my age who were also in the LGBTQ+ community, gathering in a space specifically for our community,” they expressed.
This student shared after a few years of this experience, they had felt a disconnect. This is a normal feeling, especially in high school. Everyone is changing, and learning about themselves. High school and college is the place for young adults to figure themselves out, so it makes sense why this student felt as though they did not belong within this space.
However, when a space is made specifically for queer people, they will not ask you your identity as you walk in. They want you to feel safe and comfortable, not judged or discriminated against. The space is meant for you, not for what you are, but who you are and what you need.
For me, I work at the LGBTQ+ Center on Kent State’s main campus. I cannot speak for the Center, but only my experience as an individual. I feel as though our LGBTQ+ Center does a wonderful job on educating and including people of all races, gender, and sexuality. We have events regarding anything to do with the LGBTQ+ community, and more. These events have helped me learn and grow as a person, and as a member of the community.
The current EMAT student continues with some advice they would like to give someone who identifies within the community and who may be feeling like they do not belong within queer spaces. “There are no criteria for being a part of the queer community other than identifying within the community. As long as you have an identity within the LGBTQ+ community, then you are enough to be a part of it. If you are having trouble feeling like you belong, maybe try out some new or different queer spaces, or if you do not think you are able to participate in discussions/dialogue surrounding issues in the community, especially for identities within the community you do not share, maybe do some research and educate yourself so you can be involved and help support others,” they remarked.
This is something that many young queer people need to hear to feel as though they are not alone within this feeling. Not feeling queer enough is a feeling no one should have, yet many of us do. Know you are not alone within your journey as a queer person, you have a whole community who is rooting for you whether you can hear it or not.