KY STEWART | REGULARS
Being gay and Indigenous is a box I will always be in. A box that I have come to know the four walls of quite well over the past twenty years and to be honest, we have never really gotten along. I have never felt quite Indigenous enough to fit into Indigenous groups and I have never felt queer enough to fit into gay groups. At either end of my identity, I am at a loss.
On top of that, there is immense pressure from non-Indigenous, heterosexual worlds for me to perform how they think I should. I feel the need to educate, correct, or answer questions about Indigenous news and culture. I feel the need to be the hyper-feminine “yes queen, slay the house down mumma boots werk” gay that straight girls want me to be whilst we talk about RuPaul’s Drag Race. Don’t get me wrong I love drag race and everything about drag culture, but there is more to me than just the gay, Indigenous one.
Over the years these award-winning roles of ‘Gay Best Friend #3’ and ‘Oh I have an Indigenous Friend’ have caused me to put up mirrors in my box. Mirrors that only reflect a little bit of myself but mostly what other people see me as.
It is like my very own funhouse! And not like the cute Luna Park one where you take your significant other on your first year anniversary, but more like the one P!nk was being dragged from by a weird man in a white mask. The kind of funhouse that is full of mirrors telling me that I’m not good enough, nor do I belong where I am, and is like, kinda on fire too, not enough to panic but enough where you can smell smoke and feel somewhat alarmed but there’s no need to call for the fire brigade, not yet at least. Do you remember that one obstacle in Wipeout where there was a wall and it had gloves that punched the contestants in the stomach or the face? At times my little funhouse feels like it’s covered in boxing gloves ready to lay one right on my chin, and um, these walls pack a mean punch. I hope I have painted a detailed enough picture of my box for you now.
If I stare long enough into those mirrors, I start to believe the distortions that I see. I start to believe that I’m not good enough to be in the jobs, scholarships, or internships that I am in and that I’m just taking up space. Worse than that, I start to believe that I’m taking up someone else’s space. Someone that is far more deserving of the space than me. I start to believe that I am just a token, I am nothing more than a box that Susan from HR can tick off.
Whilst this may sound like a desperate cry for help, it isn’t. It’s an opportunity for me to hold these thoughts accountable – my therapist would be so proud – because I am not myself for anyone else but me. A simple concept I know, but it is one that I have never been able to grasp.
And maybe one day I will have the confidence to step beyond the four walls of my box and make myself a home. But for now, I’ll go check out that burning smell…