Laura K.

I am proud of being a lesbian, but I also identify with other terms including queer and pansexual. When I came out in the early 90’s during the height of the AIDS epidemic, I was immediately drawn to queer resistance movements like ACT UP. Queer fits for me because I have never been comfortable being forced into a box. Being queer frees you from limited ways of knowing and defining yourself. To know this can be scary but it is ultimately liberating. And since those boxes are social constructions, are not all beings, in essence, queer?

At the same time, my lesbian identity is something deep within me; it is my true romantic and sexual nature. But I am also attracted to people regardless of their gender identity or body parts. Until I started working with so many youth I didn’t know there was a term for this – pansexual. This fits me too.

Navigating society as a queer lesbian has always been difficult but has also been the way my life makes sense and has meaning. I have never had a choice about being anything other than authentic; being false to myself or others creates a painful cognitive dissonance that I have never been able to tolerate. To be honest, I wish I could sometimes. Wearing my heart on my sleeve and my politics on my tongue sometimes proves complicated. But with that struggle there is also the freedom that comes with being true to myself. This is an ongoing journey. Even at 55, I am still learning who I am at each stage in my life. And as I grow older, I embrace my queerness more and more. I can’t wait to see myself in my 70’s!

We must ALL be visible and counted. What is the opposite? To be defined by others who tell lies about who you are against your will. To be denied a voice and your own agency and personal power. To not be. This is the legacy of our past and the roots of deep psychological and spiritual suffering. This is an act of violence.

To thrive as human beings we must be seen and we must feel a sense of belonging. I am so grateful that there is a LGBTQ community where I and others can go to feel that we belong and where we can feel pride in who we are. And I will always fight for this community, and to end this systemic violence that causes suffering to ALL people.

Laura Kanter
Santa Ana, California

Latasha H.

My name is Latasha and I am a queer leatherwoman of color. I knew at an early age that I was attracted to girls but I was also attracted to boys. As I got older, I navigated more toward the lesbian side of the LGBTQI spectrum. Being a queer POC woman in my current social setting has its ups and downs. Cisgender gay men want to label me as “lesbian” because I am attracted to both men and women. But I don’t consider myself bi or pan. Being an out queer POC helps other queer POC persons know that they are not just accepted in certain spaces but wanted.

Being my authentic self is extremely important, as I live an open life. I feel that if you can’t be truthful to yourself about who you really are, you definitely can’t live a happy authentic life publicly. Being able to live your truth, whatever that may be, is important in today’s society so that you can stand up for yourself and others. Sadly, for some being out is not an option.

Being visible and being counted is a subcategory of being authentic in my opinion. Being visible is the outreach, the footwork, the educational opportunities for us to teach and guide those who feel that they are alone or that they can’t live their truth for fear of social rejection. Being both visible and counted is important in our society.

Latasha Hughes
Phoenix, AZ

Sarah Jean

I thought I was straight for the first 28 years of my life. I always felt like I was *more* than an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Even though I grew up Catholic and later became a non-denominational Christian, I felt a strong connection to the queer community but I could never put my finger on why I felt that way until we left the Church and my husband Chris came out to me as bisexual (later identified as pansexual). This conversation with him inspired me to explore my own sexuality and the term “pansexual” really resonated with me. I realized that it has never mattered to me what gender someone is, based on their genitals or how they identify. The only thing that mattered to me was their heart and spirit. Proclaiming my newfound sexuality as Pansexual was one of the most freeing moments of my life.
It’s difficult to be visible to the general public as a pansexual/bisexual cis-woman when you are married to a cis-man because our relationship looks like a heterosexual partnership. So I do my best to be authentic and open about my sexuality in conversation, in my wardrobe, with PDA with my g/f, and on social media (Instagram mostly). Being able to openly and affectionately explore my newfound sexuality has led me to falling in Love with my amazing girlfriend Danielle. I’m not very shy, outside of my workplace, in talking about my her or about dating women while being married to my husband whom I love dearly. Having a husband who also identifies as pansexual is also validating because we can relate to each other on that level.
Sexuality is fluid and it’s comforting to me that it’s O.K. to have identified differently as a teenager, as a young adult, and now in my early 30s. With this new understanding of myself, I feel more comfortable in my skin then ever before. I didn’t have any bi/pan role models growing up, so visibility is important for me. I hope to be a positive role model to people of all ages as someone who is happy and free, being the person I was always meant to be, Loving those I am free to Love.
With Love & Pixie Dust,
Sarah Jean
Santa Ana, CA

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann and David

“I stand before you as a 2nd Generation Vietnamese American, who is a proud Queer/Lesbian. Although I am proud queer woman of color, I still continue to fight for my visibility and the visibility of others in the Asian community. There is not a lot of representation in various media and social settings. Many constantly try to oppress and erase our existence, but we are not going anywhere,”
Sarah Ann.
Anaheim, CA

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