It is very challenging to be the queerest person in the room. That’s not to say that it isn’t valuable to the group, doesn’t have some rewards, but it is challenging.
Because it is so challenging, most people work hard to avoid being the queerest person in the room. They modulate themselves, adjusting to be appropriate for the space, keeping parts of themselves hidden.
While this choice removes contention and challenge in the group, maintaining easy comfort, it also robs the group of much of the capacity that people have to offer. It removes energy and opportunities for growth.
One thing that visible transpeople do is change the queer boundary. When people feel the queerness in the room is about three, they will usually work hard to stay at two. Let a very queer person into the space, a six or seven, and then people can loosen up, show their individuality. All of a sudden they can relax and show the four that they really are.
For those who want to keep groups quiet and complacent, this is a bad thing. They want to maintain an enclave for the compliant, not a sanctuary for the creative.
For those who want vibrant, lively, growing and healthy groups, though, they know that moving the creative and queer energy levels up is the only way to keep things fresh and throbbing. It is the only way to release the most energy in the group, fostering innovation by always affirming the new.
Queer is messy, no doubt about that, just like any other kind of creative expression. It requires being willing to risk failure in an iterative quest to find what will work. Queer demands bold attempts and the ability to learn from everything.
Inside LGBT spaces, one of the fundamental challenges is always “How queer is too queer? How queer is not queer enough?” Some people tend towards the tame side, working to assimilate, while others tend towards the wild side, being highly individualistic. It becomes easy for both sides to think the other is just doing it wrong.
The way liberation has happened is always the same. The icebreakers move the boundaries, and the networkers then move in behind and shore up the gains. The approaches are interlocking and complimentary, not separate and contradictory.
There is a cost, though, for being the queerest person in the room.
Some people may try to erase and silence you, denying not only your right to speak but also your essential humanity. They decide that it is not proper to be that queer not proper to show that difference. so taking a way your standing, driving you away. is a holy duty.
If you are the queerest person in the room, people can often decide that you are so strong that you do not need their kindness, compassion and support. Instead of standing by you they put you on a kind of pedestal, dehumanizing you in the process.
It is a real challenge to support and encourage creative queerness to exist in your group. The benefits may seem more than the cost if you want to create an enclave, isolated and unchallenging.
If you want to create a sanctuary for the incredibly diverse and potent creativity that humans can bring to the table when they start exposing their gifts rather than hiding them, a place where everyone feels safe to let loose and be there best, is there any other choice than moving the goalposts by deliberately including the queer?