This one stumped me because I literally went um… well the gay girl I crushed on at school but I didn’t know she was gay (she had a boyfriend and everything). Then I thought, well I knew that I was bi, but I mean I knew I was bi before I acted on it I just struggled to figure out what bi was.
How did I figure out what bi was? The wonderful, wonderful Freddie Mercury. But ok, does he really count as someone I knew? (Digression here, should I read something into my Mum saying she wants Fat Bottomed Girls playing around her funeral?)
Because to be honest Freddy Mercury, Kenny Everett, these were people I saw on TV and instinctively liked. Before them it was Kenneth Williams on Radio Four. Gay men camping it up have always been my instinctive home when it comes to the QUILTBAG. My instinctive love for My Warder, Pagan Mike, The Rugby Wizard, they’re gay men with an instinct for camp showmanship and I feel at home immediately. I don’t know why, I’m a bisexual cis-woman so there’s not a lot of overlap with experiences (though there’s some).
So who was the first Queer person I knew? Should I count summer romances with girls? They were never especially deep, I don’t feel like I knew them nearly as well as school friends, who with the notable exception above, mostly seem to be straight.
There was the Tech Director at the Uni Theatre who was a trans woman who did the thing of having a picture of herself pre-transition in the lighting box. Meaning that it was no secret but she didn’t have to have awkward conversations or join in with the campus LGBT+ Society which she disliked the idea of having to do. I got on with her in the way that I always seem to with trans women. I’m instinctively liked.
But who was the first Queer person I knew? Probably not my Great Uncle as he seems to have had an interest in women just been slow to act on it.
My housemate in my second year I got to know pretty well, well enough to be his wingwoman on dates in dodgy gay bars with and without parrots clambering about the ceiling. But I’d been a member of UNIQ, the QUILTBAG society at uni for over a year at that point.
Harry Potter? My bisexual friend from my first year at uni? We somehow ended up in Theatre Group together and going on fancy dress barcrawls but losing touch somewhat after moving out of halls. I still see her around town with her kids, happily married to a man but rocking the lack of heteronormativity in her dress sense.
What about my lovely lesbian tutor in first year? She was happily out and proud and urging me to switch to an Independent Studies degree, which I likely would have rocked but I was too into my Double Major Art degrees.
Who was the first Queer person I knew? I have suspicions about the girl in my first year of secondary school who did that pre-adolescent crush thing. But she’s never said she’s anything other than straight and again, married with kids.
Who was the first Queer person I knew? I grew up in rural England in the eighties, it was hard to be out, I suspect that I don’t know who the first Queer person I knew was. I think about the people I instinctively liked, like my primary school teacher who was married to a man notably older than her or the Girl Guide Leaders who uses a husband as a beard and were forced out of taking a group of us to Mexico when they were Outed.
I like people who have non-normative relations and most of the people I like were hiding something because they couldn’t be out in some way, not necessarily that they were Queer. But since I was eighteen I have always had Queer people in my social circle and I don’t think I can put a finger on The First. I think perhaps Harry Potter as she and I were great friends whilst we worked out what we were doing at uni.
So here’s to a couple of quiet bi nerd-girls dressing up and talking about crushing on girls and boys equally without judgement for the first time. Thanks Harry Potter, we did good. (She’s got rocking names for her kids too.)