At forty-one years of age, I am nowhere near where I thought I would be when I was younger and still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I spent most of high school hiding from how I felt about who I knew I was, and much of my early twenties trying to figure out who I was because I no longer knew. It wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I started to understand that I was queer.
My moment of knowing I had an attraction to women was in high school with my teammate. We were always so shy around each other, she was the same position as me and we were often paired up for drills. We walked the same way home and would have these flirty glances and nervous laughs shared between us. When she was my secret Santa she bought me a huge stuffed reindeer bigger than me, and she knew I loved dark chocolate so she got me a big box of candies. I knew then I liked her, but sadly nothing ever came of it.
After high school, I started my freshman year at UTEP, and at first, I was so excited! I was ready for meeting new friends. I was ready to experience a whole new culture of learning. That’s when depression hit me for the very first time in my life. I did not know what depression was then, but I knew I was sad and tired all the time. I hated how I felt inside about who I was and what I wanted and who I liked. I made all the wrong friends, did all the wrong things to self-medicate and self-soothe. It would be 10 years before I finally saw through the fog of depression.
That’s when depression hit me for the very first time in my life.
When I was 29 years old, I created A Queer Womyn’s Prerogative. It was a way for me to find a community of queer women feeling left out. I was not a wild party-goer, and going to the gay bars would be fun, but it wasn’t what I really wanted. I wanted to be around others who were interested in conversations centering being queer in El Paso.
I saw a lot of activities for the queer men in El Paso, and women were just kind of an afterthought. Even when I joined the board of directors of the now-defunct LGBT organization Rio Grande Adelante, everything was centered around what the gay men enjoyed. It was frustrating and I worked so hard to make it more inclusive with other women on the board, but we all felt our voices were silenced and so we gave up on trying to change the culture there.
Suddenly feeling defeated in my endeavors to make a lasting impression much like my famous queer uncle John Rechy, I fizzled out. Depression struck again and I was once again falling deep into the depths of toxic relationships. I was battling against constant gaslighting, verbally and emotionally abused by someone who claimed to love me. When I finally got away from that, I was in a bad place. Eventually, I moved on, married again to someone who was on the same boat I was. I guess we thought being together was the answer to saving ourselves. It didn’t work and soon that marriage was over but left us finding a renewed friendship, unlike anything we had before.
I guess we thought being together was the answer to saving ourselves.
I learned that we never stop growing emotionally and intelligently. There is so much to explore about ourselves and I found my niche late in life when most already knew by their late thirties. Many married and creating families, or those with careers and living exciting lives. Sounds like an Instagram feed doesn’t it? Well, that is exactly what it felt like at times when I saw how my other friends were living these “ideal” lives and here I was getting divorced and had no career.
It took a few weeks of a lot of self-reflection to figure out that at forty years old I am growing again, and I am no longer the same woman. I discovered that my need for a relationship was only based on society’s expectations and not what I wanted, because I didn’t want it. I realized I could no longer identify as a Lesbian because it didn’t fit how I felt about who I was, and though I choose queer femme I do not have a problem with identifying as Bisexual, giving more visibility to an identity often used as the butt of jokes.
Bi-erasure is a real thing and I don’t want to contribute to it. Bisexuality for me means I am attracted to all. I realize there is the identity of pansexuality and I think that is a wonderful way for many to identify. I just don’t want people to view bisexuality as inherently transphobic. We can’t let that kind of “TERFy” language make its way into our communities where we should be accepting and supportive of everyone.
One of the best discoveries of my life was knowing that at 38 years old I was able to find a community where I could let my nerd flag fly! It’s been 3.5 years and I have made some of the most amazing friends from all over the world that revel in the same things I do when it comes to comics, movies, television, and music. I feel like being queer is more widely accepted as an adult than being a comic lover at 40.
I wish people would be more open to it because they would be amazed to see how comics are literally telling the stories of what society is like now, and some of the older comics predicted society’s troubles today. Being a nerdy queer has been the most fun I have had in so long and I am so thankful for that community of nerds and geeks, specifically BIPOC nerds and Blerds (Black nerds) for welcoming me with open arms.
As I grew into myself more I became more radicalized politically so not only am I Chicana but Xicana. As a Queer Xicana Femme I push back against the sexist and long perpetuated stereotypes of the dutiful Latina. I refuse to be placed into a box that our colonizing ancestors formed for us. Indigenous communities for centuries past allowed for the autonomy of and supported women and the two-spirit person.
Decolonizing is difficult when I in fact grew up with grandparents who assimilated into white culture to ensure a safety net for their children during a time when being anything but assimilated would get you killed. This is why I fight against the patriarchy and against white feminism – my feminism is intersectional or it’s nothing.
The use of Xicana is a way for me to openly show where I stand in social justice, and how I am working to further my education to be a better ally to Black, Brown, and Immigrant communities.
…my feminism is intersectional or it’s nothing.
As a femme, there is this idea that to be femme means you can only dress and present in a certain way, which is foolish. Why are we allowing society (let’s face it, it’s mostly dictated by what men expected) to dictate this to us? We as queer femmes are political, our existence is our resistance to the standards society has placed on women.
Many women before me in the Queer community has fought the fight, and in their honor, I want to continue that fight with my existence and my voice.
I have embraced my age now and I love that I can continue to grow because now I am a fulltime student at the University of Texas at El Paso. I have discovered a whole new woman in me and I am ready to use this vessel for good. I may not have children, but I want to leave behind a better and just world instead of nothing but destruction for the next generation to clean up.
Life doesn’t stop at forty, and for me, it has only gotten better!
Veronica is a full-time student at UTEP, and is also a full-time caretaker for her mother.
Veronica joins the Diversity and Resiliency Institute of El Paso with years of customer service and virtual support experience. Veronica is also a writer and has the dream of becoming a published author.
“As an introvert, writing is the best way I communicate to the masses. I oftentimes need space and distance from crowds and loud noises. So when I sit down to write, I feel as if then I can communicate to the world. As a queer femme, I thrive in a community of inclusiveness, diversity, and respect.”
Column first appeared on the Borderland Rainbow Center’s site, and is republished here with their permission.
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