The way it’s supposed to go is that you stumble across a room full of people somewhere – in the real world, online, in a living room or a club. People with a certain something, a quirk or a look or a desire. People like you. And you feel this overwhelming relief to find them, and they welcome you in, and you have found where you belong.
Once I thought I could find it in AA, with all the smoking and socializing that happens after meetings. Everyone is so friendly, and we’re all supposed to be tackling this problem together. The even talk about in the “big book”; they compare it to people being rescued from a shipwreck together. Relief and camaraderie.
I remember being so bitterly, irrationally disappointed, standing there with my cigarette, realizing they were all just people. They had their own networks of friendships and weren’t necessarily looking to expand them. There were people who approached me, who offered to hang out with me, but this ties in to the AA idea of service. I can’t accept a friendship that someone is only being offered as a form of community outreach. I’m probably just too proud or too insecure, but it feels false and I just don’t want it.
Another time I thought I might find it online, in groups for people with AvPD. This is where I discovered a pitfall of building communities and identities around a disorder. Reading thread after thread about other people’s struggles with life didn’t make me feel less alone – it made me feel damaged and hopeless. No one seemed to have a way forward. Most of them just wanted to describe the pit we were trapped in.
I have gone back to sections of the queer community again and again. This is the most heart-wrenching. I want this to be my community, so badly. But my own bullshit follows me again. I feel so intimidated by other queer people. I worry so much about being judged when I walk in the room, and it doesn’t help that policing and gatekeeping are real phenomena in queer communities; the problem isn’t always entirely in my head.
One problem is this need I feel to do queerness right, somehow. I don’t even know what it would look like to be gay or genderqueer the wrong way, but I’m convinced that it’s possible and I will somehow do it.
I’ve completely lost faith that that magic room full of people I will feel comfortable around is out there. But that doesn’t mean I will stop looking for it. We all need a quest for something.