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The DIOP Circle V.14

September 22nd, 2019


Sarah Al-Khayyal

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're pleased to present Sarah Al-Khayyal. Our 30th customer, model, and homie from the way back, she thinks we should've made shorts sooner. She's going to share how she developed her queer identity.

There was a point in time in Middle School when I had kissed more girls than boys.

But over time, my carefree nature and willingness to explore attraction and sexuality was derailed by a desire to fit in at my conservative Christian high school in the South. Like much of our early development is, this was a subconscious evolution.

It took leaving that bubble, my high school sweetheart breaking up with me, and spending the latter half of college in New York City to begin to realize that I wasn’t straight. For a while, I didn’t claim my queerness. I didn’t know how to be queer. How can you be queer when you don’t know what that looks like?

Until that point, my exposure to and understanding of queerness was binary: one is gay or one is straight. I didn’t know what it looked like to be anything in between or outside of that duality.

My understanding of queerness was limited to the tropes we see in media which limited my perception of queerness in my everyday life. There were whispers my softball team’s catcher was lesbian or the theatre kids were gay. But nowhere else had I seen or perceived any queerness in my life.

And how can you be something if you don’t know how to be it?

I started to gain the necessary vocabulary to reconcile my inner feelings with the outside world when my college roommate started facilitating sessions with a sex ed group on campus. She’d bring home bits and pieces of their discussion that day, and sometimes we would talk about her own forays into exploring her bisexuality.

She may not realize it, but she not only helped me begin to queer my vocabulary but also to come out of the closet.

The next stop on my journey to queerdom was the Biggest Little City (Reno) where I unintentionally fell right into my queerest community yet. My vocabulary and understanding of queerness exploded upon impact when I touched down in Reno. There, it was actually abnormal to not be queer-- I was surrounded by queers of all kinds!

I learned from their spectrum of experiences. I asked questions. I went to my first drag show. I rode a float in my first Pride parade.

Today, my worldview has been busted wide open. My vocabulary has caught up to me. I’m unlearning my internalized homophobia and queerphobia. I’m unlearning the sex and sexuality norms instilled by the kyriarchy and our heteronormative society.

I’m exploring the different corners of queerness. And I’m acknowledging my privilege within the queer community in that I’m straight passing and light skinned.

Which is why, if I may offer some wisdom, it would be that your queer identity has more to do with how you feel than with what you do. Don’t be afraid to identify as queer if you’ve only had one experience, or even zero experiences for that matter.

Queerness, like most things, is a spectrum and what you see in public or in the media may just be a small sliver of the spectrum.

So here’s where I’ve landed. Queer women who have only dated men are queer. Queer woman who are not out to everyone or anyone are queer.

Queer women who have no idea if they’ll ever be able to date a woman or enby are queer. You are queer if you say you are. And so sayeth I.


The DIOP Circle V.14

September 22nd, 2019


Sarah Al-Khayyal

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we're pleased to present Sarah Al-Khayyal. Our 30th customer, model, and homie from the way back, she thinks we should've made shorts sooner. She's going to share how she developed her queer identity.

There was a point in time in Middle School when I had kissed more girls than boys.

But over time, my carefree nature and willingness to explore attraction and sexuality was derailed by a desire to fit in at my conservative Christian high school in the South. Like much of our early development is, this was a subconscious evolution.

It took leaving that bubble, my high school sweetheart breaking up with me, and spending the latter half of college in New York City to begin to realize that I wasn’t straight. For a while, I didn’t claim my queerness. I didn’t know how to be queer. How can you be queer when you don’t know what that looks like?

Until that point, my exposure to and understanding of queerness was binary: one is gay or one is straight. I didn’t know what it looked like to be anything in between or outside of that duality.

My understanding of queerness was limited to the tropes we see in media which limited my perception of queerness in my everyday life. There were whispers my softball team’s catcher was lesbian or the theatre kids were gay. But nowhere else had I seen or perceived any queerness in my life.

And how can you be something if you don’t know how to be it?

I started to gain the necessary vocabulary to reconcile my inner feelings with the outside world when my college roommate started facilitating sessions with a sex ed group on campus. She’d bring home bits and pieces of their discussion that day, and sometimes we would talk about her own forays into exploring her bisexuality.

She may not realize it, but she not only helped me begin to queer my vocabulary but also to come out of the closet.

The next stop on my journey to queerdom was the Biggest Little City (Reno) where I unintentionally fell right into my queerest community yet. My vocabulary and understanding of queerness exploded upon impact when I touched down in Reno. There, it was actually abnormal to not be queer-- I was surrounded by queers of all kinds!

I learned from their spectrum of experiences. I asked questions. I went to my first drag show. I rode a float in my first Pride parade.

Today, my worldview has been busted wide open. My vocabulary has caught up to me. I’m unlearning my internalized homophobia and queerphobia. I’m unlearning the sex and sexuality norms instilled by the kyriarchy and our heteronormative society.

I’m exploring the different corners of queerness. And I’m acknowledging my privilege within the queer community in that I’m straight passing and light skinned.

Which is why, if I may offer some wisdom, it would be that your queer identity has more to do with how you feel than with what you do. Don’t be afraid to identify as queer if you’ve only had one experience, or even zero experiences for that matter.

Queerness, like most things, is a spectrum and what you see in public or in the media may just be a small sliver of the spectrum.

So here’s where I’ve landed. Queer women who have only dated men are queer. Queer woman who are not out to everyone or anyone are queer.

Queer women who have no idea if they’ll ever be able to date a woman or enby are queer. You are queer if you say you are. And so sayeth I.


By Sarah Al-Khayyal

Follow Sarah at @goooodtrouble

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


- Sarah Al-Khayyal


Follow Sarah at @goooodtrouble

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.