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A Questioning Queer by Mairi Lowe

Image by Jack Allan

Disclaimer: Queerness is complex and subjective. This is a reflective and not a research-based piece of writing which has emerged from my personal current understanding, knowledge and experience as just one questioning queer person in this big world on an ever-evolving exploration.

I am queer. When I say ‘I am queer’, I mean I am questioning the status quo that is harmful to those beings who live their lives beyond the world’s dominant heteronormative boundaries and patriarchal paradigms.

Queerness rejects binaries imposed by heteronormative patterns and paradigms, and instead accepts possibility and plurality. It creates hopeful space for difference to exist, for diversity to thrive. Indeed, the colours of the rainbow pride flag can be understood to represent and celebrate the diversity of LGBTQIA+ people. Queerness enables me to question my self-identity and explore different ways in which I relate to myself, to other people, and to the world. It is a tool or a lens which can help us challenge and subvert dominant cultures, to imagine and shift towards alternative, more equitable, sustainable and thriving futures.

Queerness is intersectional and goes beyond genitals. It is entwined with other political and climate & social justice movements. I gratefully pop the kettle on as my queerness shows up and makes itself at home in my equity-led climate activism, in my healing from domestic abuse, in my systems change learning and practice journey, in my (eco-)anxiety & mental health marathon, and other spaces. I am grateful to be able to safely explore how my queerness influences my approach to these different threads - and am aware not everybody has this privilege and freedom. This is why we all must keep questioning the status quo, keep showing up wholly with our queerness (if we are able to), and keep disrupting dominant paradigms in whichever ways we can from our unique perspective, context, and capacity. Pride is still a protest.

Climate activism work during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Fashion Act Now face mask by ReJean Denim. Image by Paul Chappells.

“Every moment that challenges the status quo takes with it queerness. Every time there is a disruption to the notion of what life is supposed to look like, and there is a fight for marginalized bodies to live with equal dignity and rights -- this is queerness … [E]very person who works to change the shape of the world, and not just works within the confines of the existing world is queer by nature. Queerness is about taking over institutions from the inside and re-centering that narrative, and welcoming new people to that space.” - Kristina Wong's Vagina (Wong 2014)

Sometimes I imagine my ‘queerness’ as a colourful community of tiny people - a diversity of queer characters I have met throughout my life and some I have yet to meet - rallying together on my shoulders (instead of a Devil and Angel - going beyond that binary). The rally of mini queers comes together (usually surrounded by beautiful, biodiverse nature) to cheer me on and care for me when I need them. Collective care through community is crucial to maintain queer resistance in oppressive systems.

Identifying as queer is my rejection to accept and conform to the status quo - regarding my gender identity, my sexual orientation, my relationships, my mindset - and to the dominant paradigms that cause harm to queer people. My queerness is now a core part of my identity and greatly influences my approach to living. It liberates me to keep questioning our current dominant systems and to maintain a curious, hopeful, open and learning mindset towards alternative paradigms and futures. In a world that can often be overwhelming, oppressive, and ostracising, I’m so grateful to (my) queer communities for creating sustaining pockets of joy, equity-led movements of collective action and care, and nurturing spaces of radical belonging - and for reminding me to keep living into my ever-evolving identity as a questioning queer.


About the author

Mairi Lowe is a Scottish Content Marketer, Systems Practitioner and MSc Social Innovation graduate based in Edinburgh. Focusing on sustainable fashion in Scotland, her research involves navigating complex challenges through a systems change perspective. Mairi is Creative Director at Sustainable Fashion Scotland, a community-led social venture exploring through practice how communities can take collective action to create place-based sustainable transformations. To learn more about Mairi and her work, check out her website here or add her on LinkedIn here.

Follow the work of Sustainable Fashion Scotland on their website or LinkedIn or Instagram.

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