Free To Be

“And then, a transformation occurs. Proof, that two bodies, total opposites, can become one—if we truly will it to be so. The paragon of potential. Everything is possible. This is where we came from. This is where we are going. Say yes.” —Johnston Newfield

We understand that every issue is unique as it pertains to our chosen identity, our gender, our spirituality and the ways in which we express ourselves.

We recognize that millions of people don’t identify with the gender they were born into or the sexual roles society expects them to fill.

We know that imposing difference on people is wrong, but we also know that, after being labeled as being queer or gay or just “different,” it can be empowering to now make and reclaim your own labels.

So who is a queer? What makes someone queer? What does queer even mean?

These are questions that came up when putting this issue together. Queer has been a highly contested term for ages and now, through different mediums of expression, light has been shed on what, exactly, it means—or, in some cases, doesn’t mean.

Just as anyone is uncomfortable with being labeled, we were uncomfortable with labeling. In fact, we weren’t even sure we wanted to put the word “Queer” on the cover. Perhaps we’re all a little bit queer in one way or another, but this year we want to move away from the stringent labels and put our focus on those who have devoted their lives to celebrating their true selves.

We spoke to Jillian Page, long-time copy editor for The Gazette, about her womanly transition. We spoke to Concordia visual artist Johnston Newfield about his self-exploratory artistic endeavours and the new term he’s added to the LGBT-verse—TRANSformation. We spoke to students who are passionately involved in creating insight by studying societal views on body hair. We spoke to a LGBT Native Canadian about Two-spiritedness and Native sexuality.

Surely, identity, gender and sexuality issues have evolved, expanded, transformed and weaved their way into academia, politics and everyday life. However, there are still obstacles to be confronted and people to be heard. We hope you can hear them loud and clear in this issue.

We wanted to look at the issue from a point of view of transformation and we want our content to create and further the discussion. Awareness is the first step.

This issue is about sexuality, identity and gender. It is about rebelling against what is expected of you and following your heart to your true self.

We hope that 2011 will open up a new understanding about queer issues and we hope that you and the people you know continue to define yourselves through whatever means are available to you. You are free to be…you.

—Ashley Opheim and Clay Hemmerich,
Fringe Arts Editor and Opinions Editor

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 16, published November 30, 2010.