Article by CABRA
CABRA CONTEXUALIZES HIS QUEERNESS.
In September of 2019, I shared a post to Instagram introducing my friends and the world to my new identity under the name CABRA. Taking inspiration from drag culture and the way in which a performer’s name distinguishes them, Cabra embodies my ultimate idea of myself. My perfect form. Cabra is equal parts what I am and what I want to become. It is the name that I am to make a first impression with and to be referred to by those who did not originally meet the person behind the idea. If everything about me were a piece to a larger puzzle, Cabra is the picture on the box.
In my post, I say that the name was inspired by the legend of the “chupacabra” (a creature out of Latin American folklore that is said to drain cattle of their blood) and incorporates my fascination with what it means to be “ungodly” with my desire to exist outside of archetypal thinking and gender-specificity. Even with all that said though, there remains a crucial component to Cabra that I failed to mention back in September. This component is how Cabra gives me the opportunity to publicly embrace, what I like to call, my unique brand of “queer monstrosity.”
Since coming out as queer at the start of my high school career, I have noticed two distinct ways in which queerness manifests itself in a person. For some, their queerness naturally manifests “quietly,” or has little to no affect on their daily lives and gives them little to no problem when it comes time to blend into our cishet-centric world. For others, their queerness naturally manifests “loudly,” or positions them against gender convention and heteronormativity so much so that if they didn’t stick out in a crowd, they’d feel as though they were suppressing their methods of self-expression. While these are, admittedly, overly simplified outlooks on queer existence, there does feel like there is some truth in it, especially when you consider the political angles which are most commonly used to fight for the rights of queer people. Every queer person knows that there are some activists who challenge any idea of difference between cishet and queer people and that there are some other activists who openly admit that there is a difference in experience and demand that they be granted rights that acknowledge and acommodate their experience properly. There have just always been those who think it best and find it easy to assimilate and those who think it best to and find it within their instinct to disrupt. (These experiences are both valid and should never be the subject of shame.)
The point of defining these different manifestations of queerness is not to tell anyone what their experience should be or to limit queerness as an idea that means different things to each and every person who identifies with it, but to further a discussion on my life. If it wasn’t already made clear when I referred to embracing my “queer monstrosity,” my queerness most definitely and proudly manifests itself “loudly.” With this declaration, however, comes recognition that there are some very real drawbacks, for lack of a better term, that come with existing outside of convention. One of the most prominent drawbacks in my mind is how I often feel too much “otherness” to partake in traditionally American activities and exist within these spaces.
Of the many traditionally American activities, the first to come to mind that I feel “too much” for is prom. Prom, to me, is just one of those nights that should be as one envisions in every way imaginable. You are given the opportunity to live out your wildest dreams and have fun. It should be something all teens look forward to and yet, I can’t help but feel that my wildest and instinctively femme dreams force attention on me that I don’t want. See, an important part regularly left out of the typical prom narrative is the way in which it is seemingly designed for and solely meant to “appease” cishet women (even at that, prom is still highly misogynistic with its assumption that all women are abundantly femme and want a man by their side). Those who do not fall into that category, like myself, are left to stick out like sore thumbs. If I had it my way, I’d be the belle of the ball. But unfortunately I can’t have it my way, not because I fear violence or what others will say about me, but because I loathe the fact that people will have something to say about it in the first place. There is just no way for me to blend in. My self-expression will either come with comments of how brave I am or whispers of how bizarre I choose to be. It feels incredibly unfair that me being me makes me a topic of conversation. Sometimes, the last thing I want to hear is a “yass” or a “Slay queen!” The truth is that sometimes I want to act alone and not as a face for the entire queer community. While I believe it is my duty as a marginalized person to fight for change, it feels incredibly unfair that actions, like living MY fantasy at prom, end up bigger than myself for reasons I cannot control. Let Cabra be Cabra and Cabra alone.
Nevertheless, my queerness and I will continue to be “loud” and will only grow louder. I hope that one day, myself and so many others get to control how much bigger than ourselves we get to be.