I Got Stoned and Went to See Top Gun and Realized I’ve Been Genderqueer All Along
I was a stoner in my early adolescence, part of a destructive set of coping mechanisms to escape my difficult reality. Then at 15 I quit all drugs and alcohol for over a decade, and have only pretty recently started gently reintegrating weed into my life. Rather than using it as a way to numb myself and escape my nightmarish reality, it acts now as a portal into a different kind of consciousness, one where I receive messages from what I call “The Weed Gods” as shorthand. My best guess is that THC allows my brain to make many more connections, and deactivates the part of my brain that blocks the reception of insights and premonitions so that I can function in normal life and not be having a spiritual awakening every minute. Very helpful for day-to-day functionality! The Weed Gods give me incredible insights that have massively helped me in my life. Some past realizations include:
-I’m with the wrong partner (they were right and I should have left when they told me this).
-I missed an opportunity to be with someone who I would have partnered really well with and had a beautiful life together. She’s happily married now, but I was able to share this vision with her with no expectations or ulterior motives and it was a beautiful moment we shared, and that she appreciated.
-That I’ll either find a different phenomenal partner when the time is right, or continue being single and having a rich life full of deep friendships and creative fulfillment no matter what. And that I should never settle for a partnership that isn’t spectacular.
-I can only have close friendships with people I can be honest, transparent, and communicative with. To be able to work through difficulties with joy and care, and not have it be pulling teeth each time. If we’re not able to do this, but we still have fun together, we can still have a valuable connection, but I don’t want to invest a bunch of one-on-one time with them.
-That I really need to trust that my deepest desires in this life will lead me to my truest fulfillment. I realized that most of my life I’ve been afraid to follow them, convinced that there’s a curse that makes it so I can never have what I truly want, and instead must settle for an okay but dissatisfying existence. And that this is a completely false belief.
-Very detailed visions of my future on particular paths that I feel are really accurate and have helped me make some important and good decisions.
Anyway, what I’m trying to impress upon you is that the Weed Gods tell me some pretty profound shit that rings very true and stands the test of time. I only get stoned about once a month, by the way. That’s plenty for me. I don’t think I could handle daily downloads of this magnitude. Or maybe the downloads would lessen and that would defeat the power and magic of it. I don’t consider myself a stoner, but I occasionally use it for medicinal/spiritual purposes, or to have lots of giggles at the movies.
So I’m with my friends Emily and Carl, both of whom identify as some degree of genderqueer, and we eat some weed gummies and go see the new Top Gun movie. Getting stoned and seeing action movies on a big screen is one of my great joys in life. It’s like being in an immersive amusement park ride!
As fate would have it, we’re seated next to four ADORABLE adolescent boys. Maybe ages 12-14? The same age that I was a runaway, smoking a pack and a half of Marlboro Lights a day, coming home only to steal money from my alcoholic mother, sitting outside liquor stores asking older guys to buy me booze (very successfully), and eagerly consuming any drug I could get my hands on. But that’s a whole other story.
In my adolescence, I had long hair that I straightened and wore in a low ponytail at the back of my neck, hair parted down the center. I often wore baggy band t-shirts (on heavy rotation were Metallica, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Gwar, No Doubt, Nirvana), baggy, ripped jeans with boxers peeking out from underneath, and a worn-in pair of skater shoes (my favorite brand was Duff). I intentionally lowered my voice, and kinda talked like Butthead, one of the titular characters on the MTV show Beavis and Butthead, and I hung out with a lot of guys in addition to a few female friends. I liked my female friends and related to them to some degree. It helped that I hung out with other weirdos and outcasts. I often felt like one of the guys, and had a lot of common interests with the boys, like physically playing, wrestling, building and fixing stuff, climbing, and general adventuring. I liked being around some girls too, but I was selective because I was not very interested in things like playing house, gossiping about people, or focusing on how to look pretty. One group of friends I hung out with for a while called me “Brocks” and one of those guys once said “You're not a girl, your Brocks” and that actually landed really well with me. I recognized something in myself at that moment.
In addition to my gender identity, my queer sexuality was observable to others before myself as well. All my friends knew I was attracted to girls before I acknowledged it to myself. At 14, I was in love with my best friend Meggie Bell, a cowgirl who was also a runaway. We ditched school and went puddle splashing together, lost our virginities to the same guy that we had both just met, destroyed her dad’s house together (like actually destroyed), and had plans to steal horses and run away together. But this is a whole other story, back to the one at hand.
Actually, a quick detour first. I feel like I should elaborate on my ideas about gender. Simply put: I believe there are masculine qualities and feminine qualities. And any person can embody any combination of these qualities at whatever ratio and that’s awesome and perfect. Men often seem to have a higher ratio of masculine qualities and women often have a higher ratio of feminine ones. But anyone can naturally have any combo of these qualities and can and should identify as whatever the fuck gender makes them feel seen and happy and we should all respect and celebrate that. Period.
So I’m seated in the theater, between my friends Emily and Carl to my left, and the group of four adolescent boys to my right. The movie starts and the gummies are kicking in. The weed lens starts to focus on just how masculine this movie is. Top Gun was an ode to masculinity and I was THERE FOR IT. Not an ode to men, per se, but the elements that make up masculinity. Focus on physicality: pushing yourself to the physical limit, bravery in the face of physical danger, the rush of adrenaline. A wish to be seen and respected as strong, brave, and capable by your peers and mentors. Disregard for authority when it counteracts a deeply held belief in yourself and your abilities. An ambition to be the best, and getting to the place where you fully believe in yourself and your ability to fulfill your highest potential in this life. That’s not inherently masculine, but men are socialized more to believe that of themselves than women are.
I started really relating to those elements of masculinity. I’ve always been adventurous and brave. I love climbing trees, rock scrambling, jumping off high places into water (when I know it's safe), surfing, and riding my bike super fast. I highly value my competency with building and fixing things, and problem-solving makes me feel very alive and integrated. I’m a top notch parallel parker. Recognition of my skill and competency makes me feel more validated than any acknowledgement of my physical attractiveness. I related to a lot of what was being shown on the screen. So did the teen boys I was sitting next to. I found myself giggling at the same cheesy dialogue and homoerotic undertones (I was giggling out of joy and delightedly picturing the male characters Rooster and Hangman making out), squirming in suspense at the scary parts, bouncing, clapping, and cheering at the triumphs, and generally being very exuberant and loud. We were all doing this in unison. They were so genuinely excited about what was happening, and so was I. They were literally sitting on the edge of their seats. At times they were snuggling a little bit with each other, leaning casually on each other, yelling stupid jokes at the screen, and periodically smacking and playfighting each other.
I felt like I had found my people. Like I would fit in perfectly with them, though that would be creepy because I’m probably the same age as their parents. Then I pretended they were my sons, or one of them was my son and the rest were his friends. I was flooded with joy and pride for these boys and their vibrance, earnestness and playfulness. Their bright curious spirits, shining unselfconsciously. I saw myself in them, and I loved what I saw.
I’ve always enthusiastically supported and celebrated all forms of queerness, even before it was cool (I grew up in a pretty homophobic and transphobic culture). I know and love many transgender and genderqueer people. I somehow just never identified as anything but a queer woman. I’ve always been a bit of a gender rebel and have loved the masculine qualities that I embody. But I also love my feminine qualities just as much, and I love that I contain a really fantastic mixture of them. I feel very lucky that I love my body, and I don’t have any gender or body dysmorphia. I’m happy that I was born into a female body and wouldn’t change a thing about myself physically (except my skin, why am I still breaking out, I’m almost 40?!). I then started going over my gender expression thoughout my life and realized that this mix of masculinity and femininity, and thinking of myself sometimes as female, sometimes as male, and sometimes neither, is exactly what being genderqueer is! Even though I’ve been genderqueer all along, I’ve only just now acknowledged it!
When the movie ended, I told those boys that I loved them, that I was so happy I was sitting next to them, and that their joy brought me so much happiness. Who knows what the hell they thought of that. I would have weirded them out even more if they knew that they were helping me have a huge revelation about my gender identity, so I probably said the least creepy version of what I was feeling towards them.
So there you go.
Thanks teen boys!
Thanks Top Gun!
P.S. I’m still totally chill with she/her, but I’ll take any pronouns you throw at me.