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  • Writer's pictureBen Pechey

Queer Performance Anxiety

Jacket PR Product from Skinny Dip

Oh hello darling, and welcome back to Pride season on Over the next weeks, I will bring you narratives that centre and focus on the LGBTQIA+ community. Today I want to look at the individual role we all play in the community.

One thing I always emphasise when I talk about my career and all the things I do online - is that I never planned this. I have evolved into the place I am currently. Behind the scenes, this results in a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and huge chunks of imposter syndrome.

I’m not alone when I discuss the ideas around the hierarchy within queer spaces and online gatekeeping. Certainly, I have spoken about this a great deal, and the effect this can have on others. However, this has also had a huge impact on me, and it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I feel fully in control of all the disparate elements that I co-exist within.

I think back to a time before the pandemic, and I see myself really bogged down with the visual responsibility I felt to conform to the idea of queerness expected of me. Now that’s a big sentence, but essentially I felt constricted by the letters of the acronym I sat within. I thought I had to look a specific way to represent my identity.

I remember feeling that the way I looked online was a job, and I didn’t dress that way IRL. It was really odd having clothes that only were worn for pictures, and never entered my general rotations. Now a lot of this was me working against internal expectations. There was a perceived and real pressure placed on me by people’s expectations of who they thought I was, and who they thought I couldn’t be.

It took the pandemic for me to grasp who I was, and what I wanted. Having it all taken away from you, and having very few opportunities to access personal identity through sartorial choices made me really see what I wanted, and what that meant to me. These last twelve months have seen the segregation of my wardrobe come to an end. It no longer feels like getting dressed for work, I am just getting dressed.

Dressing and our wider visual presence have a huge part to play in how we are perceived. Yet, there are no rules that mean certain identities have to dress a certain way. This Pride season it is even more important to emphasise the need for personal desire to come first. We should always be ensuring that the reason we act, dress and speak is always for us.

The performance anxiety that focused on how I was perceived still exists, but by centring the reasoning on my own desires and needs I have found out who I am all over again, and I’m in love with the real me. I hope that you can also have that intimacy with yourself, and honour your truth.

Thank you so much for joining me, as always, I love you lots like jelly tots, until next time, uh buh bye.

Shot by Rachel Pechey


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