Gender Diaries: Grayson
As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, Milk will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature musician Grayson, whose new album Head to Head, featuring their single “Cherry Pits”, is out now.
Hi, I’m new here.
I left the mormon church around four, maybe five years ago. It’s murky to know for sure. I mean I remember the exact day, but I constantly battle with daily questions of God, family, heaven, hell, and is coffee okay to drink? I remember being shown in my religion class a visual of God with a keyboard pressing the “smite” button. It’s like a joke, but I still imagine that smite button sometimes.
My relationship with gender is in its pubescent beginnings. Did I mention I’m NEW here? It’s really hard to navigate the world post mormon, it feels very post apocalyptic. All you know, understand, and love, is forever altered and in some cases gone. In the past few years I finally let myself be my own person, with my own purpose. I’ve always had exceptional drive, but with that drive came shame. Am I allowed to play big? Am I allowed to see the world? Am I allowed to dress “immodest” on stage or say hell or maybe kiss not men? Do I connect with my body? Do I feel at home in my body? It’s a mind fuck. All those questions painfully lack ownership and control. I remember at age nine wanting so badly to be a successful musician but wondering what I would do if someone styled me in a tank top or anything above the knee? I also remember at eighteen having my first kiss that acted on my curiosities, and how that led to a deep longing, and confusing spiral. As a child I often prayed and thanked God for not making me gay. I always had an anxiety in the back of my mind as I grew. It was something I was so scared of in myself. I worry still for the disappointment I will be to my family and community, for not portraying church values.
Navigating being a baby queer is a world of confusion, and a world of understanding. To finally be me, with no bounds is a privilege. But within that I still live with very strong character indicators of my past. Lots of shame, and lots of fear in taking up space. I still worry how it will affect my dear family, and I’ve had old friends tell me they can “forgive” me for being gay. Honestly being nonbinary is so hard and coming out has been so hard. However the peace in fully living as your authentic self is something unlike anything I’ve ever known. It’s definitely not a constant for me, but I’ve finally tasted that peace. In truth we’re ALL new here and navigating this gender spectrum together, and with that comes mistakes, and improvement.
When I filmed my music video for ‘Brother’ almost a year ago, I bound my chest (or at least I tried). It’s tough to strap down this “situation” ha ha. I couldn’t afford an actual binder so I made do with two different spandex shapers (which is super unsafe but something transgender and gender nonconforming folks often have to do). It really didn’t work great, and I remember staring at myself in the mirror sobbing and wishing so badly for different. I’m thankful by this point in my life, I had finally learned a bit of love and compassion for myself. I lay there in the hot afternoon with my lights off crying, until I couldn’t anymore. Then I practiced the choreography and continued on, because that’s the best thing that I could do. We went ahead and shot the video, and although the binding really wasn’t what I initially pictured, I felt strong as hell on that cliff. I think it was important I couldn’t achieve a perfectly flat chest, because I still felt the difference.
Over the last year I’ve really strived to honor myself and my identity. I still feel daily religious and societal guilt, but I have a really amazing support system and I also have myself. Each day I do my best to check in and see how I can show up for myself, is it a white tank top and a skateboard, a red lip? Or maybe a western boot and a green suit? Although there are features on my body that others may gender, I move forward knowing the best I can do is be a visible nonbinary person and live by my rules.
Featured image courtesy of Ma’ayan Amit
Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.