Gender Diaries: KERA
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 KERA, who just released their new track “Bright Future Ahead” with Devendra Banhart. 100% of proceeds from the song will go to Trans Lifeline.
Gender identity has been a constant theme in my life; and it is only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve begun to realize the shame I’ve carried for not fitting into any particular category of cis identity.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been asked, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Naturally, I never knew how to respond without feeling an immense amount of shame in my chest. I started noticing the more and more it happened the more resentful and angry I became.
I can trace my experience of being misgendered back to high school. Growing up I wasn’t the most confident, especially in my freshman/sophomore years. I remember students at my Christian high school mocking me for my androgyny and calling me ‘Paul’ in the hallway. On top of that I came from a family that embraced those same Christian values, taught me that anything taboo was not to be explored or discussed, and that homosexuality was a sin. We lived under a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that left me feeling isolated with no one to turn to.
When I came out at 19 I felt myself running away from my gender queer identity. I only surrounded myself with cis friends because I resented being other-ed — I didn’t see myself represented in queer spaces and it was incredibly isolating. In the time that it has taken me to embrace my identity I am learning to be more mindful in surrounding myself with queer and trans friends because I feel they provide me with a safe space to be myself.
Truthfully, I don’t know who I would be today if I hadn’t had a healthy outlet like music to cling to. It was through songwriting that I felt I had a safe space to release all the trauma and pain I held onto from not being seen or understood, and gain empowerment. It was through performing with my project Kera & the Lesbians that I was able to work through my body shame, and gain the self assurance and knowledge that my gender-queer identity is what made me beautiful.
I am still figuring out my identity, and I think it is incredibly important to be transparent about the ongoing process of self acceptance. I have found peace in standing proudly behind my queer identity, in all its forms. Looking forward, my intention in the art that I create, is to offer aid and empowerment to anyone who has felt like an other. I want to do all I can with the platform I’ve been given to support and hold space for my community.
Images courtesy of Alexa Nikol Curran
Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.