I Am The Human Experience: Kristan Suko

Originally published on November 29, 2013 on I Love Chris Colfer.

Kristan Suko

I am a writer, a blogger, a storyteller and a helper of people. I am an ex-pastry chef and an ex-modern dancer. I am a cousin, a daughter, a niece, a sister and most importantly a friend. I am queer and I am Japanese, but first and foremost, I am a human being.

I’ve loved women all my life. They were always the most important things to me and what made me feel connected to this world. I felt an extreme bond to my mom when I was little, so much so that I felt that if my mom had not been a stay at home mom, I could have easily become a “bad” kid and lost all sense of morals. I cried every day for the entire time I was separated from my mom at pre-preschool and cried at the beginning of every day for the first half of pre-school when my mom would leave. I didn’t want to go to Kindergarten, but my mom said it was the law, and in my mind I couldn’t argue with that because I was nothing if not a rule-follower.

I’ve always had anxiety. Strangers scared me and I never felt comfortable or safe without the presence of a direct family member or my best friend. I’m the kind of person who loves having a best friend, one special person who you love the most and who loves you the most in return. The happiest times in my life were when I had someone like this in my life. All the other times were very anxiety ridden and dull in comparison.

I love diving into something and putting all my focus into it so that it consumes me and I forget anything else exists. I like forgetting that I’m in the world I actually live in and being transported to a world that is much more fascinating than my own. I love living vicariously through other people because it feels exciting, yet safe. For this reason I love TV and movies and books and theater. I admire artists and anyone with the ability to create something out of nothing. I need their worlds because I do not have the imagination to create them myself. This is what I used to escape all of middle school and high school.

I love quiet and stillness and calm. I like looking out the window at the rain while being warm and cozy in my house. I love driving at night when no one is on the road or on scenic windy roads along the coast. I love the ocean and the beach because it feels vast and powerful but also calm; I like trees for this reason too.

I love gentleness and care. I think this is the reason I am a cat person instead of a dog person. I love soft things that you can cuddle. I’ve always preferred stuffed animals over dolls and have always felt a special bond to my favorite stuffed animal at the time. Cats and stuffed animals give me comfort because they are always there when I need them and are safe to love.

I loved wearing pretty dresses when I was little but I also liked to climb trees and hang upside down from them. I used to get annoyed when my dad or grandma would tell me my actions weren’t ladylike. I had a sarcastic way of showing affection and was hurt when it would get misunderstood as back talk.

I loved my best friends with a passion akin to that of a spouse and even asked my college best friend why we had to live with men and why we couldn’t just be roommates for the rest of our lives. She said it’s just not how things worked, and I pouted in disappointment and frustration.

I didn’t realize I was gay until I was 23 years old, and even then I didn’t want to admit it. It was the first time I felt, not just intense love, but lust for a girl. But she was straight and my best friend at the time, and it did not go over well. That whole situation ended so terribly that I avoided anything having to do with being gay for the next 10 years. I focused on other things, I became a dancer and then a pastry chef where all of your time had to go into your job and you had an excuse not to have a life because you worked weird hours and never got time off.

I just existed for those 10 years but didn’t really live. It was predictable and drama free and no one got hurt, but inside I was numb. I’m really good at isolating myself when things go wrong instead of dealing with them. I’m also good at pretending things are fine when they are not. I both hate and long to hear the question “are you ok?” or “what’s wrong?” It’s a relief when no one asks, but it also hurts so much because either they don’t even notice or they don’t care, or they do care but are too afraid to get involved. Either way you end up alone.

But within the last three years, I finally began slowly opening myself up to the idea of being gay and accepting it without feeling embarrassed by it. Chris Colfer came into my life via Glee and hearing his story and watching the character he played on screen gave me courage and the desire to try. But it was still too hard and I dismissed him as just being a stronger human being than me.

But then another person named Hannah Hart came into my life via YouTube and really changed my perspective of what it meant to be gay. Through her videos I learned that it was ok to struggle with the fact of being gay, and that not everyone is just automatically proud and accepting of themselves. Her videos really helped me because for once there was a video where the person didn’t want to be gay and had struggled to accept that fact. It was so refreshing and honest and open, and I felt instantly connected to this simple girl who was just honestly sharing her experience of what it was like for her.

Through both of these people I also found something equally as important, the online fandoms where I could feel connected to people and start to open up about myself in a safe space. I felt less alone because these people felt the same way as me and we had a common person who we loved and admired. Being a socially awkward introvert was common online, and everyone supported the fact that you were gay. This online community helped keep me afloat until I got up the courage to attempt to join the queer community in the real world.

I found out about A-Camp through Hannah Hart and going to it changed my life completely. All my reservation and excuses not to try were completely blown out of the water at A-Camp. I’m not super gay, and I never felt like I fit in to the super-gay gay scene in San Francisco, hence the 10 years of not trying. I’m a homebody who values love and intimate relationships over going crazy and having fun and hooking up with people. I felt I was not cool enough for the SF gay scene, plus I had dated men in college and for a couple of years after because that’s just what you did, so maybe they would say I wasn’t gay enough and reject me.

But after A-Camp I couldn’t think this way anymore because I had literally been proven wrong. Everyone there was accepted no matter what their journey or how long it took them to figure out that they were gay. And it wasn’t just a bunch of super confident, extroverted gay women but people just like me, some people even shyer and more introverted.

The point was these people were relatable and being gay wasn’t their entire identity, it was just something they were. For the first time in my life I wanted to spend time and get to know gay women because they were nice and interesting and not scary. I never thought such people existed, and so many of them. For the first time in my life I felt like I could just be me and it was good enough.

I came to camp with the intention of figuring out what label of gay I fit under so that I could know my place and where I fit in, but it ended up being irrelevant because I realized that it doesn’t matter. Regardless of what group I’m associated with, putting a label on myself doesn’t change who I am or who I like. I’m still me, and I don’t need a label to be accepted by the queer community, at least the A-Camp queer community.

I’ve always hated labels because I never felt like I fit all the criteria associated with them. Labels also seemed like a way to keep people out who were on the borders or unsure. They always felt exclusive rather than inclusive. I’ve always been a person who never really fit in, even in the groups that I was a part of, and maybe that is why I shy away from anything that discourages inclusiveness.

When I first moved to SF in 2004, both of my roommates were lesbians and one of them told me that I couldn’t march in the Dyke March unless I was gay. I wanted to go with them in support as an ally but they said no it was only for actual lesbians. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it made it seem like an all or nothing kind of situation, like if you weren’t 100% sure you couldn’t participate. You had to figure it out, THEN join the community.

I never went to another Pride event until after Glee (2011) when I actually felt slightly proud of the fact that I was gay. But honestly the funnest part was just getting food and a new pair of $5 sunglasses and feeling like I was doing my part in being gay. The rest of the year I would just stay in my apartment, figuring there was not a place for someone like me in the queer community.

But now my life is completely different, a complete 180. After opening myself up at camp, I keep breaking down more and more barriers and connecting to more and more people in the queer community. I have gay friends now, something I didn’t have before. I have a support system and a local community of friends. I actually notice cute girls now and attempt to connect with them. I try. I actually go out and have fun.

Sometimes I look at my life right now and think “who the hell am I?!” but even though sometimes it feels overwhelming to be walking through uncharted grounds so quickly, it feels so good to be making progress and to be moving forward. I was stuck for such a long time that I almost forgot what it felt like feel and to live. Sure sometimes it’s hard and scary but at least it’s something, and honestly every time I think it’s too much to handle I just ask for help or confront the thing I’m afraid of and I’m constantly met with understanding and love.

I’ve come to realize that I’m my own worst enemy and although I am very far from being the self-assured actualized person I want to be, I’m proud that I’m slowly but surely trudging along the path to get there. I still sabotage myself a lot and I still don’t really know what it is that I’m truly striving for, but at least I’m trying and I finally feel like being here on this earth is maybe not so bad.

I’m sharing this story of mine in hopes that other people will read it and feel less alone. If even one thing resonated with one person and helped them, I feel like that would make it all worth it. I believe that sharing personal stories with other people is the best gift you can give to humanity, to share your story with others is to spread truth into the world. I believe everyone’s story is unique and has the power to help someone out there, and I encourage anyone (if you are in a place where you can do so safely) to share their story because you never know who out there will read it and relate to it. I can only tell my story, but there are billions more out there that have the potential to heal and to help. So if you are reading this and were in any way helped by it, please consider giving back by telling your own story. Think of it like that concept of “pay it forward.”

What is The Human Experience? It is the validity in your story and the story of 7,000,000,000 other people in this world. How do you put a label on being human? You don’t. You open your heart and listen. This is the foundation of our publication, The Human Experience, and we want to hear your story. Join us in spreading the diversity of the human experience with the world by sharing your story. Find out how to share your story with the world. 

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