35 – Kirby Oliver

Lesbian/Genderqueer (she/her) // Married to Andrea Muffly // Colorado Springs, CO // 9 years in the Army Band. Loves the outdoors. Antique radio collector.

With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know something was different?

“Definitely early on, as far back as I can remember… 4,5,6… It took a very long time  to put vocabulary to that feeling. I knew from when I was a little kid that I was just a little bit different. Had little crushes here and there. I grew up in a pretty religious conservative household so anything queer, gay, or lesbian wasn’t really talked about that much… so it wasn’t on my radar. It took me a long time, I didn’t come out until I was 21.”

How was that experience?

“It was tough at first, and then it got way better. It was tough at first because at the time I was very religious. My main friend and support group was very involved with the church and not accepting of anything outside of cis and straight. So, it was scary. Same thing with my family. My parents, they’re awesome parents, but they’re conservative. Although I don’t think they were super surprised, I know it was challenging for them. I had the fear of disappointing them, letting them down. I think  it’s been enough time now… it’s been a decade. They’ve seen that ok, their daughter can be a lesbian but can also be a pretty squared away person. I’m not a complete train wreck and ‘completely lost to sin’. There’s been enough time that they’ve realized those two things can exist simultaneously.

…I looked for an opportunity to escape under the radar. I came out the summer after I graduated college. It was actually the summer when I graduated from college and before I joined the Army. I had a few months in between, and that’s when I came out. Subconsciously, this was my opportunity to reinvent myself. I’ve kind of broken off ties from my college friends and I’m already in this transitional period and it just kind of happened that way. At the time I don’t think I realized what I was doing but in retrospect, that was my chance. At the time I was torn up inside because I felt I had to choose between my religion and coming out. Those two could never exist together. I felt like if I decided to come out, I had to kiss the church goodbye, which is actually what happened anyway… and I’m happy with that. I’m not religious anymore, I’m agnostic. So, it ended up going hand-in-hand but I don’t think it was necessarily cause and effect.”

Was there a first celebrity/friend/teacher somebody that made you question your sexuality?

“One of the first that I can think of, I watched Fried Green Tomatoes ad nauseum as a child, with no concept that it was a lesbian relationship… I didn’t know, I just thought they were best friends. But it was so completely intriguing to me. I had a crush on both the main characters, Idgie and Ruth. Actually, my chickens are named after them. It wasn’t until high school had someone explained to me that it was a lesbian movie. I was just obsessed with that movie.”

Biggest fears or concerns with coming out?

“Definitely fear of hurting my parents and fear of having to choose between my faith and my lifestyle. I actually hate the word lifestyle. It is just the same as anyone else’s. I’m married and go to work, just a normal human.”

What in your opinion is the most frustrating thing about our community?

“I think it can be tricky and even frustrating to find the right balance between experiencing the Community at large and experiencing more specific sub-communities. Because our community is so diverse you can find your own group of people within it.  Specific labels about gender, sexuality and pronouns can be great because they can help you feel like you’re legit and you’re a ‘thing’. However, there is also the danger of forgetting that you’re part of a larger community too.  I like the word queer because it’s an umbrella term that’s all inclusive. I think both of those perspectives are important but it’s easy to get stuck on either side of those coins.  So, it has to be both but it’s hard to find a balance…”

What is your favorite thing about the community?

“I think that it is so diverse. I think the community is learning how to be even more diverse which is cool. By nature, I think our community is progressive and looking for new ways to be inclusive and learning new things about each other.”

One thing you would tell younger you? Any advice for those who feel like they can’t come out, or don’t have a community to be a part of?

“I would tell younger me, it’s going to be fine. Actually, it’s going to be great. It’s a cliché, but it gets better. Thanks, Dan Savage. It will be absolutely terrifying at first, but the joy of finding your true self isn’t actually icky and dark… it’s actually really joyful and fun. Everything is going to be fine.

What I’d tell other people, especially if they’re having a hard time finding community, is kind of the same answer. It will get better. The good news is it’s 2018 and the community is getting more accepted; it’s getting more publicized. There are lots of ways to find community. Social media is huge, you can hop on Meetup.com or Facebook. You can find your people. Even if it’s just on the internet. Start on the internet, don’t end on the internet. I think face to face is the best way to have a sense of community.”

What in your life are you most proud of?

“I think I’m most proud of, I hope this doesn’t sound like a cop-out answer because it’s actually not one specific thing…. I’m proud of the fact that I balance a lot of interests. My career is important to me, I’m doing pretty well in that. I have a lot of hobbies, which I think are super interesting. I’m proud of the fact that I can balance all of those things and one of those things happens to be my queerness. That’s a really important part of my identify but it’s not my whole identify. I have other interest and hobbies too. I guess I’m proud that I’m a well-rounded human being. Some examples of my hobbies: outdoorsy things like hiking, camping, gardening. I love cooking. General DIY stuff. Collecting antique radios and restoring antique furniture.”

With the current state of the world/nation, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?

“I kind of just want people to lighten up a little bit. I don’t mean that to undermine any of the really serious issues that are going on right now because honestly those things are really important. But a lot of those issues we’re having like racism, anything on the lines of human beings not treating human beings like human beings, is because people get really uptight in their own minds and belief systems… Without being able to see the big picture and be super accepting, like everybody is cool we’ll all be fine. Just chill out and we’ll all get along. If I had a magic wand, I’d give everybody a chill pill. “

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