Their Voices: UV Interview #3
A Genderqueer Person of Color & Organization Leader Sees Both Challenges & Gifts of the Larger Community
Written by Kimberia J Sherva Plante (Interview by Unspoken Voices)
The third published interview from our series of LGBTQ+ experiences comes directly from Kimberia J Sherva Plante. Below you'll find a full bio with further answers from them concerning this topic. For more reading on this series please click here.
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UV: Your bio, please!
Kim is a genderqueer person who has a weakness for Irish Wolfhounds, fanfiction, electric blankets, and sea salt chocolate covered caramels. Zie has two wonderful teen age sons and an awesome husband. Zie not only is the executive director of SlutWalk Twin Cities but also works for NAMI MN as a state trainer for their Connections program and facilitated the first LGBTQ+ peer support group in the state of Minnesota and the nation for NAMI. Kim also is thrilled to be an In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presenter for NAMI MN, educating people on mental illnesses and breaking the stigma and stereotypes.
Kim graduated from Metropolitan State University with honors in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services and is a state certified Family Peer Specialist. Kim has begun the Master’s program at University of Wisconsin-Stout where zie will earn a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy along with certification as a sex therapist.
When things get really hectic, it’s time to pack up the car and head to the North Shore where Kim’s batteries can be recharged and zie is ready to fight the good fight once again.
UV: Pronouns you use?
Zie/Zir/Zirs or They/Them/Theirs
UV: How do you identify, both with yourself and also with the larger community?
I identify as a genderqueer person of colour who is also polyam, pansexual, demi to grey-asexual, demi to grey-aromantic, and kink friendly.
If I were to just use a short description, it would be as a genderqueer person of colour which sums it up neatly. Everything else is more detailed information.
I am public with my identities because representation is so important, especially within marginalized communities.
UV: Describe your experience(s) coming out, etc.
My coming out process has been ongoing for years! I first came out as bisexual in my early twenties. I didn’t have the words for my gender identity until my very early forties. Same goes for being on the asexual and aromantic spectrum. There simply wasn’t the language and I wasn’t aware of the words that could describe who I am more fully. I am so thrilled that I have that knowledge and those words. For me, sexuality and gender expression as well as gender is fluid. I suspect I’ll have new words to describe who I am even ten years from now. That’s a really awesome thing!
On a more sobering note, coming out in and of itself to family and friends was a drawn out process. I needed to protect my sons and I needed to protect myself from unhealthy people so I was semi-closeted until my sons were old enough to tell people to fuck off. I’d heard horror stories of children being taken from their parent because a judge decided that the parent’s sexuality was harmful. I wouldn’t risk that. And I’d been threatened with that as well. So for my safety and my sons’ safety, I kept quiet. Now, of course, they’re both adults themselves so I’m completely out. There is a great deal of privilege in being able to be out, to be public with my sexuality and my gender. There is still a great deal of danger, too. I know I’m at risk but I refuse to be afraid. I won’t give people the satisfaction of hiding.
Right now, I’m taking summer classes so I can become a certified sex therapist along with a licensed marriage and family therapist. One of my classes is on gender and sexuality so there’s been some think pieces I’ve needed to write about who I am, how I know who I am, when I’ve known, all of that. My first paper was writing about my journey. It is fascinating to see where I started and where I am now.
UV: Please share more of your history.
I was raised in a white, cisgender, heterosexual upper class family in a small town in northern Minnesota. I’m adopted so that added extra spice as well. Looking back, I could see where my pansexuality started, where my gender identity was from when I was a child but of course, there wasn’t words to express all of that. And my upbringing wouldn’t have allowed for it. I was raised in a conservative Roman Catholic family and homosexuality was a sin against god. It was only when I left that small town and experienced the world that I was able to begin my journey, to figure out who I am.
I think it’s absolutely wonderful that some people know who they are right away. I almost envy them but then I think of how I was raised and it was probably best I was somewhat ignorant when growing up. I had enough to deal with, coming from a traumatic home. That would have been almost too much, I think.
So my journey included being adopted by a gaggle of drag queens in my early twenties, exploring my sexuality, finding out about non binary and gender non conforming identities in my early forties along with that whole asexuality and aromantic spectrum… it has been amazing!
UV: What's been your greatest challenge in identifying with your sexuality/spectrum/etc?
The biggest challenge I face as an LGBTTQAIP individual is erasure. My gender identity, my asexual and aromantic spectrum, my sexuality has all been erased at one time or another. It’s hurtful and it angers me. My pronouns are valid, my sexuality is valid, my gender expression is valid (oh, that, too!)... all of me is valid and to have it be dismissed not only in dominant heterosexual cisgender society but even by those in my own queer community? I mean, what the hell?
The dirty little secret is we are not one big old rainbow family. Not by a long shot.
UV: Now how about the good stuff?
The best experience I’ve had has been the number of amazing people I’ve met on this journey. The people who have educated me, number one. The people who I’ve found a kinship with, number two. I have made some fantastic new friends, have found chosen family… it’s been wonderful and I keep meeting new people who also are on their own journey of self discovery and who want to support each other. That’s been the best part.
There is always hope for community, even as crappy as it can be, sometimes. I’ve been part of that community and when we band together and fight together and are there for one another… it’s the best thing in the world.