Ask A Queer: Ashe Cleveland

Today’s queer is Ashe Cleveland, a 22-year-old Bay Area native who grew up in Danville, California and currently lives in San Francisco. Ashe works at an event and entertainment production company by day and plays Columbia in a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast by night. They were active in a student-run theatre organization in college, which is where they started to discover their identity thanks to the support of open-minded and accepting friends.

You can find Ashe on Instagram at @ashecleve16.

If there is a word you don’t understand in this blog post, you can consult the main page of “Ask A Queer” for definitions. Now let’s get into it! The following responses from Ashe were only edited for clarity. These words and this experience are all theirs.

How do you identify? What are your pronouns?

I identify (in general) as Queer, in regards to my gender and sexual identity. You can also call me Non-Binary, Genderqueer or Gender fluid. My preferred pronouns are they/them, but I also feel comfortable with he/him.

What do you wish people understood about your identity?

I wish people understood that I didn't choose who I am - it's just how I was born. I think people get confused because they want to put others in a box, a schema that they were taught their entire lives, but human beings are too complex to put in a box. I also wanted people to understand that there have always been queer/gay, non-binary/ genderfluid people- we have just become more visible because the world has (luckily) become more welcoming- although we still have a long way to go.

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What can allocishet people do to support your community?

Don't be afraid to ask questions (respectfully)!! Ask people their preferred pronouns when meeting them and refer to them by those pronouns. The queer community needs allies and we are lucky to have them, but allies should not speak on behalf of the queer community - please allow us to have the platform as you stand to the side and support! Give money to LGBTQIA+ charities and promote Safe Spaces! Most of all, recognize that being Queer is part of who we are, but it does not define us - we are human beings with likes/dislikes, hobbies, friends, partners, etc. just like you!  

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What do you love about being queer?

I love the freedom that my queerness gives me to unapologetically be myself.

How do you stay connected to the LGBTQ+ community?

A large portion of my friends are LGBTQIA+, but I try my best to go to queer events, support businesses that are openly LGBTQ+ friendly, follow queer blogs and pages on Instagram.

What does the LGBTQ+ community need to work on? How can they better support your identity?

In general, the community needs to work on being accepting of all queer folks regardless of how one chooses to identify or express themselves. For example, biphobia is definitely a real thing! For my own identity, I know I feel pressure to present a certain way based on the expectations that the word non-binary has obtained within the last few years, but the queer community brands itself as being open and welcoming to all queer individuals - so let's make it feel that way!

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Describe your coming out experience in 5 words or less.

Confusing but freeing.

What are your favorite pieces of LGBTQ+ media?

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hayley Kiyoko’s "Expectations" album and the movie “Love, Simon.”

Who is your LGBTQ+ role model?

Evan Rachel Wood.

Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ celebrities?

Evan Rachel Wood, Kate McKinnon, and the Fab 5 from Netflix’s “Queer Eye.”