Ask A Queer: Chen Wine

Photo courtesy of Chen.

Photo courtesy of Chen.

Today’s queer is Chen (pronounced with the ''ch'' like in ''l'chaim'') Wine, a 21-year-old woman from Israel. Chen is a translator for English to Hebrew (and vice versa) and will be getting a degree in classical singing next year with the aspiration of being a professional opera singer. She loves fashion and styling, especially vintage and thrift shopping, singing and playing the piano, drawing, reading as many fantasy books as she possibly can and playing with makeup.

You can find Chen on Instagram under the handle @wine_princess_.

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 Chen were only edited for clarity. These words and this experience are all hers.

How do you identify? What are your pronouns?

I am a cis, bisexual queer woman, and my pronouns are she/her.

What do you wish people understood about your identity?

I came out as bi when I was 13, and spent most of my teenage years in a committed relationship with a man. During that time (being in a “straight passing relationship”) I suffered from a lot of biphobia, most of which was internalized. I felt pressured to be seen making out with girls in parties, to comment about other girls and discuss their bodies with other men, because how else would they know I was bi, right?  

I was constantly asked if I had experience with girls, and when I responded that I did, I was asked for the details. This made me feel as if I was faking it, wasn’t “bi enough,” and like I constantly had to show other people my “bisexual certificate.” Most of all, it made me feel as if my sexual identity belonged to other people, and not to me. At the time I didn’t even realize something was wrong.  

It was only a few years ago, when I joined a bi-pan-poly Facebook group and was exposed to the community and discussions, I understood that I did not have to feel this way, that I wasn’t “wrong” or “not good enough.”

Here’s something I wish someone told me when I was 13: You are allowed to feel confused about your identity. You are allowed to feel unsure, to question and explore and get a better understanding of who you are and who you love. You can change your definitions of yourself, and that does not make your sexual orientation not valid.

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What can allocishet people do to support your community?

Support us in our struggle. If you see any injustice that affects members of the LGBTQ+ community, speak up. A democratic country in which citizens lack some of the basic human rights you have is not a proper democracy. If you see other citizens in your country do not have the rights that you do, help them fight. Same sex marriage is illegal in Israel at the moment, as well as difficult to nearly impossible for same sex couples to adopt, and illegal to have children using surrogate.  

Unrelated but still important - normalize the use of “they/them” as a neutral pronoun! If you do not know someone’s pronoun, just use “they/them” until you know the pronoun they are comfortable with, even if they are extremely femme or masc presenting.

What do you love about being queer?
I love loving whomever I love.

How do you stay connected to the LGBTQ+ community?
A few years ago, I joined a bi-pan-poly Facebook group and started being more involved in the Israeli community, which helped me better understand my identity and meet many wonderful people. I follow queer pages on social media (Them is my favorite), as well as many queer people.

What does the LGBTQ+ community need to work on? How can they better support your identity?  
Biphobia in the LGBTQ+ community is real and very disappointing. It begins with referring to bi men as gay and bi women as sluts or indecisive, and ends with the bi community having a higher suicide and depression rates than the gay and lesbian community. I wish people would let go of the notion of having to choose one gender to be attracted to, or “settling down” on being either gay or straight, when you marry a person of a certain gender.  

Describe your coming out experience in 5 words or less.  
My dad said “cool.”

What is your favorite piece of LGBTQ+ media?

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, ‘nuff said.

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae (both the album and the emotion picture) - the representation, the female empowerment, the amazing aesthetics... Love it.

Steven Universe, which is one of the best children’s shows I’ve ever seen. Amazing representation, deals with real topics (mental health, jealousy, abusive relationships, love in all its forms), beautiful animation AND has incredible songs??? I’m in.

Who are your LGBTQ+ role models?
Freddie Mercury, Janelle Monae and Stephanie Beatriz.

Who are your favorite LGBTQ+ celebrities?
Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Janelle Monae, Stephanie Beatriz and Brian McCook (aka Katya).

And finally, are you alright with me referring to you as “queer,” or does the term make you uncomfortable?
I am very comfortable with the term and identify with it.