Written for NaNoWriMo 2023
I had heard the word "archetrope" around the alterhuman community before the OtherCon (the biggest convention for alterhumans) 2023. Although in vague terms, I had heard of it. I sort of got the vibe from the word, so I never felt the need to look into it. A vague sort of, "Identifying with an archetype, or a trope from media," vibe. What came to mind for me was tropes like the knight, the prince, the rogue. Classic roles. The stuff you'd see on tarot cards or such. The alterhuman community is known to look down on "newer" sources of identity, after all (see the long-standing hesitancy to accept fictionkin).
So, when I joined the panel being hosted by someone named Vyt all about archetropy, I thought I knew what to expect.
Vyt described their archetype as "the right-hand man".
Well, Vyt mostly talked about "the paladin" as their main tropetype. But that was the sort of archetype I expected. "The right-hand man" may not be considered a "modern" archetype, but the specific phrase of "right-hand man" for it feels rather new in comparison to how I viewed archetropy before.
My mom was a pastor.
She was in charge of a very large building, which acted as a place for church services on Sundays, and as a kindergarten during the day. I remember watching my mom being up on the church's stage. I didn't learn until I was an adult that she actually had stage fright. I remember stalling whenever I went to the principal's office, because, of course I went to my mom's school for kindergarten. And going to the principal's office when your mom is the principal is certainly... a time, of sorts.
I was a good little Christian kid, though. I was a trouble child due to my undiagnosed autism making me seem "rude" to everyone around me, but I followed what my parents taught me to believe. One could hardly say I was doing so on purpose, though. I didn't even know there was any other option, after all.
Vyt went on to define archetropy as looking at an archetype or trope or such, and saying either, "I am that," "That's want I want to be," or both. Though Vyt also makes a point to say that "archetropy", as a term, was coined specifically to be both linguistically flexible and very broad in definition. It can be involuntary, voluntary, intrinsic, extrinsic, 'identify-as', 'identify-with'...
Vyt also discussed connections to kintypes for archetropal reasons. For example, being dragonkin because one identifies with how the trope of dragons are shown in media.
I can trace multiple kintypes of mine straight down to the same root. This Christian upbringing of mine. Surrounded by it. Suffocated by it.
My mom would often work late, so, as she locked herself in her office, I would be left alone in this huge building. I often stayed in the auditorium during those times. I didn't like the big, open area, so I'd often hunker down in one of the two more closed-off areas. Those two areas were surrounded by walls, but were very small and had no doors, thus, considered a part of the auditorium. One was decorated in green and black. It had beanbags, a step to sit on, and a chalkboard that covered the entirety of one of the walls. The other was pink. It had two chairs and a whiteboard. Covered with sparkly materials, it was hard to leave without some of it sticking to you.
I hated the pink room. Specifically, I hated the texture of everything. Almost everything had this god-awful fuzzy texture that was almost feather-like. The chairs, the rug, the walls. Even the pens there had a grip made of this texture. I couldn't stand it.
But every time the church children my age were there, the boys would go to the green area, and the girls to the pink. The teachers and other officials would call them "the girl room" and "the boy room". The boys and girls would often have one person standing guard near, or in, the door, just to make sure nobody of the opposite gender even got close to their room.
Even when I was alone, in that huge auditorium, I couldn't bear to enter the boy's room. It was wrong. But the first time I did, and I layed down on the beanbag, I exclaimed to my little brother, "It's no fair that you guys get these!" I was so much more comfortable there.
But, still, I rarely came in, even after the barrier was breached. I stayed away on purpose. I made my brother promise to not tell anyone I was there.
I was supposed to be a good girl. Never mind my intersex condition – a good GIRL. One who likes pink, who likes my church dress, and who likes the fuzzy, feathery textures with a smile, for the sake of how others see her. For the sake of fulfilling my God-given role.
As Vyt talked more and more about archetropy, it became clearer to me that modern tropes and archetypes were absolutely included. "The mad scientist" was named as an example. TV Tropes was named as a place to find a list of tropes and archetypes in media.
The TV Tropes page for "The Pastor's Queer Kid", describes the trope like this: "[The pastor's] kids seem to be every bit as perfect as they are, and have the perfect relationship with them. Well, except for one. You see, this one has a secret they're not sure about admitting to their parent. The secret being... Well, this kid isn't heterosexual (and/or cisgender, etc., as the case may be)."
I remember finding the page for this trope and lighting up. Scrolling right down to the "media" section, to see if there were any pieces of media with this trope that I would be interested in. Seeing one of my already-present kintypes there and giggling a little bit to myself. Oh, I'm so predictable! Of course I'd already have a character like this as a kintype.
I realized I was queer very young. Too naive to think better of it, I came out to my parents too soon. Not even a teenager yet, I had to comfort my mother as she cried over me being queer. One of the biggest God-fearers around, I was struck silent when my mom expressed that she feared me going to Hell, and her going to Heaven.
She phrased it as, "What will I do without my child in Heaven? You have scared me so much. I have given you a role to fulfill, and you have failed. Now, I must watch the one I love be punished."
She told her child that they would go to Hell, and be separated from everyone they love for eternity. Poor her.
(Pay no attention to the child, parentified and afraid. Do not look at the way its breath hitches when she says this. The look of disbelief on its face. She really thinks I'm going to Hell…?)
(Look at her, now. She is the victim. This is her spotlight.)
It took me years of purposeful work to undo the toxic mentality that I was taught. About purity, about martyrdom, about the flames of Hell licking every queer's feet. And I still get nightmares sometimes, but I'm proud of how far I've come. When I feel a surge of queer joy, when I see a queer person's smile, when I experience gender euphoria, I know this is it. This is what I've been fighting for. And I know that it's worth it.
I searched TV Tropes for other tropes that fit me, halfheartedly picking up a few more. I wanted an excuse to list "my tropes" on my website's 'about' page, just to add "The Pastor's Queer Kid" on it. I didn't care about the other ones I listed – I just wanted them to be there so I could feel like I had a reason to put that one in particular.
When the archetrope panel was coming to a close, and taking questions, I typed into the chat, "If people are certain archetypes or tropes in real life, would someone like that be able to identify as an archetype? Even if they technically just are it?"
I am my mom's child. I am queer. I struggled against the religion I was suffocated by, and came out the other side damaged, but alive. I try to let people know the sort of harm this upbringing can cause. I am purposefully open about this aspect of myself.
Vyt answered my question. "My default answer is gonna be, ‘Sure.' Like… I think there's something powerful in embracing something, on purpose."
On purpose, I am The Pastor's Queer Kid.
Related reccommended reading: My otherkinity shrine / information page