My eyes are almost swollen shut today, which is funny since I’m at my day job early, covering the front desk for the concierge who is out with pinkeye.  (Yes, we disinfected EVERYTHING.) This post might be a bit messy, since I’m still working through some powerful emotions.

I went to an actors networking event last night. I was turned on to this happening through the great online class I’m taking, Self-Management for Actors. Since I left my agent, I need to keep my career going on my own, and this class is taught by a casting director I’ve known and followed the writings of for many years.

Which is why I was surprised to get into such a heated argument/conversation with said cd’s husband, who is also very involved in teaching the class and a working actor in his own right.

I was there in my current favorite outfit – gray tweed blazer (with the elbow patches), small-checked black and white shirt, black vest, dark purple plaid tie, dark navy jeans, and my ever present wingtip oxfords.

I mention this only because apparently my appearance threatened this man. A lot. Even though he knows me virtually from the online class, knew already what I brought to the table.

He told me I obviously didn’t know who I was. Clearly my appearance was confusing. Clearly I was resistant to being the person others saw me to be. Clearly because I do still have my eyebrows shaped, I wear a little makeup on my eyes to hide the bags of my age, clearly for these reasons I can NOT be butch. Clearly my voice is too high for me to be wearing a blazer. Clearly I should be wearing a women’s blazer.

I showed him a headshot I sometimes (rarely) use – it’s my “girl next door shot”, the most girly thing I’ve ever mustered on film. He hated it because I wasn’t looking at the camera like a lover. I showed him my MOST used headshot, the one where I AM looking at the camera like a lover. He loved it but said there’s no parts for me anyway. I asked him if I should change my appearance to be more castable. He said if I knew myself at all I already would have changed my appearance.  He said LA will never have anything for me as I am.

His wife, the casting director I so admire and the teacher I’m learning from, came over at that point to join the conversation. She heartily disagreed with his saying I should “femme up”. But she posited a good question: what does the money tell you? By which she means, what do the people who hire actors say about my look, or how I should present myself?

I don’t really have an answer for that one, because back when I had an agent, and was going out regularly for auditions, it was because I was WAY more traditionally butch. Flannel shirt wearing and 50 pounds heavier (not that butches must be heavy, by all means). But then I would get into the audition and they would think I was too pretty. Too sweet. So I don’t fucking know.

When the event ended (we closed the bar) I stumbled to my car in the valet. Halfway through the drive home, I burst into tears. I didn’t really stop until this morning.

I had gone to the event late because I had a personal training session at my gym earlier in the evening. I go to the gym so I can lose another 15 pounds and look as good as possible in a tank top. To be an actor. This was my first training session in almost 10 months, and I over did it. I threw up on the side of the road while driving to my actor’s networking event. To be an actor.

I went to the event and was trying to talk with people I didn’t know, which was hard because I (surprisingly) knew a lot of folks there.

I talked to this man because he is the husband of my teacher.

I cried all night because everyone, everyone, EVERYONE in my professional life keeps telling me WHO I AM. And they all disagree with one another. But they all think they’re right.

They don’t care that I’ve spent thirty years hiding in plain view. Trying to be out of the closet while still not being “too gay”. This man actually told me that what I was wearing could NOT be my favorite outfit. He declared it. He ganged up on me with a few others. I was stunned. I don’t even want to continue the class. I need some therapy, but a therapist who understands the acting industry – all the non-acting-industry therapists I’ve met with tell me they think I’m nuts for doing this at all.

Why am I doing this again? Maybe I don’t know who I am. Maybe he’s right.