Archives for posts with tag: coming out

I was fortunate enough to see my amazing trans friend T and his lovely partner C this past week, and it was one of those evenings that was almost too good to come to an end. The conversation carried us from my front patio to the delicious vegan restaurant (T and C’s preferred cuisine – I certainly would have gone for BBQ) and then back to the street outside of our house over the course of five hours. We would each take one step away – my gf and I up the front steps, T and C towards their gigantic rental car, which would immediately propel one of us into another amazing and hilarious story guaranteed to magnetize us right back to our places. In one of the final of these multitude of exchanges, we somehow got onto T’s guilty pleasure of terrible movies where women dress in drag (aren’t they almost all terrible?).  He mentioned that he believes his “root” lies in this pleasure – from an evening during his elementary school years where he caught the end of Just One of the Guys on tv. Having missed the premise entirely, T’s eyes still lit up as he explained feeling enrapt, watching the antics of Joyce Hyser parading around her highschool, disguised as a boy. His genuine delight registered as “I know you’re a girl, but you’re dressed like a boy, and everyone else thinks you’re a boy. I want that. ”

This got me thinking about my own root, which is tangled in the fact that I’m the youngest, by far, of three girls and spent most of my young, introverted life trying only to be whoever it was my sisters wanted me to be.

But my root may be clear – my earliest memory goes something like this: I am three years old. I am sitting under the kitchen table, wearing my everyday uniform of light blue Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, black denim shorts, and red suspenders. Oh, and also my ratty green Peter Pan hat with my given (girl) name embroidered on it in yellow thread. I am squeezing my eyes tight shut, praying in whatever words I understood, that when I opened my eyes, God would make me a boy. Every time I opened my eyes I was sad.

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I turned 30 last week, in the middle of all the weird family holiday junk that flies around this time of year. And while it certainly gets better (or, in the words of one astute Dan Savage critic, it gets “marginally different”) I keep waiting for it to get easier. Easier to be me, to be comfortable. Easier to be with my family. Easier to walk down the street and be butch. Easier for me to be proud and out and all those things.

My gf and I are in the thick of filing for a domestic partnership, since California still has its collective head in its ass about marriage equality.  We’ve been together for over seven years, so it’s kind of just a formality at this point – a means to some health insurance and visitor’s rights and all that. And at Christmas at my parents house, we didn’t mention it. Because we still don’t talk about those things with my folks, even though they are in love with my gf like big whoa. Being ‘married’ to a woman means I’m gay for real, and moreover, butch for real too. And they still can’t handle that. The part that worries me is that I still can’t stand up for it, either.

My mom, for Christmas, wanted to buy me a pair of heels. Because Charlize Theron is a tall actress, and she wears six-inch heels and I looked so good in that show I did a million years ago and why didn’t I steal those black heels from the costume shop and why doesn’t my manager want me to wear heels every day?

Why do I have to keep having this conversation?

Why do I leave my boxer-briefs at home when I visit my parents, in case my mom folds my laundry? She never says anything. She never openly disapproves. I’m thirty freaking years old. And I have loving, mostly supportive parents, who have made it very clear that they will always hold out hope for my femininity to pull through this “phase.”

I don’t have any answers for this one.  I still walk between the worlds of presenting totally butch ( a world I fully inhabited in the safety of the Prestigious Women’s College, way back ten years ago) and fudging it, wondering if people can tell or not. (To which my gf says, “honey, you look like a big ol’ dyke.”)

All I know is that every day I choose my favorite Calvin Klein button down, or wear a skinny tie with my blazer, it’s not just a fun girl-playing-in-boys-clothes thing. I don’t look like Shane from the L Word – supermodel thin and rockstar-haired. I look really gay. Pretty, yes, but still butch. And every time I tie that perfect Windsor knot, I have to come out, to myself and to the world, over and over again.

These past few weeks have been, if anything, even more difficult than the months preceding them.  Not more difficult in terms of time commitments, necessarily, but more difficult emotionally.

This past weekend the PGF and I spent at my parents house in Las Vegas, to see them and also to attend a friend’s 30th birthday celebration.  Which brought into full relief the fact that my own 30th birthday is only a month away. And with that reality comes again the reality that I am still not fully comfortable being out to my parents, specifically my mother. And this crushes me.

Why am I still so afraid of being out to my mom?  I’ve been out since 13. My partner of 7 years and my mother get along really well.  My mom has seen me leave the house dressed in a shirt and tie and tagging along with two other butches and our respective femmes.  My mother has bought me men’s jeans and shirts and coat and shoes. She has washed and folded my boxer-briefs. Once she even walked in on one of my (cough, cough) accoutrements d’amour drying on the bathroom counter.  She KNOWS I’m gay. She KNOWS, even if she doesn’t say the word, that I’m butch.  I mean, hell, she pulled out pictures of me in preschool this past weekend, and there I was sporting a waffle-weave thermal under a red plaid flannel shirt, my hair in a defiant pony-tail and my green cords ripped at the knees.  How gay can I get?

So why, when at their house this past weekend, was I too scared to put on my shirt, vest, and tie inside the house? I made my partner stand outside on the driveway in the freezing cold while I decided which button-down went best with my blazer/vest/tie combo. I stood outside in the freezing cold and swapped shirts twice, and tied my tie in the rear-view mirror. All because I didn’t want my mom to see me.  After the event, I changed in the car again.

Maybe it’s because my femmier girlfriend was there, wearing a cocktail dress and the new black patent heels my mother had just bought her as a gift for finishing her MFA.  My gift (for simply surviving into adulthood, I guess) was a pair of the manliest lady-boots I could find. And I’m still not sure about those.
It always breaks my heart when she pulls a blouse off a rack in the women’s department, usually in some color that would make my eyes stand out like seafoam green or sky blue, usually also in some frilly material. She looks at me with such hope.  I always dutifully take it to the dressing room and try it on, always coming up with some sort of excuse for why it didn’t fit or it itched or the sleeves were too short. Sometimes I let her see me in it, most often not. I always feel a little like crying after one of these exchanges – like I’m letting her down.  Of course, there are the times when she’s noticed me fingering a lovely striped button-down in the men’s section and gladly whisked it off to buy for me, but never with the same smile she gets when she finds a more feminine blouse or jacket or pair of (ugh) slacks.

You’d think I’d grow out of it. You’d think I’d be able to truly be myself around her, wear the clothes I want, and explain my choices clearly. After nearly seventeen years of being out, why is it still such a struggle? My disappointment in myself for letting her down is sometimes too much to bear. And so I change in the driveway. I wear my blazer out of the house, and leave the men’s shirts hanging in the back seat. I appease her by trying things on. I don’t bring my men’s underwear to her house anymore, in case she folds my laundry.

My partner and I talk about having some sort of commitment ceremony (in lieu of California’s disappointing gay marriage laws). I would want to wear a rockin’ suit. But could I in front of my mom? If I allow myself to admit it, this is a big reason why my lady and I are on the “engaged forever” route instead. Sigh. Some days it seems like it will never get easier.

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