Not the most profound of reasons. But that’s me!
You might think that I would come out to my best friends first. But that’s not the way it’s worked for me. Instead, I’ve told the people who I thought would be the most understanding. And I was right. So far, no one has freaked out or run away or laughed in my face. They’ve all been pretty cool.
I haven’t told my siblings yet – they live far away – and both of my parents have passed away. So, instead, I told some of my co-workers. The typical reaction (after some initial surprise)? “Why didn’t you tell me a long time ago?”
But of course, I wasn’t ready to tell anyone a long time ago. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone a short time ago! But, for some reason, I’m ready today.
The most interesting reaction I received was from a friend I’ll call Jessica. I showed her some pix of CiCi and she stared at them for a short time. Finally she asked, “Are you a crossdresser?” Then, to my surprise, she grabbed my arm and said, “My father does that!”
Jessica went on to say that her father – now elderly – was a former Marine who reminded her of movie hero Marines. All man. She didn’t tell me how she found out about her dad, but she said that he didn’t know that she knew. She then began to pepper me with questions about dressing and cd’s and the lifestyle. She was asking questions about me, but I could tell that she was really trying very hard to understand her father. She’d never met anyone who dressed before. And she had a lifetime of questions to ask.
And that, to me, is one of the most amazing things about coming out. Sure, there’s all the personal stuff (coming clean, sharing a big secret, unburdening oneself). But there’s a larger effect. I think most people are like my friend. They think they don’t know any crossdressers. And so, they have no three-dimensional, in the flesh, person to put beside the many stereotypes that are out there.
But after just a few brief chats with me, Jessica had an entirely different view of crossdressing. And, more importantly, she had an entirely different view of her beloved father.
Now, before I go too far, I’m not advocating that you all go out tomorrow and start revealing yourselves to your friends and family. I’ve told a few friends. But what about my other friends? What about my siblings? What about my adult stepson? Will I ever tell him?
As with my dressing, I’m not sure how far I’ll go with this. But I will say this. If you’re unhappy with the way that cd’s and tgirls are thought of, or stereotyped, or the way we’re portrayed in the media, just remember that our collective silence doesn’t do us any favors. If the general public has nothing but stereotypes (typically negative) on which to base their opinions, it’s up to us to show them differently.
It’s certainly worked in the gay community. Since the Stonewall Riots in New York City (forty years ago this month!), more and more gays have come out and spoken out. And it’s worked out. Like all minorities, gays and lesbians still have a long way to go to achieve total acceptance. But Stonewall provided a flashpoint. A defining moment. Maybe some day we’ll have ours, and it will start a revolution.
But if I had to predict, I’d guess that our revolution will be much more gradual. More of an evolution than a revolution. Most crossdressers today have too much to lose on a personal level – marriage, family, employment, status in the community – for us to worry about a more global perspective.
Yet, every little thing we do helps. By coming out to even one friend. By going out to dinner or shopping at the mall. By hitting a few clubs on Saturday night. Even online chatters who’ve never gone out, but who make their opinions known, and who defend our community against small minded, hateful statements – you’re doing you’re part too. You’re changing the way people see us! It’s a movement. A slow moving movement perhaps, but a movement nonetheless. And if you’re reading this blog, you’re already a part of it, you wild radical, you!
I’m sorry to report that just a few weeks after our conversations, Jessica’s father passed away. She only saw him once after our talks, and the subject of his dressing was never brought up. But I like to think that our conversations helped. And that Jessica saw her father in a new light as she chatted with him that final time.
And then I think of her father. The old Marine. A career soldier who spent a lifetime defending his country. And not just any country – but a country founded on the notion of freedom of expression. How sadly ironic. I never met the man, but I’m willing to bet that, despite all those years of service, he never once felt the freedom to truly express himself.
As PRIDE Month passes and Independence Day approaches, I remain hopeful. Maybe someday, we will all be able to express ourselves freely. Marines and dressers alike.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy!