Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Now obviously this was a man who was not embarrassed to be out in public with a tv/cd girl. He had invited me to Vegas. He had just taken me to a very nice – and very public -- restaurant. And now we were walking together through the casino in the middle of the afternoon. So he had already established that he was not ashamed to be seen with me.
But I have to say, I was really surprised when he took my hand. It was just a small gesture. But it meant a lot to me. As t-girls we spend a lot of our lives and energy trying to gain acceptance. And as anyone who is out and about in the scene will tell you, that acceptance is not easily given. I’m fortunate that I live in Southern California where people are more open to the gay and transgender lifestyles. But “open” doesn’t necessarily mean “accepting.” And that acceptance is a long way from the majority opinion.
Have you been out? I know a lot of girls who read this column are still closeted. While others are relatively new to the scene. When I started going out I pretty much confined my outings to late night, after dark trips to the Goth and fetish clubs of LA. While some would say that the streets of LA get more dangerous after dark, I felt much safer than in daylight. I would park close to the venue, and most of the people that I would encounter between my car and the club, were others in the fetish scene either coming or going from the event. So, by definition, the only people I ever encountered were pretty used to running into t-girls.
But that’s just one small community in a very big city. As I branched out in my outings – to more mainstream clubs or to day time activities, the level of acceptance dropped dramatically. You get more looks. You get more frowns. You hear quieter, muttered insults under the breath of passersby.
To me, that’s part of this journey. I’m not the bravest girl in the scene. I’m far from foolhardy when it comes to taking chances. And yet, somehow, deep down inside, there’s a part of me that wants to keep pushing. To keep trying new things. To not put limits on myself. To keep moving towards a world that I create for myself where I feel comfortable – no matter what the rest of the people around me think.
And, for someone who wants to play a little against mainstream society, LA is a pretty good sandbox in which to experiment. (I mean, there are nights in West Hollywood where I feel like the least flamboyant person on the street!)
But Las Vegas is a whole other world. I’ve now been there many times in CiCi mode. And I love it. But it does present a very unique set of circumstances for even the most confident cross dresser.
For one thing, Vegas attracts all types. From the high rollers and celebs to the down-and-out guys who are quite literally down to their last poker chip. From retirees to college kids. From conservative vacationers from the Midwest to crazy hot gay tourists on holiday from Europe. My point being…when you leave your hotel you really have no idea what you’re going to run into. And by saying “when you leave your hotel” I’m actually getting ahead of myself, because in the typical casino, it’s actually quite a long journey just to get out of the hotel!
In Vegas, the entrances to the casino-hotels are placed as far from the elevators as possible. This makes sense from the casino’s point of view. They want all of their guests to walk by those acres and acres of slot machines and craps tables every time they enter or exit their room. But for the cross dresser, it means a pretty long and very public personal parade. (And if you’re in heels for men, a pretty painful trip too!)
The “parade” can actually be fun if you’re with a large group. As always, there’s safety in numbers. If you’re in a big group of t-girls, you’re definitely going to get noticed. Once, I was with a group of twenty-five girls or so… and we actually got applause. I was stunned. But people at the poker tables actually put down their cards and their chips and applauded as we walked by. (Talk about your nice gestures.)
But walking alone or in a small group can be much more intimidating. I tend to look straight ahead. It helps me block out the looks and comments from those I pass. Now obviously, this means that I’m blocking out some of the smiles and winks and other positive comments that a t-girl sometimes gets. And I suppose it can sometimes make me seem aloof as opposed to what I really am – terrified. But that’s part of my process. That’s part of my own journey towards feeling comfortable in my skin. And, while I have a long way to go, I like to think I’m getting better at it.
Once outside, Vegas is a trip. Night or day. I’m often stopped by tourists who want to have their picture taken with me. Now I know that a lot of girls don’t like this. They want to be treated as individuals… not social novelties. But I don’t mind. To me, it’s part of the progression that most minorities go through as they seek acceptance. You start off as a novelty (a nice way of saying, “freak”), and you try to make inroads into society from there.
But the simple gesture that has stuck with me the longest happened nearly 10 years ago in Vegas. I was with my wife attending a bondage convention and it was my first time out in a city other than LA. My first time out in the throngs of people that crowd the streets. My first long trek through the casino halls. My first exposure as CiCi to mainstream America. It was all very scary and intimidating.
We arrived at the venue where the bondage convention was being held. The main event was that night, but they had a large trade show set up. A place where you could buy BDSM/fetish merchandise or clothes, try out a new device, or watch a rope-tying demonstration. It was pretty exciting. The devices. The clothes. The porn stars strutting about. The shine of the leather and the latex. And of course, the sounds of all those whips cracking from the stage shows around us. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Okay, a very kinky kid in a very kinky candy store.
It was a memorable weekend for me. But the gesture I remember most happened before we even got into the place. My wife and I parked in the parking lot and were walking towards the entrance doors. A large man in full bondage gear was arriving at about the same time. He was dressed in full head-to-toe leather with several floggers and whips dangling from his belt. He was big and intimidating and I was already extremely nervous and unsure of myself. I could feel myself tensing up as I prepared for whatever negative comment or disdainful look I might have to endure.
He grabbed the door, yanked it open and paused for a second to look us over. And then he said two words that I’ll never forget. “Ladies first.”
You know, it’s so easy to be kind to people. To be respectful. We all get caught up in ourselves a lot. In our own lives. In our own little worlds. And because we all do that, the world can seem callous and cold. Even in a big city. Even on a crowded sidewalk with hundreds of people around us. Maybe that’s why I remember so many little gestures. The winks. The smiles. The thumbs up’s that I sometimes receive while in CiCi mode. The kind comments of people who have stopped by my table in restaurants or bars. The chats with bellman and cleaning ladies. The silly jokes that cabbies have told me – not because they were funny, but because they were anxious to express – in their own awkward way – that they were okay with me being me.
We use a lot of words to describe people like that. Open. Accepting. Kind. Respectful. But there’s really just one word that describes a person who would go out of their way to make another person feel respected and comfortable. And that word is, “class.”
Take care out there.
Be smart. Be safe. Be sexy.
Posted by CiCi Kitten at 1:36 PM