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Friday, October 9, 2009

Coming Out Stories: Marie

As I mentioned about a week ago, this Sunday, October 11 is National Coming Out Day. I know that people stay in the closet or come out for a variety of reasons and a variety of ways and I believe it's important to honor people's decisions about when they are truly ready. This blog has a policy of not outing anyone unless they say it's okay. That being said, it is important we tell our stories and let those who matter to us know and see our true selves.

Conversations from the Heart is the theme of this National Coming Out Day and I hope that these stories, from local friends of the Fruit, help heal, help open up hearts and minds and help us feel a little more connected. I'll be sharing stories all weekend. A special thanks goes to those who took the time to contribute.

Without further ado, here's Marie's story:

photo by M J M

Let’s see…coming out…Coming Out

That reminds me of something…

Hmm…what are the words to that song…?

You know, one of those “gay anthems”…oh - that’s right!

I’m coming out

I want the world to know

Yeah. There’s the rub. The world. Coming out is a never-ending process. Every time we begin a new relationship – a new job, school, social group, whatever - we must come out again.

I realize I have been coming out my whole life, at first unaware of the fact that I was in a closet that I had to come out of. The closet wasn’t of my making. I never realized what a queer little girl I was. “But didn’t all girls…”. “Uh, no honey. They didn’t…” “But everyone - ”. “No.” People around me saw the clear signs of my path - my Coming Out - and they ushered me into the closet to stop me from getting to where I needed to be.

Looking back, I can see the road that led to where I am today. I can mark the legs of my journey by the queer milestones…

Mile 1

I’m about five. I love my Tio Pumpkin Puss (So named because of his ability to turn into a woman after midnight. His friends caught him in the closet - literally, in his closet! - in drag) and my Nino, troubled and bisexual (enough to piss off people who thought he should pick a side). I loved them more than I loved my flesh and blood uncles. I will always see them as queer icons in my life. Even at that age, I seemed to have an affinity for queer men.

My little heart is hurt, missing them when they are no longer around. I lost them to the “growth” of my parents’ married life. Not quite the right kind of friends for a young family.

Mile 2

I wish I were an Amazon living on Themyscira – Paradise Island, bitches! - the home of Wonder Woman. I read every Greek and Roman myth I can to find a female warrior idol. We play Samurais like in the Kung Fu movies in our dresses and ridiculously delicate patent Mary Janes (which I loved), backyard wrestling at grandma’s house. I see now that I’ve spent most of my life as a boy in a dress.

I meet Lynn, new girl in school. Everyone thinks she’s a boy. She has a short natural that’s more curl than afro; it’s the same color as her beautiful golden brown complexion; tall and thin, shy and scared, low, deep voice. I find a new best friend. My sister and I fight with boys on the playground cause they think we act too tough. We punch the boys who chase us pulling our hair. I don’t give a damn if it’s cause “they only tease you because they like you”. I move away, letters for a few months; then her family goes overseas.

Mile 3

I draw warrior princes with pretty faces and girls in fairy tale dresses. Reading the stash of Alpha Flight, New Mutant, and Teen Titans comics (screw that Richie Rich crap) my dad found has opened my world. Sex, bulging muscle men in tights, naked girls, and skimpy outfits: cool!

I sit next to Daniel in English (I don’t know that he was gay….but I have my suspicions…). He’s dramatic, effeminate, bubbly. We share a love of fashion design. He tells me all about Dynasty and the reproductions of Joan Collin’s dresses he makes for his Cabbage Patch dolls. I hope I’ve found a life long friend. Never saw him the next year. I still miss him when I think of my childhood. Wish I knew how he is.

Mile 4

I love the editorials in Cosmo and Vogue; I pour over the magazines - a benefit of my mother working in a beauty salon. I wish I looked that beautiful even as I wish I could have girls this beautiful – not exactly sure of how or why I want them, but I do. I study them carefully, cutting out pictures to keep, while continuing to perfect my technique, drawing perfect bodies. My portfolio grows, filled with the pretty warrior men I’ve created in my mind and models I’ve seen in haute couture or nude turned into my superhero fantasies. I’m twelve.

Mile 5

We exercise and weight lift with my dad. We’re small so he worries about us. It does not help that I’m a nerd girl with a smart mouth. I wish I were stronger, bigger, taller, tougher. Not feeling like a girl or a boy, wishing I was both…I still do…. Maybe I could be a hermaphrodite, like in the mythology I loved so much. I’m sure this would be ideal. Saw a gorgeous intersex person on Phil Donahue who discussed their experiences growing up. A bodybuilding doctor, oh my.

Proud of my ambiguous appearance, feeling bad cause dad thinks I’m ugly. He hates my short, boyish hair, my funky unisex, new wave clothes. “Do you think you look pretty like that? You look like a f@*king boy!” Causing confusion everywhere with my androgynous looks. Maybe I should just give in and try to be a pretty girl.

Mile 6

I still draw fantasy women, muscle bound winged bitches with evil eyes or my own face. I wonder why people think I’m a lesbian just because I draw naked women.

Still don’t feel like a girl, but trying to be; not making it. I wear vintage 60s and 70s clothes when it’s not cool. I often use the word “person” instead of boy or girl, man or woman; one of my male friends laughs about this habit, thinking it sounds odd.

I go to a Latina Conference at Solano Community College in my new girlie clothes and a queer Latina (first butch girl I have ever seen), maybe a real grown up college girl, stares at me and whispers to her friends throughout the whole day. Handsome girl, looking like a boy, new wave style, sport coat and glasses, vans – it was 1990, dammit! I’m flattered and scared at the same time. I still wish I’d talked to her. Too many of my “friends”/ family there to deal with…

Mile 7

A hot football player notices me and we become friends. He flirts with me shamelessly. I love his well-developed pecs, which he shows off by flexing them, wearing a tank top under an unbuttoned flannel. I’m also friends with his best friend, which helps his cause because he scares me. I’m leery cause he’s fast and popular; flattered that he thinks I’m pretty, likes smart girls with glasses. I find out years later he has amazing gaydar for a straight man. He always knows the queer girls…

Senior year in high school. A girl in boys’ clothes again. People are confused. Is that boy with the long hair and tight jeans wearing lipstick? Not having tits really doesn’t help. I’m more comfortable with myself than I’ve ever been. I like looking like a pretty boy in my t-shirts, straight leg jeans, and hiking boots, eyeliner and brick red lipstick, shoulder length wavy black hair.

The football player comes back in a Marine Corp uniform and asks me to marry him. One night, after about six months of marriage, he asks me “do you think you could wear a dress once in a while?”. I begin to dress like a girl again. I like it. I try my best to dress like the models I admire in the mags or girls in rap videos, even though I’m short and not too pretty.

Mile 8

He says, “you like girls don’t you”. Not a real question. And I realize I do. It was just there waiting to be acknowledged. Twenty years and this man starts me on a path to self-awareness with one stated question.

I experiment with women, learning about myself and my relationship with my husband. Fearful of approaching women; so much harder since I’m married. Worried about how people perceive me - and my husband, whom I love.

Still in the gym, striving for a body builder’s bod. More and more boyish acting as time goes on, still dressing like a fashion plate. A boy in dresses and makeup. Again. A bi woman who doesn’t completely feel like a woman married to a straight man that doesn’t completely get my need to blur gender lines, though he tries.

Mile 9

Bi seems to define everything about me. Half gay, half straight. Half feminine, half masculine. Half Mexican, half white – well, more like ¾ Mexican, ¼ white, but still. Everything about me comes in twos. I am, but I’m not. I am not, but I am…Always feeling I have to justify why I think I can claim to be…

Bisexuality is something to hide from everyone except those with whom I can share sexual info. Who the Hell decided to put “sexuality” in the name anyway?

Tired of hypocrites who think it’s cool women are bi but think all men who like men are fags. F#&k you! I might as well be part fag, too.

Mile 10

Must come out to new friends on a retreat. They’re all baring their souls. Damn, there’s a lot of queers in this group! Can’t bear to sit quietly through their angst; knowing my admission might make them feel more comfortable. I know I will feel like a liar by being silent. I want these people in my life for a long time. That means risking…by being real…in relationships…

I have friends to talk to about this shit. Not just potential hook ups who have no interest in my life – or me in theirs, to be fair.

I’m hurt every time someone jokes about fags or dykes, especially if they know I’m queer…

I realize that I get “yes, sir” on the phone a lot because of my tone of voice. But I often soften my voice and try to sound more feminine, act timid when I want something; sounding more girlish when I ask for or state what I want face to face. It disgusts me that I could try to use feminine whiles to get what I want. Me!?! Feminine whiles! I try to break this habit. It’s really hard. I still sometimes fail.

I’m just beginning to own myself.

I share my love of/ attraction to gender-benders, drag queens, transsexuals, and the intersex with my friends. For the most part, they do not understand… I fear – I know - that people are judging me to be indiscriminate…easy.

Mile 11

My friend accusingly tells me I’m “a gay man in a woman’s body”. I think she might be right…

I fight this “sexuality” bullshit. Is that all you haters think the shouting, fighting, worrying, wanting is about? Sex? Is that why I dream of not having to rehearse my words in my head, censoring, before I speak aloud? Is that why I would like to go out to a romantic dinner with my girlfriend and my husband? Is that why I fear for my friends or wish they could get married?

I try to explain to my husband that I would love him regardless of his “gender” or “sex”. I don’t care what he’s got going on between his legs or how tough or masculine he seems. I love a person who happens to be a straight male. He could be any member of the LGBTQI. It hurts that nobody seems to understand the feeling.

I joke with a friend about having a symbol of my sexuality tattooed on my forehead. But I’m kind of serious. People have been visibly branded for many reasons. Maybe I need to brand myself; embrace a symbol of my “deviation”. Mark myself for the world to see. I’m willing to advertise my feelings, my needs. I’ll let everyone judge me. I’m not ashamed.

Mile 12
I fear what my husband is going to say about all the coming out, blogging, discussing, informing family, friends, and acquaintances. I’m careful that it doesn’t touch the lives of his friends and family. It hurts, but I understand. Don’t want to hurt him, trying to be true to myself; again broken into halves.

I really have designed my tattoo – no, silly; for my wrist. Have to pick an artist to ink it. I’ll use this symbol as a conversation starter. I’ll come out to the world - again; one person at a time. What does that symbol mean? Oh, it’s a symbol of my…

Pansexuality! Thought you knew what I was gonna say, huh?

Coming out has been a long, winding road with people on both sides trying to usher me into a closet or stuff me into a niche, trying to define me; warning me of the folly of my ways or questioning me – my feelings, my needs, my words.

I’ve measured my journey, for the most part, after the fact: I had no awareness of my sexuality. I envied boys. I liked boys; I envied girls. I liked boys – and girls too. I put a name to it: I was bisexual; I could fall in love with a man or a woman.

Now I’m the mistress of my path. I plan my course. Now I know. I am a boyish woman. I am a Pansexual; I could fall in love with anyone in the LGBTQI. I choose to give my love based on who people are and how they make me feel, not what gender or sex they seem to be.

Mile 13

To be continued…

~ marie

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