I’ve been thinking a lot about this article. It creates a thunderstorm of emotion for me, because it is an exact description of the kind of crap I’ve lived with my whole life. The good thing is that now I have better answers than when I was a teenager.
When I was in middle school/high school, the gender roles “wave” hit hard core. I wasn’t sure I was a lesbian, but I for damn sure didn’t want to be a “woman.” By that, I do not reject the fact that I am female. I reject all the bullshit that is required to be “a lady.” I dress the way I dress and talk the way I talk (and write the way I write) to expand what it means to be female. I do not, in any way, want to feel that I am for sale. I do not want to dress so that men look at me that way, that tantalized look that says “I want her, and she’ll give in eventually.” I genuinely enjoy male company when it’s just “being one of the guys,” but when the same guys turn around and look at me differently because I don’t have the same parts, I’m out of there. In short, I dress to protect myself, and it confuses me. I don’t want to be part of the weird gender-assigned roles that argue I should be submissive to men, and I don’t know enough about myself to judge whether that’s totally weird or not. Stay tuned.
It’s hard to step out of my comfort zone, because to me, dressing up is putting yourself out there. I turn on the charm and flirt with everyone, male or female… also in protection because I think if I’m funny enough, people will focus on that instead of the outward shell. If I punch you with humor, you’ll be laughing too hard to notice anything else… like my baseball cap with REALLY short hair underneath. If I’m lucky, you won’t notice I’m gay.
It’s true, and I didn’t even put that together until now.
Growing up in the South taught me that I wasn’t normal at an early age, and I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since. I just wanted to be me, and it seemed like everyone had an opinion on whether I should be gay or not. Never mind that I could change my sexuality as easily as I could change my eye color. Actually, I could change my eye color easily with contacts, and that would turn out as real as “being straight.” It’s a mask where authenticity should be.
Moving to Portland and out of the Bible belt allowed me to start asking who I really was, because Portland doesn’t have a problem with gay people being affectionate in public. I do.
I friggin’ remember all the gay bashings in the Montrose. I remember getting royally hassled at High School for Performing and Visual Arts- a school that would lead one to believe I’d be safe(r). It’s a good thing that when bad things happen, it makes for good writing. I wrote a lot.
I come by it honestly, and I’m still working on it. In the meantime, though, I have to believe that I am hilarious.