Thursday, October 11, 2007

TMI: The Come Outs

So thinking about coming out and all that jazz today made me remember how I've come to my current place where I have nothing left to hide and too many people know way too much about me. But as I'm sure I've mentioned before I really dislike the phrase "coming out." Maybe it is more my self perception but I never really thought of myself as closeted really, though I guess my transsexuality was closeted behind the facade of just being a gay guy, so I wasn't in the closet but I was very close maybe. I'm trying to recall the only times people asked me if I was gay; once when I was like 11 and had no idea what my uncles were talking about so I said no because they made it sound really bad, the next time by my pediatrician when I was 13 and my mom had discovered some Victoria's Secret lingerie which I spent like all my allowance on, I think ,when asked by him about if i would have sex with guys or girls I replied girls, but I was at that age where I knew enough not to say guys and finally in the back of my chemistry class in 1oth or 11th grade when Katie, the girl I thought I was in love with (and maybe really was) asked me if I was gay. I at first misheard her and thought she was asking me if I was okay but when she clarified I said no because I didn't think I was and it is kind of weird to be asked by the "girl" you dig and tried to show affection to if you're gay, though looking back I think a lot of our time was spent in girl talk and me writing poetry. The only time since high school was in AmeriCorps when we were working in Sandy Hook New Jersey painting a hallway; it was one of those boring days so we were playing Truth or Truth and they asked me, they being a lesbian and a girl I was strangely attracted to who's grandmother was a lesbian, if I was gay. I replied I didn't know and they accepted it at that (though very soon afterwards one of those girls spent the night, yada yada very weird)
I really think everyone since then just assumed I was gay because as one of my friends told me I had "professorial hand gestures" which is an amazing description that I don't actually understand.
But all of the above were memories of denial instead of memories of coming out so let's move on. The first time I came out as a transsexual was my senior year in high school and I really am trying to recall what sparked it. i think it was around my 18th birthday and so I was getting kind of depressed because I guess I thought that 18 was the age and if I didn't do anything then. transition wise, I'd never be able to do it, or something like that. So one of my girl friends, who I let read a book of my poems, which she's lost over the years but whatevs, I told her during the middle of the school day and after asking me to clarify the basics about me feeling trapped yada yada she was quite accepting of it, though the fact that I waited until then where it was close enough to the end of the year where I could never have to see her again if it didn't work out gave me some safety. Later on during AmeriCorps Bethany when we were pillow talking somehow it came out that I had hooked up with boys which she was really fine with considering her dad is a southern evangelical preacher. I guess the second time I came out as transsexual was sophomore year and I really don't know how this came out. Oh wait yeah I do. Okay rewind. At Duke there is a preorientation program for freshman called Project BUILD and sophomore year I was one of the crew leaders. Every night of the week, in order to get to know one another and build bonds one person would give an interview where they would talk about their lives and any secrets or fears they wanted to share to be kept confidential by the team of course. My other team leaders were one of my favorite people who happened to be a lesbian, and a girl from france. For some reason, maybe because it was on my mind, or maybe because I felt comfortable in authority and wanted to give a memorable interview I resolved to come out and to have my interview on the last night. So we went into Biddle our music building and I came out to 6 other people, including a tobacco farmer from Greenville North Carolina. I don't remember if I cried during it or if any of our crewlettes understood what I was saying but it really helped me. So a few weeks later when I was drunk one night I promised Theresa I would tell her a secret another night. I guess she was sober because she remembered and soI pulled her aside one night and I don't know how much I explained or was capable of explaining but I remember her reaction " I knew there was something about you" Then maybe a week or so later when I was at some party a girl and I started hooking up and I told Theresa that I was going to reassert masculinity to which she replied "however it goes, whatever happens I'll love you just the same" god I heart that girl. Nothing major did end up happening that night and she eventually came out as a lesbian, a pretty butch one so life is strange that way that I'm now a lot more femme than she is.
I think the next coming out happened in Rome and these were all so so random. One night I was sitting outside of a club on Capri smoking with two of the girls from Trinity and once again I don't remember how these conversations get on these topics but I came out to them and we discussed boys for a bit and then that night, or maybe the next when I was walking back to the hotel I think i said something and Lena, another Trinity girl was like "you're gay? but you don't look gay." And now is when the story gets fun. So at the end of sophomore year one of my hyper prepared friends decided that the guys should get a house together for senior year and they included me in these plans. I was very noncommital because I could not see myself living with guys senior year but as I was in Rome and was talking more with two of my girlfriends we decided we should get an apartment for senior year. Word flowed back, as is bound to happen when they're both dating my guy friends and so one night I get a string of angry IMs asking me wtf is up and I tell them okay okay I'll explain. So it was our Fall break in Rome and I came back on a Tuesday from I think Naples and wrote a super long email telling them that I did't feel I could live with them because I was a transsexal and thought it would be a lot better for my sanity if I lived with the girls, but that I was still the same guy who enjoyed beirut and whatever. The only text I typed in the email (I attached a word document) was bombs away and I sent it that night as I was freaking out about it to Mara online. When one of my guy friends IM'd me after I sent it and asked me if I was there I totally freaked out and listened to Mara when she said I should go to bed. The next morning I went to the Papal weekly address and then spent the next 5 days traveling over Italy by train. When I got back and checked my email I got two brief letters of support from my guy friends and longer ones from Theresa and Suj, which really make me happy to this day. They all seemed quite proud of me and the girls were "blown away" that I wrote it to the guys but to me It was an incredibly cowardly way to come out. From across the Atlantic by e-mail as I was leaving my computer for a week and didn't have to see any of them for 4 months. But it served its purpose and they didn't get on me about not living with them anymore. I actually remember around that time I put up on Facebook that I was interested in Men which stressed me out far more than it should have.
Last year about this time, hmm. Everyone knew or assumed that I liked boys and unbeknownst to me other things as well. In those coming out emails I apparently wrote something about you can tell whoever you want because it'd be better that way and so my guy friend in Paris actually did tell and tried to talk through it with people including a friend back at Duke who told other people, yada yada, gossip spreads.(and I just remembered one way I came out was at a party I was discussing one of my classes with an acquaintance. The current topic in class was the money shot and she wasn't feel it and in a moment of sympathy I told her that yeah I'd be on the recieving end of it. So bizarre) So when, in another cowardly or efficient manner I came out in the "about me" section of facebook that" I'm a transsexual and will be starting hormones soon " it confirmed a lot of things and the word spread further. Some of my friends were pissed that i didn't tell them the hormone news directly and personally but I explained it was just a getting things of my chest type thing and I didn't mean to diminsh their importance. I actually came out to my brother over AIM and he actually seemed to freak out and didn't take it well which was kind of shocking considering he's gay (though is close to 30 and still in the closet) so that pissed me off but I never really liked him anyway. And so second semester was just so bizarre. I think there was a week where I came out to a person or two every night, over dinner, at bars, a few times by going upstairs at parties and showing people the facebook account having them read it say wow and ask me questions. Everyone took it well because I think I only told girls and people who I trusted wouldn't freak out about it. Strangely enough the last people I came out to in person where my roommates because it seemed that they already knew it, but when I did they had questions that I guess they didn't know if they could ask me, mostly about health and practical stuff. Actually the whole coming out weeks were an orgy of people telling me how proud they were of me and at a certain point like I was telling random people like it was a compulsion like I couldn't keep it in anymore. After semi formal with Hubby her sorority president drove us back and in the car ride for some reason I came out to a girl I had never actually seen or know of before. (a few months later I came out to one of the Trinity girls through AIM; once again alcohol was involved) I had tried to come out to Hubby earlier that night after numerous vodka shots through the facebook reveal (people really don't read those things) but she said she already knew, that my friend in Paris told them when I sent the email and so they had known the whole time, which kind of pissed me off that that moment was taken away from me. Using facebook was totally convenient but it was kind of a crutch where I would use it to break the ice. It also spread the word further. But it was probably better that way. There were certain times when like I was certain that everyone knew and it was quite evident in the overly enthusaistic way people started to treat me.But I didn't have to do too much really just post something and let the gossip/news mill do it's thing.It spread on its own well enough so I didn't have to do anything big, though I did because I was talked into it. Senior Week we had a Senior Prom and after, I don't know 13 or so shots to steady my nerves I went all dolled up where a tonne of people I didn't know ended up talking to me and apparently I blew a lot of people's minds, people who thought that what I had written on facebook was just a joke (i still don't find the humor in such a joke, especially one that was on there for months) So at that point everyone who needed to know knew and basically everyone in my class did as well. At Myrtle for beach week was like the first time I was treated like a girl, just because everyone knew and didn't care. Though I did find out later that me coming out had freaked out my guy friends who I guess didn't understand it but never really felt comfortable asking me about it. And I had noticed that distance increasing, but my closeness with so many others more than made up for it. But I still hadn't come out to my mom, which I had planned on doing when she came down for Graduation, but you can read that story here and here.
SO in short I've come out through e-mail, group settings, facebook, IM, by forwarding of e-mails, word of mouth, face to face and by wearing a dress. Oh and through assumptions and slow realizations as well.

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