I remember reading Andre Agassi’s biography “Open”. I was married at the time to a horribly abusive person. There was a part in the book where he spoke of his wife Steffi Graf with such reverence and respect. I was heartbroken that I didn’t feel that way about my wife. You see, it was a crime my wife was not an amazing, confident woman. That was my true desire. To be with someone I can respect on every level – not some whore there for my gratification. This relationship is about the heart and soul.
Naturally (and fortunately) that relationship didn’t last.
I met my current girlfriend a little over 3 years ago.
She is an amazing, intelligent, accomplished, strong, confident, talented, introspective, funny and beautiful woman. I admire and respect her. I can speak of her like Andre Agassi spoke of Steffi Graf. I am blessed to have her in my life and feel her love for me.
But this isn’t about her (as utterly amazing as she is).
This is about being deep in the closet and coping with your heart’s true desire – to just get out and live.
For the most part I am extremely low-maintenance. My needs are fairly simple. At its most basic, I just wish I had some girlfriends to hang out with and…well, be girls with. Nothing romantic but just some friends to hang out and talk with.
I have a few good friends but honestly, hanging around with a bunch of guys doesn’t thrill me. I’m more comfortable around women and feel like I have far more in common. I can fake being my male self nearly effortlessly but truth is I’d rather be hanging out with my girlfriend and her friends than the male significant others who might be inclined to skip the winery tour or spa day.
If I was some super cute passable girl I’m sure I’d have friends to hang out with but there aren’t a lot of people who would be willing to hang out with me as a woman.
You can’t just hide yourself away though when every shred of your being is screaming for you to be yourself and get the hell out of the house.
You need some allies. Some girlfriends who get you and are happy to let you be yourself – no matter how odd it may seem as you work out how to act, look, be…
So begins the hunt for some allies…
I made contact recently with the local (and very active) LGBTQ2S+ advocacy group. I love the work they do but to be honest, if you aren’t “out and proud” there isn’t much for me there. Every event is out in the community and unless I choose to come out in public – I simply can’t attend. I’d love to go out and shoot pool with them tomorrow night. Not going to happen. (Even worse, I live in a fairly small town. Everyone knows EVERYONE.)
Then I made contact with the local genderqueer advocacy group. I instantly connected with some very nice people. In a perfect world I may meet some other people going through a similar time and hopefully create some kind of safe, accepting social circle.
Then something wonderful happened.
I’ve been getting bolder. I decided to book a makeup lesson at a local spa. There I just happened to meet the sweetest esthetician ever. She was excited to help me out, was totally sympathetic to my situation and was absolutely committed to making sure I felt like I was in a comfortable, safe place where I could be myself. (Upon entering the room she would outstretch her arms and declare it my “safe” space as though invoking a beautiful spell.)
What a great feeling. Not only is she wonderful to talk to but she identifies (mostly) as lesbian. Having lived that life for many years she has understanding and insight that makes speaking openly feel very easy and natural. I can be there in makeup (beard still showing) and a pink glam wig and just having a normal conversation without feeling judged.
At first I thought being able to engage with someone as “myself” would satisfy something inside me and possibly reduce my VERY strong desire to get out in public. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Feeling accepted and just having a regular conversation was so profoundly awesome that I need to get out even more now.
That’s what happens with a bit of loving support from a kind girlfriend.
Everyone should have a safe place to express themselves and be amongst friends. One of the best feelings in the world.
So keep your eyes open. Stay as open and authentic as you can in public. Even just one ally can make a world of difference. Just one safe space to be you and interact…
I hope everyone can find that space.