I’m Not Who I Am

I’ll preface this with a warning, for the sake of myself and others who know me; family, friends, or internet stalkers. This post is going to touch on sensitive personal subjects. If you are uncomfortable with discussions of gender issues or sexuality – specifically my sexuality, or details thereof, stop here. This is a mature, difficult post to write. If you even might be uncomfortable with the above, stop now. Point your browser anywhere else, and do not continue reading. If you’re still here, the only warning left is that I have changed the names of some persons here, for typical reasons.

This is something that’s been stewing in my mind for a long, long time. Something I’ve discussed only with those closest to me, and which I’ve hemmed and hawed about even putting to words at all. Earlier today, I convinced myself it shouldn’t see the light of day, but good friends talked me back into it, and for my own sake (and the interest of honesty with them, and with you, if you’re reading this), I’m moving ahead in spite of my deafening anxiety and misgivings about approaching the subject from my position. I’ve come up with reason after reason that I shouldn’t do this, but every one was met with reasoned counterpoints that make it almost imperative that I ignore my fears, discard my apprehensions, and jump into it headlong.

I am, biologically, a straight, white male; the definition of privilege within Western society. That’s a big part of my anxiety about this; I’m concerned that this position dilutes my claim to any other identity, that by feeling otherwise, I am trivialising or demeaning those not born into such privilege. But, to not explain myself and claim my internal existence is a dishonest thing, and a disservice to those who know me, and to those same less-privileged person. If codifying this with words discards my privilege, then so be it. I welcome the change. If this comes off as some cliche, some jocular introspection that falls in the realm of immature would-bes, then so be it. I will not lie. So, here goes.

I am a lesbian.

This is probably a strange thing for a ‘straight male’ to say and mean earnestly, but it’s where I am. It is what I feel and truly, honestly embrace. It’s the only word I have to express the essence of myself; that, somewhere under this man-skin and its various accoutrements, my real identity is definitively feminine, and attracted to females. This is, by no means, a recent revelation, though perhaps my ability to comfortably accept it within myself is; through stories of trans people and of women I know and respect and love and of the  struggles of people I’ve known, I’ve come to understand what a ‘gender identity’ is, in ways that I never could reconcile before, despite a track record going back decades, concealed in my own confusion and incapacity for expression of self.

When I say this stretches back decades, and that evidence permeates my experience, it is almost painfully obvious. I was never, by any definition, “one of the guys”; in my early childhood, my longest friendships were exclusively with girls. I was consistently and constantly reminded that my lack of physical prowess made me less than the boys with whom I went to school, or grew up with. From preschool to the end of high school, I had almost no male friends for any length of time. I was, both by my associations and by the proclamations of the friends I did have, one of the girls, despite my biological differences from them.

I did, as young persons are wont to do, have a period of sexual exploration in my youth, though all of these experiences were with ‘other’ boys; this never felt “right”, for lack of a better term, but I didn’t have any real, meaningful romantic relationships until nearly the end of high school; sure, I had a couple of short-term “girlfriends” at slightly earlier ages, but these were the typical youthful infatuations and a long-distance relationship with someone I’d met on the internet. My first girlfriend, Jane, was an abusive, relatively manipulative tomboyish girl I met between sixth and seventh grades. Looking back, I don’t know what convinced me that this was a relationship; it was, in reality, a control situation. Once I grew enough to begin to see it, and to think about that, I was cast aside by a phone call that taunted and humiliated me – a three-way conversation between Jane, myself, and another boy I half-knew from school. I remained single until I met, via chat room, Sally, a good, Christian girl (like myself, I suppose), who lived half a country away. I took a road trip with my father from California to Wisconsin to meet her in person in the summer between Junior and Senior year of high school; while that trip was, most likely, the definitive highlight of my life to that point, and while she and I got on well, and I did feel a connection, perhaps there was something in me that forced my eventual distancing from her. It may be a lie – I’m honestly not sure – I do try to convince myself that it was ultimately in her best interests that the relationship end when it did.

The end of that relationship, for good or for bad, is the opening of another chapter in the saga of finding myself. In my senior year of high school, I came into a new group of friends – some of whom I still see today, and the longest-standing friendships I have. During this time, I met Stacy. She was another Midwestern girl who’d moved out to California for college, but rather than the good Christian girl I’d fallen for before, she was a Wiccan, a vegetarian, and – perhaps most important to this tale – a lesbian. She’d never before been in a romantic relationship with a male, and was not interested in any such thing; we became close friends almost instantly – strange circumstance involving a coin flip led to my staying in her dorm room overnight the second week I knew her, and we stayed up until 3am, just talking and getting to know one another.

Over the months that followed, Stacy and I were easily best friends; I’d sit with her and play video games in her dorm, or we’d walk around town talking, and every few weeks or so, I’d stay overnight again. Usually this happened when her roommate was out of town, and we’d each take a bed. Sometimes, the other bed being occupied, one or the other of us would sleep on the floor, and the other on her bed. Eventually, we were comfortable enough – still as friends – to share a bed. Then, one night, I found my arm accidentally draped over her as we fell asleep. I moved it, sensing that this was not entirely correct; she grabbed it and put it back and we fell asleep in each others’ arms (nothing more happened that night).

I’ll spare the specific details of the remainder of that, but in (relatively) short order, I went from long-distance relationship and plans to move to Wisconsin, to moving in with my “lesbian” girlfriend right out of high school. We were married in a midnight ceremony in the park in April of 2001. In October of that same year, she left me for a friend of ours. I was devastated, broken, and left to think for a very long time on what I’d done wrong; communication barriers, emotional unavailability, so on and so forth. I remained single – and, for the most part, celibate for over four years. Again, there were a couple of ‘fling’ situations – with dominant-personality gay men, which satisfied certain urges, but still did not feel correct and with whom I failed to form any meaningful emotional bond or real relationship.

From there, I fell haphazardly into a relatively emotionless relationship; I don’t mean that as an insult, or a criticism – she (we’ll call her Molly) was a sociopath, and medicated for such. Whether relevant or not, Molly was another who, while not a lesbian, had been through exclusive relationships with other women. I was sensing a trend. We shared some good times, and had a lot of fun together, and we (like Stacy, after enough time had passed for me to move beyond the hurting caused) remain friends to this day, but there was something lacking there, too; maybe this sounds stupid, but my internal feminine self was unhappy with a relationship that was not emotionally fulfilling. She moved in, after we’d been dating a while, with a couple. We would party every weekend as a group with friends, going through hundreds of dollars in alcohol every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Eventually, I came to notice that her roommate, Erika, felt much the same in her relationship as I did; that something of great importance (namely, significant emotional connection) was missing. And so, over months of partying, we grew close in the quiet moments between riotous merry-making; at some point, we kissed on the porch while having a cigarette, and before we knew it, a kiss blossomed into a secret relationship behind the backs of our respective supposedly-significant others.

Suffice it to say, Erika and I are now married, and we have two wonderful children together. She knows – unlike any of the other women or men I’ve been with – who I am inside, and how I identify, and she accepts and loves me in ways I did not know were possible. We joke often about my built-in biological strap-on and the advantages of its existence. We’ve spoken, if briefly, on the topic of gender reassignment, though I don’t think that’s anything I’m interested in; while my body and my essence may disagree about who I am, I don’t feel a need to force either into conformity with the other.

If this post became too lengthy or rambly off-topic, I’d love to field any questions on the topic. My lack of focus is, perhaps, partly a defense mechanism that I don’t mean to enact, but I feel that the stories of my relationships and the roads I’ve traveled from youth through age 30 are the only lens through which I can perceive, and thus explain, the means by which I found myself, the way that I finally became comfortable with who I am. These experiences are my journey of self-discovery, and it is now, bearing these scars and placing them on display for those that would look upon them, that I can say:

I am a lesbian. And I am proud.

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1 Comment

  1. CorgisaurusRex
    Posted 19 September, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I am in love with this post.

    I know it takes a lot of courage to even talk about this kind of stuff with friends let alone putting it out there in word form for potential strangers to read over. Not sure what to say here, not sure if I’m proud of you is the right sentiment?(because who really needs anyones approval but your own). But yay, yay for you and standing up for who you are on the inside.

    I am so so so sooooo glad you have someone like Erika who provides a supportive, loving, safe space for you to explore who you are. I know first hand how eye opening a experience that can be, and how frustrating it can be to explain to partners that no thinking of me(in my case) as a girl with a strap on is not the same as you recognizing and embracing my male identity.

    Let’s insert another yay for good measure… YAY.

    PS. come on science WTB magical button that allows me to swap genders at will am I right?