20 APR 16 (completed 21 MAY 16)
Maybe they just didn’t notice. At 11:58pm, I posted on Facebook, 4/20’s Eve, my results of a BuzzFeed quiz by Tanner Greenring called “Where Do You Fall on the Kinsey Scale?” I got “Mostly heterosexual,” which of course, I already knew. But you – probably didn’t. I’m not even sure if proclaiming mostly heterosexual even counts as “coming out.” I took the quiz because social and regular (anti-social?) media was making such a big deal out of James Franco saying “Yeah, I’m a little gay, and there’s a gay James.”
I actually took a mindful moment for reflection on whether or not I wanted to post the results for all to see. Granted, my Facebook is supposed to be private and only open to my friends and family and of course several hundred Facebook “friends.” I’ve probably had conversations about this topic with a select few, but it’s really the family finding out that gives me pause. I don’t know if my mom can handle another kid whose sexual proclivities are… let’s just say – questionable at best. I fear my step-father might have a stroke and what of my über religious aunt? She’s a woman with a heart of gold and a penchant for pandas, my aunt, who is unintentionally becoming a spinster in order to care for our grandmother who is slowly being lost to Alzheimer’s Disease.
I was much more cavalier about posting the result on my Twitter account, as most of my followers really don’t know me and frankly, Twitter just feels like a warm blanket of Anonymity despite being just the opposite. Pressing “Tweet” didn’t sting or require the extra exhale as posting it to Facebook. I’m still rather stunned that 48 hours later there are no comments, but two likes – at least sometwo saw my post. [Four weeks later when I actually posted this, it had still gone unacknowledged. That’s a good thing, right?]
Upon reflection, I can carbon date my familial shame back twenty three years and my societal shame about a smidge and a half more than that. I have been asked time and time again if I am a lesbian, as long as I can remember. Is it because the manner in which I sit most comfortably is the man-spread? Is it the sports I played most of my life (the big three, by the way: Softball, Tennis and Golf, not to mention Shot & Discus)? Is it that I always just wanted to be “one of the guys”? I always wanted to be the “cool” girl who was down for anything. But I was also very much the “anything you can do, I can do better” tom girl. In many ways, I still am.
Having had very few openly gay classmates, I was kind of trying to figure shit out on my own. I knew I wasn’t a lesbian because I liked guys and I also like gay guys. Not to mention my parents introduced me to Rocky Horror Picture Show in our living room at the tender age of 13 or so, I was in love with Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) at first sight. Coincidently, Halloween a few years later, a man (whom I still have no idea who was) came rushing up to my counter at my mall job in full drag; I was piqued by his beauty and visual sexuality. He said he just wanted to show me his outfit, as though we were bosom buddies. I was actually turned on by this guy in drag and I had no idea who he was. It was then that I decided to have a conversation with my mom about the way I felt. My memory of the incident is vivid as far as the environment; I remember the lamp and where it was positioned on the end table which was in between me, sitting on the couch, and my mother, sitting in my stepfather’s lounge chair. However, it’s the exact words that were exchanged between us that escape me. I merely have a residual feeling about the situation, that of her being mortified and trying not to show it. I vaguely remember her implying it was “just a phase.” Much to my chagrin, that was not the response for which I’d been hoping.
Of course, at this point I was still in high school, pining over a theater friend of mine, the first openly gay man I personally knew. He also turned out to be the first person I knew to have and die of “an AIDS-related illness.” He was probably not my first gay-man crush, and certainly wouldn’t be my last. That being said, how confusing do you think that was for me to not just like boys, but to like boys that liked boys? Of course, I also liked boys that liked girls… I just wasn’t usually one of them. A seemingly unfortunate situation that would lend credence to a future wildfire that was subconsciously brewing inside me.
Now when it came to women, I usually said that I could “see the beauty in a woman’s body, admire it, but not be attracted in ‘that way’.” I think I said that so much and it happened so infrequently, I even made myself believe it. I may have been a Pathological Heterosexual, which sad to say, I may have not just invented. I was drinking the Kool-Aid sold by society and believed the societal stigma that surrounds sexuality, orientation and gender-fluidity.
So flash forward a couple years, I made out with a girl while I was in college. And a few more when I was in the Navy. That was pretty much it in the experimental category. I always knew though, that I did not want to be in a relationship with a “chick” because I was “one of the guys.” I thought chicks were crazy – naturally, present company excluded.
And what was I raised on? Sex. Pure sex. They say sex sells, but I’m beginning to believe that it also buys, creates, and destroys. And before I lost my virginity, it was my ears that were gratefully penetrated. Madonna’s Immaculate Collection is dripping with musical ecstasy. George Michael “Wants] Your Sex” and has “Faith” in “Freedom! 90.” Color Me Badd only has to say “I Adore Mi Amor” for you to know they “Wanna Sex You Up.” And I’ve always been a sucker for Joey, my favorite New Kid on the Block. Now, I’m not blaming music, movies, video games, etc… I’m just saying having the predispositions that I have, I believe that I experienced all sensory stimuli in a very different way than most. For being so strong and independent I’m influenced by my environment easier than I would like to admit and it’s only now that I’m realizing it. Is Robert Palmer right, am I “Addicted to Love” (and sex; that’s a good question for another time [thanks Maz]). Mmmm… Foreshadowing.
Up until recently, this topic was taboo for me, especially being raised with the whole “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality. The first time I felt even remotely comfortable thinking about my sexuality in more than a one-on-one repartee was in 2011 when I played women’s professional football, where 95% of the players, it seems, are lesbians. I found myself attracted to a few players and fantasized about trysts that could have but didn’t exist. I was asked by one of them one night if I was gay and I responded: “I could be.” She found that amusing, but not amusing enough to call my bluff. Was it a bluff? Regardless, none of those school girl crushes were ever realized, but I felt that I could be whoever I truly was around these women – gay, straight, or otherwise.
It’s partially with the help of RuPaul Charles that today I’m able to finally say that *I think* I’m a gay boy who’s a transwoman drag queen in the body of a nearly forty year old mostly heterosexual cis-female teenager. At least, that’s as far as I’ve worked out so far. It seems to add up to this: 99% of the time I’m 100% strictly dickly.
Truth is, I’ve still got a lot to learn about myself, and the path is being constructed as we speak? Read? Whatever… I’m working on a better version of me. The real me. I’m not even sure I know who she is yet, but the road to Recovery is underway and it’s through honest assessments of myself, continued conversations with others and moments of clarity like this that will get me to where I’m going. Thanks for reading. Peace.
~ Carol Ann M. Van Natten