Coming Out: One Story of Many
When I found out that I should post my coming out story here, my first question was pretty much immediate: "Which one?" For some people coming out is a fairly direct process. That doesn't mean it's easy, just that for many the identity they first came out with is the one they stick with, at least for awhile. Clearly that isn't true for everyone, and it certainly isn't for me.
I joked that I couldn't write a coming out story for this blog, because it would be at least novel length, if not encyclopedic. I'm 30 years old, I first came out in some way when I was 11, and until about 6 years ago my identity changed about as many times as Romney's position on health care reform. So instead of trying to tell the whole timeline of the development of my identity (certainly at least a few of you would quit reading after the first two or three hours), I would like to tell you about one experience I had in coming out.
I was 19 years old, and had just broken up with a girlfriend of about 9 months. During that relationship I identified as a butch lesbian, but was already using my current name. I still used female pronouns most of the time, but my wardrobe displayed a definite ambiguity of gender. That breakup occurred in the spring, right as she and most of the other people I knew were headed back to their hometowns for the summer. I was working in Madison, and would be staying here as everyone else headed back to the dairy farms and other cities that they were raised in. The time was perfect for a change, and I seriously needed one.
I had been attending the Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings occasionally for several months by then. I was in absolute awe of the cast members but had begun to get the sense that they might be interested in taking on new people. With my newfound free time and a strong desire to make some friends, I asked to join and was immediately accepted.
I was suddenly put in a position of introducing myself to a big crowd of new people, knowing none of them. So I introduced myself as Benny, and the first time someone used a female pronoun (nearly immediately) I simply said "I'm a guy."
What was interesting about that moment was that I had not planned it. Not all coming out stories include a long time considering one's identity and deciding how and when to come out, or who to come out too. I had not decided that I would definitely transition, that a male identity was right for me, or that I wanted male pronouns to be used. The decision came at the same moment as the words left my mouth. There was no closet, nothing to come out OF. I just said the words, and it was right.
Luckily the environment was right as well. I did spend a lot of time correcting people's misuse of pronouns, but I didn't face any significant social trouble in that group for quite awhile. Rocky Horror people are a great group to hang out with during transition, and I'm glad I came out when and where I did.
Note: The photo on this post is really of me, about 2 months after this story happened. I didn't do anything to alter it other than scan it in on my old scaner – that is the way it came out!