PAUSE! This was copied and pasted from my blog and definitely not a LiveJournal-styled post, but I thought this was really important and personal in a LiveJournal way that I should at least have it copied here. So, here's everything I wrote word for word in my blog post about coming out shortly after I did so via mass texts and a Facebook status of a picture of me in a dress and a typed message to go with it.
Alright, I guess it was about time that I did this.
So, a number of people may have noticed that I came out recently. Though some people think so, the term “coming out” doesn’t directly translate to “admitting to being gay” as much as “revealing something about your gender identity or sexual orientation.” I apologize if it’s annoying that I make it a point to detail the definitions of certain terms, but I think it’s important that everything is clarified. While I’m at it, be on top of this one: Sex and gender aren’t the same. Someone’s sex is physical and someone’s gender is mental. A transgender person’s sex might be male, but gender still female. Following? Cool. This next paragraph has a bit more “science.”
I came out as being genderqueer. Genderqueer is a pretty vague term because it can really mean a lot of things. In terms of myself, I use it to mean that I have an overlap of, or blurred lines between, my gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation. This is a non-normative gender identity. Heteronormativity refers to the idea that sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender roles align. Also, queer is a catch-all term that refers to sexual or gender minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary (and gender-binary refers to the classification of sex and gender into the roles of either male or female.)
Another note: I have to use words like boys, girls, men, and woman to be able to explain a lot of what I mean in this post, but it drives me insane to do so. If we keep saying “women’s clothing,” then we’re perpetuating the idea that “women” are the ones who should be wearing them.
Now that those things are explained, I’m going to get more personal. Cool? Cool.
I have spent my entire life struggling with my gender identity and sexual orientation. It wasn’t always an active struggle and I wasn’t always sure I was even having a problem. By the time I was expected to understand my gender role, however, conflict came. For example: When I was 11 years old, I remember asking my sister to paint my nails. As she did, my father walked by and I made a joke about it to him. I made this joke because I knew he wouldn’t approve and I thought that, if we could laugh about it, it would just be a funny harmless thing and nobody would make anything more of it. He did not laugh at all. His response was disapproving enough and I felt ashamed. Sadly, I have many stories like this (and it’s not even the only one that centers on nail polish, heh.) Sometimes it’s upsetting just to remember.
I’ve laid out that I realized I wasn’t always properly in my gender role, but what was equally challenging were the times when I was. The back-and-forth was confusing me (and it took me a while to notice.) I was still doing “male things” and hanging out with guys and enjoying it. That said, in high school, some of my female friends and I just joked that I was a “girl-guy,” and I began to rationalize this as me being in touch with my feminine side or something like that. When your society teaches you to believe that there are only two genders and that these are assigned to you based on your genitalia, then you start to explain all of your behavior through the lenses of those two modes of behavior and the belief that you know which one is yours. Anytime I was being less of a guy, I wrote it off as me just being a bit feminine sometimes.
When I was 17, I realized that I get attracted to men. I panicked. I thought I could tell no one. What the hell? I knew I was attracted to women. Very much so. What was this? I suffered through so many conversations about sexual orientation without revealing my confusion to the people I was having them with, constantly finding my feelings suppressed or hurt. I even tried telling my father about my curiosity, which was probably when I realized 100% that I would never be able to talk to him about my gender identity or sexual orientation ever. In fact, I never really felt like I could tell anyone about these things in full.
Years later, I began to notice how much it would piss me off any time I heard something like “you wouldn’t understand because you’re not a girl,” yet, though I wanted people to acknowledge my masculinity, I was so much less interested in defending it. At the same time, I’d then feel stupid because I was, in fact, not a girl (at least this was how I reasoned this to myself.) Soon later after having this realization, I had yet another epiphany: I wanted to wear women’s clothing. I was in downtown Helsinki and I passed a girl wearing something that immediately made me think “I want to wear that.” And it struck me. All those times in which I thought “oh, I like the way this is cut” (or whatever) about a woman’s outfit, even when I thought “but that’s not meant for me,” it never occurred to me that my actual desire was to be able to wear things that were designed for women. But in that moment, in downtown Helsinki, I thought it. It was like being 17 all over again—I panicked. I thought I could tell no one.
I admitted pretty quickly that I was going to have to tell someone. So, I disclosed this piece of information to a few close friends, pretended like I was going to do something about it, bought a girly thing or two, had the guts to wear them once or twice, and that was about it.
Over half a year later, I found out I would actually be living with some non-normative types and moving in with these great sorts changed my life drastically. I finally had people I felt I could really talk to about my gender identity, people who actually understood and even went through the same or similar experiences. And these talks were invaluable.
I realized that being feminine doesn’t make you less masculine and vise versa. Dressing up in women’s clothing does not forfeit me as a man. Being a man doesn’t deny me my right to like, feel, or do anything that would otherwise be described as womanly. (And this was such a comforting fact to realize because I don’t want people to think that what I’m saying is simply “I’m a woman inside!” Part of my problem was not knowing how to feel like I was accepting facets of my personality that did not align with my gender without denouncing the parts that did.) I thought about how much I had been suppressing elements of who I was because of what was around me. It was simply that there were different ways to express different parts of my personality. There are interests, activities, forms of expression, and many more things that have been categorized by gender and I just don’t want to think about it anymore. I’m not going to look at myself as being a “feminine guy” (especially because I’m tired of denying my masculinity to accommodate my femininity. ) I want to see myself as a person, gender aside, first and foremost. And this is how I want to approach other people. This is how I feel about others gender identities and I find that my romantic interests are heavily influenced by this sentiment. This is why I deemed myself a pansexual, which is a sexual orientation that describes having sexual/romantic attraction to people of all gender identities and biological sexes. I have been seeing “women” my entire life and none of my feelings regarding the type of people I have been seeing (in terms of gender and sexual orientation) have changed, but I do feel that what interests me more is the person as a whole instead of where their gender identity and sexual orientation lie.
Where was I when I came to this conclusion? I’ll tell you: scared. I had no idea what to do with myself. I knew I had to start buying some new clothing and some makeup and things like that or I would never feel like I was fulfilling something I desired as a part of my lifestyle. I wanted to wear women’s clothing the same way that I want to wear men’s clothing that I like and make me feel good. This was unsettling for me. I would be sitting on a tram, see someone I thought was cute, and then think “If this feeling would have been mutual now, what if they won’t think the same when I’m dressed differently?” I started to convince myself that I would not be attractive to women if I was dressed in women’s clothing. When I actually was dressed up, which, before coming out, wasn’t often at all, people would stare. Of course they would. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes it wasn’t so funny. Sometimes when it wasn’t, I had laughed it off, shrugged it off, or didn’t care. Other times, I didn’t feel so courageous. I would feel paranoid. I would feel embarrassed. I would want to look anywhere else. (Now, I’m only marginally more comfortable than I’m describing here.)
I kept telling myself I’d come out “soon.” Then, I’d think “Ok, this week.” Then, “Alright, before October.” Then, “Definitely before November.” When November was upon us, I thought “On Nov. 3rd and I will celebrate with the Halloween party we’re throwing.” So, even though I didn’t have the time to make this post then, I stuck to it and put up a picture of me wearing a dress, leggings, and makeup and thought “I’ll check this tomorrow.” (Thanks, all, for not asking why my hands look like alien claws in the second picture.) Directly after, one of my flatmates and I went to one of the only grocery stores open in Helsinki on the holiday (which means it was very packed.) There were moments when I actually forgot I was dressed up (until the staring of course.) I was just excited and I felt much better because I was with Tiina : )
I partied. I got drunk. I mouthed off to everyone that I had just come out. The support was so sweet–new friends telling me I was brave and all. The morning after, I opened up my Facebook and I could not believe what I saw. All the comments, “Likes,” and personal messages were so incredibly heartwarming. Thank you, all of you, for such an incredibly supportive response. Every single Like/comment/PM and so on was SO incredibly uplifting. I even heard from friends who I thought would not understand or would even be made uncomfortable by the news. I actually go to my Facebook and scroll down just to reread everyone’s comments.
Of the few people who knew beforehand, thank you so much for being a part of the small steps that led to coming out, and a particularly special thank you to everyone who asked me if there was something they could do to help me. I’d also like to send out a special thank you to everyone who asked me how they should treat me differently. And one last one for everyone who told me that I looked good : P It was so sweet to hear when part of my fear was just… being unattractive, even if people wanted to support me when dressed differently.
Where am I now? Finally busting out all the girly clothing I had kept secret in wait of this moment, being stronger about all of this, and trying my best to keep the fire going (just to let it die down so that this can all feel like a casual thing that always was.) I can’t imagine ever telling my father, though my mother was incredibly sweet about it. If I relayed my thoughts correctly, you’ll understand that I have no desire to stop wearing men’s clothing and what I look for in people (romantically/sexually/friend-ly) has not changed. I’m just going to start doing my thing without worrying about noise as best I can.
Please ask me about it if you have any questions, feel like sharing thoughts/hearing more, or think I could help you.
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