Tuesday, October 11, 2016

National Coming Out Day (or for some of us - Staying In Day)

Here it is again. And this year, just as every year, I debate whether I should come out to a more complete degree than I have. And this year, just as every other year, I will not be doing that.

Photo by Syd London

Of course I'm kind of out depending on your own view. I'm not closeted in the sense of being overly secretive, the close people in my life are well aware of this side of me and its importance to my identity, and obviously I have an online presence that I'm not at all shy about. But I don't show "before" images of myself (before make-up, wig, etc.) on my cross dressing related pages. I don't talk about being gender fluid or a drag performer in my non-drag social media profiles. I'm not out at work, despite there being no gender specific aspects to the company dress code. I don't walk down the street in the town where I live in makeup or heels. And I don't expect any of that to change this year.

I don't put up the sturdiest dividing line in the world between my male and female identities. But I don't allow them to purposefully overlap either. I've never promoted my non-drag work on my drag profiles and vice versa. And even as certain aspects of my day to day life see the two sides of myself becoming a bit more blended and I'm more comfortable with the middle ground, I don't see myself having a formal "coming out," anytime soon.

To a certain extent that makes me sad. Part of me wants to just go "Hey! I have a fluid gender identity and sometimes I wear makeup and skirts, and there's no shame in that!" Which of course is true, and I do believe, but the logistics and fallout of actually making that truly public knowledge are very real. And more to the point, they don't just impact me. I'm a parent, and I have a child whose life can be negatively impacted by how I am perceived by the town residents. I'm not just talking about embarrassment, as I'd like to think she's being raised in such a way that she won't see shame in something like this, I'm talking about bullying and shunning by others (both adults and kids.) I've found fairly consistently that impact on loved ones (children especially) is one of the biggest factors leading to coming out late in life. And I understand it, better than I would care to.

And yet, in some ways, the separation of my two primary gender identities makes life a bit easier. Compartmentalizing isn't for everybody, but for some of us it makes things easier to manage if everything isn't bleeding over and impacting everything else. Not every friend I have needs to know every aspect of my life. I can have my friends I only talk about geeky things with. I can have my friends I only really talk about the female side of my life with. In a way that makes those who I let in on both sides a bit more special and dear to me, as well they should be.

So before this day is over, don't expect me to announce my feminine self to the world on my drab profile, nor to connect my masculine identity to my drag profile. I will not be coming out anymore than I already have. And you don't have to either, if you aren't ready. This day is a wonderful thing, but don't let it jump a decision that requires no special date. Coming Out Day is not a deadline. You're not going to lose points for missing the due date. It's just a day. And if you choose to come out, wonderful. And if you don't, good for you.

There may come a day when the walls between my male and female lives crumble and fall. But it is not this day.