Signs You’re Not Cis-Gender: #89
Welcome to this week’s edition of “Signs You’re Not Cis-Gender”, where I casually bring up elements of or instances in my life that crop up to let me know I’m not cis-gender. Just my experiences, so some other non-cis people might relate while others don’t at all. Take it with a grain of salt! This week’s sign is… *drumroll*…
Sign #89: You find out that your oldest male friend joins the long list of closest friends who turned out to be gay men… just like you would have been if you were born with the anatomy that best matches your identity.
Okay, so this is a little bit awkward, and I’m going to post about what happened just last night (thus this being so late in the evening on Tuesday). I’ll change the names, just because I haven’t asked permission yet to share from the people involved in my past. I’m not here to out anyone, even if they’re already out to their family and friends. My blog isn’t about that. So… names have been changed, but this is seriously what happened.
To put things concisely, most of my close male friends throughout my life have turned out to be gay. I noticed this theme a while back and sort of chuckled to myself, but there were a couple exceptions to the rule that kept me from thinking too hard about it. And then… last night… I discovered that my close guy friend from all the way back in 2nd grade ALSO is gay. I didn’t know it, but he actually came out right after high school, around the time I was starting to learn about and explore the possibility that I wasn’t cis-gender.
We’d been running in different crowds for quite a while, having parted from being close friends in late elementary and barely knowing one another throughout high school. Sure, we’d smile or nod to one another in the hallways, but we never really spoke. Different worlds. He was involved in a more popular circle while I was with the “stair-dwelling” crowd of outcasts that included goths, band geeks, gaming nerds, and the very small percentage of us who identified LGBTQ. Didn’t mean there weren’t others who identified that way, of course, but those who openly did? Yeah, they were in our little loosely tied group.
I’ll call this old friend of mine Jake here. 🙂 Quick history lesson: Jake and I were best friends in 2nd grade along with a girl I’ll call Annie. The three of us did a LOT of playing on the play ground during recess. We’d run and jump and do gymnastics-like stuff on the field behind Knoles Elementary School in Flagstaff. We were all kind of artistically minded, but very active as well, so the three of us made a good group of friends. Jake was actually my very first crush as well, before I really even understood what a crush was. I liked him. A lot. And those first little stirrings of “He doesn’t like me as much as he likes _____” were probably the first time I’d been jealous of anyone in a memorable way. We grew up and grew apart, the three of us, though Jake and Annie were closer in school cliques and both tended toward student government and the like. I was academic, but definitely more of an outcast, bullied a lot throughout junior high and high school, often by other people who were in their groups of friends.
This realization… this discovery that Jake is gay… it’s hard to put into words for me what it means. As I mentioned in a past Signs You’re Not Cis-Gender, I was the kid stuffing their pants to imagine being male. And during all my struggles and all the bullying, Jake was on his own journey of self-discovery. And neither of us even really realized it about one another, I think. I was always close to the boys who ended up identifying gay. All but two of my crushes over the years have been on gay boys. The exceptions are a best female friend who was going through a very masculine/butch phase a la Haruka Tenou (Sailor Moon reference!) and a boy in junior high who is now married to one of the most kick-ass, independently-minded women I was acquainted with in high school. Nevertheless, Jake was probably going through a lot of the same things I was, and being able to add his name to the list of guys in my life who are gay? It’s like I’ve grown up constantly finding and reaching out to people who emulated the things I so desperately wanted to be. Inside, I most closely identify as a gay male (oversimplification, yes, but still closest using limited boxes on the proverbial form). And there I was, finding boys who were just like me… with the little problem of me not having the same stuff between my legs.
In a weird way, learning Jake is gay completely validates my own identity. It makes me feel like I really was this genderqueer trans boi all along. I just didn’t have the tools or knowledge to know it, and because I didn’t, no one around me did either.
And when this dawned on me last night as I looked over Jake’s Facebook page and saw that he was active in the Pride community in my hometown, I just sat there and cried like I haven’t in a long time. The last time I saw Jake, he was bagging groceries and we’d hugged and said how cool it would be to hang out after so long. We never did, and I moved to Florida, and I still have his phone number (probably outdated) on my cell phone. Never had the guts to call him, because it’s always so hard to basically come out all over again to people who knew me when I was younger.
But even when we hugged over groceries, he’d been out for years at that point. If I’d known then… Hell, if I’d known during high school, I feel like we could have been there for one another. I could have been that person who pulled him aside and told him, “It’s all right. You’re not alone. I’m going through this, too, and it really sucks, but it’ll suck less now that we can be here for each other.” Instead, we were in the different crowds, and when his group of friends would taunt me or bully me because they perceived me as a lesbian, he would never say anything against me. He didn’t stop them, but knowing he was going through his own self-discovery, I totally understand that. I wouldn’t want that kind of attention turned on me, either, had I been in his position. But he never once took part in the bullying, and I remember specifically thinking to myself one day, “Well, Jake must remember what good friends we were way back when, because at least he’s not mean to me.” Now I know why. And it makes me tear up all over again out of happiness that we’re both celebrating the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of Marriage Equality… and out of joy that my identity feels more consistent and real even way back to that young age, and maybe a little out of regret that we didn’t reconnect, that we missed the opportunity to support one another when I’m sure we both could have used it.
So, all this went through my mind, and I’m sitting here astonished that I have such a pattern of seeking people like myself throughout my development… and I actually work up the guts to direct message him on Facebook. And I told him everything. My identity, my story, his involvement in it, and what his being out means to me. I rarely get so personal in general with people from my hometown, and certainly not over Facebook… but it seemed like the perfect thing to do.
And his response was a short “This is amazing” sort of message with the promise for something more thoughtfully typed out once he wasn’t busy at work. It is amazing. And he’s an amazing guy. And I just feel like I’ve been who I am my whole life, even if it took me years to figure it out. And that person is not cis-gender. That person doesn’t fit in a lot of boxes… and never has. It’s an incredible feeling of self-validation. And I definitely don’t think my reaction to his being gay would have been the same were it not for my own identity and journey as a genderqueer trans boi who likes guys.
When you’re biologically female and have this reaction to an old friend coming out as gay? Yeah… probably not cis-gender. And that’s just fine. In fact, it’s kind of awesome.