Tomorrow my family will march in the local Pride parade with a group from our church. I’m committed to completely showing support for the GLBTQ community in whatever way is possible.
I’ve long considered myself a member of this community, if only because I am a life-long crossdresser. But I felt very weird marching in last year’s parade (my first) because, to the assembled crowd, I looked like just a supporter and not a member of the community. I felt distinctly “in the closet” — dishonest, deceitful, hiding something in a manner counter to the spirit of the event.
I’m counting crossdressing as part of the “T” in GLBTQ, and maybe that’s not appropriate. Transsexual individuals will make a clear distinction between themselves and crossdressers, and vice versa (for the most part). Perhaps I’m being presumptuous.
It’s one thing if you come out to someone in private. I’ve done this plenty of times. Your prospective spouse, for example, has a right to know something like this about you before your lives are fully intertwined.
In such a circumstance you are essentially confiding a secret, one person to another, with the expectation that your revelation will be treated with respect, not ridicule. Your crossdressing remains private, though the definition of “private” has expanded just a bit.
But coming out to the community is a very different thing. It’s tantamount to saying, “Here’s how I like to get off.” And though the Pride parade is all about sexuality, it just feels weird bringing something so private to the public square.
It’s really not like coming out as gay or lesbian or bisexual, which all have to do with partnering, who you love and are attracted to. Crossdressing really isn’t about who you love, it’s about how you get off — generally by yourself. (Proponents of AGP theories might disagree.)
I point this out to show a fundamental difference between a crossdresser and the rest of the GLBTQ community, especially other portions of the transgender segment. (I know this is covering familiar ground, but getting this figured out is important.) Here it is, stated as bluntly as I can muster:
Crossdressers use cross-gender activities for sexual gratification.
Transsexuals cross gender lines to express identity.
Like it or not, when the world thinks of crossdressers, it thinks of kinky pervs getting off somewhere in ladies’ underwear. And in a sense, hard as this is to admit, the world is right. For many, it is only in private, it does primarily involve underwear, it’s wholly sexual, and it is kind of pervy — which can be part of the attraction. Those who want to take their dressing into the public often do so to further the sexual satisfaction of the act.
Even in an age where sexual proclivities are decidedly more open than ever, there is still no reason for anyone to bring such deeply personal preferences, which really are not about the community at all, into the public square. It’s a little like walking down the street wearing a banner which says, “I like missionary,” next to someone whose sign reads, “I’m into pubic hairs,” followed by a group carrying a banner which reads “The Golden Shower Club.”
You can argue that we really should be so open about our sexuality and that the world would be a better place if we were, but the reality is that we are not. Such unnecessary personal sharing does not help the GLBTQ community.
For the record, I also believe that some of the over-the-top flamboyance on display at these parades also does damage to the GLBTQ cause. The TV news replays these images and the entire complex community is reduced to the single image of some effeminate gay man strutting down the street in pink underwear. The effect is to reinforce stereotypes. None of the gay men that I know would ever consider doing such a thing. They are real, whole human beings, not caricatures.
I don’t think this is prudish. It’s about too much sharing. We don’t need it. The net effect is to undo advances which have been made.
So, if any of these are your identity, how might you wear it in public? The answer is, you don’t (and really probably shouldn’t).
For myself, I fear that last year’s discomfort at the Pride parade has nudged me deeper into a transsexual identity because the alternative — that I’m a kinky perv — is impossible to accept. My ego can’t handle that. (For details on what I mean, see my list of fallacies.)
A few posts back I wrote about trying to find a way to express my membership in the community at this year’s parade, but I’ve had a subtle change of heart. At this point, my membership remains distinct (as a private crossdresser) but ambiguous in terms of the public. Even though I now sense that I know where it is heading, the groundwork has not yet been laid.
If I remain on my self-established schedule, I will be out as a transsexual at next year’s parade. That is unless I regress into the belief that I am just some kinky perv — a thought I am loathe to consider, but feel I must.