Sunday, May 17, 2015

Prom Queen

In recent years, I’ve noticed schools, high schools to be specific, elect a few femme boys, trans girls, and trans boys to be their prom or homecoming queens and kings. At the same time I’ve encountered countless school districts fight against the inclusion of policies that would affirm these same students as people.  In a strange twist of fate, I was just voted honorary parade marshal for Pride Portland 2015.  It’s true. I even saw a poster Friday night, with a larger-than-life sized photo of me, with my name next to the title, Honorary Pride Parade Marshal, at the launch party for Pride Portland.  The large piece of foam core, most commonly used for science projects, was displayed for the attendees to see on an easel between the lobby of the theater and the performance space. Well, maybe no one will notice I thought to myself as I headed directly to the bar and my waiting Stoli and soda.  

It’s been one of those weeks, you know, some really good things happened, in addition to the Pride thing, I talked to 500 teenagers about gender diversity and sexuality, scheduled one of my gender affirming surgeries for this summer, I was interviewed by a local television station about transgender issues in Maine, and I had lunch with mom.  In fact she took the photo of me that was on the poster. But there were also some not so great moments too, like finding out a job you were interested in wasn’t interested in you, and learning that nagging hip pain that’s been waking me up at night and keeping me from running like I’m so used to is actually arthritis.  As my orthopedic doctor said on Tuesday, “you’ve probably run your last marathon, that is unless you get a new hip.” Arthritis, are you kidding me?  I feel old. 

Earlier in the week I received a voice mail message from a member of the Pride steering committee. It was from someone I knew, and it was nice to hear his voice. He said he was calling on official Pride business.  That wasn’t out of ordinary, as the three organizations I work with will all participating in Pride.   When I returned his call, he started talking about parade marshals and I thought he was calling to ask for suggestions, not to let me know I had been voted to be one of the marshals.  He was really sweet and complimented me on the work I do in the community and how much he had learned. In my stunned silence I began to cry and muttered, thank you.

It’s hard to be recognized. I know that may sound strange from someone who is constantly putting herself out there in the public eye and seemingly involved with everything related to equality, but it’s true.  To me there seems to be so much work left to do that I feel embarrassed to be singled out as people in my community are still treated like outcasts and freaks. About an hour into the Pride party the other night, I realized, like I had the year before, I didn’t belong there. Or least, I felt really out of place. While I knew folks, and talked to many, I still felt alone, like I usually do in large crowds.  I poured out the rest of my second drink, and I left.  On the drive home I blasted classic rock from my radio and played both air guitar and keyboards on my steering wheel, it felt good.

Perhaps part of the reason I do so much is to avoid other things, like relationships, rejection, and intimacy.  Being busy and being alone both give me comfort.  It’s predictable to be isolated from the reality of interacting with people, but I also know the depression that’s grown inside me is the jealous type and doesn’t like company.  It’s ironic that as the protective layers I’ve created over the years fall away and I finally find the strength and courage to be myself, I’m more vulnerable than ever. I’m beginning to see the real me, and it’s not the dark I’m afraid of, it’s the light.