So #1 Daughter is working on her senior seminar presentation. They have a book to review in the class, and she wants to use me as an example.
What follows is the Facebook message exchange. Could I be any more proud of one child? And yes, she knows that no question is off limits with me. I'd have it no other way. There's gotta be some benefit to having a queer dad.
1) have you ever felt like you did not fit in with society based on your gender, sexuality, or masculine/feminine presentation?
Yes, daily, since at least 1959, when in the first grade during reading circle, I caught a peak of something I shouldn't have seen. Remember, guys wore really short shorts then.
Later through grade school, think taunting because football was too rough. Tag with the girls was more fun, and it hurt less.
In high-school, it was common for the macho boys to write a "Q" on the lockers of people like me. They did. The coach later asked them if they wanted the opposing team to know there were queers in the school.
I wanted to say, "but there are."
At some point later on a Sunday afternoon, a car of high school boys passed the house shouting "queer!" My daddy ask if I was. I lied and said no.
My mother knew better. They usually do.
Do understand that the gay community can be as punishing as the straight community if one does not conform to local notions of masculinity.
2) if yes, has this in any way had an impact on your life?
Yes, but my question is what was the impact on your life. You said "cool" when I came out to you and Josh in the living room. I doubt you meant it, at least at the time.
Bear in mind that I do not regret a single decision that I made along the way. Had I come out in 1971 when it was convenient, not only would I have lost the opportunity at a college education when my parents cut me off, but I would have also lost my life in the early 90s when AIDS came around.
And there would be no you.
3) if yes, was this impact positive or negative?
It would be very easy to curl up and focus on the negative. I've done enough of that. At this point, I don't think positive or negative. I think what is now, and what will I do with it.
But to answer your question, I will go with positive, no matter how much I might whine otherwise.
4)do you feel that society "approves" of the way you live your life based on gender, sexuality, or masculine/feminine presentation?
However, that depends on the portion of society that we consider. Consider Aunt Beth and Barb. There's a big negatory. They do not approve of anything their preachers do not permit. Bear in mind that they do not live in a culture where independent thought is encouraged.
I can also find gay people who disapprove of they way I live. Does my apartment look like something from Will and Grace?
Do this. Do that. People are full of advice. I think I'll find my own way. I lived 50 years as others think I should. It's time I listened to my heart. And yes, that's going to be one expensive direction for me to take.
5) has knowing of other people who have been through similar challenges helped you feel more connected with society? Has knowing of these people had any other impact on your life?
There are several books regarding men coming out late in life. I read a news report just yesterday of a man coming out in his 80s. And I know more than one who has walked this path.
Society places a terrible burden on us. My gay feelings were at times just being "oversexed," as my mother would say. At other times, a pathos, a brain tumor, and demon possession. I'm sure there are more.
I no longer pay attention to those people. They only seek confirmation that they are correct by urging me to be like them.
Have you ever considered the number of people who felt the need to point out the error of breast feeding to your mother? There were many. To a one, none attempted breast feeding. By deriding your mother's decision, they bolstered their own decisions.
Now, the book you are reviewing deals with binary gender issues. It should be so simple as binary, and while we're here let's leave god and creation out of this, unless we're willing to admit that perhaps god can goof now and again.
People are born with ambiguous genitalia every day. Mostly, doctors make god-like decisions and make the baby one or the other, which generally leads to follow-up life-long trauma.
And then a soul is born into the wrong sex, or so they feel. I worked with a very strong woman who felt that she had been born a woman this time to help her learn patience. Her acceptance of that idea told me she was far along in evolution. Perhaps an elder soul.
I personally know some half-dozen women born into the bodies of men. These people have the most difficult lives to lead. To a one, they will never be able to afford gender reassignment. Consider their challenges, and you'll decide very quickly that the rest of us have very few problems.
I suspect I've only motivated more questions with my answers. Follow-ups are welcomed. BTW, I love you!!!