We all need to belong. Being human is needing to be part of a herd. Sometimes your chosen herd rejects you, like I so often read happens with the rainbow people, us of the alphabet soup clan, the GLBTQIA‘s. (Have I missed any letter? :))
During high school, I only had one friend, who during weekends and holidays got swallowed up by the social clique, a group of which I never was a member. During my university and early working years, I was in a closeted relationship, so socializing and alternate friendships were not an option. After she had dumped me to go and “pray the gay away,” I spent the six loneliest years of my life.
But it was a necessary loneliness. During these years I made peace with being otherwise, discovered that in my mind I could be a swashbuckling knight or travel to new galaxies as captain of the Starship Enterprise (eat your heart out, captain Kirk!)
But the herding instinct was still lurking in me somewhere. When I was in my early forties, still entangled in the web of deception and trying to let my real self break free, I joined an online mailing list called OWLS – Older and Wiser LesbianS. I lurked for a while, trying to roost in the Nest, as they called it. These women were comfortable in their skins (feathers?) and I felt uneasy, to put it mildly. They also used words such as “womyn” and “herstory,” and while I knew this was a way of setting themselves apart from the male-dominated world (“It’s a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman!”), I never felt comfortable or could accept myself being one of them. (I still hate the L-word, no offence intended, its only a personal preference). I left the nest, needing to continue my battle to escape from my cocoon.
Meanwhile I had started living with a woman who was just as confused as I was about whom she was and where she belonged. She knew she was not gay, but still she wanted to be with me, a person who was (and probably still is) labelled “gay” and “butch.” So we never fitted in anywhere – not in the straight, gay, whatever culture. In the past 25 years together, we feathered our own nest, weaved our own web, discovered new labels such as trans and cis, learning that we after all did belong – somewhere.
One of the reasons I started blogging, was to connect with other trans people. The desire to be part of some flock is still strong, after all. To an extend I share middleagebutch’s desire for a label (and envy her writers’ group!)