Thursday, October 11, 2012

NCOD 10-11-12

I heard something on the news that thousands of couples have made arrangements to get married today - specifically because it's 10-11-12.  I dunno the thinking that goes into that kind of thing but at least it's easy to remember.

I'm back in Raleigh.  I was in Kansas City for less than 30 hours, and it was actually a very pleasant (but way too quick) trip.  The folks from Hallmark took me to Jack Stack BBQ for dinner on Tuesday....very yummy.  I've had BBQ all over the place but I've never heard of "burnt ends"  before.  Regardless - all good.

My day at Hallmark yesterday was very full.  I sat in on a meeting with a variety of marketing and product development people in a fascinating "Product Development Roundtable" yesterday morning.  We looked at a variety of cards, talked about theme and inclusiveness, and it was just very interesting.  They've got a huge HQ there and I appreciate all the warmth and hospitality from everyone all day long.

I talked in the afternoon, I was at the airport by a little after 4, and my flight left at 6.  My flights were mercifully uneventful - I've got a version of Sudoku on my iPad that keeps me busy for hours so the time just flew by.  I finally got into Raleigh shortly before home, unpacked a bit to unwind, got some sleep, and was up to go to work.  I feel surprisingly chipper given the pace of the last few days.

I haven't been sick in a long time.  I hate to jinx myself by saying that, but I can't remember the last time I had a fever, or a significant cold, or anything health-related that slowed me down for a while.  I kinda feel the beginnings of something in the back of my throat, and given all the running around I've been doing it wouldn't be a surprise if I did have something.  But these things actually play out into something more significant 25% of the time so I'm hoping that a couple of days of calm will keep it away.

The VP debate is tonight, and I don't know if it makes me an unpatriotic American to admit that I won't be watching but....I won't be watching.  This entire thing, from the primaries through the national conventions and into the home stretch is absolutely crazy.  The last debate was President Obama's Titanic moment, when this unsinkable vessel hits a bump that feels like a small shudder, but turns out to be a catastrophic gash.  In what could and should have been HIS moment, it turned out to be his iceberg.  And I'm not saying that I think he's doomed.  But I do think he's made a serious problem for himself and the question is whether or not he'll recover.

When I left Raleigh a couple of days ago it was cloudy and chilly and very autumn-like.  Today it's bright and sunny and less chilly - but still autumn like.  I'll be here today and tomorrow - headed to Charleston to spend the weekend as usual.  And looking forward to it. Now THAT I'm passionate about. 

Changing topics.....

Today is National Coming Out Day.  My feelings on coming out - and on BEING out - have changed over the years.  I've written about them on this day in years past.

The coming out ourselves, then to others...and how we subsequently handle that is unique to each person who does it.  I wouldn't assume to tell anyone how to do it as I sucked at it when I had to do it myself.  The reason it has importance in my life these days is because it's not something you simply do once.  It happens over and over again and in many ways, it doesn't get easier.
Here in Raleigh I haven't had "the discussion" with a single person.  Not one.  And I don't plan to.  Why?  Because there is no need.  When I "come out" these days there needs to be a need.  Whether it's a practical need (doctor, hair stylist, or some other "thing") or whether it's a gift I choose to give as part of a deepening sense of intimacy, it's not something I just blurt out.  Why?  As I say - there is no need.  Doing it "Just Because" is not a valid reason.

I saw someone on FB who posted a photo of the whiteboard in their office saying "Happy Coming Out Day!  Out + Proud Transgender".  I'm thrilled for her, but for me - There's no way in hell I'd do that any more than I'd broadcast my political affiliations, my religious beliefs, or any other personal aspect of myself at work.  It's just not pertinent sometimes.

In commemoration of NCOD I got an email from the Task Force titled "Come Out at Work".  I did, and I have.  There was a time when I had a picture of my girlfriend on my desk.  If I had a "significant other" I'd have absolutely no problem at all putting a photo of us on my desk, or of talking about who she is in my life, or of being "out" in that regard.  But I think part of the problem is that being out as G or L and being out as T, are not necessarily the same things.   BUT...

I'd suggest that I'm probably still one of the outest transpeople there are when it comes to general visibility.  My book.  My website.  This blog.  My FB presence.  My advocacy/activism efforts. My YouTube channel.  All the "stuff" that comes up if you Google me.   I have not become invisible, nor do I ever expect to (even if I could). I'm way out, and it affects every aspect of my world.

The beauty in my life is that I can be out, but not out, at the same time.  It's not a binary.  It's contextual.  There's a huge difference between not being out, and hiding.  I'm certainly not hiding either.  But perhaps even more significant is getting to a point where you just don't care.  If someone takes the initiative to Google me and learn about my background that's fine.  That's why it's out there.  But the days of me constantly wondering who wonders what or who knows what have long since gone. 

The hardest part in all of this is taking the first steps.  Coming out to yourself.  Accepting yourself.  Getting to that point is key, and whether you ever get past that point depends on whether you need to or not....

Several years ago, while I was still involved with HRC, the Coming Out Project was part of the Foundation.  Mark Shields was the manager (and a good friend), and a group of us worked together to create a "Coming Out As Trans" guide.  We very much wanted to make it a communal effort, so a small group of us, including Dr. Michele Angello, worked for almost a year to finally get it published (details here).  Mariette Pathy Allen provided the photographs.  It was released in April 2007, and early copies were sent to the IFGE Conference.

It's not available thru HRC anymore, but it's as relevant today as it was when we first did it (link here).


I'll close this by sharing a little something I saw on Tuesday.  I was standing at the curb of the airport in KC waiting for my ride.  The flight attendant from our flight from National Airport to KCU was standing there as well.  He was a very pleasant guy, and after a couple of minutes a car pulled up and the guy who was driving popped the trunk.  The flight attendant guy put his luggage in the trunk, then got in the front seat.  The two gave each other a quick little "hello" kiss, and they drove off.

That spoke to me.  In my day-to-day-to-day world I don't generally stop to think about things like that but watching the simple act of having someone waiting for you that you could give a simple public but inconspicuous kiss made me realize that I miss that.  I don't expect to do anything to significantly change in that regard for me any time soon - maybe someday - but that was nice. 

1 comment:

Sophie Lynne said...

I think you're absolutely right- the first person you need to "come out" to is yourself.

It took a long time before I acknowledged who and what I truly am, and I feel so much better for it.

Doesn't make the journey any easier, but at least i know who is making it. :)