11-18 october 2016
…The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue…
i couldn’t stand it anymore. i’d given up on life… as much as i studied and pondered, i couldn’t figure out why i was at the end of my rope. the fundamental contradiction of my life was hidden in plain sight and i couldn’t see it. until…
the only person that ever saw me dressed was the woman i was with over a year ago. her acceptance of me was the catalyst, my first taste of living free to be me.
we broke up and i became a webcam model. at first it was amazing… my motivation was to be appreciated for who i am by real people. in that environment, birdy took her name… i relished every free hour to go on and play… i spent so much time preparing… forays into the L.A. Fashion Mart, Amazon shopping carts full, found size 12 heels, put on eyeshadow, lipstick… spent vast sums with determination and glee! …at a certain point i realized that i was more birdy than terry.
but modeling soon became an aching disappointment. internet casual encounters didn’t satisfy my yearning to become real… with real people. the implication that i’d have to come out someday didn’t occur to me, i just knew i had to keep going…
for 50 years, my hidden self had no awareness of herself other than as secret sexual being. she was the one that had kept the flame burning under the cold harsh smothering… i didn’t understand that there were myriad dimensions of personality that birdy had never lived, trapped under society’s imposed identity of “man.”
so i chose my first role models from the pros who worked the cam rooms.
i thought of telling a couple of close people, but thought it would be inappropriate. they didn’t tell me about their sex lives, so why should i tell them about mine? i still thought of myself as a crossdresser with a secret life.
i was performing with increasing passion for men but had never had any adult experiences in real life with any. i knew that i must be at least bisexual and i became critically unsure of my sexual orientation. i needed to know.
in palm springs gay culture is free and vibrant and i found the bars there one day… i dreamt that if i just went as my “man” self, i would find out for sure. so i went and partied with the men there hoping to be taken and loved, but i was disappointed. i guess everyone saw a straight man, respected that and kept me at arm’s length, contrary to the homophobic trope that gay men are all hungry for a straight man…
searching for crossdressers i felt silly as i asked bartenders and patrons “…where can i find crossdressers around here?” i was informed about the drag shows and made my way to them. the next couple of weekends, i started wearing a pink blouse over a black camisole with a gold chain necklace over my tightest man jeans. one night after enjoying the show at a busy joint, i introduced myself to the star with a plea to help me as she smoked a cigarette on the patio. she was so kind and i was learning so much so fast! the next few weeks i hung around her at her karaoke night and then the drag show which was breathtaking…
…but i still needed to know. what am i?
i had been trying to find some counseling to guide me into this surprisingly complicated real world. it kept getting put on a waiting list, so i searched the net and found a life-changing forum. it’s called crossdreamlife. the discussion there taught me from the experiences of people like me… all the shades of transgender were discussed. the issues among them and with the “straight” world… the formal medical and psychiatric debates, the impact on real people’s lives… shared inspirations… crossdreamlife was space to explore philosophical/spiritual/intellectual ideas about gender identity in depth with readers with their own insight for me to read, digest and absorb… i had tasted the elixir of a whole life with a new gender identity. integrated, dimensional and dynamic.
…but how was i to know what my sexual orientation was?