The last time I had been inside an Episcopal church was back in the early 90’s. This year, I was to see daughter-unit sing with the Major Minors, and had not even thought about where I was going. I walked inside that evening and WHAM! There it was…
My past was there to greet me. Only then did I realize that classmates from my church-affiliated college may be present in the audience to see the kids sing…. Classmates who did not know that “he” had come to identify as “she” ... or Jewish ... or openly queer.
This was freaky. Not uncomfortable (hey, these were Episcopalians), just truly freaky. One thing is becoming crystal clear as this transition moves along - Soulmate and I are changing fast. We're growing more comfortable in the LGBTQ+ world, and less attached to the straight one.
Welcome home, I guess...
How did I get here? The short version: Two friends of mine came out, went through hell, were embraced by the local community, and seemed better off for it. I supported and encouraged them both from afar, then disappeared into my side bedroom to cry my eyes out.
This was the second time in my life I have had to do this. The first time nearly killed me. I knew where I belonged.... Well, “we,” really. Soulmate was fairly comfortable with the lavender situation, as was I, and she had always known that I was a girl inside from when we began dating in college: we were both queer from day one, never been a problem. But the prospect of turning fifty in a few years, with a male body and an artificial male persona, was finally beginning to take its toll.
Roughly twenty-five years before, we had contemplated “Operation Switcheroo” on my part—transition into a lesbian woman, followed by the surgery. However, we also wanted to have kids one day, and the surgery was just too new to make us comfortable. So those plans were shelved.
Fast forward to 2014:
“Honey, remember Plan A?” asked I.
“Um...yes?” she responded.
“How serious were you?” I continued.
“Serious,” she answered, followed by the pregnant pause, before continuing. “You ready?” Soulmate realized the time had truly come.
“Yeah,” I said.
Her, “Go for it,” was followed by a kiss.
Deal sealed, and we have never looked back. All is well, but, to be very honest, we're kind of paying for it. You don't exactly earn brownie points in this community by living as goody two shoes former-Episcopalians, but this is us, and we are growing more comfortable with this truth every day.
The hardest part about our return to the tribe is feeling like complete outsiders to the vast majority of you out there. No horrible coming out experience, no divorce history, no previous naughtiness (Episcopalians, folks), not to mention all the terminology has changed and the younger folks get VERY upset when you fail to use the new descriptors or pronouns.
It's sad, funny, and frustrating for the two of us, all at the same time, I'm tired of the eye rolls when I talk about this with new friends. Yes, your coming out journey was far more horrible, but at least you have someone to talk to who can relate. We are pretty much it.
Welcome to the post-mainstream. I guess we are in the vanguard. Sigh…
Let me speak for just me here: I am doing my best to get up to speed on how the majority ticks thirty years after I chose Soulmate over a guy. Why Soulmate? Because I love her. She could easily have been a “he”, but she got there first. Soulmate was my best friend before she became my life partner; I have no regrets.
Why did so many bisexuals like us run away from the community, back in the day? We all have our reasons, some of which sound like poor excuses really. I argue that a major reason we have some pretty strong ally support is that there are many people like us out there, who have grown up and may be attempting to atone.
It's the same inside our community concerning transgender and non-binary people. We are all attempting t’shuvah (return, course correction). Please do not disparage any of us when we make honest mistakes, especially concerning language, because we will. Just help us to understand who you truly are, and we will show up for you.
It likely would have been far easier thirty years ago for Soulmate and I to have blown up our relationship and come out individually way back when. You tend to get a group hug for that. Equally, it indeed was far, far easier to pretend to be straight. We do regret that approach.
But we are here because we belong, and hopefully setting an example for our kid too. No more eye rolls please. Just show fellow queers like us how to be better at this. That's all, and thank you in advance...
Because the late bloomers amongst us need all the help we can get.