When I was coming out 10 plus years ago, I was pretty sure I was doing it all wrong. Not so much the coming out part, but the being gay part.
Looking for guidance, I sent letters and e-mails to a variety of “accessible” celebrity lesbians. And Barney Frank. By “accessible,” I mean the rung below the power lesbians. The writers and activists who I thought might actually write me back. I asked everyone to identify the single most important thing that a gay person can do to further empower the community.
I wrote to cartoonist Alison Bechdel, among other mildly famous lesbians. Back then, she was best known for her Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip. The magic that is Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home wouldn’t happen until 2006.
I can’t find Bechdel’s response, but I remember her sending one.
Everyone pretty much gave the same answer. Be yourself. Be out. It wasn’t the sexy revelation that I was looking for.
W and I often talk about how her experience as a gay person is different than mine. When I walk down the street with my short hair and cargo pants and baseball cap, it’s a political act. I’m out for the world to see in all of my boy/girl glory. Not so much for W. Unless I’m with her.
Flip to last Saturday and W and I are in New York City watching Fun Home the musical on Broadway.
I’ve heard the butch anthem “Ring of Keys” perhaps a hundred times.
But sitting there in the theater when the luncheonette doorbell rings and Sydney Lucas belts out “Ring of Keys,” I had an epiphany. I had been doing it right all along. With my short hair, dungarees and my lace-up boots.
Because that’s the best thing any of us can do. Be yourself. Be out.
It takes courage. And practice.
But if I can do it, anyone can.
I’ll blog some more on Fun Home, but wanted to get these thoughts down before they left me.