Bruce Parker

Thoughts about coming out...

Filed By Bruce Parker | June 12, 2006 9:05 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
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I am gay enough in my mannerisms and my attitude that I don't very often have to come out to people as a gay man. My classmates know in my graduate courses, my students know in the courses I teach, and my colleagues know in my activism work. The issue is that I only kinda think of myself as gay. My sexual identity hangs out somewhere between gay and bisexual so I tend toward labeling myself as queer. I mostly find myself attracted to gay men - but part of that is that gay men are pretty available. A few years ago I fell in love with a very cute, smart and talented trans gay boy. There is a certain amount of soul searching a gay boy has to do to understand themselves as a gay boy without having contact with a penis on a regular basis. So queer fits pretty comfortably even now that I am not totally committed to a transboy or anyone else my attractions are pretty permantly changed. And that is okay with me. Hell most days I celebrate it. I have developed a serious commitment to trans activism that controls my life when I am not in school. All of this is a prelude to last thursday that has been on my mind all pride weekend.

I am a masters student at Purdue University in Curriculum Studies. I just completed the class session component of a summer maymester qualitative research methods class (EDCI 615: Qualitative Research Methods). We had to write and present a proposal for a research project that uses qualitative research methods. I decided to try something new and do a biography of one of my friends. Who has been partnered with a transman for over five years and dated transmen prior to her current partner. So much of the literature around transfolks ignore the experiences and understandings their partners bring to the conversation and the community. So I wanted to focus on her experiences and her identity instead of her partners. When I presented my proposal as an interpretive biography it was well received.

However, instead of focusing on my research design and any methodological issues the questions all dealt with trans 101 type information and especially how someone could end up in a relationship with a trans person. They couldn't wrap their heads around how a straight or gay person could want that because it doesn't fit in any category they understand. I sat there and fielded their questions like a researcher not like a soffa or transally. I usually immediately situate myself in relation to the trans community as an insider but choose not to. I really think it was nothing deeper than exhaustion. There is a limit to how many times you can explain who you are to people. This helped me understand why some trans men choose to not come out all the time. It really is an ongoing process. How funny that as out as I am about being gay I still have to articulate my identity to people in very basic terms.
Upon reflection I wish I would have said something. Its safe and easy for me. Its also the least I can do to repay such a wonderful community for allowing me to be a part of it. But, I learned a lesson - its not always easy being out.


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Thanks Bruce for an enlightening post. I tend to think in very black-and-white terms, so being in this "new world" is also somewhat of a challenge for me. I am trying to understand the various ways in which people relate to each other. Basically, we cannot pigeon-hole people. Thanks again for that reminder!

Margeaux May | June 12, 2006 11:33 PM

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU, BRUCE!

You have so effectively articulated something that is even more misunderstood and rarer than being transgender itself. Thank you for challenging our concepts of gay, lesbian, and bisexual--your gay-transamorous journey further unites the LGB community and we find our old labels don't fit so well as we discover ourselves as post-modern sexuals (pomosexuals).

As a member of the transgender community, I am most grateful and proud to have you stand with us. I, for one, have learned a lot from you. When I came to my first TG support meeting (which was held in secret and attendees were carefully screened), I was taught about how dangerous the world is for transfolk. I learned that the risk of stalking, beating, rape, and murder was exceedingly high. I was warned to be wary of "tranny chasers." These were potentially dangerous people who were attracted to transfolk--sometimes to resolve their own sexual orientation, gender identity issues, sometimes to try something different, sometimes to cause harm. I know that for me, as is the case for many transfolk, next to resolving one's gender identity, the major question remains "who will love me?" and "what might that love be like?" Thank you for showing us that there is much more to this world than tranny chasing. Thank you for showing us that trans love is real. Thank you for giving me hope that out there somewhere, there is someone special for me.

God Bless you, Bruce Parker!

Margeaux May

Melissa Williams | June 13, 2006 5:13 PM

I struggle with similar issues, or maybe different issues, but I frame them in much the same way. I am legally married to a straight man but I am bi/queer identified. I feel so weird in the gay community (and I call it gay because I think there is a big difference between gay culture and queer culture) because I think gay people always assume I am straight. For this reason, I don't really talk to gay people I just met about my relationship with my partner because I don't want to be put in a box. I often feel like people assume I must have been a "Girls Gone Wild" bi who had to sow her oats but then learned to conform to heterosexuality. And if I am out with gay male friends, I often get asked if I am a "fag hag." So mostly I avoid hanging out with straight people because I feel weird with them and avoid gay people because I feel weird with them. I receive most of my nurturing from my queer friends who have all fled to the coasts.
I volunteered at the IYG booth at Pride and I was talking for a few hours with a man who was also volunteering. My partner walked up and I got this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach like, "Oh no, now he thinks I am straght. Do I out myself? Do I let it go?" I chose not to out myself because I am tired of having to qualify my identity everywhere I go. Honestly, sometimes it is easier to "pass" in the straight world, as much as I hate it, than it is to fit in with the gay community here. There is so much black/white thinking in our community too. I wish we could just change "GLBT" to "Q."

Marla R Stevens | July 10, 2006 2:16 AM

Sexual orientation -- or at least this aspect of sexual orientation, is a continuum for which we usually think we have names for only three points on it -- the extreme ends and the fulcrum in the middle. But the words encompass the full third of the diagraph each is a part of.

If we understand that and the pressures from within and without that try to push people to places on it that aren't naturally theirs, we have a better shot at seeing our place on it as just part of a seamless whole and respecting others in different places on it as we respect ourselves.

Ok Margeaux - now that you have taken the big leap you can use very descriptive phonetics for your call Amateur Call Sign as KD9- Trans Sexual, isnt that neat? How clever of you. Its almost like you planned it that way.

This comment has been deleted for violating our terms of service

If you want to be a homophobic racist - do it somewhere else.

Dear Bruce Iam very disappointed that you deleted my posting. I want you to know that I interrupted a very sucessful career of tranny chasing to share my candor with you guys. Thats Ok I wont stay where Iam not wanted. I wouldnt want you to hit me with your purse so I will make like an AIDS victim and GO.