Bruce Parker

Coming Out?

Filed By Bruce Parker | July 04, 2006 12:20 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags:

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 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. I am a board member of the the Indiana Transgender Advocacy Alliance (www.intraa.org) and Indiana Equality (www.indianaequality.org). So I am pretty out.

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.


Recent Entries Filed under Transgender & Intersex:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


Bruce - this is an interesting post. You really don't owe anyone anything - just take things as they come - if you feel like explaining, you do. If not, no big deal. You have the right to privacy and don't have to explain everything all the time! It seems at times we all are on a soapbox and I think we sometimes have to get off of it. Hope you understand what I'm trying to say! Take it easy..............

Marla R. Stevens | July 6, 2006 10:02 AM

I second that, Annette. Short of lying, when you're up for being an educator, teach. When you need a break, take one. It'll keep you better able to be a good teacher in the long run.
Work hard, rest, work hard some more. Healthy balance keeps you in it for the long haul, which this one, unfortunately, is.

Bruce, it is easy to confuse our moral obligation to be OUT with the need to be ON 24/7. As has been said, no one person is capable of fighting every battle. The most important action any individual can take is to sign-up for the fight?that you?ve done convincingly well.