Editors' Note: Guest blogger Sera Wohldmann is a full-time Security Officer and part-time musician, performing bass guitars and backing vocals for Los Angeles area melodic heavy metal band God's Weapon. She lives in Long Beach, CA with her fiancée; their wedding is scheduled for April, 2012.
I've never been much for closets. Of any variety, really - ask my fiancée, mine is quite the mess right now. But, of course, a blog post like this is usually referring to the other kind of closet and this is no exception.
So I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about the one closet door I still keep mostly closed: My faith.
Here's the background: my first closet was my sexual orientation. I openly identified myself as bisexual to my parents around age 14 after a classroom incident outed me at school. A decade later and that identity hasn't changed much, though usually I find "homoromantic pansexual" to be a little more accurate, if the situation calls for it. Most people just see that both my fiancée and I are female and call us lesbian - and sometimes I won't even bother to correct it if I don't have the time. After all, we may both ID as pan, but our relationship is accurately a lesbian one.
Between all the times I'm out and about with her and the rings we wear proudly, it's hard to say I have much of a closet on my sexuality. I'm fine with that.
My second closet is my gender identity. I'm woman first, and I often find I pass without trying these days - at my most perfectly androgynous I get ID'd as female, so I'm lucky in that area. Once I've introduced myself to somebody, I talk about being transgender, as well.
Especially with both my official job and my networking as a musician, I do this intentionally - I want them to accept me for either my formal abilities as a security officer or my talents as a bassist and vocalist first and foremost before they get the chance to judge me as trans. This has the side effect of allowing someone who is neutral or otherwise ignorant of trans people to get an abrupt reality check on the matter and, so far, my record is pretty damn good at changing that perspective to a positive.
While I live in Long Beach, CA, I transitioned in St. Peters, MO - hardly a bastion of LGBTQ acceptance - I'm well aware that location is a bias to my success in this area.
I rarely talk about my operative status in real life. It's no one's business but my family's and my doctor's. Online, however, I find I opt to throw it out there occasionally. I guess you could say my closet door is transparent in the gender identity department.
Oddly enough, though, I have one closet door that remains closed - my faith.
No, not religion. I personally don't like organized religion at all. But my faith? That's very important to me. I believe that any person's faith should be important to them (and only them), but I can't talk about mine openly.
I was raised Catholic. Every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, I was there. I spent kindergarten through most of age eight in a Catholic school - complete with the uniform. I was an altar boy. I was never harmed in any physical way at my church (so no, Mr. LaBarbera et al, that didn't "cause" anything), though I was certainly emotionally scarred. It caused my family to react very negatively towards my transition for many years, though thankfully they've come around. This isn't an uncommon scenario, up until this point.
At 15, I was awoken just before dawn one spring day. I was visited by a force that can be least described as metaphysical. The god I spoke to and met that day was not the one I was raised to believe in. I was in total awe. He did not demand I preach in his name - in fact, he warned against it. He did not beg my adoration; I give it willingly.
The name of my god is well known, but I fear to speak it. Even within the LGBTQ communities, which often are good friends with atheists and other non-Judeo-Christian believers (and the occasional progressive Judeo-Christians, as well) I am too afraid to say who it is I worship, or even the pantheon he belongs to. In the past, I have told friends and as much acceptance as they may have had towards my sexuality and gender, my spiritual path was too much for them; they turned from me. I've since learned to keep it to myself unless directly requested. Even then, I have to know the person very well and be sure that they're not going to completely freak out on me.
Ultimately, I have only one question: Is it a contradiction to have so much pride in other areas of my life, and yet shield even my friends and family from my god?