A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step - Lao Tzu
929 words

II. I'm Not Comfortable Here

"I'm not comfortable here."
"I know."

    This exchange happened between my partner and I a few days ago, while at home. It's critical to point out that I did indeed mean that I felt uncomfortable at home, with my family. It's far easier for me to be at work. Far easier.

    It's not that I'm particularly fond of working or even that I would consider myself a workaholic. I'm just more comfortable there. It's less stressful. I can think clearly. It's generally quieter. And I don't even get to be myself*. I'm just a person in a uniform. Rarely do I get called by my name, usually it's just "Sir" or "Commander" or whatever my job title happens to be at the moment. Nearly pure anonymity. With the masks worn for the pandemic, it's almost faceless as well.

    It's an armor of sorts, this bland uniformity, this faceless anonymity. How easy it is to hide in plain sight. It's what's most comfortable, because it's what I've been perfecting for my entire adult life. I've long prided myself as sembling a chameleon, able to quietly blend in, nearly unnoticed, anywhere.

Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us & which parts we've created to protect us.

~ Posted at 1611 on 1/7/2020 by Alexander Leon, @alexand_erleon

    Masking fear with anger, shutting down instead of opening up and pushing people away instead of letting them in: all of these help keep a foot in the closet, as it were. It keeps a known security zone, a well established safety net, in place. It answers the question: what will go wrong if I open up to people?

But, what will go right?

*Perhaps more appropriately, I don't have to face myself and embrace the true me.

I. Allow Me to Introduce Myself

    Nearly 9 months ago, I sent the following text to my immediate family:

    Over the past couple years (read as: decades), I have been struggling with various aspects of myself and my identity.  It has caused a great deal of stress, turmoil, angst, and anger at times.  It's continues to be a long journey with many discoveries.  All of you know some aspects of who I am, but I'd like to introduce all of me to all of you.  Simply put, all the binary logic gates of sexuality, relationships and gender do not fit me.  To me, it's not "either/or" but "both/and." 

  • I am bisexual: I find people of all genders attractive.  
  • I am ethically non-monogamous: I have an unlimited capacity for love. (Emphasis on the ethics.)
  • I am Non-Binary/Genderfluid: Some days I feel masculine, other days I feel very feminine.  Sometimes it changes in minutes and hours of those days. (And yes, I have a femme persona who dresses as such).

    What does this mean? At the moment, nothing really.  My wife, who is absolutely amazing and the most patient person ever, continues to be a pillar of support.  I wouldn't (and won't) give up her or the kids for anything.  Our relationship, and our marriage, remains as it is.  But we do need to expand our base of support.  The Navy, although better, remains largely close-minded.  I find it unlikely I'll be able to be me anywhere but at home, off-duty.  This has been rough on both of us. 

    For me, personally, I've never felt more relaxed than I have this week, with this most recent break through on the gender identity turmoil.  I am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin.  This is right for me at the moment. 

    We are both still processing all this ourselves.  There are lots of questions, and we have very few answers.  It's one step at a time, and for the moment, just knowing that we can count on all of you is the most important.

    I had been facing this turmoil for nearly a year prior - coming out in various stages and introducing various facets of me to them.  I wasn't to the point of losing track of who knew which parts of me; but that was definitely on the trajectory.  And I recall just being fed up with it.  My family is an amazing cast of characters and were (and continue to be) amazingly supportive throughout this whole development.  I owed them the entire truth.  And I owed myself the facing of the fears associated with verbalizing everything.