For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the blog, “Raising My Rainbow” this Today Show segment from September is a nice introduction to her family, their gender creative child, the book about their experiences and the blog that is now embraced by many people.
As I read the book, Raising My Rainbow I try to recall my childhood. Unlike their son C.J., I did not live in a home that nurtured any gender non-conforming behavior I might of exhibited. In fact, given a different culture and time, my behavior would not have been singled out. I don’t remember playing with dolls but their were never fabulous dolls around to begin with. My sister had some dolls but none would be called fashionable just baby dolls. I did have many, many stuffed animals which I played house with. I also enjoyed more boy toys like electric trains and little cars.
It was when I got to school that my differences stood out. It was then that I learned about sports and the price you paid if you didn’t excel. I most definitely didn’t excel. My most painful early memories are of being ridiculed while playing softball. “You throw like a girl” an “you run like a sissy,” were taunts I remember. I was already sensitive and insecure and this humiliation made it worse. I was a bed wetter until 10 or so and hiding that secret gave me practice at hiding which would come in handy when, later on, I concealed the truth about my sexuality.
As I grew older I would play house with the girls rather than play softball. My most humiliating day happened when I was in 7th or 8th grade. At the time my school’s athletic field was carved out between the school building on one side, a neighbors home and chicken coop on the other.The outfield ended at a road and the other side of road was a major river. The neighbors’ chicken coop was situated behind and off to one side behind the backstop. This particular time I was at bat and on the verge of striking out. When the next ball crossed the plate I swung and it popped up and back behind one side of the backstop and landed in the chicken coop, bonking one poor chicken on the head, knocking it out! Talk about humiliation! I tried even harder to avoid sports after that.
My great escape was nature and I’ll devote a later post to that experience. The sports I enjoyed were non competitive. I enjoyed hiking and became a fairly tho swimmer. I even had the occasion to rescue a boy who had drowned at the summer camp I was working at. That event is burned into my memory. A boy and his friends had disobeyed orders and ventured off to the waterfront while it was unattended. His friends came running up to me and said their friend was drowning. By that time he was at the bottom and had turned blue. I dove in and brought him to the surface. I was lucky to have taken First Aid so began rescue breathing, the standard practice in the early ’70s. Eventually he sputtered back to life as a lifeguard that had rushed down took over. For the first time in my life I wasn’t a sissy, I was a hero. That was a wonderful feeling.
I went away to school for my Junior and Senior year of school. I found refuge in music, playing trumpet in the band, singing in the choir and the select touring choir. I also played guitar and was playing everything from John Denver, to bluegrass to Led Zeppelin. I felt a little freer to be myself and that led to my first experience with cross dressing in private. I was staying in a home while the family’s daughter was away at college. I discovered her clothes and decided to try them on. What a trip! I remember an exhilaration, coupled with the fear of being discovered. I must have been giving off some signals as there were a couple of bully’s who assaulted in the restroom. I just took it and tried to put it out of my mind. That school year ended with the passing around of the yearbook. When I got it back I was mortified to find a message addressed to the “faggot” and another to the “gay boy.” That did it! I vowed to quench that side of me and I succeeded somewhat from that point forward.
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to me if I was in a supportive environment. Would I have had a more enjoyable time growing up? What sort of man would I have turned out to be? I’ll never know. This is what drives me, in part, to champion gender non-conforming behavior or as Lori of Raising My Rainbow fame calls it, being gender creative. I have also had many transgender friends and more effeminate gay friends who have influenced me. Still, there is that scared kid that was trying to figure himself out that is still living in me. I owe it to him to make the world a better place for all those who dare to be different!
So if you have a son or daughter, niece or nephew who are blazing their own path to fabulousness, read Lori’s book. You can purchase it here:
Posted from Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, Earth, Solar System