Now I feel that my closet is pretty open, though it may be a bit of a mess with clothes strewn on the floor, it is an ongoing process. And in an attempt to organize things, I have to define some more groups.
“People who don’t know”
In general I try to keep work and play separate, so most of the time I am not overt about gender identity. But …
“Friends who know but don’t know”
I am not particularly subtle and leave plenty of clues. My hair is long. On certain days I am definitely prettier than others when I am suddenly clean-shaven with plucked brows, manicured nails, pierced ears, and traces of eye liner. So this leads to a half-way group: people who haven’t connected the dots due to some mix of denial, obliviousness, or just respect for privacy. I think that somewhere in their subconscious most have figured it out but they are awaiting official confirmation.
“Friends who know”
This is the line where the closet starts – and it is a little different for friends, family, and spouses. The first person I ever told was my wife (before she was my wife) after we had been dating for a year. I encourage anyone else in the same position to not wait longer. The act of keeping a secret can be much worse than the secret itself. She told me later that she had been in the “know but don’t know” stage for a while. What I didn’t realize at first was I wasn’t leaving the closet, just inviting my wife in and imposing on her the same burden of secrecy. That isn’t really fair. So she then told her parents who surprised us both by actively supporting me. Apparently I made a good enough first impression and my quirks could be dismissed as a “British thing”. I guess I can thank Monty Python and Eddie Izzard for setting a good gender-bending example. As secrets invariably spread the closet grows until it breaks. Friends tell friends. It is actually easier to tell a friend than a spouse as they are not as emotionally invested. Family is nerve-wracking because the relationship is so established – and you don’t want to lose any of it. When I told my mother after 20 years of hiding, I found out that she had already guessed. Mothers have good intuition. Plus, she had caught me once as a teenager, I assumed she would forget – nope.
“People you have met”
I don’t believe you can really know someone until you have met face-to-face – where words turn into full acceptance. I have been told that I can be quite intimidating (being a six-foot tall girl can do that) but most people are pleasantly surprised. This last weekend, while getting ready for Priscilla, I got to meet both my in-laws for the first time. This was rather surreal – talking about makeup while cooking them dinner in my new apron. The revelations continued when I ran into a coworker after the show.
However, I have never had a bad experience coming out. Everyone is supportive in their own way and it is so much easier not keeping a secret. And now with a blog, it is all out there in the infinite internet. Just be confident and be yourself.