Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Friendliest Place on Earth is Over Beer and Pizza

So yeah, I cant even begin to explain the rollercoaster that coming out to my friends has been thus far, and I still haven’t gotten through to all of them yet. Some, are very accepting, others are more confused than anything, and others are either in denial or rejecting me entirely.

So, my methodology. Well, some of my friends have known practically as long as I have known them. I do have to say, if anything, it is way easier to tell people as you go along instead of spending a whole lot of time developing a friendship that you know you are going to have to face the firing squad down the road. Even knowing this, I was hesitant to do so until a very short time ago… In retrospect, if I could take it back I would. Just rewind time and start over… But like so many things with being trans, if you could go back and do things differently, and earlier in life, you would do it in a heartbeat.

On the other side, there are the friends that I haven’t been so forthright with. Well, this group is practically everybody… SO, first group of these people that I started with was those that weren’t as close to me anymore but whom I still considered among my closest friends. These were the people I terrorized Gainesville with in my college years. Most of these people (actually all of them) have moved halfway (if not further) across the country to their families and to big jobs, they have started families, had 2.5 children and are building a white picket fence around their house. Maybe this is not the right time in their lives for me to break the news, but because of their distance, they were the easiest targets for some practice runs.

The main thing I took away from that experience is that you never know which people will be okay with it, and which will not. Sometimes the people that you think will be okay, are not, and those that you think will not, turn out to be your biggest allies. For instance, so far I have been rejected by a gay friend, while the son of a Southern Baptist Pastor who had a Jesus fish on his pickup, and used to call the gay friend a faggot (and not in a joking sort of way) turned around and wrote me a very uplifting and encouraging email that in turn lead me to finish my bio-blog. The human factor in it’s infinite applications.

Secretly I was hoping that this would be a building experience and that I would walk away from the trial with a better understanding of the correct and most effective protocol to approach my less distant friends. Perhaps I capitalized on the wrong lessons in each case, but in the end, the one thing I learned was that I learned absolutely nothing.

All of that taken into account, I can safely say that so far, telling my closest of friends has been the absolute hardest thing I’ve had to do…. EVER! That is saying something from a person of such checkered past such as myself. For some odd reason even with a few runs under my belt at this point, I still really suck at the whole process… I can’t spit out the words, I can’t drop obvious enough hints, I can’t even conjure a magical elf to help with the process.

I told my best friend a few weeks back. Now you may be asking yourself how he couldn’t have known at this point, and well to be frankly honest, I was really scared of losing him…. I know that may sound sort of creepy considering that I have a girlfriend that I adore, but it is true. I don’t have many friends, and in fact it seems every time I turn around I find myself wondering if the 4 or 5 people I consider my only friends are really and truly my real friends.

Just to expand on that for a moment, when it comes down to needing someone to talk to, only two people come to mind. When I think about people that would drop what they are doing to get me out of a pinch once again, two people. How about people that can truly understand the way my emotions translate into my real life, two people again. SO, why would I say that I have as many as 5 friends? Well, because the other people are ones that I would do anything for even though I wouldn’t exactly say that they would do the same for me…

Ironic that the person that noticed when I started plucking my eyebrows, started shaving my arms legs and chest, and has in fact told me that I act very feminine at times, claims to have no clue that I was trans?

SO, back to the topic again. My long time friend took the news in stride, didn’t flip, and in general reacted better than in my wildest most positive dreams. This was one of the best moments in my life to date, of course the best being when my girlfriend decided that she could love me even if I was trans.

At this point however, it’s not all peachy keen, though while not directly avoiding me, he is avoiding talking about the whole thing whenever possible. Part of it is that he has a handful of really great excuses that help him avoid direct one on one communication with me. Whatever, when he is ready (and if you’re reading this, when YOU ARE READY) to talk, I am ready, and at this point that is all I can do.

Last Saturday after a rollercoaster of an emotional day, I came out to my other closest guy friends girlfriend. WOW THAT is a mouth full. At any rate, she turned out to be absolutely AMAZING about it! This was the first person I’ve ever told that quickly came up with a battery of relevant, well thought out, and non-offensive questions on the fly. It was like one after another great question after great question. That in of itself was very touching, and if she is reading this THANK YOU! Since then, she has not demonstrated the normal “Whoa, the adrenaline has worn off and now I’m going to be awkward around you.” thing that seems to hit everybody a day or two later. One week later and she’s still on board!

The next big friend moment was Thursday. After much prodding and encouragement from the above mentioned girlfriend, I came out to her boyfriend. This particular person I would consider of my closest guy friends, and while in retrospect, it was completely unfounded to think that he would be any less than accepting, I couldn’t overcome the nagging feeling that somehow I was overlooking some little clue into his secret life as an evangelical trans hater Christian… Maybe I should talk to the shrink about that one lol. At any rate, we had a night where I went over to his place, and I told him over pizza and beer. How could anything sound like a bad thing over pizza and beer? So, the outcome was way better than even my best, best case scenario, and the iconic bro-ish “Do what ya gotta do” was the outcome. We spent the rest of the evening listening to music, and talking about the randomness that tends to be our conversations. Business as usual, PERFECT!

All I really have left in town is my best friend’s fiancee and brother (and his girlfriend), and honestly I have a feeling that all hell is going to break loose with those, and I am fairly certain that is not my paranoia talking like normal. I’ll let you know when I come up with a battle plan for that!

So, to wrap this blog up, I am happy to say, without doubt or question, that my closest friends are in fact, truly MY friends and not just friends of my soon to be entirely former self. It has been absolutely liberating to know that I chose wisely to keep the people I have as company and that despite all of the horror stories, and not including my own, you may read about coming out to friends, it doesn’t have to be that way.

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