A Week Of Redemption

Posted: 06/20/2012 by erichblayde in A Different Outlook, Friends, Humour, It Gets Better, Life Lessons
Tags: , , , , ,

One of my favorite sayings comes from the Sound of Music, “Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could, but somewhere in my youth or childhood there must have been something good”

For the unmuffled mind it seems this pride week has brought back the good in my youth and with it a sense of redemption. In the past 4 days I have had experiences in which I have been recognized for not only who I am but also for whom I once was. Not many people seem to realize that trans people were once someone else and that some of us do not want to forget who we once were. Yet we are forced by the gay community to suddenly be in one box, to forget who we once were and the history that we help to forge.

Before I became who I am now I was a butch lesbian, and though I now identify as a gay man it does not mean that I am willing to forget my history as a lesbian. Yet it is now a rare occasion that I meet a lesbian who is willing to remember and acknowledge that I once was as they are. Instead I am now told it is wrong for me to wish to remember that part of my past, that I must pick one and one only .

But really it’s not wrong. I am proud of who I once was just as I am proud of who I am now, and I should be free to be so if I wish.

It was a wonderful day for me this past week to meet up with a group of old school lesbians who, instead of viewing me only as I present now, were willing remember that I was once a part of the lesbian community as well. The dynamic that day was not one of a trans man hanging out with some lesbians but rather family hanging out with family and it made me realize that this is something I don’t get very often anymore. As a trans man I am accepted but I am also apart, not quite in the fold.

I did not think there was much that could top the sense of community and comraderie that I experienced that day, so it was with a sense of surprised shock that I found myself a mere 24 hours later involved in the conversation with a gay man who not only believed that being trans did not make me less of a man but who was also willing to acknowledge that I too came through the gay community’s holocaust, that as a gay man I too was affected by the AIDS epidemic that shaped the landscape of the older gay male community despite being firmly shoved in a closet of my own making at the time.

What a shock for me to realize that twice in two days I had been treated not as someone who has suddenly appeared but as someone who has been a part of gay culture for many years prior to my transition. For those two momentary instances I was not just the sum of my 8 years of transition but someone who has had the honor of being a part of the LGBT community for well over a decade in several different roles

No I am not by any means the oldest of the old, in reality I am still a baby in the grand scheme of things. However this baby has had experiences that should be shared, experiences that are not often validated. Don’t get me wrong I did not spend the days I spent on GLBT protest lines, for outside validation, nor did any of my transgendered brethern who also have their history invalidated because of the choices they made later in life. However I do not feel that we should so lightly throw away so much history simply because we are afraid to examine our own prejudices.

To be fair some people do not wish to remember who they were before, for some the past is a mire of painful memories that should not be spoken of. But that does not make it right to blithely assume that everyone has made that choice. In this day and age we make it common practice to ask about names, about pronouns and about all manner of other personal choices. Yet we simply assume that the past is not to be remembered.

I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again, a stranger is just a friend you have not met yet. Perhaps I should I amend myself to also say a story that is not yours or that you do not understand is not invalid

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