Meeting Your Heroes

A few years ago I went to a book release party for a writer I really liked for a long time.  The event was hosted by a local bookstore and the author would be there to sign copies of their newest novel.  Up to that point I had purchased every book they published and read every word they had written.  I was thrilled to meet one of my favorite authors.

I purchased my book and waited in line for an hour to meet the writer.  I am not sure if they were having a bad day or what, but as I got closer to the front of the line I could hear the interactions between other fans and the author.  The writer was rude, irritable, and clearly did not want to be there.

I got my book signed, went home a little brokenhearted and put the book on my shelf.  I was devastated that one of my favorite writers wasn’t who I had hoped they would be.  Even today that book is still unread as it reminds me of that day.

I understand that everyone has a bad day and celebrities have no obligation to be friendly and I should get over it, but my point is that it’s a risk to meet your heroes as they may not turn out to be who you hoped they would be.

I think and I overthink a lot about almost everything, especially about gender and my gender identity.  I think about how genderized everything is, I think about how society can freak out when a boy wears fingernail polish, I think about how everything for girls is pink.

I think about how in the closet I am, despite how often I go out and how active I am online, not only with my website but with Twitter and Flickr as well.  I think about how much this side of me is a secret and how some of my closest friends have no idea (as far as I know) about Hannah.

I go back and forth with wanting to come out to people in my life and being content with who knows.  As much as I like shopping or running errands en femme, there are times when it would be nice to have dinner with an old friend.  On the other hand, coming out is exhausting and not without its risks.

When I have come out to people in my life, it has (mostly) been for a purpose.  I have come out to three significant others because they needed to know all of me.  As the relationships progressed and became more serious, it was important that they knew just in case this part of me was a deal-breaker.

When I came out to my sisters and mom, I came out because I had hoped that Hannah would be a part of the family sometimes.  Or at the very least be able to hit the mall with them.

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way.  It is what it is.

Coming out is one of the most complicated, hardest things we will ever do.  It’s different than coming out as a gay, I think.  When I have come out to others the conversation is peppered with things like “I’m transgender but…” as well as “I identify as bi-gender and…”.  There are so many facets and nuances that make up who I am and my gender identity.

When my brother came out as gay, everyone knew what that meant. When I came out as transgender, it took (and still takes) a lot of clarification as to what being transgender means to me and who I am.

We all know it’s a risk to come out.  Relations could end, friendships could become strained, families could be changed.  We know this.  It’s frustrating because there is nothing wrong with who we are.  We should not be ashamed of our identities or what we like to wear.

If anything embracing who we are should be commended.  It’s so hard for some of us to accept that this is who we are, let alone come out to the people in our lives that we love.  We want to share this side of us, we don’t want to hide.

But coming out rarely goes the way we think it will go, let alone how we want it to go.  It was (and still is) naive to think that after coming out my sisters would enthusiastically plan a day out shopping and having coffee with their new sister.  I have come to terms with their reaction, but I still get a little sad that hitting the mall with my sisters will never happen.

I wish to stress that someone’s reaction to this side of us is not necessarily indicative of the person they are.  My brother is gay, my mom and sisters are liberal and we have all friends that identify in many ways.  However, it’s not uncommon to be a little… uncomfortable? Unsure? Weirded out? when your son or brother comes out.

Having said that, I was a little surprised that my coming out was not met with the… well, enthusiasm and support I was hoping for, especially considering my family’s embracing of the LGBTQ+ community.  Like meeting your heroes and seeing that they are not the person you thought they would be, it can be a blow to learn that the person you come out to does not react the way you hoped, or expected them to.

Having a positive experiencing when you come out to someone is absolutely amazing.  It’s not uncommon to want to do it again based on a supportive reaction.  But coming out is a different experience each time you do it, not only for the person you come to, but for you as well.

Besides being prepared and honest about yourself, there’s really no right way to come out to someone.  There are no magic words that work.  There is no perfect scenario to bring up this topic.  That being said, there are a lot of wrong ways to have this talk.

Expectations are a tricky thing.  Often they are based on what we hope the outcome will be.  It’s important to not have any preconceived notions of what this revelation will result in.  When we do, we put ourselves at risk of being letdown, disappointed, and brokenhearted.  It’s not unlike meeting someone we admire.  We hope that they are as wonderful as the books they write or the songs they sing and it can be difficult to discover otherwise.

Love, Hannah

 

 

9 thoughts on “Meeting Your Heroes

  1. @ my age I felt that I could not leave the relative responsible for my estate in the dark re: Emily so I told her.everything. seemed ok @ the time–7 months ago. have not heard a word since.damned if you do -damned if you don’t

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  2. “We project our sense of self upon ‘the other’.” –Jacques Lacan– psychoanalyst.

    *** We all have projections (projected fantasies) of how we wish an encounter with a person of ‘celebrity’ would go. Such projections and expectations would and could never be reality. Another good term for this is ‘transference’, and well, upon seeing and meeting the author, warts, attitude, jet lag, et al; your transference simply disappeared in a flash.
    I recommend you simply go back to the book and enjoy the author as your mind constructed ‘him’, as in turn, this persons works have literally ‘re-constructed’ YOU (!)–(Might be impossible). No harm in that, it is what keeps the lights on and the bills paid at the book stores.
    There are plenty of people who DONT READ much of anything at all, and then wonder why their intellect is merely a one-dimensional ‘self construct’ of nothing but the ‘whole cloth’ ramblings inside their own empty heads’.
    Velma

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  3. Hannah.
    Thank you so much for sharing such a thoughtful, and thought provoking article. I too want so much to come out to those close to me, and at those times, envision them being so accepting. However, I realize that things often don’t work out the way that you plan, and you can’t unring that bell.
    -peace
    -Gracie

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  4. I’m finding that as time goes on, the feeling that I need to be Evelyn full-time is growing. Certainly the difficulty of cleaning her off and putting her away, even if it is only for a day, is getting worse. I know at some point it will need to happen, but the fear of who will accept the outward change and who won’t is one of the largest factors in not moving forward.

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  5. Coming out is, of course, not an act but a process. Different people will react differently, partly because they are different but also because their relationships with us are different. It must have been relatively easy for some people who I knew, but would not have considered intimates to reject me when I started to be honest about myself. In the same way it must have been quite hard for others who thought they knew me well and had for a long time.

    The reaction of some when I came out to them was quite funny, and some others simply baffling. I do think that I have been very lucky in that the vast majority of my family, friends and acquaintances have been highly supportive.

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  6. Hannah, you’re one of my heroes. I started reading your blog some years ago as I finally, in my late fifties, started trying to grapple with the gender feelings i’d experienced since nursery school. You provided a safe, informative, and supportive space for me, which I greatly appreciated.

    In the years since then I’ve transitioned and come out to one and all. My basic pitch went as follows:
    – I’m transgender, and have had my gender dysphoria since my earliest memories.
    – The process I went through to make this determination including extensive research to understand that to be trans is, like being gay, blond, or blue-eyed, is entirely natural. And then the work I did after that to determine that I am, in fact, trans.

    At that point, back about four years ago, I explained that to be trans is to be under an umbrella spectrum of identities, and that I really didn’t know where my journey would take me.

    In general all of the meetings went fine. Some people were more interested than others, for some it felt like a non-event, just an opportunity for them to applaud what they saw as courage. Use of that word, courage, is interesting to me. As I look back, each step along the way felt very scary and so taking those steps was courageous. Looking back now as I freely go about my life as a woman my courageousness doesn’t seem so big.

    You wrote, “…I was a little surprised that my coming out was not met with the… well, enthusiasm and support I was hoping for, especially considering my family’s embracing of the LGBTQ+ community.”

    Yeah! To come out and be gay/lesbian these days is not a big deal. I’ve said that we’ll know that trans people are much more where we want to be in society when we start hearing parents saying, “If they were only trans” when their child comes out with something else. I can’t imagine what that something else might be.

    Anyway, you and others might enjoy this podcast that was recently released. It’s called How to Be a Girl and is by the mom of an 11 year old transgender girl. I’m delighted to be good friends with them: http://www.howtobeagirlpodcast.com/episodes/episode-xxx-emma-at-last

    Best wishes!

    Emma

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