Sinking in

Sunday night we met up after his date. He’d had a good date with an amazing human, and my heart was flip flopping about him talking about his date. It wasn’t jealousy. It was knowing things on both sides of the story that left me feeling out of sorts. So we left the Steak and Shake (where I had been having my yearly steak and shake milkshake) and walked back to the Hyatt.

We tried to find a certain broom closet, but failed. The third floor had been closed off for a group of football players in town who had rented out the entire floor. On the second floor they were setting up for a conference for the protection of children. We wandered over to the boot black stand and sat, talking, discussing boot blacking, fantasies, and spinning him around my finger as I’ve always enjoyed doing.

He kissed me.
Then someone walked by and blanched at the two men kissing on the bootblack stand.
He hadn’t seen it.
I had.

We wandered downstairs to keep talking. Sitting on a big comfty couch, I asked him if he’d still kiss me in public if I had facial hair. Or after I’ve had chest surgery.

He said he wanted to say yes, but honestly, he wasn’t sure.

“Please, don’t let that stop you. You are an amazing man. You have been an amazing person. I will still kiss you no matter what… but I have no idea what will come of public stuff.”

Tones change in a room when men kiss.

Wandering around GenCon I saw a few women kiss, or hold hands. The gay men I knew, even if they wore their “Gaymer” shirts, were not holding hands in public.

Its not about the individual, the couple, the small group. But tones change when men kiss, when men hold hands. People noticeably shift.

On Thursday night we had gone to our haunt, a hidden bar with live jazz music and women in stockings lighting our cigars with pieces of cedar. A portrait o JFK looked down at us from the bar. 2 years ago when we’d last gone together, there had been no tension. But when they came back and asked, um, would a 2-seat couch be ok… we said yes but there was a degree of uncertainty in their eyes. They were looking at me, hoping I was a woman. Was I? If it was, maybe it would be ok. Me ordering a choclate martini seemed to help, but me ordering his cigar for him did not help. They were lost. I was outside of their system. We were out of their system.

He insists it will be ok. His sexual play with men has never been of public consumption. Mine always will be. And its getting harder each day that I pass more and more.

Not for me. Oh gods no, not for me. I am blissful. When Hunter and I were yelled at on the streets for being faggots, my heart lept, they got the curse correct. Thank goodness. I am blissful to be read as me. But tones change when men kiss in public.

Fur to fur, smooth shave to smooth shave, cologne to cologne, suit to suit, denim to denim. My tennis shoe keeps bumping against his hiking boot, and my feet look- right. They are already wider it seems, or maybe the cut of my jeans finally makes them not look monstorous at the base of feminine legs. It feels so honest, so true. But they people across the lobby keep looking at us, sneering, looking away. The tone has changed. Before they read 2 guys hanging out. Now they read fag.

Its sinking in.

Its not that I’ve romanticized my identity as a femme fag. As a man who loves men (but still adores women, but its not the same). But its different living it day in day out, passing more and more, being read as me more and more. Having to debate whether to hold hands on the street. Having to debate whether the gang bangers were marking us as easy targets. Whether I am safe alone on the street wearing anything denoting pride.

I still get read as a dyke oftentimes. It makes me laugh. But dykes are safer to be in many ways- a lot of folks still have this thing against hitting girls.

A man in an elevator asks what I am.

I’m not backing away from this path, this direction. But it is sinking in, how hard large chunks of my life are going to be for being me. For being what I consider normal. Because the tone changes when men kiss.

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Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

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