Kameron had several close relationships throughout his young adulthood. Each friendship or partner led to a new breadcrumb about sexuality, gender, expression. It was through other people that Kameron was inspired to mold his own identity.
In my senior year of high school, I had a crush on this girl – my first real crush. l’ll call her Rory. But Rory had a girlfriend.
That didn’t stop us from hanging out all the time, which I was more than happy to do. She was the antithesis of the people I was used to being around, mostly family and family friends. She seemed so in-touch with her emotions, so spontaneous and poetic. Not to mention sexually experienced. When we first started hanging out, I always made a point to invite her and her girlfriend, but repeatedly, her girlfriend ended up not coming.
There’s this run down complex of small businesses and offices and indoor courtyards. It’s called the Town Fence. At the time, there was a grungy coffee shop there called Christian’s Cafe – they’d have open mics and art openings and stuff like that. Through the Gay Youth Group I attended, I heard about a play that was showing there called”Dos Lesbos.” So I invited Rory and her girlfriend. It ended up being just me and Rory. In my journal, I wrote, “she’s sort of becoming my pseudo-girlfriend.” After the play (which wasn’t that good), we went to a gay store, also in the Town Fence. Rory was looking at a calendar filled with images of women together, and she said, “See, this looks natural to me. A guy just wouldn’t look right. What do you think?” All I could say was, “Um, I’m not sure.” I added, in my journal, later, “When am I going to know the answer to that? I’m still confused about what feels right and who I’m attracted to.”
Eight months later, Rory was single, and we were on winter break, back home from our separate colleges. The sexual tension had been building for so long. Finally, we kissed. It was my first kiss. We made out for a long time; somewhere in the middle of it, she informed me, “Well, Katie, you are definitely gay.” I laughed. Was she right?
At age 18, I found inspiration by absorbing myself in lesbian culture, because that seemed like the closest thing to me, at the time.
I was at my sort-of college girlfriend’s house (I’ll call her Charged GBH, after a punk band), a place she shared with one anarchist boy who was hardly ever there, and one weirdo who was always there (I’ll call him Shark). It was dinnertime, and I was awkwardly milling around the kitchen, feeling both like I was entitled to some of this food, and not sure whether I was allowed to be there at all.
Shark was the main cook usually, and my girlfriend provided the entertainment by keeping the music going. I sat down at the table and started reading The Onion, trying to will myself to feel comfortable in this space. The Butchies’ song, “Sex (I’m a Lesbian)” came up next in the mix tape on the boombox, and Charged GBH started thrashing. I hadn’t heard this song before, but it sounded like hard rock. So, channeling the dance moves I’d seen at punk shows, I sprung up and started floor punching. It felt good to get that energy out! Shark stepped away from the stove and cooed, “Awwww, look at this baby dyke right here.” GBH laughed. I kept moving, absorbing what it felt like to be called “baby dyke” by someone I supposedly thought was kind of cool. It felt endearing. I was not butch at all. But “baby dyke?” That could fit.
At age 19, I found inspiration in the punk, queercore, and feminist music, plus the rad politics that GBH and Shark were completely obsessed with.
I was still kind of with GBH, but I also started hanging out with someone totally different. She lived on Hudson. She seemed to sincerely like me, and our dynamics were stripped of any passive aggressive dancing I was used to engaging in to get what I wanted. I was leery of her intentions, and of my intentions. She asked me more questions about myself than I was prepared to think about. She had a copy of the book Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and told me that I’d really like it. I blew right through it. It felt like Hudson regarded me as a stone butch, but she also introduced me to the idea of transitioning. She said she had a friend who transitioned, and she told me stories about other people she knew in the trans community, such as a guy named Brandon – he had named himself after Brandon Teena. He was dating a person named Glow, who regularly stepped on his chest, hard, with a huge combat boot, while they had sex. I was confused by this. She wanted to know all about what I liked, during sex, and I really didn’t have anything to tell her.
At age 20, I found inspiration in the type of knowledge that Hudson exposed me to, and I started to find my place in connecting with how I actually felt, a little bit.
I was living with my parents, after graduating from college, without any direction or local friends. Through volunteering with our local LGBT film festival, I met this guy/girl (?) named Cory. I immediately ingratiated myself to her(?). It took a while to warm up, but eventually we would take long walks together or sit at this one coffee shop for hours. He(?) was a part of a group called FrontRunners – everyone in the group was a gay man; I went running once with him(?) By talking to each other, we both identified ourselves as genderqueer. It felt like we were building this identity together, both of us the same. I was sort of attracted to him(?) but not really quite sure about it. He talked endlessly about his crush on a gay male co-worker, and I didn’t quite get that. We also talked about our similar struggles with mental health. We joined a gender identity support group together. He gradually veered from this shared identity. He was a gay man. He was going to transition and he was going to change his name and his gender. I wasn’t.
At age 22, I found inspiration in having someone to look to, like a mirror, and then being able to begin to see how we were not only similar, but also different.
I was at a thrift store looking in the women’s section for the first time in years. I had started going by male pronouns, and I had changed my name from “Katie” to “KT.” I was with a new friend, a drag king buddy named Maurice, and we were scouring the racks for animal prints, sequins, bold color blocks – just anything that would be costume-y and effeminate. He was helping me get ready for my first performance.
But more importantly, at age 24, he was (perhaps unwittingly) helping me actually feel comfortable in my skin and feel free to experiment with different gender expressions.
I met my spouse when she moved into my house. We had two other housemates as well. It was a semi-communal setting; we hosted a weekly kraftnite and did things all together on occasion. Increasingly, I wanted to spend more and more time just with her. Eventually, we talked and decided to be together. It’s been ten years and one month since we started lived together.
About five years in, I was in a pretty depressed state for an extended period of time. I kept coming back to stressing about whether I should transition or not. One day, we found ourselves at a plant conservatory enveloped by the jungle environment in the dead of the winter. We had books and travel mugs full of tea, and had purposefully worn layers so that we could wear short sleeve shirts and absorb the sunlight magnified through the glass walls and ceiling. Suddenly, I blurted out, “I think I need to go back to therapy.” She rolled with that. I later said, “I’m going to try a low-dose of testosterone.” And then, “I’m going to come out to some people at work.” And then, “I’m going to change my name, again, to ‘Kameron,'” and “I’m finally going to go ahead with top surgery.” And there will be more to come, I’m sure…
At age 25, and 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and beyond, I’ve found inspiration in the fact that my spouse remains unfazed by, and supportive of, anything I want to try, whether it’s hesitantly dipping a toe into transition, or running and jumping towards it no holds barred.
Two years ago, we had a Celebration of Prior Unification event for friends and family. (We had legally gotten married a year before.) Rory was there with her long-term girlfriend. She’d recently grown her hair long(er). Although we’d been through a falling out of sorts and hadn’t seen much of each other, she most certainly belonged there. GBH was there, (but Shark thankfully was not!). She had moved halfway across the country, but we regularly stayed in touch. Hudson was there with her trans husband (they also lived halfway across the country, and I’d visited them a handful of times). Cory was there too, with his trans husband. They had met through friends Rory and I had connected them with. Maurice was there, front and center, as our “officiant.” His persona brought us all together. We “performed” a wedding.
We continue to find inspiration in those around us – my spouse and I – as we grow parallel to one another, sometimes veering off and then converging again.
Kameron is a genderqueer janitor in his mid-thirties who writes at Janitorqueer. He is also a radio DJ, and he lives in a house with his spouse and two cats.
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