You know who you are
The first day of class I thought you were a girl
You thought I was funny
We talked the whole time
I didn’t even know your name
She met you at the dance dressed in black
You had red hair
I didn’t see either of you dance but everyone else said it was only a matter of time
We fell in love but I thought you were someone else’s
You thought the same of me
When I was in high school, I wrote a few plays. Now, for the most part they weren’t very good. Ok, in all honesty none of them were that good. The ideas were there and there were a few witty one-liners, but overall the plots were rather rote and the characters altogether fell flat. But I had a lot of fun writing and it was good experience. Most important to my future writing career, however, was that I was encouraged by my high school theater teacher. She advocated for me to be allowed to put on one of my plays senior year, with progress going as far as to have me organize a staged reading before school politics stopped it from happening. The name of that show was The Grey Teacup Cafe and this Friday and Saturday I have the honor of directing the first ever production of the play at my college.
Recently, a transgender competitor on Survivor was outed by his competitor during the process by which the contestants pick who goes home. The competitor, a gay man, was quickly shouted down and called out by the other members of the show and the host of Survivor, with the man who outed the transgender man being voted off. I’ve watched the clip and I read the official response by the transgender man, Zeke Smith.
My post isn’t going to talk about the event in detail, but this is the full text of the response and includes the clip at the bottom. I definitely encourage you to read it and watch the video if you haven’t already or aren’t already familiar with the event.
Now, I’ve got a lot to talk about because this is a deeply personal issue for me. In fact, my first reaction to hearing about this was horror. For a few years, there was nothing more terrifying than the idea of being outed to my family. Even today, hearing about stories like this (such as the outing of athletes at the 2016 Olympics, Lily Wachowski in 2016, and so on) makes my heart race, my head woozy, all of my worst nightmares come to life again. It’s so bad, that even now, a more or less out and proud queer person, the idea of having to disclose my status as trans to strangers is… not my idea of a picnic.
So yes, when I first heard that another LGBTQ person had been outed in a wildly public setting, I couldn’t bring myself to open the article. But then I started to read about how Smith reacted, how his fellow cast mates supported him including the usually-neutral host. And that convinced me to give the article a chance. I’m glad I did.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry because life is hard right now and you’re twelve and I want to tell you that it gets better. That everything is solved and you’re happy and popular and love yourself. But I am doing my damnedest not to lie, not to anyone and not to you. So I won’t tell you that everything, in seven long years, is ok. Because it isn’t. It hasn’t been for a while. And that’s ok. You are going to be ok. You are going to survive, I promise. You are going to get into the college of your dreams and you are going to find yourself and find friends who love you because of who you are, not because of who you pretend to be.
But it takes time. You’re going to hate your parents. They’re going to hurt you and stab you in the back repeatedly even as they say they love you. Understand, and this is not absolving them of their harm, but you must understand that they do. And when things seem the darkest it might not be what you want so I won’t tell you to rely on them but know that they are there for you. Even when you make bad decisions, they’ll be there to catch you. I guess that’s what parents are for.