Cecilio, or Cecil for short, is a friend of mine from Toronto. He's an artist at heart, but with a mind for projects that stand to make a difference, like his current documentary production, LatinX. He's well-dressed, a wonderful lunch date and he also happens to be a trans man. As such, his experience as a member of the LGBTQ community is different than most that I encounter as a gay man.
You see, for me and many of my friends, the experience of coming out is one of brazen disruption. We struggle with the social constructs of hetero-normative society, a system that works well for most people but not us. Sometimes it's a short struggle and sometimes it takes decades, but the coming out process is inevitably the same. "Mom, dad, I'm gay," we sputter after mustering the necessary courage. It's a way of saying, "I'm different. I see the world differently than you. This is me."
Imagine, however, that you were forced to repeatedly say, "I'm straight," but nobody believed you. The denial phase for gay men and lesbian women comes to mind. We often do lie to others and even ourselves for some time before reaching acceptance. This is different though. When I was 16 and said I was straight, I was lying -- and not very well, at that. Cecil, and so many others like him, is not.
This is the coming out story of Cecil, in a nutshell. Rather than struggling to cast off the burden of living a presumed heterosexual existence, Cecil has been faced with the challenge of convincing himself, his loved ones and the world at large that he is, in fact, a man who likes women -- a simple concept if ever there was one. His message is a bit more, "I'm not different. I'm like you. This is me."
Cecil's story begins,
My last coming out has been the hardest for sure; coming out as a straight man sucks. The whole world sees me as a lesbian and always has. This is probably why coming out as queer was super easy. I've always looked like a dyke, but never felt like a dyke. Maybe that's why I pushed away from my queerness for so long; I didn't start accepting my love for women until I was 19. It took me even longer to realize I wasn't a woman who loves women; I'm a man who loves women.
But this subject is even more complicated than that. It goes beyond gender identity and sexual orientation. Perhaps the most painful part of Cecil's story, or at least in recent years, is the complex relationship he now feels with the LGBTQ community. He is, after all, hell-bent on convincing the universe that he is a heterosexual man. This then begs the question, is he part of the LGBTQ community? For me, the answer is a resounding yes, but as with most things in life, it's not so simple.
His story continues,
I'm in constant fear that now that I'm technically hetero, I don't belong in queer spaces. But then I go into queer spaces and I feel invisible, for none of the queers see me as a man. I've been lucky though; I have found many queer women who get my gender identity and love that I'm a man. My queer world around me has been super supportive too. In becoming my truest version of myself I've learned that people will always see me as queer, cause my queer has nothing to do with who I sleep with. It's who I am.
And this, I think, is what gives me some solace -- the knowledge that we should not and are not defined by singular traits. Cecil is not a trans man. I am not blonde. You are not defined by the color of your skin.
Cecil is Cecil. I am Nate. And you are you. That's all the world needs to know.
Read Cecil's full story and many others here, at ComingOut.Space.