A drag queen was once asked in the question segment of a pageant, "what is the best advice you have ever received?" Her answer has stuck with me and plays on my mind in various iterations. She said "to thine own self be true". I don't know the actual source of that quote and I can google it but it doesn't matter. When I hear it I most times think of it as saying be who you are, be true to that person you believe your self to be. Some people interpret it it to mean that you owe no one but yourself the truth and so they lie to others, I think. Im not even sure what she meant when she said it as the answer wasn't popular with the crowd who felt that she too wasn't sure of its meaning. Im sure it has a meaning and as I said it can possibly be found on the Net but I really don't care. I just want to live today being true to myself in the knowledge that He who created me was certain of what He was doing. In the knowledge that He who created me loves me despite what others may feel. That I have the power and knowledge to be me. I want to live today without fear of being me. I want to live today as miss thing said in a silent truth that my own self understands.
It's funny you know that a cross dresser would have answered in such a way, I find it a powerful statement coming from one like herself. Its so bold to be able to gender bend, to go to a shop as a man and shop for women's clothing. It even says a lot about shop girls in town who many may disregard as not being smart enough to hold down another job, retail hardly being the prestigious post that it is in high end stores across the world. These shop girls though accept these men shopping for women's clothes and probably enjoy the spunk that cross dressers bring to the world, more can be said on that last point but not now, maybe at another point. But yes, these brave men who have to be true to themselves even if it seems like an abominable lie to others, walk into boutiques around Port of Spain and shop for dresses and heels and weaves and make up. There is something comforting to me about that and too, funny and yes too, bizarre. There is a belief that this is a hostile territory for people who live alternative lifestyles and yet they manage to survive.
Some of us live what can be best summed up as inconvenient truths (thanks Al Gore). My family immediate and extended never acknowledge my sexuality, I have been asked by family, when am I getting married. One aunt asked my cousin to speak to me about changing my lifestyle. The irony is that it isn't much of a lifestyle, that would require activities that are woefully missing from my experience and I'm not lying, you know how some people say they are non-practising Catholics but still identify with the faith, well similarly I'm pretty much close to being a non-practising homosexual, as harsh as a word as that can be.
I cant help but think of you who would say why make such an admission publicly, what you do in your private life is exactly that private. Well not when it has to be legislated upon and not when people hold seminars to warn of the dangers of encouraging people like me to be who we believe ourselves to be. The fact is, though, that many refuse to acknowledge my lifestyle as worthy of respect, endorsement or even concern. This is to say that a single heterosexual forty-something would have all sorts of support to remedy their condition, their loneliness. The reality to me is that the marginalization of gays and lesbians has led to a pathology that plays out socially. Some people conquer it but many don't and even those sure of themselves find this to be a place where coupling is difficult. Patterns have developed that reduce interactions to socially accepted norms like conversation, dancing and congregation but there is not an enabling environment to allow for intimacy. It's pushed into unsafe spaces, reduced to quick fixes and leads to guilt and shame for many of us. I also believe that that contributes to the increasing spread of HIV as there is less control over sexual relations and less self-respect perhaps leading to high-risk activities. It seems to me that the result of society not valuing the lives of people like me leads to people like me not valuing their own lives.
Seeking asylum seems a popular choice these days but more so for transgenders. Godfrey Sealey was successful in getting asylum as an HIV + man and returned to Trinidad and Tobago where he eventually died. I want to believe though that I can live my best life here. I don't, however, expect my joy to be my family's joy but maybe I just lack imagination and am cynical. But I can't see my family being happy for me living the life I wish I didn't have to migrate, again, to live. It may be that I end up living here for eternity and never realising my dream or that I do, only time will tell but for now I have to be true to myself if only to be sure that when the day comes that I am living my dream it would be consistent with what I always wanted and always wished was possible.