As a preacher’s kid growing up in 1980’s Texas, no one would have expected me to be queer. I mostly played along, though I was constantly scratching at the edges. My alone time was robust in exploration, but publicly I was something else—a fiction.
Gender fluidity, queerness, an array of pronouns. These concepts weren’t available when I was a kid. Otherwise, I might have seen them as brass rings and grabbed them. The only thing I saw that made me say huh, maybe THAT was glam-rock.
Writing was my escape. Or rather, it was my reality. The stories I committed to paper were exponentially more “true” than the story of me that I was telling others. In that early writing, all my protagonists were women or gender-bending men who owned their worlds. But I wrote them as flawless because it was the world that was flawed.
Eventually, that visceral injustice became lyrics. Poetry where I could hide in plain sight. As unluck would have it, I ended up a Christian rock star of some notoriety, living out my glam-rock fantasies in mega-churches across the nation. But I was crawling out of my skin. Looking back, that kid was literally screaming to be seen. And it was killing him.
After years of faithful service, I left the church after being asked to sign a statement against queerness. Though I had yet to use the label on myself, the request burned like betrayal. So I fought back, hitting the stage again. This time in makeup, lingerie and high heels.
It took years, but I finally stitched together the freak flag that looked like me and decided to let it fly. I pined for drag queens and the men underneath. I was accepted by lesbians as one of their own. My consumption of erotic media began to span a vast array of genres.
Finally comfortable with my queerness, I fell for a woman who was not. I held my breath, gritted my teeth and recanted, once again relegating it to the shadows to keep from losing her.
We loved with intensity. We created art together that pushed moral bounds, subverted sexual ideas and ironically promoted vulnerability—“being open to ruin”. We ran a successful business full of adventure, intrigue, world travel. We had it all. Except we were both hiding.
Passing. Especially with each other.
Moving to L.A. was a catalyst for the inevitable. She cracked first and came out one night in a fearless, tear-stained letter. I let out the breath I’d been holding for 20 years and reminded her of that early admission. For the first time, we truly saw each other.
Though my lived experience doesn’t feel “queer enough” sometimes, this is who I am—a gender non-conforming pansexual with a beautifully androgynous queer woman on my arm, aware I haven’t suffered the same prejudices as others.
My protagonists are still women and gender misfits, but now they have flaws. Beautiful, messy, complicated flaws. Characters that resonate with my experience and tell a little bit of my story.
With reclaiming my identity, I found my voice.