This past weekend, I attended a wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. It couldn't have been a more lovely experience--most importantly because of how I received as one of the only LGBTQ people in attendance (or so I saw and knew about).
I had a lot of trepidation prior to attending this wedding--it isn't easy to don a suit and tie in some areas of my own neighborhood of Arlington, MA so I was preparing myself for the stares and sideways glances in one of the most conservative areas of our country.
Boy, was I wrong.
I mean, I have no idea what most people at this event were thinking but I can tell you how I was treated:
That's all I can go by. I can only rate my experience by the numbers of folks who offered a hand in greeting and smiled as they shook mine.
Sure, there were a few who pointed and turned around. Did it remind me of being in middle school? Yep. Did I know what they were saying? No. I had two choices: let it go to my head and ruin my good time, discounting the many beautiful people who were going outside their respective comfort zones to be nice and welcoming OR hide somewhere and cry and internalize their lack of acceptance of myself.
I chose the former----because I couldn't focus on a few when the majority of the people in attendance to celebrate the wedding of two incredible people were FAR MORE concerned with that gorgeous wedding and not the fact that I had a bowtie and jacket on. For real.
And then, lo and behold, I met another member of the "LGBTQ family". Here I was feeling all self-conscious in my expertly tailored jacket (thank you, again, Men's Wearhouse) and self-tied bowtie (I have it down to a science now, so hit me up if you need help, bio and trans dudes) and this lovely person came into view--introducing herself. Tall, willowly, gorgeous smile and killer dimples.
Turns out, this person is also on a journey to be her true self. In a small room on historically preserved grounds in South Carolina, two people found each other---each wishing that genitalia were removable and interchangeable like the very clothes we wore and that hormones could be turned on and off like a light switch. We felt the irony, as we faced each other, how easy life would be if we could just jump into the other's skin--the grass being so richly green from each other's perspective.
On this National Coming Out Day, I celebrate the life I live OPENLY and OUTWARDLY---both the difficult moments, the ones where I feel like my heart may truly pump its last beats from the fear inside, as well as the gorgeous ones, where the Universe reminds me that I am never alone on my path. I am not the only one feeling the way I feel and if I live my truth the best I can, I am rewarded by drawing another person to me---who sees the beacon I send out--so I feel less alone in the scariest of moments.