Recently I discovered a love of cross dressing. I had tried it out a few years ago as a gender swap birthday party then fell into a drag character for a comedy show, a bearded lady, which then got picked up for a number of shows and festivals. I loved it, and yet I knew, inherently, it was a joke. And something about that didn’t always sit right with me. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be labeled, am I a cross-dresser or a transvestite. I feel somewhat closeted about the whole ordeal, not sure when exactly to let on that I’m a Drag Queen or a cross-dresser or a transvestite, or even if I might like to go further down the rabbit hole and actually be a woman. I think I rather enjoy the dichotomy of being a bearded woman. But it’s not easy. I knew it wouldn’t be. The looks you get, or the sudden disinterest of women who are otherwise attracted to the man, or partners who tell you “this has nothing to do with me” as though a part of you isn’t a valid piece of your puzzle. I’m torn. On one hand I’ve always been true to who I am, no matter the cost, and it has cost me, as an eccentric, as a performer. I’ve made sacrifices for what who I knew I was and therefore had to be. It hasn’t been until now that there’s been any question, any option. I don’t have to dress like a woman. I don’t have to act like one. It’s odd because even as some will celebrate this transformation, most will draw the line at romance as though their transphobia isn’t showing. I imagine I’m a rather odd duckling, most Drag Queens are gay. I consider myself Queer, I certainly like to play with men, but I know I’m predominately attracted to women, let’s call it a 80-20 split in the lady’s favor. The ladies love to hang with the Queens but seldom few would take it very seriously. I find myself enmeshed, more and more every day in this culture and society of Queer and it’s lovely, there’s so many beautiful people that couldn’t be put in a box even if you tried, they’re my people, my tribe. And yet, at the end of the day I also know I dream of getting married, having kids and settling down. I wish I could get pregnant. The further I go down this road of self-discovery, of finding out about me and who I am and what I want, the scarier it gets, because that sea where there are plenty of fish, seems to dwindle every day. Who will be able to handle this? It would take a real weirdo to not only be down for the journey, but to keep up. I’m afraid, for the first time, that maybe I’ve gone too far, and no one is coming to get me, I’ve gone too far for anyone to see or know, and I’m alone in the woods again, crying, while I saunter on, singing my song. I’ve got a foot out of the closet and a foot still inside, I don’t wear a dress every day, I’m careful with how I talk to people or what I post on social media, because I know as much as I might be celebrated, I’m judged. As much as I’m used to it, the ante has been upped considerably. Sure I could get beaten (been there), sexually assaulted (been there) or killed, the prospect of simply never being loved, romantically, for who I am, cuts me to my core, as someone who believes in love above all things, who really just wants to be in love- I’m afraid. I’m afraid that as soon as I let her out, they’ll run for the hills, again. I’m as manly as the next man, I’m a carpenter and a rigger, I work hard on my feet, with my hands, I make people safe, I build things for them, I look like a real life lumberjack, and I’m balding from too much testosterone. This people can accept, this people are attracted to. But the moment people get wind that I might like to be a woman, a switch goes off in their heads and in their hearts. Suddenly I’m a thing, to be marveled at from a safe distance, from behind a glass or a cage, like a freak in a traveling show. Nobody wants a Drag Queen dad. So here I am standing in the closet with a foot perched just outside and I know to step through is to alienate family, friends and lovers, and yet, to stay inside is nearly as unbearable, to be understood though judged and ignored or to never be understood and adored under false pretenses. Really there’s no option here. I have to step out, if only for myself, if only for the thousands of other Trans Queer folk out there, still closeted by society, who’s momentary joys consist of seeing their brothers and sisters out and about walking free of all this bullshit. You’ll find love, my lovelies, I swear it. Now go put on your real face.