Stories and Lies and a bit of a Surprise:
Two events this year have proven to be quite life changing, neither did I expect to be so. These two events are UKMeet in June 2014 and Queer Romance Month in October 2014.
To explain why, I have to go back a long long time ago… #queue music and wavy lines#
I have always told stories. When I was at my primary school in reception from age 4 ish, I had a little gang of friends, boys and girls, and I would make up stories about a grate in the school wall being the entrance to fairy land. I used to enthral them (well that’s what it felt like to a 4/5yr old) with tales of ‘daring do’ and how I fought evil fairies and trolls. I had half my class in the nurse’s room one afternoon after I told them the ‘Purple People Eater’ was coming to school to steal children.
When I was 6-7yo I told my teacher that my Mum was rescued by a small boat from an island that was blown up by a volcano. (I’d seen an old film on TV about Krakatoa) Apparently, I was so convincing my teacher praised my Mother’s bravery at parent’s evening. This didn’t go down well with my Mum who told me I should stop telling lies.
My longest lasting story was that I was born on the QE2 cruise ship, so had global nationality and was really called ‘Jack’ or ‘Jacqueline’, depending on the day. I was about 8yo when I first told this story…well my best friend told me her Father’s job was to wind up Big Ben, and he had the golden key by his bed!
So I was constantly being told off for telling lies and I felt this was an awful injustice, as surely I was just doing what the authors of the books I read were doing? I was a rather precocious child where reading was concerned, and by age 4 yrs, I had read Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and Peter Pan, full length versions. I had read through the books at school reading programme by age 6, and was allowed to bring in books from home to read and go to the senior library with books for the 11-12 year group.
Some of the problem was, I could read and understand books way above my age group, but was still obviously very young so found it hard to tell the difference between lying (or exaggeration) and story- telling. As I got older I would often try to fit in by telling stories, sadly when you become a teen, telling stories is more often taken as just plain lying. My Mum would ask me why I felt the need to tell stories and I would simply say ‘to try to fit in’.
I know she didn’t understand, I came from a middle class family, one of four children, lived in a nice house with two parents who loved each other, and I never had to worry about food or possessions etc etc. As my parents saw it there was no reason for me to feel that way. I didn’t really understand either. I remember sitting on the bus, to my Grammar school, looking at people and thinking how nice it would be to be like them. They seemed so unconcerned and comfortable with themselves, which I was not and never had been.
My family, especially my three brothers, would make fun of me and roll their collective eyes whenever I mentioned someone was gay, which I admit was often, or said how unfair certain rules and rights were concerning the homosexual community. From the age of 16 I had a very good friend who was 2 years younger than me he was out and proud and quite outrageous. We are still in touch now and we lived in Brighton at the same time. My family rarely mention my time in Brighton without referring to it as my ‘gay phase’ or ‘my weirdness’ is another epithet. I was happy there but it was a very intense period in my life.
My family have often told me I’m ‘obsessed’ with people being gay and gay life. They have often asked, often obliquely, why I am happier in the company of gay men and allied groups, but not one of them has ever waited for my answer.
So fast forward to the present…#more music and wavy lines#
I have always known that I felt different to the way other people seem to feel about being a girl or a boy and by my teens it was causing me a lot of anxiety. I wasn’t sexually attracted to girls and was quite disappointed that I didn’t even have the ubiquitous crush on the head girl. So I knew I wasn’t a lesbian.
I was very sexually attracted to men, but always androgynous looking or femme men. Except my Husband! I became several Gay/Bi men’s ‘experiment’…I don’t recommend it…very hard on the self esteem.
I had met and got to know several Trans* women, but never a trans* man, so I had no information on regarding that gender orientation and no one to ask. I was attacked with a broken bottle and hospitalised for being a ‘fag hag’, and assaulted after a Pride parade. I never really understood why, but I felt a kind of pride that I had been identified as part of a group…odd I know.
Now one of the effects my stories had was to help me raise a barrier between my true self and the one I projected to the world. If they thought I was called ‘Jacqueline’ or ‘Jack’ bad experiences couldn’t hurt Beverley. By my late teens I went by my nickname ‘BJ’, and apart from embarrassing moments in gay clubs, it was the ‘name’ that I felt most comfortable with it was gender neutral. I only really came to terms with what my life had been telling me very recently.
At UKMeet I met and talked to my first Trans* man and was surrounded by a group of people who were happy to accept all, and talk about all. There were no rigid masculine identities needed or rigid feminine identities, we were all people who cared about people. I spent nearly four days in a happy bubble of tolerance, joy and quite a lot of alcohol. In addition and most importantly to my life’s journey, I met people who wanted my stories. My stories weren’t lies or barriers, but honoured and admired, even wanted for publication so others could read them. I was helped by three very special people to gain two contract offers, and my first book comes out in January 2015 with Wilde City Press.
The conference set me thinking very hard about finally admitting to myself why I felt different. I started talking to a very knowledgeable and kind author, who I hope he doesn’t mind when I say I now consider him a friend. He asked if I would consider being involved in some way with QRM and maybe writing something. I agreed, but didn’t think hard enough about what I was writing. I tried to tell a part of my story, but held back on so much that it was a confusing read, which upset some people who misinterpreted my meaning. However, one person wrote to me and had understood me totally and felt the isolation I had felt growing up. My post had reached one person and I thought how many more I might have reached if I had been ready to be really honest.
I read all of the posts for QRM and I discussed them here on Prism with Alexis Hall each Sunday. I also read them because every story I read, every personal comment, enlightened me and made me feel. I felt the pain, identified with the confusion and need for acceptance. I learned the words that could hurt, the actions and words that could comfort and support. I talked a lot to my author friend and did some real soul searching, and I found answers.
I suppose you could say I’m ‘coming out’ but I don’t want to appropriate a word that has such powerful meanings and implications for so many people. So, I identify as Genderqueer or Genderfluid, but I am also drawn to the idea of a Third Gender. Some days I feel male, some hours I feel male then female, sometimes I feel neither. It is hard to explain fully, as it would mean putting definitions on what male means and what female means and that’s impossible, as it means different things to different people. There are more intimate and personal paradoxes to this than just ‘feeling’ different genders in one, but they are not for discussion on a social platform, they are private.
I do not require a different pronoun, I have been she/her all my life and I was born physically ‘female’. I prefer to be called BJ, but it doesn’t matter if someone calls me by the name my very loving parents gave me. I have not told my family this…most I never will unless the subject arises. I will have to talk to my dearest Husband, but gently and so he knows nothing has really changed, I have always been as I am, including the day I married him. I loved him 100% that day and I love him so much more now, all these years later.
I do not need a label, but it makes me happy to have one when I have been adrift for so long. Personally accepting a queer identity gives me a sense of relaxation, belonging and self-knowledge I have never had before. I have used this post to give myself a ‘kick in the pants’ to talk to those I care most for.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|