Who has it easier, really, when it comes to transitioning?

Battle lines have been drawn.

Sides have been taken.

Theories have been stated.

I have heard, from different sources, that F2M transitioning is easier than M2F.  I’m not sure I buy into that, totally.

At some points I feel that it might be marginally easier.  Since society is ok with women with short hair and wearing “male” clothing, such as pants and non frilly shirts, etc…  Society has not really come very far for a man to wear “female” clothing.  Of course, there are those of us that tell society to piss off and wear what we like, but, as blurring as the lines are for my mode of dress as a “male” (I wear leggings and the likes all the time) I have yet to go out in my male lie wearing a skirt or dress.  Society gets rather violently hateful when a man does such a thing.

Now, believe me, I am NOT saying that F2Ms have it easy whatsoever.  When I began writing this entry a couple days ago, I really didn’t know too many.  There is Jacob, who writes at Journey To Me, where I have learned a lot about the flip side of the transgender coin.  There is Marcus, whom I met a few years ago, briefly, and now works at a local restaurant in town.  As of last evening, I know a few more.

I attended a Trans Social at Ball State University.  It was put on by SPECTRUM, the LGBTQ organization on campus. For a group of young people (I am more than double some of their ages-yikes!) they did a pretty good job of putting together an information session for those wishing to know more.  Hosted by a young man named Lucas, I was actually shocked when he said that he was a F2M and had been on hormones for just over 8 months.  I would have never known.  He also shared one aspect that I never thought about, really.

For me, going into a restroom will be determined by how I am dressed (and if I can’t hold it any longer….about 8 hours max for me).  I don’t care what anyone says, I am not going to the men’s restroom when I am presenting as Jenn.  Not going to happen.  One, I feel I am fairly passable and the social greetings in a restroom setting aren’t full of carrying on conversations.  I would go in, close the stall, wash up and leave.  Then Lucas mentioned the one thing that I never really noticed.  A lot of men’s restrooms either have no stalls at all, or the stalls have no doors (except for the really scary one at the far end of the restroom, usually handicapped accessible and kind of the dirtiest one in the place).  Really, I hadn’t thought about that at all.  It becomes common place when that is all you see.

I think that the ONLY real difference is the manner of dress.  An F2M can pass as a feminine guy (not that you want to, but society sees what it wants and that is a comfortable label for them).  There are men with higher voices, softer walks, caring attitudes and a keen sense of style.  There are fewer masculine looking (and sounding) women.  Very few women have an adam’s apple.

I look at every transgender person, young or old, with great respect.  To take action for what one knows to be the right thing, regardless of what those around them are saying, takes great courage.  I am amazed at the parents who are supporting their young transgender children.  I cry for those who do not have that love and support.  At 45, I still have said nothing to my parents about how I feel.  About who I am.  I do know the outcome, which is why it has been buried around them.  When you come from a church that hates (not as bad as Westboro, but probably pretty close), you know how your parents will react.  Well, my mom.  My dad would probably be one of those who doesn’t agree with my actions but will love me because I am his child.  My mom is very black and white.  I sometimes cry for myself, that my parents will never know their lovely, caring daughter.

It is not easy being transgender, regardless of where you are categorized.  It is an education we need to pass along to others, both within our own community and to the general public.  Remember, the public’s view of trans people are what the right wingers get out there and what they’ve seen on Springer.  That is NOT who we are.  The greatest achievement thus far has got to be Candis Cayne and Chaz Bono.  Candis is beautiful and Chaz is handsome, not that THAT is what makes us who we are, but they are positive examples of where we are. Positive examples of how far we’ve come and, sadly, reminders of how far we have yet to go.

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With each telling, a weight is lifted

I have known this over the course of my life, but have not felt it this strongly until recently.

With each person I tell, I feel the weight of the life lie, lifted.  Eased.  Relieved.

I have been going out and about a lot.  Jenn can be seen all over town, at any number of functions, stores and restaurants.  With the past couple outings (a couple awesome art exhibits), I have interacted with friends and associates from my past.  For each person I have come out to, I have been met with complete and total acceptance.  To walk among my peers, as an equal, without judgement.  Without stares.  Without glares or ill words.  It is a freedom unmatched by anything I have experienced.

I have been offered new allies.  People who know that this is a rough journey and wish to be a part of it.  To be there as an army of support to replace those who will fall by the wayside.  These people are called friends.

I have been introduced to complete strangers as Jenn and have experienced nothing out of the ordinary.  I have been welcomed into their world without any questions or without any judgements.  I have been compared to their wives and workout partners, which, I must say, sends my heart pattering all over the scale.  That is acceptance, complete and total.  It is the equivalent of the whistle or howl by a passing person, though much deeper and more satisfying.  I belong.

I have come out to old friends from school.  I have not been shunned.  It seems as though I have chosen my friends wisely, throughout my life.  I do know of one friend that will, most likely, fall away upon my revelation, but I may be surprised.  We have been friends for almost 25 years.  I have one other friend that I simply must tell.  I have blogged about this hurdle before and know that it is time to jump that hurdle.  My best male friend.  My closest and dearest male friend.  The time is present and the situation will present itself, soon.

I wonder how to tell him.  It hasn’t been something I have thought about with anyone else, as I am usually presenting as Jenn when I meet and tell them. But it is different with him. He has only known my male side and this could come as quite a shock.  Do I tell him and then introduce him to Jenn, or do I tell and introduce at the same time.  There have been many times when I have been out with friends and I expect to see him out as well.  I think about what I would do if I were to be out and get an invitation from him to go do something else.  Say “yes, but I look a little different than you are used to”?  Many choices.  None of them wrong.  None of them necessarily right.

I have been told that he most likely cherishes out friendship because of my quirkiness.  A friendship akin to love.

Once this revelation is complete, the burden will be so far lifted that it’s weight might never be felt again.  I love my friends.  I am fiercely loyal to them, and for good reason.  With the acceptance I have been shown, who wouldn’t want to defend them to the end?

***I would also like to add that my female voice is coming along splendidly.  There is a definite tonality that is present.  Not perfect, yet, but getting there.  I can also feel the disappearance of my old self.  The male part of me simply does not exist any more.  Jenn is who I am and if I “have” to, I pull out the guise of my former self to satisfy those who are not yet ready for me.  Soon they will have to be ready.***

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And within an instance, so much changes…..

I was amazed by the hours that followed my last entry.  Simply amazed.

My wife and I had planned for a nice evening out this past Saturday.  We had run to an antique mall in Centerville, Indiana (widely disappointing) and came home to get ready for our date.

We kept with our plans to go to BELLA AVANTE, a great little Italian place tucked away on a side road.  Quite an enjoyment for Muncie, which has chain after chain after chain.

After ordering and having some light conversation, my wife began the serious discussion of the evening, centering around my transness. (is that even a word?  I guess it is now)

I wasn’t sure, exactly, where the conversation would lead, but thought I was prepared for whatever was coming.  I must confess, I was not.

I know that I just sent your mind in the direction of a split and tears flowing, but I assure you it was quite the opposite.

We spoke of our history together. Our 22 years together and our 20 years of marriage.  Our ups and downs and how we have survived them all.  Things that would have destroyed other couples.  At the base of it all is our love and friendship.  It is a pretty awesome thing to be married to your friend.

As the conversation continued we spoke about how feminine I have become, without hormones or trying.  Even when not presenting as Jenn, I am usually addressed as Ma’am, miss and lady. (I can do without the ma’am…makes me feel old….45 isn’t old, right?).  We talked for well over 90 minutes, something we haven’t done to that degree in some time. She told me that she was never going to leave me, even when I transitioned, and that we would cross those bridges as they approached.  There was no need to speculate and worry about a situation that may not arise.

I told her that I fully intended to transition and the only real thing holding me back was lack of employment/money.  We continued.  We did end up talking, hypothetically, about life after transitioning and how the physical relationship would change.  This may be a little in the realm of TMI, but here it goes.  The emotional love will always be there, we both agree, but the physical transformation that will take place would change the physicality of the relationship.  We discussed the options at that point.  She is not a lesbian and has no desire to have a sexual relationship with another woman, but given that the other woman would be me, she wanted to throw out some options.  One would be an open relationship.  One that would allow a physical relationship with another person while maintaining a loving and emotional relationship with each other.  If I were to decide that I needed a physical relationship with a man, that would also be part of the openness.  The second would involve the use of external devices that would allow us both to “enjoy” the physical aspect of a relationship.  At the end of it all, we did decide that we would cross that bridge when we came to it.  Who knows, it may be that we enjoy the physical changes.

She spoke about how much she supported whatever I chose and wherever it led.  Tears flowed as she said how great it was to be out dining and talking with her best girl friend.  She spoke about how happy I am when I am Jenn and how open to discussion I am.  She knows that the change has already begun and we talked about getting hold of our old doctor (a great guy who became head of education at the hospital, and moving away from practice) about finding out who he would suggest as a doctor and therapist for my transgender journey.  We talked about beginning hormone therapy as soon as we are able.

We left feeling renewed and energized at the layers we were able to peel away.  No matter what the situation, discussion and conversation is essential to the survival of any relationship.

We left with the journey to self realization beginning, slowly at first, but one that will accelerate faster than either of us can comprehend.  Buckle up, it could be a bumpy ride, but one that the full disclosure of open conversation can help smooth.

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In the name of love

Once again, this has nothing to do with any song, although U2 does have an amazing song with a similar title.  Pride (In the name of love).

This, however, refers to my current situation and the different sides of the road being travelled.

As I have posted before, I applied for a full time job at HALF PRICE BOOKS, as Jenn.  This is a job that I would love to have, not just because working as my true self would be amazing, but that I love books. My wife and I own over 3,000 bound titles, plus some on the Kindle.  We are avid readers and, in my opinion, well read people are more open to the differences of others.

She has expressed pure delight in the possibility of me getting work as Jenn.  An expression of delight that my happiness will begin.  Working will start the journey along the life changing road.  She knows this, and yet she puts my happiness above the love in our marriage.

It is pretty amazing to think that her love is so strong that she would rather see my life progress as it should than to remain in a marriage where I turn aside what I know I must do to keep our relationship intact.

I guess our love is equal.  I would be willing to remain incomplete just as she is willing to continue incomplete (not being pompous here).  We wish the other so much happiness in life that we are both willing to sacrifice something important to ourselves in order to see the other attain, or maintain, their bliss.

Many people can’t seem to wrap their heads around this concept, on both sides, but I assure you that is the level of love and dedication that my wife and I hold for one another.

She knows where this will lead.  She has said that she will leave once the transition journey begins, but remain my closest friend and ally.  I will lose many friends and family along the way, but it is good to know I will not truly lose my wife.  I love her dearly and that would devastate me.

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Wonder Woman: A costume in the making

So I decided a while back, like when I lost 60 pounds, that I was going to do the ever necessary Wonder Woman costume this Halloween.

It’s tough enough for women to pull this off, but add to the fact that I am not a girl (not yet a woman), this will be difficult indeed.  But the payoff will be totally worth it, I can already tell.

I had looked around at costumes and just didn’t find any that I was willing to spend 60 bucks on.  Trust me, I have WAY better things to buy with 60 bucks than a cheaply made costume. Then it hit me.  I will piece together my own!

I was at Target, looking at mostly nothing, when I saw the clearance swimwear rack.  I decided to take a look.  Hidden among all the season’s rejects was one lone pair of bikini bottoms, just the right shade of blue and size small. $2

From here, I sauntered over to the intimates section to see if I could find a red bustier or similar corset.  No luck.  I thought a bit and decided that this Wonder Woman was going to have shoulder straps, so I went back and grabbed a red tank. $8  Making a pit stop in the craft section, I nabbed a pack of craft stars ($2) and was well on my way.

I ran by JoAnn Fabrics and found some gold trim that would do nicely as a magic lasso of truth. $6

I was excited about how well this looked already, that I could not wait to head out today to find some more accessories.

A stop at GoodWill led me to a great pair of boots that were a bit too small, but I could work with.  As I looked around more, I found a bin of rejects (or something) and found THE PERFECT PAIR of boots, and they were my size!! Only $6!!!  What a great way to start the hunt.

From there I went to TJMaxx to look for a belt I could repurpose.  I found a gold belt that will do nicely.  $12.  I ended up folding and going to a local Halloween store to find the headband and cuffs, which I did find, for $9.

From here, I am going to buy some red spray paint for plastic, for the boots, and a pair of sheer to waist hose or tights.  Making the design for the chest emblem and will grab some gold lame’ for that (and to possibly embellish the belt).

I know I may hit close to the cost of a costume by the time I am done, but it will be a costume I made and one that looks a million times better than the pre packed versions I found.  With it being of better quality, it could be used again some time.  Will post the progress.  🙂

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A Follow Up

As a follow up to the last post I made, where I went to check on a job I applied for, I post this.

About a week ago I went back down to HALF PRICE BOOKS to check on the status of the decision making.  I chose to go as Jenn, knowing I would have to talk to one of the managers to get an answer.

I dressed professionally.  A nice red dress shirt, tan pants and heels.  Nothing overly heavy makeup wise and a nice shoulder bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I walked around, looking for the managers to be out and about, I met a couple of the employees as I also looked for more books.

Finally, I bumped in to the head manager.  She looked at me and said, “May I help you miss?”

I replied that I had been in for an interview earlier and that I was checking in to see the status.

She replied, “Oh my!  (boy name)!  Why yes.  We have actually filled that position but will be having another opening.  We are going to call three people back in and you are one of the three!”  I must note here, that her use of “Oh my!” was not a judgmental term but one that expressed, “I had NO idea that was you!”

I have decided that when I am called back in for an interview, I am going to interview as Jenn.  From there we can discuss if I would fall into the flow or if it would be a bit much. Either way, I feel it is of the utmost importance for all parties involved, that the real me be present somewhere throughout the process.

I am anxiously awaiting the call.  She said it would be a couple weeks, so it’s still good.

If you are curious as to whether or not I found something, I did.  I bought a Clive Barker book that we do not own and a concert DVD of MIKA.  I was looking for RHYTHM AND LIGHT.  A photography book focussing on Neil Peart of RUSH.

I will also be posting soon about the music I listened to, to help dig myself out of the deep depression in which I had been mired for so long.

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A matter of choices

Life is full of choices.  And they’re all choices we have to make, whether we like it or not.

Last week, I chose to apply for a job at Half-Price Books as Jenn.  Well, as much as I could.  The app still had all my maleness strewn across the pages with reference to history and such.  The answers to the questions were very much Jenn-isms….

When I got called in for an interview, I had another choice to make.  Male or female.  It was a tough decision to make, but I ended up going in as my male persona.  The interview went well enough.  As I interviewed, I kept thinking to myself that I should have gone as Jenn.  Jenn is who turned in the application and all three of the managers have waited on me as Jenn (though none of them looked like they knew that).  I was clearly not happy with the choice I had made.

Waiting to hear back has been excruciating, so I decided to head down today to speak with them.  I chose to go as Jenn.  I didn’t want to dress as nice as I did for the drop off, so I went with what I thought was a bit of a dressed up but dressed down look.  A rocker chick look.  Black jeggings, boots, shirt…..well, see below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I wandered through the store, to see if there happened to be anything I couldn’t possibly live without, I was approached by a gentleman so exclaimed, “Damn!  You look really good in those tights.  Seriously.  Too hot for words.  It’s a sin how great you look in those.”  I thanked him and he continued to exclaim as he headed for the door, after paying me a little more attention.  I have no idea if he knew I wasn’t a GG, but I don’t care.  It wasn’t abrasive and it made me  feel good.

I continued to look around and saw my friend who works there.  It took her a while to recognize me and she exclaimed, “You look AMAZING!”.  So maybe he didn’t know, after all…  Anyway, we talked about the job and how they haven’t said anything yet.  Unfortunately, none of the managers were working at the time.  😦  I really wanted to speak with them.  My friend said that they would have NO problem letting me work there as Jenn.  It’s how they are as a group.  As a store.  As a company.

I may try going down one more time as Jenn, to see if they’ve made a decision, or a choice, if you will.  🙂

 

 

I should add.  If I am able to work as Jenn, it will be my coming out to everyone, and the opening of the door for transition.  I have friends that frequent HPB and I will have to tell them prior to them popping in and seeing me.  My fingers, legs and eyes are crossed for something good….

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A look at yesterday

Yesterday held a few surprises for me.  Nice surprises.

I went to Indianapolis to turn in an application at Half-Price Books.  I absolutely love their store and the people that work there.  HPB prides itself on diversity and openness, so I thought I would go ahead and apply as Jenn.  Of course, the name on the app was my male name, since I haven’t undergone any changes in name or gender at this point.  It’s a little hard to get paid if you use an alias.  🙂

So I got up and had the ensemble of the day already chosen.  A nice, slim fitting, deep red top, grey knee length skirt and heels.

The drive down was quite uneventful, which is the way I like it.  Smooth flowing traffic.  No hang-ups.

I arrived and decided to look around first, in case there was something I wanted to buy.  I found a ton of stuff, but then decided this was not a spending trip, but rather an attempt to GAIN money.

Just prior to leaving, I went up to the desk and turned in my application.  The gentleman was very kind and told me a bit about the position.  I thanked him, told him it sounded perfect.  Off I went for the second part of my morning.

I had been in contact with some girls in Indy that like to go out upon now and then.  They are a group of TVs, but that’s cool.  People are people and friends are friends.  Though  I have yet to be able to actually connect with them, we have exchanged a couple pictures, just so we know who it is we are hanging out with, or looking for in a crowd.  They all seem to think that I look like a girl and must be living full time, which is a nice boost. One of these girls knew I was going to be in town and wanted to have lunch.  I had time for a quick soda.

I went over to Johnny Rockets and was met by a VERY gorgeous guy.  Trinna is a TV, so does not dress all the time.  We had an absolutely lovely time, talking about so many things over sodas.  Nobody else in the restaurant seemed to care at all (or notice) that we were anything other than a couple out for a nice meet up.  Our waitress was super cool, which they usually are there, and treated us well, even though she was not making any real money off this sale.  We talked for about 45 minutes and then I had to excuse myself, as I really needed to return to Muncie.

He gave me a huge hug and we went our separate ways.  Upon returning home, I discovered he had sent me a text and told me that I was a very cute woman.  I told him he was just as dashing and within a couple texts, realized he was quite interested in dating me.  Mainly because he said so.  🙂  He knew I was married and wondered how open our marriage was.  I told him that he could always hit on me, but it would go no further than that.  I am faithful.

He conceded defeat but wants to get together again for a real lunch date.  We’ll see.

Upon returning home, the rest of the day was pretty much the same as always.  No big deal.

THEN, I got a phone call.  I got called in for an interview from HPB!!!!  From the voice on the phone, I think it was the same gentleman I spoke with when turning it in.  I haven’t decided, yet, how to go to the interview.  My thought is to go as my male self, in case it was not the same gentleman and to show my two sides.  If it is the same person, I can talk about the dress code then and see what is acceptable and what is not (even if it isn’t, I can still ask).  If I can work as Jenn, you better believe it’s what I’m going to do.  🙂

It was a great day and one that I truly needed.  I’ve been on the mend since my last entry.  I knew I would get out of the depression, but this was quite a climb.  It was scary.  It was a dark time for the Rebellion.  I started a post about the music I was listening to.  I will finish that entry soon and discuss the healing power of music.

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Everybody Hurts

Everybody Hurts is a song written and sung brilliantly by REM.  It really does have to do with this blog.

Normally, I wouldn’t write a blog about how deeply I am feeling at the moment, and I’m not 100% positive I will publish this, but if you are reading it, I obviously have.

Depression is something that hits hard and deep.  It causes the body and mind to hurt to the very core.  It usually does not really affect me too badly,  I can usually shake it over the course of a day or two, but this latest bout has been hitting me day after day for past couple weeks.  It is wearing me out.

My normal bouts with feeling “glum” are periodic moments through a day of feeling really positive and up.  Right now I have fleeting moments of up that leave me at a point near tears when they pass.

The difference between this current state of depression and other times, Is that I know the cause.  I know what is beating me up and there is nothing I can do about it.  It is out of my control.

I have been unemployed for just over 2 years and the unemployment comes to an end in 4 weeks.  That’s it.  No extensions.  No additional funding.  Nothing.  The money will be gone.  I should be thankful it has lasted this long.  If it weren’t for some freelance gigs I picked up along the way, this would have run out about 9 months ago.

The toughest part is that I’m not just looking at jobs in my field (videography and editing) but that I can’t even seem to get hired by Wal-Mart.  Two years of rejections, paired with money running out, leave a rather hopeless view of the weeks ahead.

It seems like everyone around me is going through similar valleys.  Two very good friends are at a low right now.  One is seeing someone and the other had to stop due to money issues (and he has a full time job).  They say the meds help, but, for me, I know the cause of the depression.  Pills, like Frank-N-Furter,  would remove the symptom but not the cause (though he removed the cause….but not the symptom). Unemployment and transitioning (or not transitioning, really).

I found this great article, a few years old, but very true to form.

As I work through all of this, I make one point very clear.  No matter how depressed I am, or hopeless I feel, suicide is never an option.  I just like myself, and those around me, too damn much, so don’t worry there.

Life will turn around.  Things will fall back into place.  I just wish it would be sooner rather than later.  If I can land any sort of job in the next two weeks, there will no no lapse in income.  If not, I’m not sure what will happen, but we will muddle on.  We always have.

 

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Friends

“A bond of trust 
Has been abused 
Something of value 
May be lost 
Give up your job 
Squander your cash – be rash 
Just hold on to your friends “   – HOLD ON TO YOUR FRIENDS by MORRISSEY

Friendship is one of the most important things to me.  For me, friends always take the front seat, that way I always have their back.  I will stick up for a friend through thick and thin.  I will always be available for them (though if I am asleep, it is a little rougher to reach me).

I have gone through a few jobs, and through each of those a friend has emerged as the bright part of that time spent.  My first “real” job was at a grocery store in high school. Here I met my first good friend, Tom.  We were Carry Outs (remember those?).  We would work together and were always bummed if we didn’t share the same shift. If we came in an hour apart, whichever one of us got off first would wait around for that hour for the other to break free. We always watched out for each other.  With several trips to Indianapolis, we didn’t always seem to have cash at the same time, so we took turns buying whatever.  Sometimes an album.  Sometimes a movie.  Sometimes, just lunch.  We had several things in common from music to movies.  This friendship also led to a whole other group of friends that made Super8 movies.  Though this particular friend would never accept the Jenn side of me, he is still a tried and true friend.  Actually, he might accept Jenn, but I won’t know until transition is closer to actually happening.  Despite his faults, he is a good friend.

Hold on to your friends….

I have another good friend that came from one of the worst work experiences I have ever encountered.  I have written about him before.  The Best Guy friend I have.  Jeff is one in whom I have not confided, but will, quite soon.  He is the one guy friend that I am scared to death of losing.  We were there for each other, both hating the little company for which we worked.  Work trips were the norm, so we would take that time to bitch and moan about the company and make each other crack up laughing.  He’s the kind of friend who would do anything for you, and you would do anything for him.  A gentle giant (he’s 6’5″). We have so many interests in common that it’s kind of scary.  Actually, we have a lot of things in common, in life and in goals.  I’m sure he will still be around when I come out to him.  He’s that kind of guy.

Hold on to your friends…..

Rounding up my three guy friends is one that I managed at a pretty decent job.  Justin was my 2nd hire and we became friends almost immediately.  Another Smiths fan, we clicked right away.  He is a musician (far better than he thinks he is) who could actually “make it” on an indie label.  A soft-spoken guy that immediately garners the attention of anyone around him, without even trying.  You are drawn to him like a moth to a flame.  When he found out about Jenn (through a coworker who was not as cool as I thought she was) he embraced and accepted me with no questions.  We had another (distant) coworker in another office who transitioned (before he knew about me).  He just couldn’t wrap his head around changing sexes and questioned the mental capacity of said coworker.  But he didn’t judge or stay on that path, he researched and learned more about Gender Identity. I think this also helped in his acceptance of me.  At any rate, you know a friend is good when they try to learn about new things and try to understand where you are headed.

“There are more than enough 
To fight and oppose 
Why waste good time 
Fighting the people you like 
Who will fall defending your name 
Oh, don’t feel so ashamed 
To have friends “

I have friends that will stick up for me through thick and thin, just as I will for them.  The female friends I have seem to be among the strongest people I have ever met, yet still fragile and beautiful.

Sarah (establisher of this fine blog and one whom you have heard much about) is 2600 miles away, but seems like she is next door.  We talk, text, email, post, etc…  Another friend met through a job.  Kind of like any serious relationship, a friend like this just happens. You aren’t looking for that kind of a bond, but before you know it, it’s there. Of course, Star Wars was a first connection, but from there we learned so much more about each other.  One of the best friendships ever forged, it almost became like a romance, only not really.  It’s an intimacy that is nurtured as you each begin to allow layers fall to the floor and expose what is hiding beneath.  Through her, I met Heather, another great friend, who also worked at the university and is also now in California.

Rachel, whom I’ve mentioned before, was the first stranger I really opened up to.  Once that veil had been raised, we became instant friends.  She was so awesome to me in the beginning, when I was taking my first steps into a larger world.  She held my hand and led me through the discomfort of being terminally shy.  Still a wallflower, though not as bad, she was so instrumental in cracking open that shell that hid me from the world.

Cheryl is a great reconnection.  Again, she has been mentioned before but is such an important person in my life.  Through our reconnecting, we have discovered so much more about each other than I ever thought possible.  The first time we went out, after getting reacquainted, we sat and talked until 3am, neither of us realizing it was that late. The only reason we knew was the phone call from my wife, concerned I wasn’t home yet since I am rarely out past midnight or 1, when I do go out.  She is an artist extraordinaire  and a very important friend.

My oldest friend (not in age) is Kelly.  We worked at the library together, though in different buildings.  She was there to see me begin embracing the light of change.  She was the first friend I successfully came out to.  An incredible friend that would do anything for you and you would do anything for.  She watched as I went from denial to acceptance.  We went form differences and mis-spoken words to friends and allies.  I was honored to be asked to choose and read a poem at a ceremony for her and her partner. She, too, is in California (I really need to be there).  Though it has been over 15 years since we have seen one another, we keep in touch.  Facebook is an amazing network that has allowed a connection to stay in place.  One of my greatest memories is going to see Melissa Etheridge with Kelly and Christy. A great show, but even greater company.

The friends I have made in my adult life mean more to me than they can possibly imagine. When I am in my darkest place, their light guides me back to the surface.  Sometimes they call, just knowing I need them.  Other times just the thought of their company pulls me out of the murky waters of depression, with a new smile on my face.  HOLD ON TO YOUR FRIENDS.

“Hold on to your friends 
Hold on to your friends 
Resist – or move on 
Be mad, be rash 
Smoke and explode 
Sell all of your clothes 
Just bear in mind : 
Oh, there just might come a time 
When you need some friends”

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