Tag Archive | Gay Pride

Whirlwind Days

Panhandle Pride Picnic at Memorial Park ~ © 2018 Veronica Fite.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me. Two weekends ago, I attended my neice’s quinceñera on Saturday. That was a lot of fun. I took my friend Jessica as my date. She didn’t know what a quineñera entailed, so I thought taking her would be a lot easier than explaining it to her.

The following day was Pride. Panhandle Pride hosted a picnic at Memorial Park in Amarillo. Last year was the first time I had attended. It was also the day I kind of outed myself to everyone at work. This year wasn’t as dramatic for me, but it was fun.

Again, I took Jessica. She was eager to go. We wandered around the park, taking a look at what was available. A law firm was handing out free beer, with proof of age. We had to show our ID, get our hand stamped, and then we were allowed a beer. It’s a little weird to be walking around in public with a cup of beer. Amarillo PD was roaming the park, which made it weirder.

The afternoon was pretty chill. We looked at booths of merchandise. I saw the ex-president of my alma mater, West Texas A&M University – Go Buffs!, – Dr. Russell Long and his wife. They had a booth promoting their books. I was interested in his, Jessica in hers. I plan to look them up on Amazon and get us those books!

I ran into my friend Veronica while there. Home Depot also had a booth, hosted by my former store manager from store #6831, Amanda. Talked with her a bit. Jessica ran into a lot of old friends. It was a fun day, until the combination of alcohol and heat got to me. I was probably close to suffering heat exhaustion. We ended up leaving and going to my apartment for a bit just to cool off.

Last weekend, I began my vacation. I picked up my best friend Amy and headed to Corpus Christi. My mom’s side of the family had a family reunion. All my siblings were there, except my sister. She had to work. It was a draining weekend, one with driving in from Amarillo to DFW on Thursday, DFW to Corpus on Friday, reunion on Saturday, and back to DFW on Sunday. I slept almost all day Monday!

On our way to Corpus, we toured the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX. I had always wanted to go, or at least have wanted to go for over twenty years. It was a neat experience. I can’t believe how popular the tour is! Afterward, we drove to Aransas Pass, got on a ferry – the first time I’ve ever been on a boat! – and went to Port Aransas. We visited the beach, but didn’t go swimming. We then made it to Corpus.

We got to do a little bit of swimming on Sunday, on our way back to DFW. Again, we went on the ferry, except this time I drove my car onto the boat, found a place to park, and got into the water. I haven’t gotten into the ocean since…, well I don’t know when. It might be close to thirty years since the last time I swan in the ocean. I had a blast and actually laughed joyfully, without reservation.

After our swim, I drove back to DFW. The brief swim at the beach wore me out. Made the drive back extremely difficult. I had to stop a few more times than I would have liked just to keep from falling asleep.

After coming back, well it was a pretty tame week. I finally met someone I’ve been talking to for the past couple of years on Twitter. She has a trans daughter and I believe we found each other because of this blog. I only wish I could have met her daughter, but she was out of town. I hope I can meet here the next time I’m in town.

I brought my friend Amy, who was not too keen on meeting my friend. But I was apprehensive about going alone, mainly due to my social awkwardness. She’s a lot better at dealing with people. We met at a place on the square in McKinney called Square Burger.

Lisa was there, along with her husband, Ray. It was not some run down burger joint, which I would have been okay with, but a hip bar that specialized in burgers. Not much else, but the burgers were out of this world, and the beer was cold and refreshing. So glad they suggested it!

Our conversation was primarily about me and my journey, which seems a little egotistical. In reality, I think they were curious as to what I went through in order to help their daughter. She’s a lot younger than me, but already out and living life. There’s still some anxiety about it, which I can relate. I tried to explain how I got to where I am in order to help them see how she she might improve.

Lastly, I said goodbye to my stepdaughter. My ex-wife, her husband, and their children, moved to Arizona on Saturday. I don’t know when I’ll get to see her again. It was a surreal moment for me, to say goodbye to her. I know I only see her a couple of times a year, but DFW is only a 6 hour drive, one that I do regularly. I don’t know about going to Arizona.

It’s been a hectic few weeks. I got to spend a lot of Stefani time, enjoying the freedom of being me. I spent my last day at my friend’s sketching on the couch. I created a new blog for my artwork, Artistica Girl. I hope you check it out, and follow me. I would appreciate it.

At the moment, I’m helping Amy with a few things. I have to finish packing, put everything in my car, and begin the trek home. As much as I don’t want to, I also can’t wait to get back. I miss my friends. I’ll get back to work tomorrow night and who knows when I’ll get another vacation. When I do, maybe it won’t be as hectic as these past couple of weeks have been.

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Last Sunday Afternoon

20170625_143320I had to summon all my courage, but I actually did it. I went to the Panhandle Pride Festival this past Sunday afternoon. Pride is a celebration of all things LGBTQ, but it is itself a commemoration of the Stonewall riots that happened on June 28, 1969, a watershed moment in the gay rights movement.

What I witnessed at my first Pride Festival was not a demonstration, but an all out celebration, an opportunity to come together as a community, to recognize and find some measure of acceptance from the community at large. It goes without saying that there is still a ways to go.

Others can and have expressed in more elegant words what Pride means. This is not what I’m writing about. This is a personal journey for me. I have been working towards accepting who I am as a member to the LGBTQ community. Am I trans? Am I genderfluid? Am I bi? What does any of this mean? Does it change who I am, or am I simply coming to terms with my personal reality?

I have hidden myself  behind a mask, a mask that I believed expressed what others wanted from me. I became what I thought others wanted me to be, but it came at a price. I was miserable. I was depressed. I didn’t know who I was, how to be happy. In short, I denied myself to make others happy. It was a supreme act of cowardice.

In the past few years, as you well know, if who’ve been keeping up with my writing, I’ve been coming to terms with my identity. Growing up, I didn’t have the resources that are available now. I was a freak, someone to be shunned. I shunned myself. Now, I’m happier, more at ease in my own skin. I make consessions in my everyday life, but even that wall has been slowly falling away, leaving my true self out in the open.

Which brings me back to Pride. I became aware of the festival last year after the fact. The Home Depot, where I’m currently employed, set up a booth as a community outreach program. My store manager is a lesbian and made it her mission to become involved in the festival.

I remember thinking that I wished I had known about it. Further, I wished I would have had the courage to go. Since last year, it’s been on my mind that I wanted to go. I didn’t know if I would have the strength to go as I am, as Stefani, but I wanted to go. I had to.

Pride came around this year, and I decided I would go. I still had doubts that I would actually go through with it, but I wanted to go. Home Depot again would have  booth, and if I showed up as Stef, I knew my secret would be out. I resolved to go regardless, but I would do my best to avoid the booth to keep my poorly kept secret from falling away.

The moment I showed up, however, dressed in my usual jeans and blouse, I went immediately towards the booth. I barely hesitated. The time had come to let the wall fall away, in this sphere at least. I was welcomed with open arms. I had no reason to fear.

My store manager had already knows, as did another of my coworkers, but for the rest, they did not know. I have to give them all the credit in the world. They didn’t bat an eye. I was their friend, and I was treated with the same amount of respect as they always afforded me. I was in heaven.

I was still crazy nervous, but at least that hurdle had been cleared. I soon relaxed, thanks to the few beers I had. Soon I was just another person enjoying the park, a valued friend and coworker.

I had intended to spend an hour at most. I stayed for five. I took my picture, posted it on my work Twitter account for all to see. Even my store manager took a group picture and posted it as well, with me visible. My secret was gone, at least as far as my job was concerned. I outed myself and it felt good.

There are still hurdles to clear, of course. My family still has no idea. It’s been growing on my mind that the time is coming that I will have to own up to my reality. I fear I will be disowned, but the stress of having two distinct lives is wearing at me. I want to be me.

 

The Straight Up Gay Podcast

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Copyright 2017, Straight Up Podcast. Used with permission

I know I run a self-serving little blog. This is my home, a place where I can find some freedom to be myself, unencumbered by societal expectations. I’ve received nothing but kind words from you, my readers, and I have found you all to be a source of understanding and strength.

But to turn the table around, I want to share something I found the other day. I say found, but it was a follower of mine who posted the link to a podcast, run by a man who calls himself Major. Major is the father of a son who came out to him as gay. The Straight Up Gay Podcast is his way  of “working to advance the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in modern society.”

My follower on Twitter, who I have had the pleasure corresponding with for the past several months, is a mother of a young woman, who has begun her journey to transition from male to female. She shared the link to the podcast to talk about her experience as a mother of a transgender child, and knowing who she was, though we’ve never met, I was entranced by what I heard.

More than her conversation, however, was the fact that Major had created a forum where such a discussion could take place. It’s not an obnoxious or toxic arena. It’s a safe place where he can be an advocate of a son he loves, and a platform where he can educate people about the struggles of being a parent of a gay son.

I’ve only listened to Episode 5 with AnnaLis, but a lot of what they discussed I could relate to. The struggles AnnaLis discussed were things I’ve struggled with, but instead of confronting them outright, I chose to do the opposite and hide from them. It was eye opening for me, as a 40 year old, to listen to her talk about a teen going through much of the same things I went through.

But back in the 90’s, there were no forums to go to, no advocates such as there are now. I was a lone wolf, feeling very much alone in my brokeness, struggling to fit in within a world I knew I could never truly belong to. I learned to fake it, and I tried for over ten years to deny to myself my true identity. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with my truth.

I believe Major has the promise of becoming an ally for not only members of the LGBTQ community, but the family of those whose children, parents, friends, come out as such. There’s a lot of misunderstandings inherent within our community, some of those I’m still working through, but he’s using his place behind the mic to dispel those same misunderstandings. He has become an educator as much as an advocate.

I hope you all give him a chance and listen to what he has to say. Check him out, subscribe to him, and donate if you think him worthwhile. I know I’ll continue to listen, hoping to learn more about myself and my fellow brothers and sisters. You can find him at the links above, or on Facebook and Twitter.