“I’m me.”

Hello my loves!

Last year, I was invited to do an interview for DiversifYA by the lovely Marieke Nijkamp to discuss life with OCD. The first question of that interview was “How do you identify yourself?”

At the time, I approached the question solely from the perspective of discussing my disorder, but I found it difficult to answer. I’d asked the interview to be put on hold for awhile, but when it came time to post it a few months back, that question popped out to me again. “How do you identify yourself?”

I’m a very open person. I’ll gladly discuss anything with anyone for whatever reason. I’m an open book. I like that about myself. Living an openly honest life is very important to me.

And in private, when someone asks me how I identify, I have no apprehension about specifying who I am. In all my years, not a single person has been even slightly shocked by my explanations. If you know me at all, even just online, I doubt you’ll be clutching pearls by the end of this post.

I’ve said to multiple people over the years that I’ve deliberately never made a post about my sexuality or gender identity because I hadn’t had a reason to. That doing so would feel like I was announcing for the sake of announcing. Not to say that is a bad thing to do in any way. Cheers to absolutely anyone who has the stones to shout from the rooftops who they are.

But I couldn’t find a justification for myself. I mean, I’m a married, stay-at-home mother of two. What does my identity matter to anyone, really?

Aside from that motivation, I’ve had a tremendous amount of trouble in my 34 years trying to find the words to explain who I am, even to myself. I grew up in a ridiculously tiny, hyper-conservative town in which there was straight, which was acceptable, gay, which was shameful, or bisexual, which was a myth. There was no discussion ever about gender fluidity. That wasn’t even a concept. Occasionally the term “hermaphrodite” would be thrown around as a hideous insult, but that’s as close as anyone ever got to talking about life outside the iron-clad formalities of girls and boys.

I’ve been asked many, many times in my life if I’m a lesbian. My high school experience was riddled with jokes about my obvious Les status, and I definitely found myself on the business end of some violent behavior based on the assumption more than a few times. Dykes weren’t welcome in our town.

There was a boy I’d gone to school with since grade school who was so convinced of my gayness he openly bragged about his intention to rape me one day. Classmates would casually say, “Did you know he’s going to rape you?” like they were asking if I’d heard it was pizza day in the cafeteria. I was supposed to be flattered that he’d be willing to stoop so low, but also thankful that a man would show me how awesome sex with a man would be. Apparently.

That dude is a convicted sex offender now. I ran into him at a gas station about twelve years ago, and as my stomach clenched and I held my car keys in my hand as a potential weapon, he laughingly reminisced about the plans he’d made, as if we’d been recalling a time when he’d considered asking me to prom but he just never got around to it.

The most shocking part of that conversation in his eyes was that I was engaged to a man.

My mother-in-law has more than once made comments about how, despite my never declaring as such, she knows I want to look like a man, and then she guides me towards silk blouses and gifts me frilly things. She once straight-up pulled a fedora out of my hands at a store for this reason.

And, okay, say what you want about fedoras, I looked awesome in that bastard.

I often get comments about the shortness of my hair, or the cut of my t-shirts, or whatever it is I’m wearing that strikes someone as “manly.”

Even my own parents have questioned “what” I am. A few years ago, when pregnant with my second child, we were discussing something about sexuality when my parents admitted they’d worried for years that I was…one of them.

My parents are wonderful, but they were definitely raised in the same small town bubble I was. They are open-minded, but it took some work to get them there. I appreciate their efforts.

I’ve always known exactly who and what I am, but I haven’t always had the words to explain it. In my teen years, I struggled with that. I settled on, “Well, I’m me.” and I was okay with that.

Once I married and had children, I thought the details stopped mattering. What would anyone care about my identification? Why should I care? I’m securely invested in a heterosexual marriage and have spawned two glorious tots in a traditional way. Did I really need to broadcast a label?

I never went through phases in my youth in which I was terribly bothered to try and fit in. The status quo was never really my scene.

But once I had children, I felt the burden of conformity. What would happen to my children if people saw their mother as something other than what was designed? Would they be punished for having a mom who didn’t mold?

I gave it a go. I really did. I tried out some sweater sets. I let my mom buy me pastel cardigans for Christmas. My MIL continued to gift things that were too conservative for even her clothing tastes.

For a hot minute, I even had a blond bob, y’all. Full on soccer mom style.

And oooooooh, how I hated it. I’ve never felt more uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt like I was being strangled by poly-cotton blends and nude nail polishes.

When my son was a year old, I gave it up. On a whim, actually. I was sitting in a chair at the salon, getting a trim on the blond bob, and I’d had enough of looking in a mirror and seeing someone who didn’t look at all like me.

And I finally embraced looking on the outside the way I feel on the inside.

Off came the bob, and my spiky pixie was born, and I demanded any sort of Crayola color they could whip up. Still being in a conservative zone, all we could swing was blood red, which actually made me look like a demonic Puck from Mid-Summer Nights Dream, but it was a start.

In my head, I would still think, “I’m me.” and went with it. There weren’t words to describe how I felt as a person, or how I looked at sexuality. “I’m me,” got me by.

I’m not one of those people who thinks I’ve got it all figured out, or thinks I can’t learn from other people. If I ever stop learning, it means I’ve stopped paying attention, and that would be sad. The end would be nigh, I assume.

So imagine my shock and awe to have heard a 22-year-old pop star calmly expressing her sexual and gender identity in an interview and for the first time in my life, have put into words what I’d never been able to outside the scope of, “I’m me.”

“I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”

That’s right. I got schooled on my own identity by Miley Cyrus.

I yanked my husband aside as soon as he got home from work and giddily pointed to the article squealing, “That’s me! That’s what I’ve been trying to say for 34 years!”

And then! She did it one more time:

“I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”

Once again, bouncing in place, I trilled to my husband, “That’s what I’ve been saying forever! THAT IS ME.”

This wasn’t a surprise to him, obviously. I’ve never hidden who I am or who I feel from anyone, especially my life partner.

Having it put into such concise wording was MAGICAL. And I can’t sell that enough. I floated for weeks with those sentences dancing through my brain. I had words to describe me. Actual words that made sense and felt right and yay me.

I’m not gonna lie; I was momentarily stunned that I’d been learned on my own identification by someone I could damn near be biologically capable of being her mother, but hey. Life happens how it happens.

But it got me thinking…if I had a moment of gleeful zen appear from an interview with Miley Cyrus, who else out there might be needing to hear a variation of those words? I hadn’t realized how damned important that clarification was until it was prancing about in my person, throwing glitter in the air and twirling with unicorns and shit.

A lot of people won’t give Miley credit for that kind of power because they judge who she is or how she acts, which, you know, people will see and gather what they will.

But after I gained so much from a single paragraph, I was genuinely shocked to find myself feeling guilty. I felt selfish. Like, what if I was holding onto a paragraph that would illicit brain glitter and twirling unicorns onto someone else?

I’m likely giving myself waaaaaay too damn much credit here, but the thought seriously has been haunting me. What if someone was sitting around for 34 years waiting to feel like they finally had the words to describe themselves and maybe I could help but I was being all uncharacteristically tight-lipped?

“How do you identify yourself?”

Hi. My name is Summer. I am physically a woman, but I’ve always considered myself to be an amalgamation of genders. I present myself and my dress according to the way I feel, both masculine and feminine. I prefer to be called female pronouns.

I am attracted to people. No gender specifics. Just people. I’ve had romantic feelings and experiences and relationships with persons across gender lines. I’m 100% faithful to my husband because fidelity is my jam, but I am attracted to a wide spectrum of identifications.

My husband also identifies as such, sexually speaking. I think that’s why we work as well as we do in a lot of ways. We understand and respect the logistics of having emotional and sexual pasts and feelings that span party-lines.

I like the term queer. I’m not particularly straight. I’m not a lesbian. I don’t consider myself bisexual. I don’t feel necessarily cisgender. I strayed away from the word queer for ages because where I grew up, it was an unholy insult, a slur, and even though it felt comfortable for me, I wasn’t sure I was allowed to claim it.

When I fight for equality, everyone assumes I’m fighting for my friends, or just doing the right damn thing, and I absolutely am. But I’ve quietly fighting for myself as well. I have no plans of finding myself unmarried some day, but life is kooky, and you never know what’s down the road. So while I am fighting for everyone around me, I am also fighting for myself, knowing damn well those laws may well apply to relationships I could have in the future. I never felt comfortable saying as such because it felt like I was stealing thunder from people who don’t have the options I had, if that makes sense.

None of this has ever been a secret from anyone, but now I feel more confident than I ever have in being able to explain myself in the way that feels most accurate to me.

I am exactly as I’ve always been, feel as I’ve always felt, and behave as I’ve always behaved.

To prove that, here’s a CumberGIF.

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This post is comforting to me in that I’m enjoying writing out the specifics of what makes me, me. It’s reaffirming. Gives me the warm and fuzzy feels.

If this post serves to comfort any of you reading? Oh, oh how the warm and fuzzy feels will abound.

And if you needed to read a paragraph that helps you put into words what took me 34 years to get right? Then I please know I’m clicking “Publish” for you. And I genuinely, truly mean that. If I could thank Miley Cyrus for giving me her paragraph, I’d send her a fruit basket and a snergle.

I hope you all are having the most wondrous of weeks.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and I’m Still Me.

 

10 Comments

  1. *SNUGGLEHUMPS* Love you, Summer!

  2. *Fires off a confetti cannon*
    Nicely put Summer!

  3. “And, okay, say what you want about fedoras, I looked awesome in that bastard.”

    The best!! Love this post. Do your thing, Summer. 🙂

  4. I like this, I really do! When I first picked a pen name, I thought I’d try out a male-sounding name (without actually trying to hide the fact that I’m female) and was surprised at how uncomfortable I became. So much so that I changed it back to female, even though I never have cared to show off much with traditional female stuff. (Right there with you on the fedora!) The best explanation I could give was that I hate labels and I’ll go out of my way to quietly erase any label baggage society tries to bestow upon me. That post is here, if you’re interested: http://christifrey.ca/2015-changes-around/

  5. What do you identify yourself?

    I identify with being adorable. Duh.

  6. RHONDA CARPENTER |

    you are perfect, that is what you are!!!

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