Famous Model Comes Out As Intersex

To be truthful I’ve never heard of Hanne Gaby Odiele, but then I live under a rock where the light of day as it concerns models cannot penetrate. I was very pleased to read this though and I know this will be the start of something great in societies throughout the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/24/model-hanne-gaby-odiele-reveals-she-is-intersex

This is proof that no matter how many ceilings we shatter there are others in the houses down the street that need demolishing as well. Being accepted as gay wasn’t the last social battle to be won, being accepted as transgendered isn’t the last frontier, and being accepted as intersex won’t be the final struggle either. We will never stop evolving as a people and as a society, nor should we.

The Little Pink Bottle That Could

DSC_3842cThis may look like an ordinary water bottle (I don’t know anything about the bike shop so don’t ask) and you would be correct. However, at one time it’s symbolism extended far beyond its function.

I acquired this sports bottle semi- unintentionally. I had entered a mountain bike race at Kickapoo State Park in Illinois which was put on by a wonderful local group called the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club. As is part and parcel of mountain bike races (at least in Illinois) the organizers were handing out grab bags for racers part of which was a clear or pink bottle. As you can well imagine, being a guy, I was handed a clear bottle. I took it and began to walk away from the registration table.

Then I stopped and began to think better of my decision. You see, ever since I watched the Giro d’Italia, which is a nearly month long bike race around Italy, I fell in love with pink as a color for cycling. In the Giro the leader’s jersey is called the Maglia Rosa and as the name might suggest to you the color is a brilliant rose pink. The pinkish hue is everywhere; on the cars, billboards, podium, bikes built especially for the occasion and on the confetti that falls precipitously at the finish. Yes, by the end of that twenty-some-odd day race I could never see pink again without seeing it for it’s flashy, race worthy badassery that is on display during that event.

The truth of the matter was I became hooked on the pink bottle as soon as I saw them, but until this very moment I had accepted the clear bottle as a matter of social conditioning even though I didn’t want one. I was about to remedy this. I turned around and asked, “Actually, could I get a pink one instead?”

That’s about all I remember. I don’t really remember the event itself. I think there was a little blood, a shitload of sweat from that good ol Midwest humidity and a mid pack finish for me.

At this point in my life, I had firmly accepted that I was pansexual but it seemed a rather academic point rather than a pragmatic one. I was married so exploring this newly realized identity was not exactly a viable option. I was comfortable with this. Plus, I didn’t solely like guys so being married to a woman didn’t undermine my identity.

If I can offer an aside, It’s important to note that I was also living in a conservative part of the country where being different isn’t exactly accepted. People aren’t wrong when they say the Midwesterners are nice. You can have a conversation with almost anyone on a whim. Just make sure to keep things on a superficial level or you may not like the topic once it shifts from the weather.

I always tell people that the Midwest (at least the rural portion) consists of a thin veneer of nicety concealing a seething cauldron of hatred beneath. At least every other day I had to back someone down from making some kind of horrible statement. Whether it was demonstrating xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, transphobia or what have you. It was tiring to say the least.

In fact, right around this time I remember a coworker/neighbor of mine taking a line of joking, that she started, the wrong way. Through the drags of her cigarette and with a good amount of hatred and disgust she called me a faggot as I parted her company. All of this before anyone aside from my wife at the time even knew that my sexual interest deviated from women.

I should say at this point that there are also some quality people in the Midwest and they deserve their credit. It must be admitted though that the small town mind pervades this geographical area more so than other parts of the country, save for the south perhaps.

I’ve lived in my new home state for almost two years now and I’ve been 100 percent out the entire time and have never had to back anyone down from anything racist, homophobic or the like. It feels like an emotional vacation, but I digress.

So now I had this pink water bottle which I loved, but did I dare use it in rural America? At first I began using it just as a way to haul extra water in my cooler on ride days. So when riding laps at my local trail I could stop by and refill my Camelback. I had to take a few friendly jabs about it but it was easy to say it was my Giro pink bottle even though the color didn’t match the Maglia Rosa. Then I started taking it to work daily as my go to bottle for the day. When anyone said something about it I quickly stated my fondness for it, “Are you kidding? I love pink, that’s my favorite bottle!” All of it was true.

What went unspoken was that in a weird way this became a means for me to push a boundary, admittedly a small one, on gender norms. This was literally the only pink thing I owned because as a man I wasn’t supposed to. If this sounds like bullshit, it is, but I swear to you this dynamic exists and is alive and well. Carrying this bottle was a way for me to signify that I was different.

Yes, I loved the color and I would have used it regardless of my sexual orientation. Even though the color pink has nothing definitive to do with being queer, it became a secret symbol of my queerness. It was a way for me to take that part of me out into public even if no one else knew what was going on. This gender-bending symbolism slowly gave me confidence.

Before I left the Midwest I came out to a few people close to me. It was the next step in my evolution and as weird as it may sound that pink bottle played a role.

Recently, I noticed this bottle was missing from my collection. I had long chalked it up as lost and had forgotten about it until my ex-wife walked into my place with it the other night. I had left it in her car and so it had remained for months.

As I washed it and placed it in the dish rack I realized that I still loved the color. A pink bike or team kit? Yes please. However, the bottle itself had lost it’s hold on me. I still like it but it’s no longer my favorite. It’s a bottle now, nothing more than a utilitarian object with a symbolic past.

I’m out! I’m queer, bisexual, and/or pansexual. I’m a faggot, whatever you want to call it I don’t really care. I paint my fingernails and toenails, I cross dress for myself and for my partners. You see, I don’t have to deal in hidden symbolism anymore. I am my own living symbol and that feels better than carrying around that pink bottle ever did.

 

Coming Out as a Celebrity and Why I Care . . . Now

This is an old piece I wrote for another blog that is defunct, but the message is still wonderfully relevant today (Caitlyn Jenner comes to mind).

“I finally watched the video of Ellen Page coming out as gay. Yes, I know it’s been at least 3 or 4 weeks since it happened but I’ve been reticent as of late to learn about those who are famous. However, watching it helped me to remember something important about celebrities; they are not so dissimilar from other people. Celebrities too have real experiences and the core of what it means to be human is something that none of us can avoid.

The reason this is such a lesson for me is that I have recently taken a dim view of celebrity culture as it pertains to entertainment. I don’t think celebrities are horrible people; it’s just that I think they are people like the rest of us. They have my general respect, but my admiration is earned by actions other than showing up on a television screen.

I see my coworkers devour every piece of celebrity news. These fans know the people, the movies they’ve been in, where they shop, who their kids are, and what they wear. It becomes more than a game, going beyond the fun of “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” This stuff is seemingly their life, and certainly their obsession. Sports fans count in this as well. “Did you see who we traded in the draft?”

The public’s fascination with celebrities has real harm because it is often employed as an escape from reality. Many use immersion and vicarious living as a way to anesthetize themselves to many of the things happening around them. After all, most people don’t want to read about civil unrest, the abuse of corporate and political position, or the myriad of ways in which humans are supposedly ending their existence every day. It can be depressing at times to say the least. It is much easier to retreat from the things that really affect one’s life in order to enjoy some sense of calm and even power that can come from being on the inside track of celebrity life. The reality, cruel as it is though, is that ignoring the ills of the world doesn’t make them go away. The larger that socio-economic issues loom, the more the public’s escapism with celebrities increases—much like an ever escalating arms race.

So, when I read about Ellen Page coming out, I thought, “Who cares, so what if she’s gay? Join the club.” I was busy reading the coming out accounts of people that didn’t have the insular effects that money can bring and who aren’t part of the Hollywood culture that allows for and even revels in this type of admission. I was convinced that these everyday accounts were the stories of legitimate consequence, unlike those from media darlings.

Then I watched the video. I’m not sure how it happened. I didn’t even know who Ellen Page was aside from an actress. Nevertheless, perhaps in a moment of weakness or boredom I clicked on a link to open the video.

It was readily apparent from the beginning that I was watching something of importance. Culture and wealth might change certain aspects of how we feel society’s pressures, but here was a woman bravely laying open an aspect of her identity and hoping for something positive and transformative as a result. As I watched her nervously shake I became anxious for her. It was a humbling and informative experience for me and, as identity issues often do, it brought me to tears. Throughout her address the core message of hope, love and perseverance was ever present. This message rang out and not once did she allow it to be overshadowed by her personal declaration. It was beautiful; every part of it. The experience made me realize that when someone decides to forge their identity through self-revelation that it is important to listen regardless of their social position.

Even after this revelation, I will admit that I still don’t care for celebrity worship, but this reminded me that much of what I see isn’t something that those in the spotlight can always control. A large portion of what they say and do is recorded by photographers and writers who then rush the latest tidbits out to news stations and publications. When I think of the gaffs I have made throughout my life it becomes very apparent that I’m fortunate to be free of such scrutiny.

The truth is, I was right all along: celebrities are just people. However, instead of using this fact to marginalize them as I had done before, I realize that it should be used to recognize the struggles they endure and that they too can contribute something valuable to our lives. The next time I see a celebrity in a vulnerable position or trying to communicate in a meaningful and positive way, it won’t take a moment of weakness to discover their message. I will seek it out willingly and with purpose, hoping to expand upon what I know of the human experience. When this happens, like many of the adventures that play on the big screen, it truly will be something to watch.”

Poly and Pansexual: The benefits of being out

I have to admit that I don’t have the slightest idea of who Gaby Dunn is, but then I live in a box informed only by my specific news interests and fueled by copious amounts of punk rock so this is not surprising to me. However, I don’t have to know her other works to appreciate the wisdom in this one.

What she speaks to here is one of the things I have started doing. I’m out to pretty much anyone. It’s one of the only ways to control my identity and prevent bisexual erasure. If I let people know that I’m pansexual then they won’t necessarily think me straight when with a woman or gay when with a man.

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-love/polyamorous-pansexual