I am fascinated by the change in me. I understand sex and gender far better now. I had thought that by growing up in the “modern” age of the 80s and 90s, where homosexuality came to be better understood, that I was enlightened. The future is now!
Looking back at how media and journalism has treated gay, trans, and queer people of all kinds–no. It seems it’s always been regressive. It’s always treated gay or queer people with disgust. I remember the “It’s Pat” skits of Saturday Night Live and I thought how terrible it would be to be misidentified, or possibly worse, to be thought of in that same ambiguous light.
Decades later, I understand better my own identity. I’m a man, and my pronouns are “he/him.” When I went to XOXO in Portland last year I wore a pin with those words. Others wore different pins. People who are genderfluid might accept far more pronouns than me. One example is my ex-spouse Leah (by all means read more about Leah!), whose process of self-discovery went through many twists and turns and whose pronouns have likewise evolved.
So back to that drive-through. The culture told me that men are not a combination of overweight, wearing bright red sweaters, and clean shaven. The woman who did the misgendering was super-apologetic “oh sorry, sir.” then, later — “it’s Monday.” I smiled in reply. “It’s all good,” I told her.
That’s a change from 1999. I was 29. My first ex-wife Jenny and I were sitting together in a diner booth. She with her long hair. Me with my to-my-mid-back long hair. From behind comes a booming waitress’ voice: “What can I get for you ladies?” Once our faces were visible to her she apologized profusely. I remember how embarrassed I was. I can feel a bit of the sting of that, even now, even though it feels like I was an entirely different person than I am now. If it happened now–presuming I would have the patience to grow my hair long again–I’d laugh it off. “It’s all good.”