I had a male lover in college.  I was quite surprised when he came on to me.  I wasn’t one of those queers, and didn’t think I was attractive.  But he insisted I was and I yielded.  The sex worked—I got hard; I came.  But I had the thought, while making out with him the first time, that it would work better if one of us was a woman.  All these decades later, that strikes me as a queer thought.  This relationship was a one-off for me.  I realized that really, my attraction was for women. 

Much later I found the kink community.  And in it I met young people who had claimed the word “queer”.  They rejected traditional gender stereotypes and they used their appearance to signal this.  I had never embraced the stereotypes, but I was comfortable with traditional masculine presentation.  So no hairstyle-as-statement for me.  Heck, I often wore khakis and a button-down shirt on casual day at work.  People no doubt made assumptions based on my appearance, and I didn’t challenge them.  But I did sometimes surprise them.  When I participated in the Hula Hoop contest at the Pride Block Party the MC called me out.  “Look at Mr. Lands’ End go!”  Yep, I stood out in that crowd.  I won the contest, using Hula Hoop skills I’d learned in the 50’s.  For a straight white guy in a button-down, I could move my hips.  I had embraced being kinky, but I didn’t feel at all queer.

That eventually started to change.  Year before last a friend and I presented a workshop on kink at an LGBTQ conference.  When I introduced myself I included that I was submissive.  I saw it as a credential of sorts.  I wasn’t L or G or B or T or Q, but I was different.  My friend brought clarity: “Male submission is a queering of masculinity.”  She identifies as queer and had given this more thought than I had.

Her words rattled around in my brain for months, and eventually I accepted that I was queer, at least on the inside.  And it wasn’t a choice.  I had had those fantasies, I had this nature, and fuck no, I wasn’t ever going to be a macho man.

And eventually I felt comfortable bringing my queer to the surface.  I felt drawn to cross-dressing, and I found a venue to try it out, a step at a time.  I volunteer at Kinky Friday, a monthly fetish night at a large downtown bar.  It’s a very open and welcoming environment.  Last month I came up with a gender-bending costume: a short slip, biker boots, tape on my nipples, and leather thigh cuffs.  I felt entirely comfortable wearing lingerie in public, and this emboldened me.  This month I did without the masculine elements.  A different (cuter?) short slip, strappy heels, tape on my nipples, and I carried a white patent-leather purse.  And I got a pedicure and bright red polish on my toenails.  So they matched my thong, that showed under my slip.  Such an attention whore!  I got lots of compliments at Kinky Friday, especially for my shoes, and I had a great time.

I reprised the outfit the next night at a kink party--an entirely different group of people.  Friends who’ve known me for years were surprised, but I just said I wanted to get my queer on, and that was enough.  And then I went back into gender-bending mode, wearing the heels and carrying the purse while otherwise dressing masculine.  I went queer to lunch with a friend, and to a small fundraiser for a feminist comedy troupe, and to Trader Joe’s.  And I stepped out with bright red toenails barefoot dancing, and at the gym, and getting a massage.  I was thrilled when people noticed and I enjoyed talking about it.  But I also realized that it was fine when no reacted.  That could be a sign that seeing an old queer wasn’t all that remarkable.  And that would be a good thing, too.

I’m so glad I found my queer.

St. Paul, MN
May, 2016