.journal 2004.12.28

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.org.4 part 3: Togetherness

Now listening to: Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack
Now reading: Ira Shor, Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change
Now playing: NCAA Football 2005 (XBox)

Last month when I wrote the first two of the .org’s anniversary columns, I had an idea about what I wanted to write in this third column. However, two illnesses that month, plus having to catch up on all the grad school I missed thanks to those illnesses, plus a general sense of ennui that’s been plaguing me in recent weeks, led to me putting this column on hold until after the holidays. However, waiting until after the holiday season was over probably helped me a lot in terms of stuff to think about before I came to write here.

When I did the anniversary columns last year, I figured that would be as good a time as any to break the news about Mark, and how he’d been involved in our lives up until that point. I’d hesitated to say anything about him for months prior to then, in part because I wanted to give Heather a sense of privacy (I got her permission before writing anything about Mark), and in part because I didn’t know what to say. I mean, the first guy my sister chats with online as she’s swapping Buffy files with people, and he’s the one?

Obviously I feared for things at first, but when Mark came to visit a couple of summers ago it was pretty clear not only that there was no reason to have any fear about Mark, but that he and Heather were deeply in love. Shortly after last year’s anniversary columns, Heather flew to England to be with Mark for a few weeks, during which time he proposed to her and she said yes. Mark and Heather flew back here together so they could be with each other over the holidays, then Mark went back to England to take care of things there like selling his house, with the idea of returning here shortly to marry Heather.

Of course, “shortly” wound up being eight to ten months, thanks in large part to all the new travel/visa restrictions here in the States. As if I didn’t have enough contempt for the current administration in Washington, they had to piss me off on a personal level like that. Eventually, though, Mark finally got his spousal visa, came here, and on a slightly rainy Monday afternoon — while I had to be on campus for a conference with the professor I was assisting this past semester — Heather and Mark got married. To say that they’ve been inseparable since Mark flew over here would be the understatement of the year, and since I have the bedroom right next to theirs, I know everything that goes on over there. (Conversely, they have to put up with all my arrow-stomping when I DDR, so I guess it kind of works out in the end.)

This was Mark and Heather’s second holiday season together, their first as a married couple. And provided nothing tragic happens in the next year, next Christmas will be the fortieth that my mother and father spend together. While the holidays are a time for us to share in the love of family and community, it was hard not to notice the special love that Mark and Heather were sharing as newlyweds, and my parents were sharing as a long-term married couple.

It’s harder not to notice these things anymore. It seems like at least half of my fellow English graduate students at UT are either married or engaged to be so. Earlier this year, two couples in Spectrum held their own (not legally recognized) marriage ceremonies at a social justice fair. And really, just look at my friends list on the right over there: Ariel and Andreas got married earlier this year. Don’s been married to Naomi for a while now, and it seems like ages ago when Lina married Tias. Tanya and Charlie are as good as married at this point, it sounds like. Bonnie’s the only person on that list who isn’t in a serious relationship right now, but it wasn’t that long ago that Bonnie sounded like she had found that special someone.

As for me? Do you even have to ask?

I’ve been lonely for so long, but for a while there it never bothered me. For all those years I was working for my father and not really having any social life at all, I guess it just wasn’t a concern for me considering I was a near-total hermit. Things kind of changed when I started going to UT, though, because I realized just how few social skills I had, and how I really didn’t know how to interact with other people face-to-face. Joining Spectrum helped matters a bit, but the group experienced a near-total turnover in membership in the fall of 2003 and it’s only now that the group has found its legs and become a real cohesive unit and we all know each other. Even though I had some difficulty readjusting to not being President anymore when Spectrum started back up a few months ago, I’m finally to a point where I have a good idea of who my friends are, and I feel like I have a base of support there.

When it comes to finding that someone special, though, I’ve had no luck. There’s been one person on campus who I’ve ever had a serious attraction to, but she didn’t reciprocate and at this point I’d much rather have her as a friend than anything else. I can’t say that I haven’t had passing attractions to some of the other men and women in Spectrum, and a couple of other people on campus as well, but they were just that: passing. Quite honestly, I’m looking for something more than just cheap sex, although at this point I wouldn’t exactly pass it up if it were offered …

To be honest, there’s another factor at play here. When C. and I were still on speaking terms, I considered her my best friend, and that’s all I was looking for from here, was friendship. In all the time that has passed since our breakup, though, I’ve come to realize that not only was I very deeply in love with her then, but that my love for her has somehow grown stronger since. Of course, given that the only reliable way I had of contacting her no longer works, I guess it really doesn’t matter how I feel towards her, because as much as I try to hold out hope to the contrary, I realize that I’ll likely never see or hear from her again. I can’t just wait for C. to come back into my life, as much as a large part of me desperately wants to.

The question then becomes, what do I do? It’s a question I’ve been trying to deal with for a long time. Obviously one huge minus for me in this regard is the fact that I am a transsexual who is not seeking SRS in the immediate future. Even though I identify myself as a female, and my friends see me as a female, that doesn’t change the fact that, once the clothes are off, I still have a penis. That fact is very difficult for people to deal with; even in discussions with people in Spectrum, it’s clear that transgender people occupy a very ostracized part of the GLBT community. (You’ll notice that in the past fifteen years, even as society as a whole has become more tolerant of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, and representations of them in the media have become better, mass media’s portrayal of transgender people and issues is limited to such bullshit as Sorority Boys and White Chicks.)

It’s not like other avenues are open to me either. I’m opposed to online relationships on general principles, and besides that, if you go to personals Websites and the like and just start going through the signing-in process, you’ll notice how these sites still try to force people into choosing their gender identity on old binary concepts of gender. Yes, I could just enter in my gender as female and say nothing more, but doubtlessly you’ve heard at least one horror story resulting from a transgender person doing something like that. And although there are some GLBT-focused personals services that are better suited to transgender people, all the anecdotal evidence I have heard unfortunately confirms the stereotype that there’s a much higher prevalence of cheap, anonymous sex in the GLBT community than in the heterosexual community.

As for local avenues, I’ve already tried those. I went out to a few GLBT clubs earlier this year, and those experiences only taught me that every reason I assumed that I wasn’t a club/bar kind of person was correct. I’ve made lots of inroads in other GLBT communities besides Spectrum in the area, but I haven’t come close to finding anyone there. Every way I’ve thought of that might help me find that special someone has just backfired on me, and as hard as I’ve tried I can’t think of any other ways that haven’t already failed.

In a lot of ways I wonder why I even feel this way about finding someone. I mean, I don’t believe in marriage — at least not as a governmental institution — and I don’t believe in monogamy. I guess that as I’ve been around couples in Spectrum, and with Mark and Heather recently, there seems to be a certain happiness they have that just seems to always be out of my grasp. And I could sure use some more happiness in my life right now.

Everyone take care and be well. I’ll see you around, and hopefully I won’t be so alone the next time I write.

— Sean

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