So I want to talk about one of my biggest barriers to coming out and living as my truest self. The fear that nobody would love me. Hardly a unique phobia and certainly not specific to being trans. But it can hold you back if you let it.
I first started exploring my gender in college when I began accessing language to describe my experiences. I think that trajectory would have led me to coming out 5 years earlier if it hadn’t gotten sidetracked by getting married at 21. It’s a long story and off track for this blog but besides getting married too young we had a multitude of other problems that were apparent pretty early on in my 6 year marriage. And all of those problems meant that my personal growth got put on the back burner.
The biggest thing that contributed to me getting in that relationship in the first place and held me back from letting go of it when it wasn’t working was my fear of being alone and not finding someone who would love me for being me even as much as she did. When I did finally discover myself as a genderqueer pansexual, my wife asked me not to come out widely because she didn’t want to answer questions about my identity and sexuality. That alone should have been a sign that I wasn’t actually loved for who I was but yet I clung on for another 4 months before I got the nerve to leave. All because of this irrational yet common fear.
What I found beyond the confines of my straight, monogamous, ciscentric marriage was a world of infinite love and a community where I could be accepted both for who I was now and for who I would be tomorrow. I found my way through OKCupid and Meetup.com groups into the vast, semi-secret world of queer polyamory.
For those not familiar, polyamory is a form of ethical non-monogamy focused on informed consent of all partners involved and centered around the idea that love is not a finite resource to be hoarded but an infinite pool that only grows when love abounds. Time is of course the limiting factor and everyone has a practical limit to the number of authentic relationships they can juggle, whether that is friends or intimate partners. But in poly I found both friends and partners (and many shades in-between) who are unafraid to use the word love, who can open up the vulnerable parts of their hearts honestly, and who embrace my identity, even when they don’t understand it.
Today I have an amazing fiancee who I live with, two wonderful girlfriends with partners of their own, and a multitude of friends and lovers in community with each other. All of us encouraging each other to be ourselves and love ourselves as we are.
I’m not going to pretend it’s a magical fairyland with no problems or transphobes but beyond the heteronormative veneer you see in the press, the poly community I have seen is the most accepting place I can imagine. And more importantly, I learned that it’s ok to be “picky,” that I should and could be loved for who I am, and that I don’t need to be everything that one partner might need.
I’m not saying polyamory is for everyone or that it is the only way to find love outside the binary. That’s just an important part of my story in finding access to the idea that love is not finite. The key detail here is that you can find people who love you for who you are and you don’t need to compromise your identity to be lovable. But that fear of loneliness and the concept of love as a scarce resource are barriers to finding that happiness.
Live your life proudly and boldly as your truest self. I believe that is the sexiest thing you can do. And when you do that, people will want to be around you and you have a better chance at finding someone who loves you as much as you hopefully love yourself. When we hide who we are we lose our best shot at authentic relationship with other human beings.
Sure, you may lose some “friendships” that you never really had in the first place. But I bet you would lose them as soon as something serious happened in your life anyway. And there are real and tangible dangers to being out and visible. But find the places were you are safe, the communities where you can be real, and do exactly that. Be REAL, authentic, vulnerable, and honest. Once you start letting go of the idea that you aren’t deserving of love (which can be a lifelong process) then you can find it.