Hankies vs. History
I was at a lesbian event a few years ago, when some young’n mentioned the “hanky code.” I, not being such a young’n, couldn’t hear her over the pounding house music, and said, “What?”
And she said, “You’re not very gay are you?”
It was a rude thing to say.
But, in her defense, I had already been rude to her.
She had made out with my friend at a club weeks before, and I thought she was a bitch, so I was giving her “You’re a bitch” looks at this event.
And she was just getting back at me.
While thinking this, I stared at her blankly for a millisecond or two, and I realized what she had originally said.
Sure, I knew about the hanky code.
It seemed very silly to me in the age of Facebook and Twitter–it’s all out in the open these days, why would anyone need a “code?”
If someone looks interesting, I just go up and start a conversation. If they don’t like me, they’ll let me know.
I also knew how lucky I was to have come of age in an era where encoding was a fun legacy, but not a necessity.
And that’s where my mind stopped racing, and I simply said, “No, I guess not.”
And she walked away. Hmph. After all that mental dyke-drama.
The comment haunted me for the rest of the day. I realized, that if I had answered her honestly, it would have taken a lot more time, a few more drinks, and much less house music.
Maybe a better answer was, “No I’m not very gay. I’m trans.”
And I wish my sex life could be easily summarized by a bandana in my pocket.
Maybe it can be…maybe there’s a color or a pattern already that means “trans.” Of course, I wouldn’t know this, because I’m not very gay…
For me, though, it would have to be a pretty gigantic bandana. There’d be a lot to summarize:
Why I tried so hard to be a straight guy… Why it took me so long to figure it out… Why I let money, or family, or addiction hold me back… Why sex is neither fun nor playful when it is a dissociative experience and how long it takes to get over that… How it felt to watch the love of my life walk out the door and get married 6 months later… Why I didn’t date for 10 years… Why I didn’t have sex for most of those 10 years… Why I spent $18,000 and 200 hours getting my face electrocuted or $30,000 getting my skull ground down… Why I can’t afford a house despite being middle-aged… Why I never had kids, and now I can’t, and how that was a really bad choice… Why living my life the way I wanted has also meant a huge amount of sacrifice and regret, or maybe…
I should just stick a magenta hanky in my pocket. Armpits kinda turn me on. Seriously. I admit it.
Some of us, whether we are trans, or bi, or lesbian, or pansexual, or pomosexual, or whatever, have had to take a longer road.
So maybe the best answer would have been, “No, I’m not very gay, I’m trans, and I’m a fuckload older than you, and you ought to respect that (bitch).”
No, that’s too mean, and not entirely right either.
I’m glad she’s enjoying a young coming out and exploration. I will never have that chance, and yes, it makes me very jealous. That’s probably why I hate her. Not completely, but a little bit. I’m sure she’s had her trials too.
And more than likely, ten or fifteen years from now, that young’n will be at a similar event, and someone will accuse her of not being “hip,” or “down,” or whatever they call it in the future–let’s say “asparagocious. ”
“You’re not very asparagocious are you?” The words will sting, and she’ll have to make the same choice.
Encoding can be fun. I can see that, it’s a little wink, wink to those in the know. But sometimes, it’s just too complicated, and once you get to a certain age, you just don’t have the time…
Later that day, I met a wonderful, charming woman. We had a great time talking, joking, and laughing. I really liked her, but she was carrying a giant purse, and had absolutely zero attitude. So guess what? I assumed she was straight–just an ally, supporting her friends.
As it turned out, I was wrong. She was very gay, and she kinda liked me. Luckily, I met her again about a month later and took the time to have a deeper conversation. We’ve been going out for a year now.
That’s what encoding almost cost me. And that’s why I don’t do it.
If you want to stick a hanky in your pocket and cut right past the chase to the sex, that’s fine. But there’s a lot more to a person than how they have sex, and sometimes those things are a lot more important.
“No, I’m not very gay, I’m just a dumb old romantic.”
I hate to say it, but that’s probably the right answer.
And that young’n is still a bitch.