Behind the Mask

Back when I was first coming out, you were the one person to make a big deal out of insisting you already knew. I never bothered to question it; it implies you saw some sort of stereotypical behavior in me, but it also meant you had already accepted the idea. I got the opposite from most people; they never imagined this from me. I even had to insist to a few that I wasn’t just joking – I must have been the very model of a modern masculine heterosexual.

Hell, I think you even told my sister several years before I came out that you thought I was gay. Which, again, is a tiny bit rude; but you’ve always been a tiny bit rude. It’s part of your social charm.

Many years later, a group of us were standing in the kitchen at my parent’s house and you casually threw something else into the air. “You know, I’d describe you as agender. Something like David Bowie.” I’m not sure if you even know that agender is an actual term, but I certainly fit whatever you imagined it to mean.

Which, again; that’s kind of a rude thing to blurt out, especially with other family around. But, more than anything, I was disarmed. I had recently come across the concept myself, while searching to better understand who I was, how I fit in this world. I even thought of David Bowie as an inspiration, at least in his more flamboyant eras.

But I hadn’t told anyone – I hadn’t even fully accepted it myself yet. You spoke my identity into the world before I did, just casually as if you were simply stating a blatant fact.

How do you do this? With all the close, personal relationships I have had, how do you find it so easy to just look at me and know? Know before even I do?

When you referred to me as agender, I felt a strange mix of exposure and relief. Truthfully, it’s what pushed me into finally identifying as such. I needed to know someone else saw me this way, that it wasn’t all in my head.

So, it’s kind of sad that I still haven’t told you this truth of my identity – I haven’t really told anyone in the family. But I know, as soon as I do, you’ll probably say that same stupid thing. “I already knew.”

At a recent gathering, we somehow cycled back to how you thought I was gay so many years before anyone else. I was in a combative mood, so I challenged you. “So you think I fit a bunch of stereotypes, huh?” You were almost offended. I apparently didn’t match anything obvious.

So, what could it have been? “You never showed any interest in women.”

Well, huh. I guess that’s a reasonable explanation.

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