Thursday, September 20, 2012

I just came out to Molly Ringwald

Tonight I came out to Molly Ringwald.

I've come out before. Lots of times to lots people. I've come out as lesbian. I've come out as trans. I've come out to friends and family and strangers. I've come out with a bang. I've come out with a whimper. I've come out in passing. I've come out to make a point. I've even come out to be visible to a bully or to protect someone who was being bullied.

I've been scared. I've been anxious. I've practiced in front of a mirror.  Every time I come out I don't know what the response will be. Will the person love me or hate me? Will the change in the relationship be positive or negative? Will we be closer or will the relationship break?

Coming out always has an energy behind it. I've been proud, excited and sometimes even righteous. I came out with the attitude "fuck em if they can't handle the truth." I came out because I didn't want to hide. I came out because I wanted to share my journey. I came out because I wanted people to see I was okay so when they heard about other people like me it might make them okay too. I came out because not too long ago people like me were not okay. If their secret was discovered they could be beaten or killed. I come out because I learned at a very young queer age that silence = death.

Coming out honors those that have blazed the trail. Coming out is trail maintenance for those coming next.

So, why the hell did I come out to Molly Ringwald?

Good question.

She was at our local independent bookstore, Tattered Cover promoting her book "When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories." I found out about it this morning and thought it would be cool to see the one and only Molly Ringwald live and in person. I mean The Breakfast Club was life changing. All my friends told me it was. I didn't get to watch it. My next door neighbor had a slumber party and just as the movie started my Mom marched into the room grabbed me by my ear and took me home. It was rated R and I was not old enough. My generation was getting shaped and I was at home, alone in my room. I finally watched it when I was in my early 20s. It was all I imagined just a little late. But here was my chance to make up for it. I had no idea what her book was about but I love listening to people reading what they've written. The time spent crafting the words come to life. It's powerful. They get to read their words as they intended them to be heard. It's not a script or lines from the writers. It's so pure and so true.

Molly read part of a story from her book about a single mother's flamboyant six-year-old son who wishes only to wear dresses and be addressed as Olivia.

I was floored. I didn't know what I was expecting her story to be about, but this was definitely not what I expected. She had the attention of all the people packed into the room and had a tenderness and sweetness in her voice.  My heart was overcome with lightness. The Molly Ringwald just made it okay for a six year old to tell his mom he's not a boy, she's a girl.

Molly didn't have to wave a flag, march down the street or scream to be heard. She just wrote a story and read it to her fans. I don't know how the rest of the story goes, I didn't have money to buy the book. But in that moment she showed us so much.

I believe that allies can do more to make us okay then we can do ourselves. By showing the world that it's okay to be friends with, write stories about or share office space with someone who is trans, they make enormous strides for our equality. Their normal normalizes us.

I also believe that when our allies put themselves out there for us, we need to thank them. It can't always be easy for them to go against the grain of normal. If we don't support them they may not be motivated to stay steady as a voice for us.

I got in the line for the book signing. I didn't have a book for her to sign. When I got to the front of the line I said something like "Molly, I just want to thank you. I love the story that you read. I'm transgendered" She looked up from the book she was signing and looked me the eyes. My voice wavered a little, this is Molly Ringwald looking right into my eyes after all. I swallowed and continued. "I'm like Olivia, except I was born female and had to tell them I was a boy. Thank you for being a voice for us. I really appreciate it." I joined my palms and gave a slight bow. "Thank you."

I didn't give her a chance to respond. I wanted to respect the folks that were trying to keep the line moving. My friend and I walked out of the room and into the hall. I paused halfway down the stairs and turned to my friend. "Did I just come out to Molly Ringwald?" "Yes, you did."

So maybe The Breakfast Club didn't change my life in the 80s. I didn't get to watch the story of the kids from different groups finding common ground. I didn't get the 97 minute lesson that we are not really all that different and that we are all in this together.  Yet Molly Ringwald is out there changing my life with the same message. She's letting them know that we are not really all that different and we are all in this together.

Thank you Molly Ringwald, thank you. Oh, and by the way, you look fabulous.