As a big ol' butch, I usually don't have to come out. When I walk into a room, people know I'm a dyke -- unless they mistake me for a dude. Whatev. But recently I had to decide whether to come out. Again. The first time, I was 17. I've written my blog ButchOnTap as Butch Jaxon since the start. What? You thought that was my real name? I wrote under a pen name for four reasons:
- To take advantage of the cover of darkness. Fail miserably? No worries. Say something too risqué? Not a problem.
- To protect my then-girlfriend. I always wanted (and still want) to protect her privacy. As Butch Jaxon, it was easier to share a few things about our lives without exposing us and her.
- To shield my kids and my parents. I've decided to put myself out there; they have not. Imagine, "Mom! Like, I'm so embarrassed! OMG!"
- To separate my blogging from my day job. I'm not a professional writer promoting a book or movie. I have a day job, one where my private musings might be frowned upon.
But I always knew that if the blog took off, if I did it right, and with a touch of luck, I'd want to switch to my real name. Well, this happened when a reader of my blog was kind enough to send my post "Why I Hate the TSA" over to HuffPost Gay Voices. (I must thank Dara at Fascinate Media! She's a writer and a media guru.) I was over the moon when I heard that they wanted to let me blog on The Huffington Post. HuffPost Gay Voices has millions of visitors every month. This is the exposure that I'd been hoping to give my personal blog. If I am serious about becoming a writer, and I think I am, isn't this the time to be myself? Isn't this the time to come out, so to speak? Why not? Did I want to subject myself to scrutiny? Not particularly. Would it change the kinds of things I can post, tweet and comment on? Yes. But I've been pretty aware of this from the start.
I still had worries about my kids, my family, any femme I might date, and my job, so I got some input from my best bro, my parents and an absolutely amazing femme I might be sweet on. (Shhh! Don't tell her!) All agreed that this was indeed the opportunity that I had been hoping for. My parents are 100-percent fine with you knowing who they are. My kids are tough, and I'll keep shielding them as much as I can. They still think I'm cool, so I have another couple of years before I really have to worry about the "OMG, Mom!" And as for dating, I think I've decided that Butch is single. I need to protect that amazing femme... you know, in case she's sweet on me too.
So I made up my mind that I was ready to come out as the real butch behind Butch Jaxon. Everyone who knows me knows that I am butch, but they didn't know that I, Tristan, am Butch Jaxon. Bring it!
"Why I Hate the TSA" went up on HuffPost last month, and it's been an absolute blur ever since. I've been in Tokyo for work, and then Scotland for vacation. The schedule, the horrible Wi-Fi reception and the time difference have made it almost impossible for me to keep up as I like to. I usually reply to each tweet, comment and Facebook post (at least to acknowledge the commenter). I appreciate you all so much! As of now, the HuffPost version of the piece has 409 comments, and people are tweeting it and "liking" it like crazy. The post has been shared in so many places (even on AfterEllen and by Dan Savage) that my brain is spinning -- or maybe that's the Scotch. Either way, thank you so, so much!
One thing I will admit that I wasn't quite ready for (though I should have been) is the negative/attacking comments. On my personal blog I'd only ever had one critical comment, which I dealt with happily; indeed, I got to choose to post it for everyone to read. on Twitter and Facebook I'd encountered zero negativity. But thanks to HuffPost, I got lots of new eyes on my work, and some didn't like what they saw. That's OK, though. It was bound to happen. "Not everyone is going to like you," I say to my kids. I have to take my own advice, right?
As I said at the end of my TSA post, it's butch to be yourself, no matter the cost. Be butch. And for me, that also means to be Tristan. Hi, it's nice to meet you!