Photograph by Clayton Cotterell
It doesn’t really matter how we met and fell into one another, how impossibly and inevitably -- how immediately -- we unearthed a level of intimacy that neither of us had even come close to experiencing before. It doesn’t matter what we do for a living, how we like to spend our time, where we’ve been, where we’re going. What matters is that we’re bonkers in love. And like the roughly 90% segment of the population who is straight, we were able to get married, telling nobody and eloping to Las Vegas a few years ago.
Having legally -- meaning man-and-woman -- married Allison in the presence of Elvis and the videographer who served as our witness (God was busy), I have been exercising the shit out of my heterosexual privilege. And I love it. I love not being gay! I’m totally “normal,” and every stranger I encounter thinks I’m normal, too (if a little short). They have no reason to think otherwise, as I water the roses in front of the new-old house we recently renovated in a (smallish, religious) town in the South, or drain the oil from my dirt bike in the alley out back. It’s the best thing in the world, being straight, changing my mind entirely about ex-gay ministries. (That Marcus Bachmann is really on to something!)
It’s not that I hate gays and lesbians. I’m just perfectly happy not to be one, especially the latter, because that particular identity never quite fit, regardless of what people assumed about me on account of what I looked like and who I might’ve had relationships with.
And if I’m being honest with you -- and myself -- I don’t always think of myself as “transgender” anymore, either. I mean, I am, because it’s true I did not start out life as a male -- of course the external world somehow manages to remind me of it every day, in manners large and small. But in lots of ways, in most every way (well, except that one), I’m just a guy. A guy married to a woman who’s attracted to guys. A guy with a wife who had two children who are now his children—two sweet daughters he has the privilege of raising with that elegant, gorgeous woman, in an old, bright white, three-bedroom, three-bath house on a hill, with a rescue pit bull, a cat, and two hybrid cars out front. The most normal thing in the world, right?
Except for how I became that guy, which is not necessarily discernable from the exterior -- my past identity and path to becoming that guy being just that: in the past. So, you’re goddamn right I get to choose when and how and with whom and even if I share that information. Because there are now three very important ladies who would prefer that I make it home safe every night, that I don’t sustain a beat-down in a public restroom for not being equipped exactly like most other men in there -- ladies whose lives would be significantly impacted if information about my particular path to manhood falls into the wrong hands.
But this wasn’t supposed to be a depressing reminder of how potentially hazardous it can be when a terrifying portion of the world thinks your entire existence is a lie you are telling yourself and others. Nor was it supposed to be a declaration of how not-gay I am to make you wonder why the fuck a straight-married, (mostly) white guy is monopolizing ink in a gay magazine with his wife and blond children... So here’s to a celebration of LOVE American-style 2012! We come in every shape and form! We could be the couple next door! We are fit to be parents, we don’t molest children -- or eat them! At least not our own.
OK, the truth of it, and take it however you may: My wife has made me the man I am today. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be a man if she hadn’t been kind enough to marry me; I’m saying I would likely be a very different kind of man. Less of one.