I read over my coming out post one last time, I did not want my big moment of social media infamy to be celebrated with a bunch of reply guys pointing out some minor typo. And then, of course, there was title anxiety. Was ‘Opening the closet door’ too mundane? I thought for a second about asking some SEO ninja, but that would most certainly not be my style.
I thought the Crimson Tide reference, even though few would recognize the movie, was a good one. Running a missile drill during a real fire on a nuclear submarine was about as much of a good idea as coming out during a pandemic. My CEO’s brother was trans, so I doubted work would be much of an issue. But which friends wouldn’t be able to deal with it? What business opportunities would I lose?
And then, of course, there was the tweet. Coming out on the trans day of visibility was definitely my style, and I wasn’t worried about the transphobia that infests social media, and really everywhere. As to whether anyone would care was my biggest concern. I had gotten used to being a minor celebrity, and no likes or retweets would probably hurt my ever expanding ego just a little bit.
The effect on familial relations was lowest on my list, something in opposition to what a lot of other trans folks face. Briefly, I thought back over my childhood. The abuse, the threats of sending me to some non-existent counsellor they had created as a bogeyman. I thought to my feelings when I had made the mistake of visiting them last year : Revulsion. The inheritance, while the only guarantee I would have against being homeless if things in the cannabis industry went spectacularly sideways, wasn’t worth it. I was also certain a second familial divorce would earn me a nickname like ‘Ice Queen’, but that was actually a plus.
I crafted the tweet, made sure all the appropriate hashtags were in. I felt like a surgeon, ensuring all the sutures were just so, and no residual bleeds were still present. I paced a bit, as I usually do, and finally hit send. I made sure to change my profile picture to one of the selfies I had sent Mel the night before. Then I fed my cats. I thought briefly about Violette, the first person I had come out to after my mushroom trip. I thought of her cat, Aceman, and what he might think of my coming out.
What I came back to was a wave of support, love, and understanding. My favourite tweet was from Kira, who I affectionately call my queer Yoda. Multiple tweets actually, freaking out I had gone far beyond what I said I was going to do. Then there were a few Twitter frenemies, I smiled at their begrudging sentiments which seemed to say ‘I still think you are very wrong online, but this is brave’.
In retrospect, I think this warm Twitter reception would make what happened later that year on Clubhouse wound me even more. It was a bizarre gift, to live with the illusion that parts of the world didn’t hate you for what you are, for the better part of the year. I view the Clubhouse happenings as another kind of gift though, events that motivated me to trade what clout I had amassed on that platform for making the perils of existing as a trans person visible.
In both of these situations there was a tradeoff, and I think in both cases I look upon these decisions with a sort of faux-regret. Would I now be in a country safer than Canada during the pandemic, working on some global cannabis or psychedelic projects if I had never come out? Possibly, but the person in this fictional situation wouldn’t be me.
If I had continued to perpetuate the enthusiasm I had for Clubhouse in September when it became an unsafe place for LGBTQ+ folks, would I be one of those people with scores of followers and/or brand deals? Maybe, but that most certainly wouldn’t be me. There were also two things that came from my authenticity that I prize more than millions of followers or even financial freedom. First, Nicole telling me that she was drawn to become besties because of my mouthy countenance that had probably cost me many an opportunity. Second, a certain relatively well-known storyteller letting a tiny hint of admiration slip during an ‘off-campus’ Zoom, characterizing me as someone who didn’t give a damn as to what other people think, even if they were the world’s elite.
There was also a very bizarre synergy to my authenticity on the journey to being able to come out, and the events towards the end of 2020. I began my relationship with my CEO by tweeting some snark about the legalized cannabis industry holding a gun to patients heads, and we became good friends afterwards anyway. After some Clubhouse happenings, I had tweeted a particularly mouthy comment at Mike Solana, and yet still managed to become friends with the billionaire mayor of San Francisco. I cling to these two moments as proof that maybe being true to yourself does actually work out once in awhile.
I also had many prized moments in time as I walked the path to coming out. Hanging out with Emma as she painted my nails, going to a lesbian bar night with Kira, and shopping with Dr.Jenna. I thought to all the future ones, and was particularly enamoured with attending my first music festival as myself. I thought to the Picard quote that rolls around in my head continually : ‘If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.’ Somewhere, in the metaverse, I could almost hear his voice utter the words so many Enterprise crew members spent 7 years longing to hear: ‘Ms Astrix, well done.’