I'm a straight woman. My best friend is a lesbian. She has a butch look about her. She wears pants and shirts and keeps her hair short. No make up. She is a “butch” lesbian. Or so I was told. Or so I was made to believe. By her. By society.
One night, late night, after lots of red wine I randomly (and quite facetiously) asked, “What is the difference between you and a transgender guy?” “Nothing”, came the answer. “They just had the guts to do it.” My best friend then burst into tears and said that he has never said this out loud before.
We talked some more and he explained that he had known from a young age that he was male but growing up adopted a gay persona. He eventually started a relationship with a woman who already had two young children. He raised those children with her for ten years, ostensibly as a same sex couple. At the beginning of that relationship he came out to his mother. She reacted really badly. Really. Badly. It tore his mother apart. His brothers were angry. It took years and years for him to gain a sort of taciturn acceptance. At least now his family speak to him and speak to his girlfriends.
So, that night in the wee small hours of the morning, he told me straight that he could never come out again. Not as transgender. It was too late.
Since that time, perhaps a year ago, we have had a couple more conversations along the same lines but he repeats it’s too late and he could not do anything about it. So we share this little secret and he lives this huge lie. It kills me. It kills him. So much of his self-destructive behaviour makes sense when I see it in that light.
My best friend is a man. I know it. He knows it. But the world accepts him as a lesbian and that’s close enough for him. For now.