Usually as a big ol’ butch, I don’t have to come out. Walk into a room, people know I’m a lesbo – 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 knew it would happen. It had to at least if I was doing it right. I’m talking about my blog. I’ve written ButchOnTap as Butch Jaxon since the start. What? You thought that was my real name? I did it this way for lots of reasons:
1. It gives me the cover of darkness. Fail miserably? No worries. Say something too risqué? Not a problem.
2. It protected my then-girlfriend. She’s very private and I always wanted (and still want) to honor that. If I was Butch Jaxon it would be easier to share a few things about our lives, and she could decide with whom she wanted to share the blog, and therefore a little of her, and keep it private from everyone else.
3. It allowed me to shield my kids and parents. I’ve decided to put myself out there. They have not. Imagine, “Mom! Like, I’m sooo embarrassed! OMG!”
4. What about work? I’m not a professional writer promoting a book or movie (yet… but I’m open to all inquiries). I’ve a day job and one where my private musings might be frowned upon.
But, I always knew that if it took off, if I did it right and with a touch of luck, I’d have to switch to my real name eventually.
Well, as luck would have it, this happened over a week ago. A reader of my blog was kind enough to send my post, Why I Hate the TSA over to her friend Noah Michelson, the editor at the Huffington Post Gay Voices. Thank you Dara at Fascinate Media for doing me this unbelievable solid! She’s a writer and a media guru. You can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking for the first possible moment to buy Dara a drink.
Turns out, the HuffPost wanted to run my piece. I was OVER THE MOON when I heard. I could not believe it. The HuffPost has like 45,000 subscribers online. They are massive, and they loved the piece, but can’t run anonymous authors for policy reasons. “Do you have a good reason to be anonymous? Are you in any danger?” Noah asked politely. Well, I have 4 good reasons, but danger? I figure if Salman Rushdie can publish under his own name, then so can I. I still had worries about my kids, family, any femme I might date, and my job, so I got some input from my best bro, parents, and a lovely femme I’m … somewhat sweet on. Sssh, don’t tell her.
All agreed that I’d be crazy to pass up this opportunity. My parents are 100% fine with you all knowing who they are. My kids are tough and I’ll keep shielding them. And as for dating, I think I’ve decided not to. Or at least, Butch has decided to be a confirmed bachelor – if you get my, erm, her meaning. And, I need to protect that lovely femme… you know, in case she’s sweet on me, too.
So, it’s on. I told Noah and he was wonderful. The post went up five days ago and it’s been an absolute blur since. I’ve been in Tokyo for work. The schedule and time difference have made it almost impossible for me to keep up as I like to. Meaning, I usually reply to each tweet, comment and Facebook post (at least to acknowledge the commenter). I appreciate you all so much! But, as of now, the piece has 399 comments on HuffPo and y’all have been tweeting, sharing, and commenting in other ways like crazy. Sometimes life gets in the way of art.
I had to decide if I wanted to come out as Butch. Did I want to subject myself to scrutiny? Meh. Does it change the kinds of things I can post, tweet and comment on? Yes, perhaps. But I’ve been pretty aware of this since the start. So, I say bring it. I’m ready to come out … As Butch. Jaxon. I mean, everyone who knows me, knows I am butch, but not Butch Jaxon. That’s me in the photo up there, by the way. I mean, the blog photo is me too, but you can actually see me in today’s shot. Hi!
One thing I will say I wasn’t quite ready for (though I should’ve been) were the negative comments. With my blog, I’ve only had one critical comment which I dealt with happily and head on – indeed I got to choose to post it for you all to read. With twitter and FB, zero negativity. The audience is smaller and more organic, I guess. With HuffPost proudly featuring me on their main page, I got lots of new eyes and some didn’t like what they saw. That’s ok, though. Bound to happen. “Not everyone is going to like you,” I say to my kids.
As I ended the TSA post, it’s butch to be yourself – no matter the cost. Be Butch. And for me, that also means … Be Tristan.