Monday, 4 August 2008

On Vacation

For a boi who sometime passes summertime brings a different wardrobe, and with it, different dilemmas. I like to look crisp when I travel. I find a jacket, shirt and jeans offset the ridiculousness of having to balance a plastic tray on my knees and eat plastic food with plastic cutlery. When I arrive after a long, cramped journey I don’t want to look like I’ve just popped out to take the dog for a walk in the worst and most unfashionable clothes I could find screwed up at the back of my wardrobe. In luggage collection areas I find myself peering disdainfully at other British male persons while thinking: “There is no occasion that can justify the combination of long shorts and a polo shirt.”

On the other hand, hot, beach destinations do cry out for vests, shorts and swim wear. All of which reveal a lot of flesh. For a sometime passing boi like me, when I strip down, the truth really is out there. Take my recent vacation for example: due to a mix-up and a gross trades description violation the Meet & Greet service neither met nor gret, leaving me to keep going round the block at Gatwick Airport and my good lady wife heading inside to “hold a place in the queue. Now I in her shoes, would be a most peculiar sight, but also would content myself with an occasional smile and perhaps a quip or two about the progress of the queue. My wife, on the other hand, who could chat amiably for England (and in fact may enter that category for the 2012 Olympics where she will most certainly be going for gold). My wife shared our predicament with her queue neighbours and was roundly teased about being stood up. I breezed through the queue in my jacket, shirt and jeans to knowing smiles and general pre-holiday joviality. As we made our way through the now familiar shoe-removing security my wife shared how everyone had assumed I was male. I’m not especially trying to fool anyone, you understand. But once I’m assumed male at what point do I come out that I’m not a bio but a boi? My lovely lady is drawn into this dilemma whether she wants to be or not as people make assumptions about her when they make assumptions about me. She becomes straight when I become bio.

I don’t set out to pass. There’s a moment when some folks realise I’m bio female and sometimes that moment is unpleasant. Every once in a while it’s dangerous. So I fret about it a little. Even in pleasant conversation a part of me is grey with bleak anticipation. Even as I’m telling myself to just be who I am, that natural, human, humble self is sure I won’t be liked if only they knew… And yet, I also feel in my heart, only if they and all the world know, only by me being out as butch, as masculine bio female, only by truly being myself will prejudice be challenged and people just damned get used to me, us, difference.

We were both aware of this irony on the evening of our arrival at recent holiday destination. It was a tiring and cramped journey and a ridiculous checking-in procedure but the bar was open and the caipirinhas were going down nicely. We were joined by Deni’s former queue neighbours and both the conversation and pronouns were flowing. The chap is referring to me as ‘he’ while Deni calls me ‘she’: so he’s heeing and she’s sheing and I’m thinking: “Geezer, you’re in for a poolside surprise.” Cos when a butch is standing before you in a bikini there’s nowhere to hide. Ironically we didn’t see this couple for almost a week. We did then meet by the pool but just after the clouds had covered the sky and I had covered my bikini top with a t shirt. I was wearing trunks, which were as flat fronted as a Georgian house, but chap didn’t seem any the wiser. For some people, even when the truth is staring you full in the loin area, folks will see what they wanna see.