This is the final weekend of 2017. And, yikes, what a year. When I say that, I obviously don’t mean that 2017 was full of happiness and good cheer. To the contrary, 2017 was crappy. To confirm that, one needn’t look to far from the current occupant of a certain house in Washington. Yes, the man with thin orange skin, the biggest ego in the universe, truly poor character, and a reputation of wanting to destroy (or at least unjustly distort the reputation of) anyone who doesn’t get in line with him and see the world the way he sees it. And the way he sees it, he’s the only savior from this world of evil and prejudice, despite overwhelming evidence that he’s the leading propellant of evil and prejudice.
Yeah, You Know Who (my shorthand for the above mentioned man with thin orange skin) and his minions have led us into very dark times here in 2017. But for every dark story this old year has wrought, there has been at least one positive story to counter it. And with it being the end of the year, it’s high time for me to think of some positives.
2017 was the year everyone was angry
Sorry to make this first bullet point one about vitriol, but this was indeed a year in which a great many people voiced their displeasure. Thankfully, a great many people channeled their anger not through throwing brickbats and hurtful words (as a few certain supporters of You Know Who so violently did last August), but rather through taking a stand — a positive stand, as evidenced by the Women’s March that took place here in Madison and across the country last January 21. Those and subsequent marches showed the world (and our leaders) that there is a large and vocal majority (you know, the one who didn’t give You Know Who a majority of the popular vote in 2016) who is there to shine a bright light on any dark corner You Know Who and his minions will take is into. That light was bright enough to result in ballot box victories for several progressive-minded voices, from notable wins by LGBT candidates in November to a certain Southern state earlier this month turning back, once and for all, a Senate candidate who was the epitome of crude beliefs and even cruder acts. Speaking of the latter…
2017 was the year a lot of people said “me, too”
Back in October, a certain Hollywood mogul was revealed to be what many within the entertainment industry had long suspected or kept secret: He behaved in atrocious ways towards women.
Mind you, he was far from the first prominent name to be caught sexually or verbally harassing women in the entertainment and media industry. A certain cable news bloviator was fired from his perch in April; his boss was shown the door by that very same network in 2016. But the above tweeted news from October led to a virtually unstoppable deluge of confirmations about and accusations toward men (virtually all white, virtually all old, and definitely all in powerful positions) who committed lewd, lascivious, and downright grotesque behavior toward women. Again, these stories aren’t new; heck, they’re been reported on or had long been rumored for decades, and they’re not exclusive to the media industry. It’s just that these stories are now, for lack of a better word to describe it, enjoying the disinfecting spotlight of 2017. You can’t help but applaud the bravery of the women (and, yes, a few men) who have stood up and shared their stories, all in an effort to say, once and for all, “no more of this; please treat us with professional respect.”
And those are two of the positive stories we all shared together in this dark year that was 2017. But when I personally look back on this year, the dark stories and the positives that came from them will share space in my memory bank with the significant moments (most of which were positive) in my own life. To wit:
2017 was the year I still had a job to go to
Yeah, I know I always say this at the end of every year, but it feels good to know I still have a job, and that I still have an employer who appreciates my talents enough to allow me to remain working for them. Understandably, not everyone can say this, and that includes a close friend of mine who lost their job this summer for rather unjustifiable reasons. Luckily, they’ve found some freelance jobs here and there (the result of a “gig economy,” I suppose); they also rely on a close network that provides professional or (in my case towards them) emotional support.
2017 was the year I still wrote on this blog
Well, duh. I’m writing this and you’re reading it, so that means I haven’t let this little corner of WordPress go fallow. Writing this blog is a challenge, I can’t deny it. But when I hit that “publish” button, it feels real good to know my words and thoughts, unencumbered by the
140 280 characters of Twitter or the cacophony of Facebook, are going out to a welcoming audience. Oh, and speaking of Facebook…
2017 was the year I waived the white flag of surrender and joined Facebook
No, I’m not a Luddite. If I were any sort of a Luddite, I’d be shouting these words from a mountaintop instead of blogging them on WordPress. But, yes, I finally surrendered to the allure of Mark Zuckerberg’s social media creation. I’m not attached to Facebook’s hip the way I admit I’m attached to Twitter’s. But despite the frustrations caused by snide comments from a couple of closed-minded non-friends (which prompted me to shut off comments to non-friends), it’s been so far so good with Facebook. And at least Facebook has allowed me to connect with IRL friends, because…
2017 was the year I found IRL friendship and support
Actually, this dates back to the very end of 2016, when I finally got the gumption to attend a crossdresser/transgender support meeting at a LGBT resource center here in Madison. I’ve been a mostly regular attendee ever since, sharing my thoughts and experiences with and listening the same from other people who are part of the transgender or gender-nonconforming community here in Madison. This group is the primary reason I joined Facebook, for they have a closed Facebook group from which I can hear more about their adventures, learn more about future group meetings, or just offer words of support and comfort if they need it. Dare I say it, this group has become almost like a second family to me, for they are just as human and share the same worries and concerns as I am. And they’re not exclusive trans either, for this second family includes supportive cis-gender folks, including the above mentioned person who is willing to look past the wig and makeup and see me for the human being I am, just as they do the same for the others in our group.
Dare I say it, being a part of this group has, in a way, given me a boost of self-confidence in my feminine side, for…
2017 was the year I showed Allison to the whole wide (real) world
And not just in a private group at a LGBT community center where I’m free to be myself. Nope, I’m talking about the welcoming, open-minded community that is Madison, Wisconsin. Oh, you want specifics? Okay, no problem, I’ll give you specifics:
2017 was the year I performed poetry… as Allison
The above photo was from the very first time I got dolled up, donned my feminine attire (including, this case, a sleek pair of vinyl leggings), and performed some of the poetry I’ve written on this very blog. It wasn’t the last, either, for I’ve performed en femme a few more times this year, including not only earlier this month but also last month at the UW—Madison LGBT Campus Center’s Trans Monologues event. I may not be the most perfect as public speaking, but having the privilege to perform at these events boosts my confidence enough to keep writing, keep getting my skills down pat, and keep performing.
2017 was the year I marched in the pride parade… as Allison
Marching in Madison’s OutReach Pride Parade & Rally was something I had longed to do as Allison, and almost did a couple of years ago. This year, however, was the year I finally — finally! — shed the “spectator” tag and became full-fledged participant, marching as part of our trans support group in the parade. Marching in the light of a hazy though pleasant summer’s day, and doing so in an era where the broad LGBT+ community, and the trans community in particular, face resistance from the holier-than-thou crowd felt amazing. Obviously, I can’t wait to do it again next August.
2017 was the year I went to dinner… as Allison
And before you let your mind drift into the gutter (again), it was not a romantic dinner. In October, I capped a very long day by dressing up and joining members of my support for OutReach’s annual awards banquet, which was held at one of the more elegant locales in Madison, the Monona Terrace convention center. The food was delicious, the award winners were great, and the camaraderie with other LGBT+ people (including a certain United States Senator and Congressman from Wisconsin) was the best of all.
2017 was the year I went shopping… as Allison
And more than once. Just a couple of Saturdays ago, my close friend and I went holiday gift shopping on State Street. The afternoon of the pride parade, I stopped into Ragstock on State Street, while still en femme, and snapped up a leather retro dress I had my eye on for a while. And on a couple of occasions before and after support meetings, I did a little bit of grocery shopping while dressed up. Oh, more than once after meetings, I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru window and ordered a meal as Allison. I was thisclose to actually going into the restaurant and ordering in person, though some kids made a scene that felt too close to comfort. Perhaps one day soon, I’ll get over that uneasiness just as I did at the supermarket.
So, yeah, despite this overall dark year, there were still quite a few good things that happened to this crossdresser here in 2017. Oh, there were still some down notes in my personal and familial life, including getting turned down for a poetry reading (and going through some soul searching) and having my stepfather suffer a health scare at the beginning of this month. But they were only speed bumps in the overall scheme of things.
To sum up my 2017 in one sentence, it has to be this:
2017 was the year in which I still felt nervous… but thought to myself, “To heck with the nerves. Just do it!”
And I’m sure 2018 will be the year in which I say that very thing to myself once again: “To heck with the nerves. Just do it.” None of us will be sure of what the next 365 days will bring. There’s likely to be a multitude of bad things and setbacks, but there’s also the assurance that, for every bad thing that happens, there will be at least one good thing to help offset the uneasiness. And for every setback that happens along the way, odds are that there will somewhere be a golden door yet to open and make a better opportunity available. Here’s hoping that despite the worries and uncertainty we may have on New Year’s Eve 2017, we will all find ourselves in better spirits come New Year’s Eve 2018, and that our friends and families end the year on happy, healthy notes. Thank you for reading, thank you for your support… and may you have a wonderful new year.