My Dad Let Me Wear Man Pants: The Story of How I Became a Lesbian
Picture it…Appalachia 1986
I was a blank canvas. I could have been anything. I had so much potential. The stars that would light my future had not yet been scattered into the entropy of an ever calling abyss of dreams.
In the summer of 1996 it happened. I was nearly 6 feet tall, shoulders roughly the volume equivalent of a refrigerator. I was strong, in my prime, ten years old and by any standard my mid-90s bowl cut was absolutely sound in its stature and response to wind. I was a formidable young lady. One day, my frustration about being built like an Oakland Raiders defensive lineman came out on the basketball court. I was playing a pick up game with my father when I told him “none of these leggings fit right, these turtle necks are killing me”
My father, a man of simple decisions and few words, took me to Walmart where I would finally find my safe space. The husky Wranglers in the men’s clothing section. As I slid the cool denim up my hack job, poorly shaven legs I could feel a change in me. It was right then I knew — I’m a homo. There is no going back. You see the feeling of fresh discount jeans that do not compliment your form and bury the shape of you in the safe confines of their squareness is unmatched by any other apparel.
Gone were the days of suffering the slings and straps of leggings that were anchored around your foot and shoved precariously into your tennis shoes because proper heterosexual women fear showing their ankles. We must not, after all. The large print flower leggings would stay put in a militant refusal to succumb to Sapphic desires. The turtle necks that ensured no woman would gaze wantonly upon the lower 3 inches of my neck were tossed aside in favor of a t-shirt. I became a jezebel the day my father allowed me to wear men’s pants.
It was my mother who suffered, most, though. At some point I would ask for my first vehicle to be a truck. She adamantly refused, citing that it would make me gay. It was, after all, already a real threat by the time I turned 16. I was competitive in the sciences, a percussionist in band and played hacky sack. I had failed every milestone on my way to becoming a proper woman. My comb-over was the envy of many men. My leather messenger bag smelled of shoddy poetry and charcoal paintings that bared the quiet secrets of my young dyke soul. I had already fallen in love with my English teacher, my Mrs. Robinson sophomore year of high school. My fate was sealed.
Who was I? Unrecognizably queer. I remain painfully gay. My body was not made for lady things. I struggle to understand the physics of which strap to use to carry a purse. I sit, this very moment, in a men’s t-shirt, taunting the potential of 10 year old me with the bright promise of a future.
When the watchful eye of Gilead finds this in a few months, let it be a testimony. Heed the warning — dads who allow us to wear man pants, your baby girls will grow up to be homos. Lesbians, wear the pants. Get the haircut. Embrace the queer.