Makes a change from hi, doesn't it? :-)
I was about to write "the other day" or "earlier this week" and I've realised I start a lot of posts (and paragraphs) that way. Weird huh? Phrases that you just keep using eh? Talk about blogger's fingerprints. :-)
Where was I? Oh aye. Yes, I had an email from a friend - a trans friend, just so we're clear. There's nothing super-personal about it, but I'll preserve the lady's anonymity as it's not mine to give away. Mrs B had written in and - amongst other things - asked:
I wanted to hear from you what you get from your group outings. It seems to me
that you give a great deal of your time, and that you must be helpful to others
struggling to come to terms. There must be great value to you in that. What else
What do I get from the group's outings? Off the top of my head - and these are somewhat different to what I put in my email - friendship, a good night out, a sense of belonging and a chance to give something back.
I do put a bit of effort into the group. Not as much as other folk do, but every little helps right? A hand with the web site, a friendly hello to new folk who make the effort to come along and the occasional dabble in organising visits. Visits as in businesses, or perhaps more accurately vendors, coming to the group. Sometimes that's to sell, other times to interact and get our opinions. "Our" as in the 'trans community'. We're a secretive bunch... despite the Flickr streams, forums, YouTube videos and blogs :-)
But going back to a part of Mrs B's question: I think it comes down to friendship. I can turn up and just be myself. Now, that'll sound odd considering in the majority of my nights there, I dress as a woman. Something I don't do in my working or home life. So how can it be that I'm myself? I think the answer is that I can go to Chameleons as just me: it doesn't matter if I dress like a man or a woman. I get the same treatment regardless.
Does that imply that "I'm not myself" when I'm not dressed up? No, but there's a guard in place when I'm with work mates and many of my friends. That barrier isn't there when there's just me and the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones, or when I'm at Chams.
Talking of Mrs Jones, the bulk of my socialising revolves around our family. I'm not a "go down the pub" kinda guy, as I'm not a big drinker and talk about sports, gardening, etc just aren't my bag. Chameleons is the exception to my public face: there, and as I've stated earlier, I don't have to watch what I say (public decently aside :P ). I can easily talk about a book or film as much as I can talk about the insanity of fashion or why you can't get a shoe in a 9 during the sale.
That's not to say going to a group like this is for everyone. Perhaps some would find it a bit mundane and not enough 'real world'. That's cool. One size does not fit all - not even if it was made of industrial strength Lycra. Some want to hit the clubs or bars and fit in.
Anyways... there you go.
Take care and if you're celebrating Halloween, I hope it's a good one!
[ Today's lyric: Viva La Vida by Coldplay* ]
PS: * Much as I don't like a lot of their stuff, every now and then a band (I'm not keen on) will release a track that I really like. I wonder if it's a gentle nudge from On High reminding me not to be a music bigot :)