Exposed to two distinct silhouettes, LGBTeen editor Daye Pope wondered—do things really have to be so black-and-white?
I couldn’t find myself in either silhouette—the tall, lithe man with his chopped tuft of hair; nor in the smaller, delicateness of the woman in his arms with her long cascade of curls flowing down over the exposed skin of her shoulder. With the spotlight imprinting their dark counterparts against the back wall of the auditorium, I could see no part of me in either of the shadows cast, nor in the figures which cast them.
The man and the woman—separate, distinct, polar in nature and complimentary in design—raised their voices in song, declaring their love for each other to the sky, or at least to the curved ceiling above our heads. His voice, a sparkling tenor, full of all his boyish hopes, mingled with her soprano, hitting notes as clear as city bells.
I couldn’t hear my voice in the auditorium. It—much like my silhouette, much like myself—was missing. Invisible. In my $49 seat to this show, as well as in life, I was on the outside looking in—in at a world that didn’t seem to include anything other than man or woman.
I looked down, away from the glistening ideals, at myself—at my shag of blue hair nearly reaching my jaw after nearly 6 months of painstakingly growing it out, diligently refusing to cut it. I looked at my body: male, but with a petite frame. Soft contours, but narrow hips. The slight shadow of hair on my chin, but little hair anywhere else. I thought about my voice, too high and airy to ever speak with the force of depth, yet too low to register as a woman’s (unless over the phone, or with an effort of will.)
I thought about the figures on the stage and the caring way they held each other, the song of love they sang to each others’ ears, and my mind returned to me—no more a woman declaring her love for a man than a man declaring his love for a woman.
I used to see two gay men together and feel as if they somewhat described me, that I could relate to them. Now, though, even if the two silhouettes both showed short tufts of hair, both voices singing a baritone harmony, though it would bring a smile to my face, I do not think that I would feel as if I were like them.
The truth is—and I struggle with this—I don’t even know what being with me would mean for someone else any more. If a man loves a person who is neither man nor woman, or perhaps both, or perhaps something else entirely, is the man gay? Surely he isn’t straight? And what if I—man and woman that I am, am not, am something else—fall in love with someone who also doesn’t fit the only two categories there seem to be?
I wonder what our silhouettes would look like—distinct, polar, complimentary? Or would they ebb and flow together, switching places, becoming one? I wonder what our voices would sound like, singing our own tune of love and longing-and would anyone else be able to recognize the melody?
It is not just of my hair or my body that I am somehow other. It is of my mind, my self-conception, my spirit: the things I am inexplicably drawn to and the things I, against all teachings and conventions, flee. I have always felt that I somehow straddle these two worlds, not all that far apart and yet foreign to each other—man and woman. One foot in one and one in the other, loving both, wishing to live fully in neither, feeling stretched thin in the aptly named no-man’s land that separates them.
I wonder why they have to be so far apart, if it would not be better for them to touch at the ends, even to overlap. I wonder why I am this way—what combination of nature, nurture or spiritual has made me a foreigner to both sides. I wonder if there will ever be a world for me, a world in which I can stand with two feet firmly planted, the light casting silhouettes across the walls—silhouettes that I can see myself in.
Silhouettes that look like me.