Okay, I admit it. I take a lot of “selfies.” You know, photos of myself using my phone. Well, not a ton, but probably more than your average working lesbian mom living in the suburbs. There’s the one I took when I got new sunglasses, laying in the sun, looking up at the camera. There’s the one I took looking down at my keyboard that with just the right Instagram filter looks kind of artsy. And then there’s the most recent one of me in the Kentucky Derby hat that I made myself. “So photogenic” a friend posted on Facebook. “Why, thank you so much!” I thought to myself.
Then the other day it hit me. I realized why suddenly at 38 I enjoy taking my own picture and posting it for the world to see and maybe even admire. It is because I am gay! Huh? Wait, let me explain. It goes deeper than just being gay. I think it is because for the first time in my life I feel pretty. I feel confident in my femininity. I finally know who I am – and I like myself. You see, when I was in high school it is not like I lacked confidence. I was the president of my class, the captain of multiple sports teams and I had a lot of really great friends. But while my friends spent their free time nurturing their feminine side, putting on makeup, and dressing to impress the boys, I was struggling to figure out who I was and why I had no desire to impress the boys. Besides, I am a “ginger,” so with my red hair and freckles it wasn’t like I imagined myself on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.
I wore dresses and makeup (still do) and went to prom, but I was never fully comfortable in my own skin and I always knew that I was different. I bought a brand new “outfit” for almost every high school event because to me it was like a costume – “who am I supposed to be tonight?” Part of me thrived while part of me floated aimlessly, wondering how to reconcile who I was with who I thought the world might want me to be. Twelve years in a Catholic school uniform plus four years at a military academy and five years in the Army only stunted my development in the personal appearance department.
It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I fully embraced that I am gay and again I struggled with how to present myself to the world. Upon “coming out,” I sported the costumes I thought I should wear. Bikini top and board shorts, anyone? How about some cargo pants. Not that there is anything wrong with these looks – they just weren’t me. My sister once asked me if khakis were some sort of lesbian uniform. I don’t think I’ve worn them since.
So here I am and I finally get it. It has taken almost two decades to fully grow into who I was born to be. I finally get “me.” I can finally look in the mirror and like who I see. And sometimes, okay a lot of times, I capture it in a selfy. So don’t judge me. You are never too old to learn to appreciate yourself and to realize that you are beautiful just the way are. So go ahead, take a selfy. You might just see the beauty that was there the whole time.