My Evolution

Antoinette Coles poetically describes how she continually comes out to herself and others.

When I was a toddler someone told my mother she had a lovely daughter.

I was mad but I liked feeling like I was thought of as pretty.

Mom said, “It’s because of your long eyelashes.”

When I was a tween someone told my mother she had a lovely daughter.

I was curious why they said that and a little mad but more accustomed to it.

Dad looked at me and lovingly told me “I see your mother in your eyes.”

When I was a teen someone told my mother that she had a lovely daughter.

Being quite accustomed to it, I thought it was funny and was curious why they’d said it.

Mom said, “It might be because of your long hair and flowered shirt. You do have high cheek bones & long eyelashes.”

When I was in my twenties someone told me I was a lovely woman.

I understood why they said that, but not why I preferred wearing a dress.

Mom asked, “What did you do to that hair I gave you? I don’t like the blonde. By the way, you are wearing too much make-up.”

At fifty-three I mostly wear dresses and am a lovely woman.

I hope that my mother is proud of her lovely daughter. I wish I could tell her how much she has shown me how to be a graceful lady.

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I never came out to my parents. I hardly ever came out at all. At least not in the ways that everyone says you should. My gender and sexuality have evolved through the years. The fluidity has taken me from so in the closet that I couldn’t admit any of it to myself; to a cross-dressing, bi-identified male; to where I am now. I currently identify as a femme lesbian, polyamorous transwoman.

That isn’t to say that it was in any way a constant flow. In the later 1980s, three friends died. One was a lover. AIDS sent me back in the closet. I tried to live life as a heterosexual. I tried again to hold in everything that would even show I was queer.

In 2003, my mom died. That event caused me to realize that life is too short to live these lies. Besides, this was like holding a beach ball under water. It always surfaces.

I opened up my self again to being bisexual and started acting on it. I shared with a few. Through that, I was outed as being bi by a coworker. At first I was scared, but it was freeing. I could let my soul show. Like I had previously, I just did it: no letters to family, no big announcements at work … I just started living in the new iteration of who I became. In doing that, I came to realize that my clothing choice was really a bigger thing.

I am a woman. I have a birth defect—it’s my body. Hormone replacement therapy has helped my body look mostly right. I no longer have any outing to do, but I out myself anytime I meet someone, and I often out my primary partner. I don’t want there to be any surprises.