After the cinema yesterday evening, I entered a gay bar with some friends. I never go to gay bars – or any bars, except in cinemas. I get anxious in crowded rooms of strangers, where alcohol is flowing and the music is slightly deafening. Like Alicia Vikander's cyborg in Ex Machina, I feel vulnerable in my artificiality.
In the gay bar we were okay at our upper-floor table. A group of people I didn't know joined us, squeezing in at our table. Perhaps there was someone who was studying me from the corner of my eye, but that's okay. It was late, and people drink on Saturday night, and what's wrong with looking anyway. People are not machines. Only I am a machine.
We were asked to move, after a while, the upper floor was being closed, it was midnight by this time. Like a gay bar equivalent of Dante's Inferno (14th Century), we were, in fact, being moved, level by level, to the basement, with the deafening music and the gyrating shapes of people dancing. Such rooms really are my idea of the seventh level of hell.
I tried to avoid going down there, sipping at the Jagermeister someone had got me, sipping it like an old woman with sherry. I guess it's meant to be drunk in shots. I don't know how to behave in bars and clubs.
I entered the basement dance room to say goodbye to the friends I'd come with. A guy from my original table grabbed me, tried to make me dance with them. No, no way, I said trying to pull away. Please, I don't want to dance. It might be my imagination but others from our table were shouting in encouragement, dance, dance. After several seconds/minutes/hours/years, I broke away, made my goodbyes and exited.
I feel wretched for yanking myself away from that guy. Like there was something wrong with him, that the idea of dancing with him revolted me, was anathema to me. There was nothing wrong with him, I just didn't want to dance. I never want to dance. And to those voices shouting encouragement, which might have been from the friends at the bar, or from the inside of my head, please don't think that everyone likes dancing, and that there's something wrong with me for not wanting to dance. I don't cast aspersions on people who don't express themselves through writing. Some people dance, while I can only write, and so the cosmos goes. The only constant is the way we wake up Sunday morning, after a late night out, and in our heads are echo chambers telling us how shit we are.
Written the following Monday:
Few articles, and few experiences, shook me and distressed me in their making than the above. With my transitioning going smoothly, my life with its routines, my documents all stating 'F' under gender, last Saturday night felt like a traumatic regression. How or why do I describe myself repeatedly as artificial? Why deny myself the possibility of something sensuous with another? I guess what it exposes is how your transitioning identity can move at different speeds. Professionally and academically and also with friends, I am comfortably trans female; what you see is what you get. But sexually, this part hasn't developed at all, mainly because I haven't allowed it to. I guess this will continue for the time being, my conscious barrier remaining. I won't go again to bars or clubs until I'm ready, and I feel my body is more at one with the identity I yearn for, and to some degree have successfully, finally begun embracing. Until then, I remain Gina in almost every situation except the most intimate kind of all - a place where I don't exist, and am not even sure I have the language for, until some day.