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Last To Know

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

For extra drama, please listen to Three Days' Grace's "Last To Know" for full effect. Jk. It's not that deep.


Weeks ago, my therapist asked me if, when I looked back at my life, I saw any characters or movies or books or music that is a tip off that I was trans in retrospect. I didn’t know how to answer them for a while, because the only thing I could think of was this book series that had lesbian witches in it that my sister tattled to my mom about to get my mom to throw the books out. I’d known I liked girls since first grade, but as far as gender was concerned, I was just really gender nonconforming until I realized I didn’t conform to a gender because I was actually nonbinary and I wasn’t really much like a girl because I WASN’T a girl. Or a boy. But that was in recent personal history.


When I take stock of my life and give things a thorough look, I’m in awe of my own obtuseness about my inherent queerness. Granted I didn’t have vocabulary, supportive family, or accepting peers that it took for me to finally do some introspection and figure out what the hell was going on that had made me feel so marooned my entire life. That said…





Short-Sleeved Denim overshirt? Micro bangs, loud florals? Are you joking? Y’all, what the fuck. That baby is queer as hell. Come the fuck on.





This is me as a 6th grader. I mean honestly, all those years I lamented puberty not making me hot who was I kidding, I was just 2022 hot in 2006.


As a kid, my favorite bugs bunny episodes were the ones where Bugs dressed up as a hyperfemme lady. Something about everyone being absolutely bamboozled by a rabbit in a dress and not realizing that underneath the bright red puckered lips, curly updo wig, and southern belle dress was a whole-ass RABBIT made me feel at home in ways I couldn’t even begin to process. He sawed off Florida before any of us understood why.


When I was like 6, I had to get a bunch of shots to prep for kindergarten. One in each arm and leg. I didn't cry so my mom rewarded my baby toxic masculinity with a few really great CD's I still enjoy today. New Radicals "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too", and Savage Garden's "Affirmations". The former is an incredibly anti-capitalistic view on the music industry written in post-psychadelic rock sounds. The other is the gayest album I have heard, to date. I don't even know if Queen is as gay as these two men were with this brilliant set of songs. Queen has a very closeted, wise and soft sound, as if its an older gay guy sitting at a bar telling you about his life having to pretend his long-time partner was his brother before his partner and all his friends died of AIDS and he made it but at what cost; very much saying "I'm longing for a time when I don't have to live my life in secret" kind of feel. Savage Garden is like if Say Anything was about two gay teenagers. It has the intensity of your first love, with the added intensity of if your first love was socially tabboo and nobody could find out or you'd both probably literally die. It sounds like the feeling of longing for your partner so hard when you're going to bed in your parents' house, and you can't wait until you can spend the night together once you move out of your hometown and start college. Before you start on how I could have missed something THAT obvious, 1) I was 6, 2) I thought the word "lesbian" was "alesbian", 3) I grew up during Don't Ask Don't Tell, and 4) I also listened to Glen Miller, Hillary Duff, The Lion King soundtrack, and the energizing opening notes to Patti Labelle's "New Attitude" before Rush Limbaugh, or Dr. Laura, or Sean Hannity, or Dennis Miller, or whatever pre-9/11 republican radio show my mom had on in the car because I didn't have a personal walkman, boombox, or any other mode of listening to music on my own. So cut me a LITTLE BIT of slack before you start in and ask me how I missed the big signs. But only a little bit because some of these signs are just...whoo. Too big.


When I turned 12, it was time for me to start prepping for confirmation. We moved around a lot, so I’d already done reconciliation, and first communion in other parishes. For the non-Catholics in the audience confirmation is basically the Catholic equivalent of a bar/bat mitzvah, except a whole lot less work and thought. If you’re an adult it probably takes some reflection and critical thinking skills. If you’re a kid like I was, it means weekly arts and crafts and snacks in exchange for listening to readings and being spoon-fed information needed for the priest or bishop to check the box, slather you with oil, and send you on your way as a new Catholic. Part of the process that’s universal no matter age, though, is picking a confirmation saint. This saint can be any Catholic saint, and you can choose them for any reason you want. One of my favorite questions when I’m getting to know people who grew up Catholic was “Who was your Confirmation saint?”. It always gets really fun answers.


I picked Joan of Arc. At the time, there was a show on television called Joan of Arcadia. The premise was like if Jesus was in the here and now, and if someone was asked to do things without questioning them in the same way Jesus was. When tasked with picking a saint, I’d come to really like Joan of Arc, but also that was my favorite TV show. I can still hear my mom’s voice in my head chastising me in advance as she always did, saying “You better not be picking her because of Joan of Arcadia”. “I’m not! I like Joan of Arc!” I said indignantly, hoping my face didn’t betray that I was but a lazy child not wanting to scour the ancient book of saints on the cobwebbed bookshelf in the basement.


Of course this ended up being really fucking funny as I got older and realized just how much I found solace in Joan of Arc’s life story. Being the only woman-presenting person in a man-dominated field like music, and then later Computer Science really required some mental strength and handing off problems to a bad bitch up above sometimes. Things only got funnier when I realized I’m nonbinary and that Joan of Arc is the nonbinary equivalent of her day.


So after all this, I’m sitting here wondering how the hell was I the last to know of seemingly everyone I’ve known in my life. In middle school, I got picked on a LOT. They called me as “Carl”, and referred to as a boy constantly. And yeah, kids are assholes in middle school, but the biggest thing is it wasn’t happening to any of the girls I knew. The boys didn’t collectively gang up on them and refer to them as boys, misgender them,

and misname them with an awful masculine name (sorry to the Carls out there but uh…not my cup of tea for naming choice). Way later in my life, one of my profs-turned-chosen mom told me “Yeah that day you came into my office I was fully expecting you to come out to me and tell me you wanted to be called Carl with he/him pronouns”. Its super funny to me, I just don’t know how I missed the memo for SO MANY YEARS meanwhile everyone was chowing down on some popcorn waiting for the show to start.


In reality it doesn’t REALLY matter. I’m an adult now. I have access to HRT. I’m in supportive relationships and have cut out abusive ones. I’m living in a city and state that’s providing me legal protections. I’m pursuing queer connections in my line of work to find a place in my industry where I can be authentic and not feel this crushing weight of keeping the closet door closed at work to keep from getting fired or harassed in case they aren’t the understanding and accepting types.


Everyone gets there on their own time, and mine happened to be after a lot of obvious road signs finally made an impact on me.


But damn all of you for not at least sitting me down and screaming "YOU HAD DENIM AND MICROBANGS AS A BABY CHILD" directly into my face until I understood what was happening.


Thanks for NOTHING (jk love u)

-Charlie

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