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Lost: Beauty Queen

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

I cannot find the beauty queen that I am looking for. She has my name, or more accurately, I have hers. A contestant in the Miss Canada pageant somewhere between 1970–1975.

When asked, my Mother enthusiastically quips “Oh yes, as soon as we heard it, your Father and I looked at each other and just knew, someday we would name our daughter that, is that not strange? How we just knew?”

Its rather bothersome that they knew who I was to be, and yet to me it’s still somewhat allusive.

My Father was a navy man, complete with tattoos from the prolific Jerry Collins himself. He was a firefighter for 30 years, retiring as captain only a few years ago, and during his spare time he opened the first legal casino in our city, that he is still presently running. He is a charming strong-man type, that other men either want to fight or aspire to be, while his keen moral compass alludes to his deep compassion just enough for women to swoon and get giggly at.

My Mother is all things excessively feminine, complete with floral wall borders, lace doilies, porcelain dolls, and a closet jammed full of purses, scarves, costume jewelry and garments that inspired my gifting her a “bedazzler”, knowing it would be put to good use. She is fiercely loyal, dependably stalwart and so fearlessly honest, I’ve learned to not ask her opinion, unless I'm emotionally prepared for the consequences of her conviction.

My parents were divorced by the time I was born, therefore being primarily raised by my Mother, a descendant of Anglo-Saxon heritage, I was instructed on the requirements of being a lady. A “Ms.” who only speaks when spoken too, a “Miss” who is intelligently well mannered, and proper “Lady” who could exceed the expectations her namesake bestowed.

I am not a Ms., Miss or Lady; and I don’t wear dresses.

I am taller than most of my female bodied counterparts, with broad shoulders, small chest, narrow hips and a squashy midsection that forecasts my emotional state better than I am often able to interpret it. I’m an outspoken, dynamic adventure seeker who bores easily and will almost always fight for the under dog. I have tattoos, body piercings, black boots, collared button ups, and cheeky T-shirts that imply my political and social leanings. You can hear my laugh long before you can see me in the crowd, but should you you get lost, I’m the one bubbling with enthusiasm somewhere in the middle, and I am neither boy or girl.

Its true that I am equipped with the body parts that should easily designate me to one or the other. But, as many of us queers have learned, gender is defined by two things; the society I engage with, and how I feel about it.

I am most aware of my gender disparity on special occasions, when a person is supposed to get “dressed up”. Do I wear a tie? Do I straighten my hair into a sleek pompadour, or flaunt my messy curls? Do I wear make up to only even out my skin tone, or do I pull out the eyeshadow palette and mascara? should I bind my breasts so that my suspenders lay flat brandishing my angular shoulders, or wear a bra and leave my collar open enough to spark confused interest? Through the course of the evening I will likely pull out the lip-gloss, straighten my tie, fluff my hair to astounding heights, and wonder if I should have dabbed sparkles to the corner of my eyelids so that I could flutter them enticingly while attempting to flirt.

Generally, I've learned to revel in the shadow of my freak flag. However, there are still times where I am desperate to reconcile the anxiety of aligning myself to how world thinks I should be, and who I am. There are many more when I don’t know where the definition of one ends, and I begin. And there are those times when all I want is my damned coffee, and don’t have the energy to explain I am not a ma'am, because well, I have not yet had my damned coffee.

I have often wondered if I am who I am because I was raised with a keen sense of what a man or woman should be. Perhaps after so many failed attempts of not fitting into either, I picked up the prettiest and most handsome of their broken pieces to keep for myself.

What is certain, is that I will continue to do my best loving all of it. No matter my assumed body shape, perceived intellectual qualification, alleged emotional brevity or distinct wardrobe selection on hand. I will continue learning to love me, just as I am.

A sometimes beauty queen, warrior king, wayward peasant, ardent friend and lover of chocolate cake with vanilla icing.

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