In early 1991, I moved back to Spokane after almost five years in Dallas, In many respects those five years had been the most stable years of my adult life. I had been living in a two-room apartment in North Dallas and had been working for Lord & Taylor tor two years. There are two reasons for my decision to move home. [I will always regard Spokane as my home.] One of the reasons entails a lenghty backstory that does is more about my roommate than myself so I will forego that explanation. More importantly I was 37 years old and I had grown tired of living a closeted life. I had a full closet of clothing for the her in me and dressed when I could but it was entirely a private experience restricted to boundaries created by the walls of my apartment.
I was living in Dallas at the time and of course Dallas has a robust gay community and district. However, I found the idea of visiting one of the many local gay bars as somewhat intimidating. While I am sure this is not the best way to describe how I felt about doing so, it is one way that comes to mind at this time — I was afraid it might be too gay. So the time felt right for me to jump back on a Greyhound bus again and return to Spokane.
At the time Mom and Merle lived north of Colville in a place called Onion Creek. They had a country store there. It was about an two hour drive to Spokane from Onion Creek and after Mom met me at the bus depot, she suggested that been the long drive and my long bus ride it might be best if we simply got ourselves a couple of rooms and spent the night in Spokane. After dinner, I let her know that I was ‘really tired’ and was ready to get some sleep and we both went to our respective rooms. However rest and sleep was not my plan.
I made a run to a nearby grocery store and bought myself a half case of beer. When I returned to my room,, I threw two suitcases I had brought from Dallas on one of the beds and began to unpack, popping a beer before I did so. I then proceeded to spend the next two hours or so getting ‘dressed up.’ [As a child, unaware of the term ‘crossdressing.’ I had come to call what I did as ‘dressing up.’ It is a phrase I continue to use even today to idenitify the process of wearing women’s clothing.] I would say I had in in my mind that once I was all ready I would call a cab and go out to one of Spokane’s gay bars. There were only two at the time or maybe three. At the same time, I had never been so bold before so it may have been more of a hope than of a plan.
More than likely I finished off most of the twelve pack as I was getting ready. This evening would become somewhat of a norm for me over the next several years as crossdressing and beer drinking became linked. I can recall sitting on the bed, a phone book open before and reaching for the phone to call the club. I posed a question when someone answered the phone and he replied in the affirmative, ‘Yes, we do welcome crossdressers.’ I then had to call the cab company. This was a much more difficult call as it would set in motion a chain of events that for the most part could not be stopped. I asked much the same questioin of the dispatcher. “Yes, our drivers do accept fares from crossdressers.” When I hung up the phone, I knew that within a matter of minutes a cab would show up. If I was not ready at that moment, I would have to be ready soon.
I received a call shortly and was informed the cab had arrived. Our rooms were on the second floor. and after I left my room and headed to the staircase that would take me to the parking lot and the waiting cab, I had to pass my Mom’s room. I heard the television playing which did not mean she was awake but also meant she might have been. I gave a quick thought to knocking on the door and introducting Mom to the ‘daughter’ she never knew but with a cab waiting that was not really an option. As I walked down the stairs, I wondered if the cab driver knew I was a crossdresser and whether or not he might think I was a real woman. At the same time, I wondered if he thought of me as an attractive woman.
It was a short ride to the bar and when I went inside there were only about half a dozen patrons there. I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. I had not been sitting there too long when a man sat down beside me. We chatted and I gave him a quick update on how I had come to be sitting in this bar on this evening. He offered me some advice about the gay life in Spokane and was quite pleasant. After a spell he excused himself and said he was calling it a night.
He had only been out the door a few seconds when I jumped out of my barstool and followed him. He was a few steps down the street and I called out to him and asked if he would like to come back to my room. He thanked me for the invite but then added ‘You are not quite my type.’ Or words to that effect. It is part of the cruelty of this life of mine that as a transgender woman I often went to gay bars looking for men and yet most of the men there would be looking for other men. And the women there were not looking for anyone with male parts.
With a few years of my first foray into dressing up, I became cognizant of society’s disapproval of gay men and lesbian women. There was a real stigma attached to being gay whille at the same time it was a lifestyle that was being to assert itself. I did not want to be gay. I would insist to myself that I still prefer girls, that I simply liked dressing up in their clothes. I did not see myself as part of their subculture and for the most part the gay community did not see individuals such as myself part of their subculture. LGB was much more common than LGBT as a tag for their subculture. Howwever, on my first night out as Veronica, [not that I was using that name at the time], I tried to pick up a guy. I did so not because I had finally accepted myself as gay, but because I was finally open to seeing myself as a woman. At no time in my live befoe or sense had I ever saw myself or my choices as gay or gay choices.
And so be began a decaded of my life in which I lived a double life — forty hours work week as a man, weekend fun as a woman.