Linda McKitrick – Identity and Awareness

“What are you doing this weekend?”

I knew probably when I was about 13, but I didn’t really know what “it” was. When I was about 13 or 14, there would be girls at school and I was attracted to them. I didn’t know why I was attracted to them and not to the guys, but I felt comfortable in my own skin. I actually came out when I was 18, a senior in high school. That was my first relationship. She was 24 years old; she was my physical education teacher. I just knew that was the way I was going to be for the rest of my life. You know, I had gone out with guys and stuff. I didn’t have a sexual relationship with them or anything. I thought I wasn’t supposed to be this way, so I tried dating men. Kissing a man was like kissing the back of my hand.

Barbara was her name and I really, really liked her. One weekend she said, “What are you doing this weekend?” And I said, “Probably going to one of those basketball games.” She said, “Why don’t you come to my house? I’ll rent some movies.” She told me she loved me. She took a big big chance. I said, “You’re lucky it’s me.” And she said “Well, yeah, I wouldn’t say that to anyone else.” At school, she’d come and get me out of study hall and have me come help in the gym. She could do that because she needed help setting up and stuff. She knew I was done with my studies in the first half, so she’d come get me out and take me over to the gym. Barbara had a partner who was going to school in Illinois. So Barbara was cheating on her, more or less, and that was with me.

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I remember, the first time I ever kissed a woman: I knew that was the way I was going to be. I know a lot of gay people go through a real emotional time that is really bad, but I always accepted myself. I never went through that. I only went through it because I knew that straight people . . . You know how straight people are, they wouldn’t like me, if they found out I was gay.

I didn’t see that there was anything wrong with it at all. I really think I was born this way and I accepted the fact that this was me. I just think I was born to not like men. I’m not one of those man haters. In fact, most of my friends are gay men. I feel comfortable with them; I don’t feel threatened by them. There are two men, my friends’ husbands, they are really, really nice. I just knew I was different. That that is not what I wanted in life, to be with a man.

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[At Odyssey Youth Center] there was a . . . Well, I thought he was a man when I first met him . . . When I first started going there I actually thought he was a man. I asked him, “Do you have a partner?” Well, when he said “Yes,” and said his partner’s name, I was convinced that he was a guy. Then he told me [he was transgender]. I said, “Have you had the surgery?” And he said, “No, I probably won’t ever have the surgery.” I said to him, “I hope I don’t offend you in any way, but I have some questions, because I don’t know that much about trans people.” And he said, “By all means, you ask me anything you want Linda; you won’t offend me.” I said, “If I happen to ask you anything that isn’t any of my business, you tell me that.” I think he probably makes a better looking man then he would a woman. There’s the voice and everything. He wants to be just like he is.

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As far as the women I’ve been with, I’m not attracted to a real butchy woman that looks like a man. I am attracted more to [someone] that wears sweatshirts and jeans, but not “masculine.” As far as role playing, I think I’d be more fem, because I’m not real assertive person. If somebody . . . you know, starts first, then I can take either role. I can talk and talk for days to get to know somebody, but I’m not assertive. I can talk your leg off. But there were many cases where I was attracted to someone, but I didn’t have the nerve to go up and ask them to dance or something. If they made the first move, then I’d be okay. I’m right in the middle, I can be either one. But when I [first] came out you just didn’t do that. There was definite roll playing. If I was drinking, if I’d had a couple of beers, I got real friendly, but I don’t drink anymore. I got beat up a couple of times because I made a pass at someone in the bar. They’d say, “Leave her alone, she’s with me.” Well, I didn’t listen. I would never have done that if I was sober. There was no way. I used to drink a lot. That was the thing to do when I was in the military. Everybody drank. Not “everybody,” but the majority of people did drink.

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson, 22 November 2006; held in the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.