For Tomboys Everywhere

Recently, I was talking with my brother. It was obvious something was distracting his attention, but I didn't want to push.

Suddenly he smiled. "You're who Courtney needs to talk to!"

"Okay. What is she going to talk to me about?"

He sighed. "A couple of weeks ago I was tired. She asked me what a transvestite was." He closed his eyes and shook his head. "I told her, but it was more like I blew her off." He sighed again. "She jumped on her computer and began researching it. She was looking for some answers that I didn't give her. She looked up everything from gay to transvestite to pansexual."

"What's pansexual?"

He reached over to a table and handed me a report, rather crude, but very near college level research.

"She took everything she found and put it into a report."

Still looking over the extensive report's contents, I looked to my brother. "I'm the person she needs to talk to about this?"

He laughed. "Not this, I just wanted you to read this, it's impressive. I need you to talk to her about being a tomboy."

I sit blank faced not understanding the connection of the sexual orientations and being a tomboy, and then it hits me, she looked up sexual orientation instead of tomboy.

As a Black woman, the very last person I want to hear from is the person that starts a conversation with I don't have anything against... or I'm not prejudice but... Yet I'm compelled to say that I have absolutely nothing against the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual) community. As a veteran, I was a supporter of overturning don't ask, don't tell and I support gay marriage; but I think other voices need to be heard or at the very least, all possible options should be on the board. Before you get out your cross and nails to crucify me, hear me out.

Unlike a lot of adults, I actually remember what it was like growing up. I remember my friends and even some of the issues we discussed, way back in the early 70s. I remember Brian and his older sister Carletta; they had a really cool English accent. They had just moved to the States and their mother had recently passed away. But none of that is what made them special. They were special because Brain was openly gay. I don't remember if it was Brian or if it was Carletta, but they were able to get everyone to accept him for who he was. There were no fights, no one teased him, no one picked on him and most importantly, everyone liked him. He played with dolls with the rest of the girls. He jumped rope with the rest of the girls. He talked hair, fashion, music, and dancing with the rest of the girls. While I realize how huge it was to be openly gay, back then the big deal was that Brian made it okay for the rest of us to openly be ourselves also.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there were people somewhere that gave Brian a hard time because he was gay, but not in our immediate neighborhood, at least not that I knew of. Brian jumping rope with the girls opened the door for a few of the guys that just liked double-dutch and wanted to play. He opened the door for the guys that wanted to bake everyone cookies, to bake everyone cookies. He made it okay for the girls that wanted to play softball, basketball, and football to do just that. Brian's presence created a modern culture, ahead of its time, that allowed everyone to participate in whatever they wanted to more than forty years ago. As a result, I had lots of company growing up as a tomboy.

I remember being eight, nine, ten years old and feeling different than the other girls and sometimes being called names. Many of the girls were interested in boys, I was not. Many of the girls were interested in makeup, I was not. Many of the girls were focused on their looks, I was not. Many of the girls adored the girly doll games, I played with dolls only to have a reason to play with my female friends; given a choice, except for my best friend Michele (a girly girl), I would have preferred playing with the boys. After all, Barbie, Dawn and the Easy Bake oven were fun to play with but there was just something about G.I. Joe, H.O. race cars and softball that appealed to me more.

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