“Nail polish…?” he said, while shaking my hand with its purple nails. I smiled and easily replied, “Oh, yeah, I’m a big old sissy” and then we both laughed. Just like that, we had started to establish a really honest and effective working client-counsellor relationship. It was a great way to break the ice.
This client was very much a straight rock-and-roll dude, and, as we got to know each other, the way my "touchy-feely therapist” language and his ready-to-rock dude language met became running humor between us.
This is one of the things I love most about being a counsellor; the ability to share space and emotional connection with people across the spectrum of human experience. If only the world were more like the counselling room in this regard…
In the last few years I’ve started wearing nail polish again, on the occasion. I’ve a strong effeminate side going back to my early childhood. When I was a young man I even spent a fantastic summer as a drag queen. And I have come to realize that I had cut off too much of my inner sissy while “adulting” in the world as a working professional. So when the whim strikes, out comes the nail polish…
Ok, now about that word: Sissy. As a young gay boy growing up deep in the country in the 60’s and 70’s, that word was right up there with Faerie. Neither of which one would dare to be, in that time and place. Both of these words were used as lethal weapons. I have reclaimed them to be words of empowerment.
It gets better. I became free and I learned to celebrate my life. I stand in a well-earned place of power when I refer to myself as a sissy. It is gentle humor, and it is truth, and it is manifesto. It is a reclaiming and it is elegy for those who have gone before and for those yearning still for freedom.
The more we stand in celebration of ourselves the more we help others to love and celebrate themselves. My rock-dude client still contacts me on occasion, expressing his gratitude as he continues finding his own way to freedom and celebration. I’m grateful to him, too, for what he taught me about his humanity as well.
The annual Civic tradition of millions of people of every orientation around the world flocking to LGBTQ parades and celebrations is in full swing and will be happening here in the Lower Mainland throughout the next several weeks. At the Pride Celebrations everyone gets just about dizzy with the joy of freedom.
It is palpable, beaming out of every face. All the decades of work my community has done is generously transmuted to people of all orientations, simply by joining in our celebrations.
Earlier I talked about sharing space and emotional connection across the human experience. Perhaps, in it’s best moments, Pride is an example of this being possible.
I will stand in my power as a Sissy. It is my hope and my goal that the work I have done transmutes to empowering others. I’ll close now and go about my day, remembering to celebrate my life. (I’m going blueberry picking, I think I’ll wear my big sissy straw hat…).
And just in case you need to hear this, you, too, in your complete humanity, deserve whole-hearted celebration. Here is your invitation, should you need it, to go out and celebrate your life today…