So, October 11th is National Coming Out Day, established to encourage a safe world where LGBTQ people can come out and live our authentic lives. For the past 15 years or so, the Human Rights Campaign has even given it a theme of some kind.
Everyone comes out in their own way. Matter of fact, I’d venture to say a good many of us don’t even do it on Oct. 11. My coming out was July 20, 2012. It was pretty much a disaster and was the last thing in the world I’d planned on doing that day when I went to work that morning.
The day started out like any other, for the most part. I was the program director for 100.3 Jack-FM radio station in Dallas, a job I cherished.
For more than a year, my now-ex-wife’s radar had been going haywire. She was sure I was sleeping around. But I wasn’t.
She was periodically accusing me of inappropriate relationships with a variety of women, none of which were true. She was way off base.
By July 20, I had been in Dallas for almost nine months working for CBS Radio and looking for a place to live. I finally found a house in Flower Mound that my then-wife and I both loved. We moved in around May 1 — and things were fine for a while.
We had been married for 33 years and like any marriage, ours had its ups and downs. But this whole “I know there’s another woman” thing had been pretty relentless for more than a year.
Around mid-day that July 20 four years ago, I was at CBS, in my office on the 10th floor, when my wife walked into my office and threatened to “cause a big scene” if I didn’t come clean. I again pleaded innocent and asked her — kind of as a last resort — “What do you want me to do, take a lie detector test?”
She said yes. I said, “Fine, book it.”
So she did. Right from my desk phone at my CBS office. It was scheduled for the following morning, Saturday, July 21, 2012.
Great, happy birthday to me! “Here’s your polygraph. By the way, it’s going to be $300.”
She left my office and presumably went home, happy that she would get the answer she wanted.
I felt relaxed because I knew I’d finally be vindicated. We should have done this a long time ago!
The rest of the day passed, and I drove home pondering what the polygraph examiner could possibly ask. I didn’t care what they asked; I had nothing to hide.
By 2012, I’d been painting my nails for a few years and preferred silk PJs. She had asked me on occasion if I wanted to be a woman. (Um, wanted to be? Hell, I knew I was.)
I had always brushed it off. So if they asked me that question, the cat would be out of the bag. I had never ever told a single soul and was willing to take this to my grave (though it would have likely been an early one).
So I got home, now more than a little concerned that this one question would be asked. I was met at the door and my wife said, “I cancelled the polygraph.” I said, “Good, I’m glad.” She added, “I still know you’re hiding something.”
The Flower Mound House was paradise. It was a huge, meticulously remodeled 4,500-square-foot masterpiece on 8½ acres. We had a pond, trees, a fire pit. It was gorgeous.
I walked out on this warm summer evening and sat by myself. In the solitude and quiet I took a picture. I knew this was the last bit of peace I was going to have for a very long time. It was also, the last moments I had as “him.”
After taking the picture, I walked inside and said to my wife, “I have been hiding something. I want you to know that if I tell you, I can never ‘un-tell’ you and that it will change everything. If I don’t tell you, it won’t hurt you. It will be my secret.”
She wanted to know. So I told her: “There is another woman. It’s ME.”
Her initial response to hearing that her husband was a transgender woman who needed to transition: “Is that all it is? I’ve known that for a long time.”
Initially, she was very supportive. But soon, she began reading about people who are transgender and what was going to happen to her husband. Things changed.
By December, she had packed a bag for a visit to see friends in her native California … and she never came back.
Of course, I’d fantasized about how all of this might have played out and never had it gone down this way. I was backed into a corner and more or less just blurted it out. But ultimately, what needed to happen, happened.
Transition isn’t easy, especially when other people are involved, as they nearly always are.
You can plan all you want. But sometimes, it all goes to hell. It has made my birthday more than a celebration of just another year. For me, there’s no looking back.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.