Jan 1, 2011

Five for ’10, Part II: Great Excursions en Femme

The first post in this series focused on the fluff between my unpierced ears. Today's is a look back at a handful of highlights, memorable moments of the newly old year, enjoyed in the great outdoors in the fully feathered form of Petra.

I write this guardedly, not wanting to gloat. I recognize that I am fortunate in my relative freedom to get out of the house and away from the mirror, without much in the way of fear or complication. I live in a big city, a relatively liberal one. I have a fashionable cloak of anonymity in short, and if worse comes to worse, I can run from trouble really quite quickly even in tallish heels. At home, my habits are not secret, and while not actively encouraged, at least not fought against.

These are luxuries of chance, not of earned virtue. I recognize that many readers and some of my closest online companions do not have these luxuries. With that said, this past year I continued to push out my boundaries, cross new lines, and discover green new fields. The payoff has been huge. Whatever your circumstances, I encourage you to challenge your own boundaries, to find a way to interact with a part of the real world, presenting as best you can. As the great Marvin G. and Tammy T. sang, "… ain’t nothing like the real thing baby…".

Here therefore, I am taking a look back at some very real moments, and the great, unexpected learnings that came with them. Links to the original reportage contained below too.

Way back in January I attended the first of many mid-day, mid-week musical luncheons at The Heretic, a venerable gay bar deep in the heart of Atlanta’s own quaint and grotty tenderloin district. Apart from the great BBQ, the remarkable guitar and vocal stylings of Miss Edie, and all the joy that a warm sunny January day brings out in people, I just had a hoot chatting about fashion, music and advanced techniques for blowing off a work day with Lindley, and her boyfriend Ian. Unbridled fun. This day, in hindsight, was the first time where my presentation kind of fell off into the background of my thoughts. Being Petra seemed as though it could be an unconscious, natural and accepted thing. 

By the time winter had sloughed fully off, I was out in brightish spring hues rifling the clearance shoe racks of nice shop at Phipps Plaza. Myself and another shopper navigated around each other in the tall narrow confines until something caught her attention. Bless Leisl’s curiosity and open heart. Perhaps she was in need then of corrective lenses, but it took her a good long while to twig to the truth that I was a shopper with a difference. She tentatively and politely engaged with me, providing an opportunity for a little CD outreach. She asked a couple of questions that I needed to hear, and work out answers for. This beautiful encounter spawned a three part essay, first of which might be found just over here.

My last outing before the long, drab summer slum-fest was less commercial, more cultural. The High Museum is home to a few gems of the visual arts. It also has perfect acoustics for the crisp clack of heel on hard tile. I was surprised, alarmed, delighted and who knows what else when the nice young lady at the Members entrance kiosk recognized the other me beneath the make-up. This day I saw a couple of my favorite pictures through a different set of eyes. It was electrifying. In fact, some thoughts coalesced for me that day that wound up being the core theme of curricula I developed and delivered to an Art History class last summer. I may have missed the newness if I was in flats.

This year was my first (and god willing the creek don’t rise, not my last) Southern Comfort Conference. I spent the better part of a full week en Femme amongst a massive gathering of TG’s of all sorts, their partners and better than expected grub. Here I was able to lay to rest the last of my fears of Cross Dressing. I came away from SCC more certain of who I am than I was when I first suited up. The first post on the event is here, and more followed. If you have not attended a conference accommodative of your place on the gender expression continuum, do so. Get thee to a funnery, and soon. Let me know if I will see you at SCC 2011.

To round out the list, I still get a kick out of the impulse I followed quite without thinking in Macy’s just after wriggling into the embrace of a great new dress. I did not have to go and stand so brazenly in front of the 3 way mirror. I did not have to turn 360, smooth my contours and strike a pose. I did not have to stop and face the husbands and boyfriends sadly deposited in the soft couches just outside the fitting rooms, turn slowly on heel and vanish, but dammit, I did. A hush descended, and for a brief moment I held the magical power that all women possess at some level. Who could not respect, and not want this power?

Feeling that power, in some measure, is the dividend of our transformations and explorations. It is intoxicating. The intoxication is a feeling I seek, and a feeling that frightened once, but frightens no more. To borrow the parlance of the Heroin enthusiast, I chased the Dragon full of the knowledge that the Dragon might swallow me whole. The Dragon did not. We cohabitate. My parts feel integral. I am without doubt as to who I am inside, and more convinced than ever that my biology (for lack of a better word) is sound. 

I wondered for years whether, if I had the opportunity to roam freely en Femme, I would realize a need to change the biology. As it happens, the need is not there, my assignment is correct, and adequate to a very happy and full life. A life made more happy and full by the warm embrace extended to, and granted by, Petra.

Next up, in this continuing Five for ’10 series, five memorable shopping moments. Deep discounts and shallow breaths, great fashion fortune without (much) loss of fortune.

O, and while I remember, do have a Happy New Year.


Claire L Hallam said...

Wonderful Petra, see you in 2011. Oh and do I need 3D glasses for the picture on your January post? Either there's a little motion blur, or excessive internet use is finally ruining my eyesight!

Petra Bellejambes said...

Yeah, Claire, you see, I was going for art, and will freely confess that I ended up wide of the mark.

I will stick with words and sartorial flair from now on out.

Sorry about the induced motion disorders, headaches and other counter indicators of good health.


Claire L Hallam said...

Petra, don't you dare to stop the pictures! First we need to see your fabulousness, but second if you stop now, I'll have a lynch mob blaming me for the dissappearence.
I live in hope that yours will be the first blog in 3D!
Happy 2011, Claire

Petra Bellejambes said...

No worries Claire - the photos will remain a feature.

No 3D though, just 34B. :)

Pat Scales said...

You only claimed one of your encounters as qualifying for CD outreach. You are too modest. When ever you have been out and about you have been nicely and neatly dressed. Every time you venture out your front door you do so as an ambassador for CDs everywhere. All of your actions qualify as good CD outreach.


Petra Bellejambes said...

Very kind Pat, and thank you very much. We all of us, each time we venture out are doing outreach, no doubt of it.

Happy Newish Year...

Tights Lover said...

Perfect post to begin wrapping up 2010. I got a chance to remember how much I enjoyed reading each one of these when they originally were posted.

Living vicariously still hasn't lost its enjoyment. Keep the great stuff coming in '11, Petra!

Couture Carrie said...

My goodness Petra, you are gorgeous both inside and out! You are ever so right about challenging one's own boundaries...

Greg was surprised and touched to learn how accepting your spouse and readers are about your desire to "roam freely en femme." You are not only blessed and lucky but also sincere and erudite, which doesn't hurt!

I wish all good things for you in 2011, and maybe I'll get down to ATL at some point so we can get dolled up and go to the High!


Anonymous said...


Inspiring and encouraging stuff. No doubt, you are (as I am) lucky of circumstance, but you deserve full credit for making as much of it as can be made.

I hope it is but the tip of the iceberg for you. To borrow investmentspeak, the trend is your friend. You've got momentum, and that makes the next thing so much easier than the last.

The very best too you and yours for this new year.


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