It's a sobering thought, but almost exactly four years ago I was going through my Disco Diva and Schoolgirl Night phases. Really. I suppose that people who have come to know me during the last two or three years will find it hard to credit, but here is the proof. It's 13 September 2009 - here are two shots of me in my Old School Tie and (it's true) a miniskirt:
Well, at least I was very cheerful and confident! This event was chronicled in a post on 13 September 2009 titled Saturday Night out in the pubs of Brighton, if you want to see what I had to say about it. And here's me at a long-gone style parlour, also in Brighton, on 2 October 2009:
As for my career as a diva, here is the defining picture, my apotheosis if you like, taken on 6 December 2009:
The dress, a posh one by Diane von Furstenberg, was bought for a big Brighton party intended chiefly for gay people, featuring Boy George. See my posts My red dress on 27 November 2009, and Boy George at the Wild Fruit Red Party on 7 December 2009.
It all seems frivolous and pointless now, because I hadn't dressed as a schoolgirl, nor as a diva, at any previous time in my adult life; and I haven't done so since. As 2010 dawned, so did more grown-up behaviour!
I could still put these outfits together if I wanted to, but it's difficult to imagine a situation where I would dress up like this again. Maybe to attend a fancy dress party? Or for a dare? It's not that I've become dull and boring - I hope not - nor obsessed with appearing dignified and credible. It's simply that these 'look-at-me' events, and the clothes that go with them, don't appeal to me any more. Perhaps, if I ever went on another cruise, the red DVF dress would have a fresh outing - but I can't see a cruise being affordable any time soon! It's more likely to be trotted out again when my nephew and his girlfriend finally get married. If it will fit by then...
How do I feel now - four years on - about these rather over-the-top public appearances?
Actually, rather unrepentant. It was a brief period of necessary exuberance. The worst moments of my early transition were over. The brakes were off a bit. I felt a sense of limited freedom. I could (at that time) afford any clothes and accessories that I wanted. I was in the mood to be a bit silly and push the boat out somewhat. Of course I was going to go through a phase of experiment and self-expression. I wouldn't be human if I didn't, given the strain that I'd been through during the preceding twelve months. I needn't elaborate. I'm absolutely sure that if I speak of 'personal losses and upheavals during my first year of transition', thousands of other people just like me will know immediately what I'm referring to. My point is that dressing up and partying and crazy nights out are all part of the antidote to that. You are going to do it until you've had enough. Then you move on.
I recognise that anybody who saw me in those get-ups then, and has not seen me since, will have retained a mental image of me that is completely at odds with how I am now. There's nothing to be done about that.
You may wonder why I'm going down memory lane again. Well, I think it's good to reflect on two things. First, that a fresh group of trans people will be celebrating their own first year this winter in exactly these ways. They should not be dismissed as childish or daft. Just like me, they will be obeying a temporary psychological imperative to express themselves, however embarrassing the memory may later become. Second, I'm history-minded, and this was a very well-documented part of my life. It's all there to view, and I really don't want to forget it. Indeed, I can salute it with a certain pride. I'm certainly not going to sneer at it, or pretend that I never did it at all.
I'm now accumulating a rich harvest of pleasant moments and significant encounters. That's lovely, but what about having some fun of the partying kind too? But perhaps not not dressed up as a schoolgirl or a diva! Let's end on a modern note, a picture from August this year. Cheers!