Colorado Springs, CO
Still figuring things out at 50 and avoiding the boxes as much as possible. Freelancing Pirate.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“It took me a long time, because I grew up in rural Idaho. Good little redneck girl. No role models whatsoever. Queer was a bad word that my dad spat some times. It just never occurred to me that I had options, but you know you’re odd… you know you have girl crushes… and you’re a tomboy. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I started experimenting with words like heteroflexible, and kind of working my way in. I always knew girls were fun to make out with, right? I was married for a brief period, and so we experimented with couples. That was kind of an entryway. Then an open marriage, and polyamory. I’m also involved in the kink community, very involved with BDSM. So, a lot of fringe things started coming together, and through those I started being exposed to more genders, and more identities… and to pansexuality vs bisexuality and all of those things. It’s only really been the last 15 years that I’ve been actively trying to figure where I fit, and just constantly evolving. I had to work through the words, from heteroflexible, to maybe bi-curious… I had to really work my way through the labels. It’s been a long process… and you have all these younger people who are setting the example by doing projects like this, and you put yourselves out there, so I can. And now I have a responsibility because people who see me now and meet me now, and have met me in the last 5 years, accept me as the queer Svetlana. So, I have to now be that for those that come behind me…”
On their coming out experience…
“I can’t say that I really had a coming out. I did that thing where I lived at home in my little town until I was 27/28, and then I moved to a place where I knew 2 people in the entire state, and got to go, ‘Oh… new rules now! I’m nobody’s daughter here, b*tches!’ But still it was just living and exploring, and not really making declarations. My dad, 5 years ago at my sister’s wedding, we had a conversation, and he told me he thought I was gay. I told him that I identified as pansexual at the time, and I explained that a little to him… we had this interesting part of the conversation, because at the time I was part owner of a dungeon, that had come up and he said some things about things he’d done… I thought, ‘How cute you are dabbling with all the swingers in the 70’s… and you’re giving me advice when I’ve been throwing a whip for literally a decade and a half now… thank you, dad.’”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“Yeah, but I’m kind of weird because I seem to care less than other people about, for instance what my family thinks of my lifestyle… so I didn’t feel as much pressure or fear around that. Like a lot of people. I’m really fortunate that way. When I was a kid, I didn’t know there were options… Had I been more aware earlier, I think it would’ve made a difference, but since I came into it later, I was already more sure of myself as a human being. That made a difference, I think.”
Favorite part about the community?
“Obviously the support, the visibility, the modeling… that sense of community makes everybody a little bolder to be who they are. And to model that. I don’t consider myself really an active part of any community right now, but even being out here on the fringes, the [LGBTQ+] community is there. To set the example for me, it says it’s okay to be you, even if I’m only looking in from the outside. I think that’s important, too.”
“When people say, ‘I’m an L, and you’re a Q… Q’s are weird and I don’t like Q’s’ or ‘You’re a T, and I don’t get that sh*t and I want you to stay over there in your T space…’ that pisses me off… we’re all fringe dwellers here motherf*ckers… If we don’t take care of each other, nobody’s going to do it.”
What is something you would tell a younger you? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“I would tell younger me to look around more… look for the differences... because as soon as I saw them, things started falling into place. It just took a long time for me to see them, because I had all this telling me that it didn’t exist. That would probably be the biggest thing.
Other folx… look around. Find the examples. Find somebody to follow around by the coattails that’s willing to let you. Talk. Share. Be you.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I know that because I’m willing to at least occasionally open my heart and share some vulnerability... that other people are in better situations than they were. I’m proud of my heart.”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“I’m gonna get a little weird on you… I think humans are right on the edge of a major evolutionary push… I think it’s been coming… and started probably 2 or 3 generations back. Each generation has more empathy… more open minds… and if I could do anything, I would push that evolution to right now. BAM! Get rid of this lizard brain sh*t, because that’s what’s causing all the problems. Evolve past it. We don’t need it anymore.”