As I write, it’s a few days into the Edinburgh International Festival, where I’m involved with Edinburgh Skeptics at the Free Fringe. Just before the Festival kicked off, I received a completely unexpected and welcome ego boost when I made it onto a list of 100 British and Irish secular thinkers who aren’t white men. This is deeply flattering, and looking at the other names that appeared, I felt like an impostor. At least nobody can say white men are unrepresented on the list.
As part of Skeptics on the Fringe, I introduce some of the speakers. After introducing last night’s talk about Sex On The Brain, dealing with gender, sexuality and neuroscience, I was asked by someone in the audience about my own involvement with the Lesbian/ Gay/ Bisexual/ Trans community.
I had to tell her that I wasn’t involved. I applaud and support and approve of anything that encourages equality, but because I am not directly, personally affected by these issues – being a straight, white male, employed in an affluent country – I feel that my voice, if I were to add it, would somehow ring hollow; again, I would feel like an impostor.
As far as cross-dressing is concerned, it is not, for me, a matter of sexuality; nor is it something that has ever given me experience of discrimination or repression or hatred. Perhaps I am fortunate that way. I get enough support from my friends that I have never felt the need to seek out support groups. If anything, being a semi-extrovert who revels in attention, I think I prefer to be the sole cross-dresser among my social circles; why would I want to hang out with other cross-dressers?
If I am not much of an activist, and I don’t tend to speak out on equality, just what the hell do I do?
I choose to set an example. I’ll just carry on doing what I do without too much fuss (I hope), and if I go out often enough, make cross-dressing seem fairly normal. I do it socially, I do it for fun. Hopefully more people can do the same. If enough of us do it, it won’t just ‘seem’ normal; it’ll be normal.
If people can see me cross-dressing and see a blow being struck in favour of minority lifestyles or equality, then that is how I shall make my stance on these issues; by being seen (if not heard).