In 2022, I circled back to some of the participants of this series to ask them if they would like to update their profiles, or expand a little more on how the events of the last few years have affected them. Here is Teek’s response –
In the four years since my photo appeared in Here Portraits, I’ve experienced extreme isolation. There were many months when I barely spoke with anyone, and many more without any human touch. In the first two years, it was my own choice to spend time with myself, doing a little self-archeology, and learning to enjoy my own company. I had lost too many friends over my confusion about what community is and how to navigate my own personality quirks within community. I made it my goal to be able to say, “I know who I am,” and mean it.
Those years stretched unexpectedly and painfully due to the pandemic. I stayed inside to avoid the risk of illness or death so I could claim as much of the time I have left as possible. I am 70 years old now and I have too much work to do.
Exploring and claiming my true and natural gender was a big part of that work. I already knew that the Binary is a lie; my own life had already shown me that. But I was struggling with stupid shit, like how to define masculinity and femininity. I even worried sometimes about what to wear, like a self-conscious kid. I agonized over whether I was worthy to include myself in the wonderful company of gender pioneers and fugitives.
I was looking for something within the core of myself that was so authentic it would be undeniable. I needed to get to know the person who did not care about performing androgyny or impressing anyone else.
It has been a long journey from thinking I’m lonely to accepting that I’m alone. Community comes from love, starting with loving oneself. Like most people, I didn’t know how to do that. That is why I knew this work must come first.
The results of all those years of intense introspection have been huge and brilliant, though the conclusion I am coming to should surprise no one: Other people’s expectations are none of my concern.
There’s no need for strict adherence to definitions, which can change in a moment. I follow my beautifully fluid expression, inspired only by my own creative taste and well-developed intuition. I belong only where I feel a true sense of belonging. I know who I am.
I grew up near Boston with poverty and mental illness as part of the daily family dynamic. I can function and be occasionally happy now because finally, at the age of 67, I understand that I and some members of my family have simply had an illness, and all the pain, mutual abuse, and addiction could have had been alleviated with awareness, love, and support.
Awareness and support are at the center of what I want from my life now. It takes community, shared knowledge, and authentic, vulnerable love.
To encourage awareness, I blog about racism, especially my own, the insidious kind that shows up as we collude with a system that gives us privilege we neither know how to acknowledge nor give up.
I paint abstracts in hopes of possibly, occasionally, getting out of my own way long enough to experience the love that shows itself when you stop trying, and just let it come through.
In the name of community, I’m also writing the story of my family to let others know they are not alone – other queers, other terrified children, other desperate adults.
I came out as a Lesbian in 1974, after a few confused years of submitting to the expected sexual conventions. Then I came out as Bisexual in 1980. There is no end to coming out, in my view, until you die; it’s like a continued blossoming. I know I’ve always been Non Binary; “fluid” works too. I’ve recently decided to use they/them out of respect for those to whom pronouns are more meaningful than they are to me.
I know everything I am is part of a wide spectrum of expression. That spectrum is not simply feminine on one end and masculine on the other; I don’t claim to know what those terms mean. I’m more familiar with so many other spectrums – from sad to happy, bored to deeply moved, detached to inspired, depressed to manic, isolated to loved, and all the spaces in between. I see myself moving up and down those spectrums every day. I never know where I’ll be from one moment to another. It’s like dancing, in an eternally liminal space.
Sometimes this might cause some confusion in passersby. Recently a small child called out to me as I walked by, “Are you a girl?” I blurted out without a thought, “Uh, sorta.”
Bisexual/Non Binary Human
67 years old