Debut

Written Sunday, December 8, 2019


One of the interesting tidbits of culture that I've recently become fascinated with is the idea of "queer prom" and other special-occasion events that are "redone" - sometimes long after the expected event would typically occur - in order to provide people with a more authentic experience than they could have had earlier in life.

There is a wonderful insistence in these circles that "there is no such thing as too late." The power of these cultures is in acceptance and adaptation - take whatever combination works for you, and make it your own.

The European tradition of the d├ębutante is mired in highly problematic issues of patriarchy, classist hierarchy, and curated marriage. But the core of it - the literal meaning of the word, i.e. "female beginner" - seems useful to me.

A few weeks ago I bought a dress, and in a combination of excitement and complete unfamiliarity with dresses, managed to break the clasp behind the neck, rendering it unusable. I spent yesterday afternoon tediously sewing a new clasp into place so I could wear the dress last night.

It was the first time in my life that I have not only worn a dress, but done so in public, in a large and highly populated venue, for over seven hours total. It was the first time in my life I carried a purse, at all - complete with chapstick, a supply of mints, and neatly folded lace gloves that matched the dress.

For the first time in my life, I had not only been eagerly anticipating a social function, but also thrown myself into preparing for it. I spent hours hanging out with a range of old friends, and made a few new acquaintances; I got to recommend a drink to someone who informed me later that it was her new favorite drink of choice; and - quite possibly the biggest deal for me, personally - I spent the entire time hanging around with other women and being treated as if I'd always belonged there.

It's a good thing the venue kicked us out when they did because I was prepared to try and ride the adrenaline for the rest of the night; falling asleep by 2 AM was tricky enough as it was.

In all the most meaningful ways, December 7th, 2019 was my debut - as my true self.

It took 33 years to discover that self. Last night was four months, to the day, after a company-wide email was sent out in which I announced who I am to my coworkers.

There is no such thing as too late.