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I returned from Star Island yesterday and jumped right into city life. After a measly couple of hours of relaxing at home I headed out to catch Shava at the Ethos Roundtable, then a bit of dinner at the 501 Tech Club gathering and after that morris practice. Today I spent a quieter day at home doing laundry.

The final week hasn't changed my basic impressions of the Star Island experience, though the final week of work was rather tedious. One of our responsibilities in Conference Services was cleaning up the two children's barns, and part of what that means is cleaning every toy and book. The barns have a LOT of toys and it took days to completely clean those spaces. Cleaning the rest of our spaces was a small job by comparison.

Sometimes I felt like there was a secret society of Pelicans on the island who were doing all the cool stuff, and I was on the outside looking in. A big part of that was being new, and being older than the majority of the Pelicans added to it. I was accepted more quickly by the older Pelicans and volunteers; I had some very pleasant meals with the bookstore and gift shop ladies, and with an old couple (they were both around 80) who had come out to volunteer. I went to one party that had been openly announced, and a majority of the conversation was about what people had done and who they had met and how things were different last year and three years ago and so forth; I didn't have anything to add to that.

Being away from the usual cares of the city was relaxing. Commuting was never an issue; it was just a matter of going down a few flights of stairs. Figuring out what and where and when to eat wasn't something to worry about. I didn't think about the house and bills and life schedule; I pretty much deferred all those concerns until my return to Boston. And there is something naturally relaxing about being in a space where you can look out the window and see the ocean and waves, hear the surf and the gulls and the clanging buoy and the foghorn.

It was refreshing to spend three weeks in a space where being transgender was almost never an issue. I was surrounded by people who were meeting Shirley for the first time, not people for whom I am "Shirley who used to be somebody else". Housing me in Gosport Heights may have been in part an accommodation of my transgender status because it's the only housing area with a single occupant shower, but aside from that I didn't get any special treatment. I was out to the island administration and signed all the legal documents with my male name because it's still on all my government ID, but everyone else just saw who they saw and drew their own conclusions, whatever they might have been.

Who knows... maybe I'll be an inspiration to one of the children who was on the island during my stay. I like to imagine that someday one of them will think "She was transgender, and she was a Pelican. She didn't make a fuss about who she was but she didn't hide it. Maybe I can do that too, and be a part of the world and not hide who I am." I have no idea whether I was the first transgender Pelican; I know I'm not the first one to lie somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. There were a couple of guys who triggered my gaydar this year; I didn't see any obvious lesbians but they're usually not as easy to spot.

When you leave Star Island people chant at you "You will come back! You will come back! You will come back!" I have no idea whether the stars will align again to let me to a similar working stay in the future; I might have work obligations that would make it impossible. But I know that I want to go back someday in some way. I can't really imagine working there for an entire season - I'd miss my house and my friends and all the things that happen here in Boston too much - but I can totally imagine doing it again for a few weeks if I can.

Date: 2011-09-22 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Gosport Heights is just another Pel living space. It usually houses older Pels and supervisors. It's generally considered better than the 4th floor because it's quieter and more private.

Re: queer folks on Star - yeah, there's usually at least 10-15 GLBT Pels (probably slightly more), including a number of genderqueer/trans folks.

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