Back in the time when there was no internet, only three available channels – and remotes were the vision of sci-fi movies – there was a TV show called, “To Tell the Truth.”
The game consisted of three guests who claimed to be the same person and have the same occupation. The celebrity panelists asked a series of questions of the guests to attempt to winnow down to the person who in reality had the name and did the occupation in question.
When the clock ran out, the host would then say, “Will the real________, please stand up?” – at which point, the person who actually had the name and did the occupation would stand up to either applause or the implausible gasps of the panelists and studio audience.
It was a fun show, and while there were a few guests that were easy to identify, usually the revelation of the real person came as a shock.
This show always floats into my head when I read or hear conversations in our community about who or what is a real Leather Woman/Man, who’s a real pup, Transsexual, Dom – the list goes on. The writer will go through a checklist of things they have done, bought, wear or accomplished that might indicate they are the thing they say they are. This exercise seems to generate more anxiety rather than relief.
The internal celebrity panel is on a continuous mission to find out if we are being real, so we constantly question if we are doing enough so people believe we are what we say we are, not “who” but what. We alter ourselves to become the ideal of what someone else has defined. The external celebrity panelists will constantly critique, judge and question – not in an affirming attempt to help us grow, but in an attempt to make themselves feel better, since more than likely, they have their own internal and external celebrity panelists riddling them with similar questions and concerns.
Part of the dilemma is that we tend to operate from ideals as opposed to realities, using iconic figures and characters as the barometer of whether one is successful or not in our community. The Tom of Finland Images, the Super Hero Characters, the Cartoon and Anime memes, all continually assault us on our technology feeds and somehow we lose sight that all of those characters are the work of creative minds and active imaginations.
Bringing those characters into our real lives may help us navigate the choppy waters as we make our way through our daily grind, but trying to immolate one dimensional images, 24/7, apparently leads to dissatisfaction because they aren’t real and we find ourselves constantly questioning, “What’s wrong with me?” Portraying an image will lead to feelings of emptiness and disconnectedness because we try to be something we’re not. It isn’t real.
There is value in exploring fantasies, as it helps us become familiar with parts of ourselves that otherwise could become regrets and missed opportunities. Incorporating those fantasies into our everyday lives certainly breaks up the tedium and monotony and pushes us to live creatively and think outside of the box. However, it also behooves us to take off the gear, step away from the gadgets and step outside of our ascribed or inherited roles and just be with ourselves. It is in that place where we will find our realness.
Getting in touch and comfortable with all aspects of ourselves allows us to bring those qualities to our roles and allows us to make the roles as opposed to the roles making us. That’s pretty powerful, and mighty real.