Discomfort - By Mizeta Moon

I was at the rodeo and wishing that I was anywhere else because what my companion purported to be a lot of fun turned out to be a pack of lies. “It’s not just a bunch of yahoos,” she’d said. “It’s a family event open to everyone.” My mind hadn’t wanted to believe her but my heart wanted to share an experience with someone so interesting so I agreed to go. We hadn’t even cleared the parking lot before the first rude comment scorched my ears and I thought about bailing then but didn’t. That was a mistake. Walking away would have saved me from a very trying day.

I wasn’t dressed glitzy that day. A simple dress with flats, conservative jewelry, and makeup, and a light brown wig. Even so, I got stared and laughed at as we walked towards the grandstands in search of our seats. As soon as we sat down, people moved away from us. “EEW! lesbians” one woman in boots, jeans, and a straw cowboy hat exclaimed as she grabbed her kids and beat a hasty retreat. I ignored her and tried to concentrate on the events happening in the arena but there were constant murmurs about drag queens from others in the crowd. At that point I dug my heels in so to speak and resolved to tough it out instead of giving into prejudice. I could tell my companion was regretting inviting me to something she’d honestly expected to be fun. Going to rodeos was part of her childhood and sharing it with me was her way of giving me a glimpse of who she was.

It was a hot day, so when I got thirsty I headed to the concession area to get us a couple of cold beers. I’m so fearless when negotiating public gatherings that I didn’t beg her to accompany me. Besides that, her favorite event was transpiring at the moment so I wanted her to enjoy it. I expected more snide remarks but even with all the machismo being displayed violence didn’t feel imminent. A few tough guys made sure to bump me hard as I walked through the throngs but they kept moving when my temper didn’t flare and my mouth stayed shut. In fifty years of crossdressing I’ve learned not to give bigots an excuse to be stupid. Letting them feel they got one over on me is less damaging than bruises and broken bones.

The hardest part of the day for me was walking past the MAGA booth and being jeered. I wondered how hatred and xenophobia were going to make us great again. Weren’t we already a great nation? It seemed to me that a return to the dark ages would only benefit the few and not the many. But the beers were nice and cold and needed drinking so I gave my new friend hers and put a dent in mine after regaining my seat. We laughed at the clowns, cheered on the contestants, and basked in the sun just like everyone else. Despite efforts to spoil our day and create discomfort we shared the moments wrapped in our own little bubble. Simple kindness and tolerance would have made things even better, but I’ve learned not to expect it. But when people share the world with me willingly I always appreciate their ability to recognize the beauty of diversity. Though I don’t agree with someone I can’t find it in my heart to hate them or attempt to void their existence. If I ever go to the rodeo again I’ll probably dress in feathers and rhinestones. Might as well make a statement if I’m going to get laughed at anyway. I’m sure there were plenty of cool people there who would have rescued me if someone tried to hurt me. I just didn’t bump into them that day.   


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