“She’s loved the lost parts into life. Nourishing the sun starved palaces that were dying without her light”

BY THE CHEEKY CHARMER, IMAGE BY SHARON MCCUTCHEON VIA PEXELS

Handsome. She called me handsome. The words I’d wanted to hear my whole life. Not beautiful. Not pretty. Handsome.

Not in the slightly derogatory way it’s often used with women. Handsome, in the way it’s meant with guys. The sharp suit wearing, chiselled jaw lined, designer stubble types. Essentially the cast of Mad Men.

See, I’ve always wanted to be the handsome prince in my story rather than the princess. I’ve found my beautiful princess and her name is Rose*. I’m her handsome, non-binary Prince (Cheeky) Charming (I hope).

But this handsome Prince isn’t fighting battles with dragons or evil sorcerers. This handsome Prince is fighting a battle with pants. 

Or more specifically, the right to wear underwear that doesn’t fit the gender norm and not be judged for that (try saying that when you’re drunk).

Yes folks, this week the Cheeky Charmer is facing what can only be described as #Laundrygate.

Laundrygate: That sense of dread over hanging laundry up at your family’s place because your underwear doesn’t fit the gender binary. That even in my 40s my underwear choice will be scrutinised and questioned, called out as something not right. Because what I choose to wear next to my most intimate parts, what makes me feel like me, is not a pair of frilly silk panties but men’s boxers.

The CC’s been living with the parentals for a few months. Which means living in anxiety over pants. While the world is recovering from Coronavirus and anticipating Putin’s next move, I’m worrying about my kecks. It’s not the pants but what the pants represent. It’s the spin, the interpretation others put on them. What they mean to them rather than me. And what they mean to them is fear.

Which makes it sound like I’m walking around wearing the world’s most terrifying undies. Like they’ve got a picture of a massive shark’s head on them or something (which would fit with one of my previous columns).

What I have is a need to express myself against the binary. To occupy a between space. Possibly more.

But I can’t talk about that to my family. As loving and wonderful as they are. I can’t say: “Hey, I’m non-binary. Please be kind to my pants.” Because I’m afraid of the fallout.

It’s why I’ve got a collection of boxers stashed in a bag like a guilty teenager. Because this handsome prince can’t decide whether to:

  1. Go on a quest to a launderette
  2. Pull a ninja stealth move, furtively hand-washing them in the bathroom
  3. Armour up (AKA put my big person pants on) and stick them in the machine with everyone else’s – fuck the consequences
  4. Give them to Rose (although I think two months is a bit too soon to be washing my undercrackers and I don’t recall Prince Charming pulling this move on Cinderella)

And that’s when it hits me. I’m still that four-year-old asking when they’ll be a boy. Not understanding why they can’t be accepted for the way they feel rather than the way they look. I’m still hiding.

My life is one of duality. Staying under the radar whilst I live with my parents, afraid to raise alarm bells around my gender queerness. Living with a low level, agonised throb.

And then there’s my Rose. Who, in less than two months, has given me more acceptance, more understanding, more celebration of my glorious gender non-conforming self than I ever dreamed possible. She’s loved the lost parts into life. Nourishing the sun starved palaces that were dying without her light. (Plus, she digs me in boxers. The boxers I’m giving myself an ulcer over putting in my Mum’s washing machine.) And I wonder how much longer I’ll have to split myself in two. How much longer I can. You see this handsome Prince isn’t fighting on a battlefield. This war is happening within. It’s a war fought in laundry baskets across the land. I’m not the only one on a quest for acceptance through underwear.

*Name changed for anonymity

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