It was my first time. It was my first time going out in public wearing a dress and showing lots of skin. One woman, her kids crowded round her, watched me warily. She found it hard to resist looking at me and my friends as we stood on the platform waiting for a train. She was drawn to us like a moth to a flame.
There I was, from the bottom up: my normal blue trainers, bare hairy legs, red and black stripey boxer shorts visible beneath the short dress, which was orange and pink and white and black in a jazzy pattern, with a high neck with a few holes over the chest where my hair poked out, then my face: I’d drawn thick black zigzagging lines and wore lipstick. Next to me was Cormac, bearded and in a little girl’s red sequin off-the-shoulder frock with a tutu, and a wig, and eyeshadow. Malcolm was in the tiniest of tiny Brasil shorts and a confusing jumper with no arms and no chest all the way down to the belly button. He’d drawn a lipstick heart over his left pec. Steve was the most normal: jeans and a waistcoat with no shirt underneath, face and hair covered in glitter.
We looked fabulous, and the woman couldn’t stop looking at us. Another woman gave us the thumbs up and a grin, totally unsolicited. Still others looked at us, approved or tried to remain neutral, as we passed through the Underground network. One woman said to us, “You lot off out then? You look great. You look really great, have a great night.”
It felt brilliant. I wasn’t aroused by it (as some people are), but I was thrilled. I felt like I was proving my credentials as someone who says he doesn’t care what people think of him. It genuinely didn’t matter to me that some people clearly disapproved. (We got off the Tube at Whitechapel for god’s sake, so there were plenty of very gender-conservative people there who judged us.)
It also felt good because I was mixing traditionally masculine and feminine things. I wasn’t wearing heels, I was wearing my trainers. And my boxers were on show, and they were just the normal boxers I’d been wearing that day. They weren’t particularly sexy or particularly gay (whatever that would be). I had lots of body hair. I felt like a man still. By this I mean that I felt that I liked having my cock, there wasn’t a part of me that wanted a vagina, and that my identity as a man was safe. I’m not actually sure what it means to be a man, of course, but it’s what people say I am and I felt ok with that even when I was wearing a dress.
The other great thing was the breeze. Saturday was a hot day. My legs were totally on show, and the air had access to my sweaty underparts. I was only one or two steps from nudism and it felt very comfortable and cool. Even in the club where we ended up, which was hot and sweaty and where I danced for five hours, my bollocks didn’t get half as sticky as they normally would. Bonus!
There’s something else. Cormac and I are getting on really well. I had a superb night with him and his friends. We had a few moments on the dance floor. He said some kind words to me, and we kissed. I said some kind words to him too. And clearly what we like about each other includes shared values, knowing the other person is kind and good and loving, a willingness to share. These are far more important than what we wear. That’s the point really. I haven’t previously had friends who cross dress much, but the moment I get close to one who does I realise that it’s him as a person that I like. It’s not the dress, stupid. It’s the fact that he was brave enough to wear a dress on the Tube and kind enough to give me the confidence to do the same.