Thursday, July 12, 2018

Where's Billy?

Billy and I were best friends throughout grammar school. I can't remember how we became friends, but we had a lot in common and that is probably what drew us together. We were both Polish, which was a rare commodity in our neighborhood, we both went to the same church (a Polish parish, needless to say), we were both artists, which put us on the outs with the school's "in crowd," and we both were fascinated in the opposite sex. We had crushes on certain girls, but we both were also scared of them and never did anything about our crushes, at least not in grammar school.

Around puberty, maybe in the 7th or 8th grade, I remember Billy hinting that we dress as girls for Halloween. At that time, I knew something was up with me gender-wise, but I didn't know what. The idea of dressing as a girl for Halloween was very attractive, but I was also in public denial about my gender issues and told Billy that I had no interest in his Halloween costume plans.

I don't remember what I wore for a costume that Halloween, but I do recall that I went out with my usual Halloween trick and treat partner in crime, my other best friend, who lived across the street.

In school the next day, Billy mentioned that he did dress as a girl; he trick and treated at my house and was disappointed that I was not home to see him in his costume. Note that Billy never before trick and treated my house, so he made a special effort that night to show me his girl costume.

Around this same time, I remember that one of us decided that we should adopt girl names (why - I don't know) and for days, he addressed me by my girl name, which was "Susan" and I addressed him by his girl name, which I cannot recall now.

As I mentioned above, we were both artists. He was very good at painting and I was a very good at sketching. As an outlet for my budding trans psyche, I spent a lot of my free time back then sketching males wearing female clothing.  One day, Billy mentioned that he had been doing something similar and another day, he showed me some of his sketches. My reaction was to feign disinterest.

But my real reaction was fear. I was in uncharted waters; I did not know what was going on with him (or me). I had enough trouble sorting out what was going on with me without having to deal with what was going on with my best friend, so I basically ignored him and I think that was the beginning of the end of a beautiful friendship. We hung out less during our last days in grammar school and ended up going to different high schools. After a few years, we were both out of each others' lives.

I think Billy was reaching out to me. He probably was just as confused as I was and maybe he thought we would be better able to work things out as a team rather than solo. If that was the case, he was probably correct and I very much regret not reaching out to him and trying to work out together what the heck was going on. And so it goes.

Over the years, I learned through a mutual friend that Billy got married and lives two towns away, but our mutual friend said nothing about anything trans and I certainly did not ask.

But I often think about Billy and wonder if he really was trans (or was it just my 'magination) and if he ever did anything about it. I often hoped that one day he would show up at my support group and we could become best friends again except that this time we would be girlfriends.

(This post originally appeared in September 2008.) 

Source: Joie
Wearing Joie (Source: Joie)

She Man and Queens At Heart
Movie poster for the 1967 double feature She Man and Queens At Heart.


  1. Very interesting oral history of you and your friend written form of course; but it was presented like you were speaking directly to the listener. I do remember reading this post in the past. It is worth the reread.

  2. Diane SmithJuly 12, 2018

    I love that movie poster!

  3. Diane SmithJuly 13, 2018

    Sorry to follow up on my own comment, but I just confirmed that "She Man" was directed by the very same Bob Clark who would years later make the much loved "A Christmas Story." What a way to start a film career!

  4. Dear Stana,

    The trailer for the film “SHE MAN” and the full 22 minute documentary “QUEENS AT HEART” are both on YouTube.

    It’s amazing how many films, TV series, and music recordings are on YouTube. For any video, film, TV show (including full series), I look in Netflix or Amazon Video or other streaming channels first. If I don’t find what I’m looking for there, I always try YouTube.