I turned 30 last week, in the middle of all the weird family holiday junk that flies around this time of year. And while it certainly gets better (or, in the words of one astute Dan Savage critic, it gets “marginally different”) I keep waiting for it to get easier. Easier to be me, to be comfortable. Easier to be with my family. Easier to walk down the street and be butch. Easier for me to be proud and out and all those things.

My gf and I are in the thick of filing for a domestic partnership, since California still has its collective head in its ass about marriage equality.  We’ve been together for over seven years, so it’s kind of just a formality at this point – a means to some health insurance and visitor’s rights and all that. And at Christmas at my parents house, we didn’t mention it. Because we still don’t talk about those things with my folks, even though they are in love with my gf like big whoa. Being ‘married’ to a woman means I’m gay for real, and moreover, butch for real too. And they still can’t handle that. The part that worries me is that I still can’t stand up for it, either.

My mom, for Christmas, wanted to buy me a pair of heels. Because Charlize Theron is a tall actress, and she wears six-inch heels and I looked so good in that show I did a million years ago and why didn’t I steal those black heels from the costume shop and why doesn’t my manager want me to wear heels every day?

Why do I have to keep having this conversation?

Why do I leave my boxer-briefs at home when I visit my parents, in case my mom folds my laundry? She never says anything. She never openly disapproves. I’m thirty freaking years old. And I have loving, mostly supportive parents, who have made it very clear that they will always hold out hope for my femininity to pull through this “phase.”

I don’t have any answers for this one.  I still walk between the worlds of presenting totally butch ( a world I fully inhabited in the safety of the Prestigious Women’s College, way back ten years ago) and fudging it, wondering if people can tell or not. (To which my gf says, “honey, you look like a big ol’ dyke.”)

All I know is that every day I choose my favorite Calvin Klein button down, or wear a skinny tie with my blazer, it’s not just a fun girl-playing-in-boys-clothes thing. I don’t look like Shane from the L Word – supermodel thin and rockstar-haired. I look really gay. Pretty, yes, but still butch. And every time I tie that perfect Windsor knot, I have to come out, to myself and to the world, over and over again.