Burlington, Ontario, Canada (1967)
I initially thought I was pretending to be a pilot here, but my mum thought
I was pretending to be a racecar driver. Then, it dawned on me: Speed Racer!
I was pretending to be Speed Racer, one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. I loved action/adventure stories, and it always struck me that boys always had way more to do than the girls. And had way more, fun both on TV and in real life. When I played dress-up with siblings or friends, I'd often play a boy – and had a blast.
I came out as a lesbian when I was 25, after a drawn-out period of internal exploration and a lot of diary notes. I was in my 3rd year at theater school, and my good friend Tom (the only out gay person in my class at the time), was there to support me. Tom took me to my first lesbian bar, which was a scary and exciting experience. And I was there for him as he lived with his HIV diagnosis and, a short time later, full-blown AIDS.
There are two names inked in a memorial banner around a Sacred Heart tattoo on my left bicep: Tom and Mima (my maternal grandmother, who I gave that nickname). Tom for his love and support with my coming to terms with who
I was, and Mima for her unconditional love and encouragement for what I wanted to do with my life: being a grown-up playing dress-up, as an actor.
My Mima always supported my choice to pursue the arts, and died before I came out to my extended family. But I think she would have been okay with that too.
This is my favorite photo of myself. It reminds me of the joy, imagination, and fearlessness at the core of my being. And, how these moments are often forgotten or set aside, in the workaday "grown-up" world.
I endeavor to not forget. I strive to be my whole self. So be fearless – be yourself.
Cathy's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Julie Andrews (in "The Sound of Music ")