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December 15, 2013
When we were younger, my little sister and I looked alike. (What does this have to do with a pool party, you ask? Bear with me.) Even when that was no longer the case, poor Lizz frequently would get called by my name, especially by teachers who had previously had me as a student. Lizz once complained about this to our junior high band director, Beth. “I never had that problem,” Beth replied. “CJ never said two words and you won’t shut up!”
As hard as it might be to believe, I was a rather quiet kid, just like Beth noted. It was my way of dealing with all of the teasing that came my way at school: I retreated into my own little world of books and music, where no one questioned my gender. While I started coming out of my shell in high school, I still avoided social situations like parties. It was too exhausting to be constantly on my guard, watching everything I said or did, feeling like everyone watched me constantly. Thankfully, I had friends in college who coaxed me into joining the world and going to things like Swing Dancing Club.
Even with all of the progress I’ve made in the last few years, I still get apprehensive about going to events where I don’t know anyone. So when I got a Facebook invite a few weeks ago for TransPride Pittsburgh’s Pool Party, I didn’t reply right away. I had been invited by an old friend, so I knew that there would be at least one person I knew, but the old feelings of apprehension and fear of large crowds made themselves known, too. The next day, I RSVP’d as a “maybe”, thinking that there wasn’t any reason to say one way or the other until the day of the event, and secretly thinking that I probably wasn’t going to go.
As the date of the event got closer, though, I started to feel like maybe I should just go. After all, life was a bit hectic, and swimming has always been a great de-stresser for me. I also started thinking about how, as a member of the Peer Mentorship Program, I had to attend one trans-related event outside of the designated meetings. The pool party fit the bill, and I figured that, if worst came to worst, I could at least get a good workout out of the deal.
Finally, the day of the event arrived. I was a bit nervous, but more excited than anything else. I had a buddy, too: Rayden also came, and I drove the pair of us. Actually, it was a good thing Ray was there: The club where the party was held is up in Wexford, and the directions I had included a turning that we missed. Thankfully, Ray’s smart phone saved the day and got us where we wanted to be.
We arrived as the club was shutting down for the night; TransPride had arranged for the party to take place after normal business hours. While I’m not stressed anymore about being around cisgender people, I know that this arrangement was a big relief for others. Although, I was grateful because the timing meant that the locker room was pretty empty, making changing into my trunks a lot less worrisome. By the time Ray and I made it out to the pool, several other people were already there, chatting away. Introductions were made, and things went on from there.
By the time we left almost two hours later, about twenty guests had shown up. Not a bad turnout, considering it was the first time an event like this had been held. I got in a fair bit of swimming, but I also caught up with a couple of old friends and met some new people. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to get to know them better at the next pool party.
Speaking of which, here are the details for the event:
TransPride Pgh Pool Party- Swim the Winter Blues Away!
Sat Feb. 22nd
ALL AGES WELCOME
$7.00 per person (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Join us once again to swim at the Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford. Everyone is encouraged to bring some food to share and ride shares will be organized to help facilitate travel to and from the OAC.