Reflection of me stroking my hair.
In the window of the second class cabin in the Boeing 737 Sky Gabon overnight flight to Libreville, where Nilemwe will play in a small soccer tournament with Gabon, Ivory Coast and Ghana. The tournament is unimportant but it does give our Serbian coach a chance to see his players perform against the more prestigious international sides.
I’m proud of my hair. I think it’s my best feature. I smile. Then I frown, trying to look sincere, in case I get interviewed on TV. I smile again, tossing my long locks to the left and then to the right. I flick the back of my hair to loosen it where it has bunched up too tightly. Quickly I glance down the aisle, suddenly concerned that my team mates might be watching, but the cabin lights have been switched off and everyone seems to be asleep.
I feel happy, unfazed by the journey – not just with the flight to a new country to play International football but because I am seated on the back row of a plane like a soccer superstar – like Messi or Ronaldo. I know soon I will be a successful soccer player. My life will change radically.
I like my reflection. I like my life. Sometimes I dwell upon the poverty of my past but the past is something I cannot change. There is no sense of regret. I know I have a future. I have not thought about marriage or long-term relationships. I am still a virgin. Not one for girls I suppose. Or boys. I have no worries.
My only fear is that one day people will find out about my need to cross-dress.
I take out my iPhone.
I flick through some gorgeous photographs Oscar has sent me, of my happy times at the Zebra club. Dancing with Oscar. Me posing provocatively in that shocker of a blonde wig. A group shot of all the ‘girls’ admiring my hair. Oscar kissing me affectionately on the cheek.
I took out the phone because I have downloaded a novel on cross-dressing but it has been unhelpful. The characters do not explain their needs and seem too busy engaging in sexual adventures using their disparity to spur an ever increasing pursuit of erotic exploits. It’s just that I just don’t feel that way. My compulsion for cross-dressing doesn’t stem from the basic drives for sexual awareness or gratification. It is just something I can’t explain. It is an itch I cannot scratch. I’m searching for answers. Hence the novel. I suppose people equate sex with cross-dressing. But people are entirely wrong. We don’t cross dress to do sex, do we?
So why do we do it? I’m not looking for solutions. I don’t want to be cured – attend a group or undergo therapy – or be subjected to counselling. I don’t want to stop.
But the consequences if I get caught! I would never be allowed to play professional soccer again. The other players would automatically assume I was gay and that I wanted to lust after their picture-perfect physiques. They would not allow me near their dressing room. The press would ridicule me. Some smart arse reporter might suggest I should have my own dressing room – a cross dressing room! – or that I play for a women’s football team. That I am bringing the game into disrepute and would be a corrupt influence on the kids who watch me play. In Nilemwe I would be tried and probably sent to prison for a very long time.
What could I say to defend myself? How can I explain to them what cross-dressing really is? And why I do it.
For the purposes of this blog I’ve changed my name and the country I live in and all the other incriminating details. But you must remember I am a genuine person and my story is true. I am a young professional footballer. I may develop more profile and become influential. I owe it to myself to start thinking about I could help to increase awareness and tolerance about cross dressing. So, share your experiences – it would help.