Behind The Mask

A life in so many ways.

I’ve had a bio up here since 2011.  I changed it a few times, but the only major re-write was in 2015.  Well, right now it’s 2019 and not only has this blog changed a lot since 2011, I’ve changed a lot since then.  So, it’s time to re-write.  When I wrote this originally and later did the re-write, I’d bounce between a history of me and a history of some likes and dislikes.  I tried to explain how I got from some fuzzy obscure ‘there’ to an even more fuzzy obscure ‘here’.  Well, this time I’d like to tell the story in several different ways, but have each way be its own story.  I’ll tell you how I became a creator and how my cap styles have changed.  I’ll tell you my general history.  I’ll tell you how I grew from a boy, to a heterosexual man, to a heterosexual man with some kinks, to a heterosexual man with a feminine persona, to a fully accepting queer. 

Let’s start with some basic general history.  I was born in mid-Michigan in 1974 (I wonder if that makes me old?  Young?  Just some dude?) and have lived here for almost all of my life.  I had a good family upbringing with parents that remained married.  I have a couple brothers.  My boyhood wasn’t really anything special.  In high school I wasn’t into sports because my doctor said I had a heart murmur and banned me from playing school sponsored sports.  So, I was into computers, chess, band (played the trombone), and journalism (was a photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook). 

After graduating high school, I went to a community college on a music scholarship for a couple years then finally moved away to a state college to pursue a degree in optometry.  While at that state college I got a job as the assistant photographer and really fell in love with photography.  A year later I moved back home and I found myself starting my college career over studying photography.  That associate degree took three years by design.  In the late 90s I graduated and moved to Chicago with the plans to start out as a photo assistant and work my way up to a commercial photographer.  That year the market fell out of photography and photographers with years of experience were reduced back down to photo assistants.  I barely worked and fell way behind the eight ball financially.  I loved the windy city, but I moved back home after only a year. 

I tried various photography and graphic designer related jobs over the next few years and finally settled on running the photography department for one of the biggest event videography and photography companies in the nation.  But after several years and the pre-recession killing our business, I got the worst news of my life… my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was going to die soon.  I moved back home because the doctors gave him six to eight months.  He lasted nine months (that’s kind of a family trait; do just a little better than ‘they’ think you can, sometimes just to prove ‘them’ wrong).  I tried being a truck driver but failed at that (hey… it’s HARD!).  After a hard year of grieving I tried photography one last time but quit after only a few months because management screwed me over.  I didn’t have to guess that they were screwing me over, my manager admitted it to my face.  That autumn I went to school to become a nurse.  Three years later I had my degree.  Three months later I failed the test to get my license.  Three months after that I took the test again and became a Registered Nurse.  And finally, a year after that, I got a job as a nurse.  After five years in that job I ‘promoted’ to be a nurse manager and now manage a team of over 40 nurses. 

I still live at ‘home’ taking care of my mother.  Her health is failing more and more every month.  She really can’t do much without her oxygen and has given up all of her favorite activities because they just cost her to much in physical energy. 

So that’s my general history.  Let’s talk creativity.  If I have to look back and find a time when I’d say I found my creativity, I’d have to say it was around age 10.  My brothers and I had a big collection of toys ranging from GI Joe, to the Transformers, to Go-Bots, to Voltron, to Army Men, to He-Man, to Thundercats, to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I think the TMNT stuff came later, but still, it was a wide variety of toys).  Instead of playing a different game with all the various sets we had, we combined all toys into one massive game.  In retrospect it was role playing as we each had a character (and later, several characters) with all the other toys acting as non-playing characters.  That game lasted years.  Years!

Later, in Junior High school and High school, we moved on to real role playing with Dungeons and Dragons.  Again, we didn’t quite play by the rules and changed them to suit our particular storytelling style.  Various friends joined and left our groups over the years, but we played in a continuous world where our original characters became gods that our later characters worshiped.  That world still exists today as I’m helping my brother introduce it to his children. 

Around that time, I got into computers.  And of course, combine computers and high school level hormones and you have… porn.  I remember distinctly finding photo sets (these were the days of 2400 baud modems, so NO video!), and instead of just looking at the photos and ‘manually’ enjoying them, I’d make up stories in my head to go along with them.  I’d even delete images that didn’t work with the story.  But more on porn later.

While I was into photography in high school, I never really looked at it as a creative outlet at the time.  It was just something to study and do and get better at.  At the time I was more into music.  I was into playing marching band, symphony band, orchestra, jazz band, and small quartets.  I even wrote a marching band song with a friend of mine.  My love for playing music died out as I went into photography, but my love of listening to music exists to this day.  There is the rare time that I’m not listening to music, but it is honestly rare.  I’m listening to music right now as I write this. 

When I went for my photography degree I specifically leaned Photoshop.  This was the mid-90s, so it wasn’t exactly the beast that it is now, but it was still plenty impressive.  Digital photography itself was rather new and not truly utilized in the profession yet.  I also started working with other graphics programs, but manipulating photos was my favorite.  In Chicago I got to actually use my Photoshop skills professionally.  I also utilized those skills at the various photo and graphic design jobs I had between Chicago and calling it quits in photography.  Those skills are what really push me creatively today and I still make caps in Photoshop. 

After starting up nursing school I only occasionally used Photoshop until I started making caps.  I had, at that point, been looking at forced femme caps for a year or so when a cap found at Rebecca Molay’s site by Dee that brought me to Rachel’s Haven.  At Rachel’s Haven I turned my desire into seeing images and reading stories into a creative outlet by making images and stories.  On November 15, 2009 I became a cap artist by introducing myself to the Haven and making my first cap “Oh No….”.  Making and trading caps at Rachel’s Haven was great as using everybody’s preferences helped focus the story down and let my creativity come out in design.  Sure, I was till writing a story but by not being free to do whatever I wanted, it helped to fence in the story aspect.  A year later I made this blog and about a year after that moved into making caps all for myself and my blog audience.

Thankfully my time coming into making caps didn’t ever involve the classic black text on white background phase.  Most of my creative journey took place between 2009 and 2012 and can be seen in my “Caitlyn’s Next 200 Followers” post.  About the only major creative leap I made that isn’t in that post was my ‘Kinetic Text’ style caps.  After a creative break of several years, that coincided with getting a job as a nurse, I returned but focused on what ended up being called Obscuras instead.  I’d find an image, write a story for it, and then simply post that.  No putting it into cap form where my design chops could be utilized.  That phase of only making the occasional cap and focusing on Obscuras, starting in 2015, lasted until earlier this year.  2019 has been marked by far more caps and only a few Obscura along the way.  I liked the Obscura because it really let me focus on the story aspect without any thought of limiting it in size to fit into a cap. 

So that’s my general history and creativity.  Let’s talk sexuality.  I’ll start by saying that while I’ve told variations of this journey before, it’s always a little different as I look at it differently as my current position changes.  And as a person who considers himself queer, I now focus on different details for my journey. 

I’m in a fairly conservative area of the country and while my parents were considerably liberal in their mindset, it wasn’t exactly a liberal time.  I was taught growing up that sexuality was either normal or not.  Normal meant traditional sexual roles for men and women.  Men were defined by having a penis, were attracted to women, were expected to work, were expected to not show emotion.  Women were defined by not having a penis, were attracted to men, were expected to raise the children, were expected to suppress their uncontrollable emotions as much as humanly possible.  That was all normal.  Emotional men?  Not normal.  Homosexuality?  Not normal.  The thought of gender swapping or being something between masculine and feminine just wasn’t even on the table as an option to be considered.  But if it were, I’m sure it would have been ‘Not Normal’. 

And while normal didn’t necessarily mean good, not normal was distinctly bad. 

So in high school I considered myself a ‘normal’ young man.  I was a man who was attracted to women without giving it any thought whatsoever.  I think if I grew up 10 years earlier, I might never have found myself sexually (and by the same token, if I’d grown up 10 years later I’d have found myself sexually much more easily), because the internet sped up my introduction to ‘kink’.  You see, at that time I thought of anything other than “Man Having Monogamous Sex With A Woman” as a kink.  A threesome?  Kink.  Cheating on your wife/husband?  Kink.  Homosexuality?  Kink.  Lesbianism?  Kink (and yes, it wasn’t just a kink for women, it was a kink for men to like watching lesbianism).  Bondage?  Kink.  Masters/Mistresses and slaves?  Kink.  Transgenderism?  I hadn’t even heard of it, so it must be Kink. 

I’m not sure which I found first, but these two things opened me up to transgenderism.  I liked reading porn (I liked reading in general), so porn stories were something I’d collect.  Most of the stories were of the ‘man meets girl, man has sex with girl, man and woman continue to have sex’ style.  But some stories were distinctly into the kink area and I’d read them even if I wasn’t seeking them out at the time.  Reading about lesbians, reading about masters and slaves, reading about mistresses and slaves… all of that lead to the first story I read that involved a mistress slowly feminizing her male slave.  Compared to what I look at today (hell, compared to what I CREATE today), it was incredibly mild.  He’d have to wear panties under his pants.  He had to accept being referred to by a female name in the privacy of their home.  He had to put on lipstick when he performed cunnilingus.  Like I said, mild compared to today, but shockingly kinky to a person who hadn’t been introduced to transsexuality or transgenderism.  The other thing that opened my eyes was a series of images.  It was a blonde man and a woman with black hair.  They were just photographed against a blue background and kissing while slowly undressing.  She had very small breasts, but she was still cute.  The surprise came when he was down and pulling her panties off… and she had a penis.  I was shocked!  I was horrified!  I was… aroused? 

In both of the scenario of the story I put myself in the man’s position.  I was attracted to the humiliation aspect of it and sought more stories like it.  In the images though, they’re both men, right (remember, men are defined by having a penis)?  So… was I the blonde man undressing the feminine looking black haired man and sucking his cock?  Or was I the feminized black haired man, being undressed and having my cock sucked?  Humiliation was strong in either position as I was either a feminized man or a cock sucker.  So like the stories, I started seeking out images like that. 

It was the first time I ever typed the word ‘Shemale’.

I didn’t make anything of this change in attraction in me.  I was a ‘normal’ man who had a kink.  That’s all.  Nothing to see here, move along, move along.  Overtime, with plenty of reading and images to look at, I focused on liking the story of a man forcibly changed into a woman.  And while it was obvious from the ‘shemale’ models used on several sites that it’s still difficult for a man to look like a woman, I wanted the story to be of a man forced to play the role of a woman without being changed surgically or magically into a woman.  So mainly cross dressing and acting like a woman.  I was particularly attracted to the idea of the man doing so ‘willingly’ to help someone (most often a girlfriend, but sometimes a sister or a close friend), and then the situation going farther and farther.  Normally ending up with him having to perform fellatio to ‘prove’ his femininity.   

Looking back, I think that was the only way I could see femininity in myself.  Again, I was moving through wall after wall of conservative thinking, so man is defined by having a penis.  I have a penis (and have a penis in the story), so I had to have the secondary sexual characteristics of a woman including long hair, smooth skin, breasts (or at least lumps on my chest that looked like breasts), wearing overtly feminine clothes like lingerie skirts and dresses.  But the ultimate was focusing sex on the ‘real man’ in the scene, and that involved focusing on his penis in a way that mine wouldn’t be a factor.  Yeah, anal sex could have been a substitute, but think about anal sex realistically without being able to notice the penis and scrotum of the ‘woman’.  It’s hard to get the imagination around and ‘feel’ real.  But wrapping your lipsticked lips around a cock while he runs his hand through your long hair and looks down and calls you a good girl?  Yup, that’s me as a woman. 

But that’s all with decades of looking back.  At the time, I was just a normal guy with a kink.  I went out with girls, I went to strip clubs, I stared at women’s bodies. 

When I was at the state college and had long periods of time by myself, I started to think about it more and started to worry that I was gay.  I honestly thought that these desires might be making me homosexual.  Read that again please.  I thought the DESIRES were making me GAY.  I never considered the possibility that I was homosexual and that I was learning how to express this in a ‘safe’ way.  And I certainly never considered the possibility that I wasn’t entirely man.  That I was a woman. 

By the time I got to Chicago I realized a key difference between gay and whatever it was that I was.  I never pictured myself or imagined myself with a man.  At least not AS myself.  I was always the ‘woman’ in those scenarios.  And since I was ‘obviously’ a man, that meant it was just a kink.  I stayed safely in that cocoon for over 10 years.  It wasn’t until I started making caps and giving myself a femme name did I start to consider possibilities between homosexual and ‘normal’.  At first, I tried to just say that my name of Caitlyn was a name for the nebulous cap making, storytelling, fairly female persona I used.  Later I decided that Caitlyn was an actual personality all to herself.  I blocked off space for ‘her’ and ‘me’.  Later still I decided that we were both part of the same person and my feminine side didn’t need to be just the kinky part of me online.  And then only more recently did I realize that if I simply chopped off the two extreme sides of me…. The fake “I’m a man” masculinity and the fake “I’m a girly girl thinking girly girl thoughts”, I could make a whole full person. 

The big problem at that point was defining what that meant.  I could accept that when I was feeling very feminine, I was attracted to men.  And yes, I was seeing that in my non-online life as well.  I could accept that when I was feeling very masculine, I was attracted to women.  But these are two situations dealing with two very different ideas.  One was sexual identity; was I man or woman or something in between.  The other was sexual attraction; was I attracted to men or women or something in between.  There’s a third sexuality related issue, but it’s biological and can’t be changed by anything outside of surgery;  I’m biologically male.  I have a penis, I have testicles, I have broader shoulders than females, I grow hair more and, in more areas, than females.  

But I couldn’t decide on the other two.  It wasn’t until I started to actually try to define what I was that I came across the definition of queer.  “A term (formerly pejorative) used by people who don't identify with the binary terms of male and female or gay and straight and do not wish to label themselves by their sex acts.”  And that was it.  I’m queer.  I’m happy to admit it, at least here online.  I haven’t said that much to my friends or my family, but if someone were to ask, I think I’m ready to answer with that term.  “Hey Calvin, are you straight?”  “No.  No, I’m queer.”

I know that was a long longer than the general history and the creative history, but it still feels short.  It’s been a long LONG journey to come to that level of acceptance. 

Anyway, that’s my bio as of August 2019.  And incase you’re curious, here’s my bio from 2015 that has a little update from 2017 where you can see me approaching the ‘queer’ status.  I actually call myself bisexual in that one!