By Makoto Sakura MIND RISE

My Gender Doesn’t Need A Word — Just Room To Dance


No one knew what to do when the Sun hid inside a cave.

They say she was in a dispute with her brother, Storm. It ended so violently that he had desecrated her sacred temple, uprooted her rice fields, and brutally murdered one of her closest handmaidens.

With all worth living for taken away from her, she had shut herself inside that cave and wept, vowing never to come out again. The skies grew dark. The ground froze. The life-force of the earth began to whither. The eight million gods gathered outside the cave-door, wondering what to do…

. . .

It’s a curious state of affairs, being in the closet. When a lot of people conceptualize “coming out”, it’s thought of as a public act, as if when one takes that step, they are to climb onto a rooftop and sound the conch-shell of queerness for the world to hear, not realizing that before one can do that, they need to come out of the closet to themselves as well.

Or, find where the closet door is.

Or, realize that they’re in the closet in the first place.

My gender identity isn’t something I’d even vaguely considered until this past year. I was relatively secure in my identity as a cisgender and bisexual man, and that was the end of my thoughts on the subject.

Around this same time, I discovered that I love to dance. I discovered what it meant not just to move my body, but to inhabit my body.

To flow and spin and awaken all the nooks and crannies, the crevices and spaces hidden inside my limbs and woven deep into my core; I learned to move parts of my body I didn’t even know could move that way, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever experienced.

Then something weird began to happen.

As my dance journey continued, I began to see my body in a different way, not as something tied to designations of “male” and “female” exclusively, but just as a body. A body that can exist and move and be free without having to hold on to those designations.

Eventually, the perception of myself as “male”, or at least entirely male, began to fall away. I’d see a different person when I’d look in the mirror, still me, of course, but who “me” was, was another question.

I decided to take the leap and “come out” as genderfluid, the closest term I found that fit, and I found incredible validation and support from the queer community around me, but with that came all sorts of new questions that began to overwhelm me.

. . .

The gods quibbled and argued about what to do, until a fierce female figure emerged in their midst.

The Dawn, with her night black hair decorated with flowers and wreathes ordered a great mirror be hung in front of the cave, stood on an upturned washtub, and began to dance.

She flashed her breasts, symbolizing the feminine power to nourish and nurture, and her vagina, symbolizing the power to create life.

This dance made the gods so happy that they could not help but smile, laugh uproariously, and cry for more.

This revelry attracted the attention of the Sun, weeping inside…

. . .

When the time came to come out to my parents, I was still in the position of, “Okay, I know I am not a cis.” But beyond that is uncharted territory that I’m still exploring.

And that’s scary.

Scary for me and puzzling for my folks. The conversations we had were awkward enough, add to that the fact that I can’t explain my new found identity without hums, haws, shrugs, sighs and iterations of, “I’m still figuring that out”.

I was afraid that they wouldn’t take me seriously. Hell, even now I’m not sure if they take me seriously.

But in the presence of a couple of beautiful people I’m proud to call my spirit-sisters, and the help of some beautiful plant medicine, I touched on something I’d never experienced before.

I was dancing in my friend’s apartment in a purple, trippy patterned skirt and playing with some mala beads given to me by a friend. As I dropped into the flow of things, I began to feel incredible centered around my lower belly. All apprehensions about my body, or even the notion that my body was bound by space and time at all, began to dissolve.

I felt as if something had cracked and opened in my pelvis. I’m usually not a fan of new-agey rhetoric, but I felt my Sacral Chakra glowing a deep, deliciously goddess-like purple. I was feminine at my root, but the rest of my body was free to dance and flow and explore in whatever direction it wanted.

I felt as if I’d finally landed on some newly discovered planet that was my gender. There were no word to define it, but I’d felt it more strongly than anything else. I almost cried. I called a friend of mine and yelled about it over the phone. It was pure magic.

. . .

The Sun couldn’t help but stop her weeping and listen to the laughter. She rolled away the stone and peaked out a little bit, and beheld her reflection in the mirror that had been hung across the entrance.

She couldn’t recognize herself, but she saw someone beautiful. “Is this me? It can’t be.” She thought, “But… it must be!”

As she gazed, transfixed by her own radiance, she pushed away the stone and walked forward, and at the signal of the Dawn, the door was shut behind her.

. . .

The next day, I struggled with what I just found. I began to question the validity of the experience. I began to wonder what word I could use to label myself that could be acceptable to parents, friends, society, and all the other voices that claim monopolies on our identities.

After a bit of reflection, I realized I didn’t have to. My gender doesn’t need a word.

It just needs a little room to dance.

For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom.

Sip a little more:

A Poem For My Imaginary Lover

“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to remember to say about it all. You understand the suffering that drove the offense to begin with. You prefer to remain outside the milieu. You are not waiting for anything. You are not wanting anything. There is no lariat snare around your ankle stretching from way back there to here. You are free to go. It may not have turned out to be a happily ever after, but most certainly there is now a fresh Once upon a time waiting for you from this day forward.” ~ Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes . . . Photo : @darby.lahger . . . #lifeartist #theurbanhowl #newmoonrising #howlforyourlife

Photo : @darby.lahger {Instagram}


Makoto Sakura

Makoto is an undergrad student at Eastern Michigan University studying English Literature and Religious Studies. They hope to use their passion for mythology, comparative religions, music, and the performing arts to help bring unity and light into the world. They hope to go on to pursue a PHD in religious studies specializing in East Asian religious practice, but for now they are content with dancing, writing poetry, reading, and petting their dog.

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