A trio of female cousins (collectively known as ‘the sissies’) put this costume together for me when I was four years old, which I believe was the one and only time I dressed up for ‘trick or treat’ing, finding that there wasn’t any need to ‘gild the lily’ (thank you, Carol Ware) in the future.
Being flamboyant was a challenge growing up; my natural inclination was to go as far as I could and still be recognized as a male: rodeo ‘show’ cowboy boots, Nehru jacket (hand-made by my mother, somehow a willing participant in my excesses)–well, you probably get the picture. Place, of course, plays a role here; I grew up in the hyper-masculine world of the rural west (even the women were ‘butch’.)
When you’re four years old, your identity is still a work-in-progress, a more fluid you as it were. It’s not that I didn’t love ‘boy’ things (war, destruction, the apocalypse) but it’s that I also embraced those ‘girl’ things (looking beautiful, being swept into the arms of love, thinking before acting.)
Now, through the lens of time, I firmly believe in nature; what appears to be nurture was just an extension of character already emergent.