Growing Up Gender Fluid in Small Town America

Girls, boys, bodies

Dana Leigh Lyons
6 min readOct 25, 2022
Image of me, age 47, by Brian Limoyo

Note: I’m reworking material on addiction…merging into a chapter on gender and sexuality. Find Part 1 here.

Life never stays still. When it does, fully and finally — when we reach our ultimate conclusion — we call this death.

Meanwhile, we move. Meanwhile, we weave self and story. But neither self nor story is static. Neither self nor story comes as a matter of course — complete, determined, ended.

Instead, we choose certain threads and some are handed to us and some are tied too tight around our throats and we spin internal cohesion. Here, me and mine make sense. Here, I can delineate and advocate. Here, we find a closet of boxes and dutifully maintained coherence.

Gender and sexuality included. Gender and sexuality at our core.

I say this as a person who identifies as queer. I say this as a person who’s been “out” for two decades.

Still, I’ve yet to try a gender or sexual identity that fits perfectly. Perfect-for-now has seen various iterations: bisexual, pansexual, lesbian, soft butch, baby dyke, gay, androgynous, queer.

Take your pick. None encapsulates my essence or experience.