My Last Dress

The Sun | J BrookePublished 2015
The Sun

THROUGHOUT MY CHILDHOOD I was forced to wear frilly, flouncy, feminine clothes. Every holiday, birthday party, bar mitzvah, wedding, or funeral warranted my wearing what I felt most betrayed my spirit: a dress. I preferred pants, especially the khakis my brother outgrew, which I was allowed to change into after school. Boys’ pants had more pockets. Boys’ blazers, too. My brother’s blazers had deep interior spaces seemingly designed to hold my baseball cards, my gum, and my Swiss Army knife. My stupid girls’ blazers looked like his on the outside, but when I reached within, there was no place to put anything.

I bought my last dress for my brother’s wedding (shortly after realizing I was queer, but just before I shared that news with my family). Imagining the evening my final drag performance, I danced, posed for pictures, and afterward flew home with the dress and hung it in my closet. Five years later, when Beatrice — the beautiful woman I’m now married to — didn’t have anything to wear to a benefit, she borrowed it. She looked amazing that night, wearing the last dress I ever wore.