Making It To First Base

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #99, Fall 2002.

by Barbara Curry

The following was published in Outreach News, the newsletter of the Connecticut Outreach
Society, in July of 2001, and shortly afterwards on TG Forum.
For more than a year, I?ve been going to church as Barbara.

First I attended the monthly evening gatherings at
Integrity, the LGBT Episcopalian group. Then I made the decision
to brave mainstream services on Sunday mornings.
At first I was hesitant, but I knew a wonderful couple who
always invited me to sit with them, and I had other friends in the
choir. Best of all, I was always made to feel welcome by the

Slowly, my few friends in the church started introducing
me. Amazingly, everyone to whom I was introduced took the
time to talk to me and made me feel welcome.

There comes a point in the Episcopal service where the
priest says, ?The Peace of the Lord be with you,? to which the
congregation replies ?and also with you.? Then the people in the
pews proceed to kiss, hug, and greet those around them.
Needless to say, except for my friends, I usually just got the
occasional friendly handshake and a few long-distance smiles.
But then something strange started to happen. Those
strangers in the pews started to know me by name! You?ve no
idea how overwhelming it is to have 10, 15, 20, and even 25
people come up to you and say ?Peace, Barbara!? Sadly, I
didn?t have a clue who these strangers were, let alone why they
were talking to me.

Slowly, I?ve come to know about half of those strangers by
name and even more by their smiles. If I?m away for a few
weeks, more than a few people will approach after my return
and say ?We?ve missed you? or ?Where have you been?? It?s

Recently Jim, the Rector, asked if I was coming to the
annual church picnic (last year I avoided it). I thought for a
moment and replied, ?Sure!? He immediately asked, ?Can you
play softball?" Startled, I said, ?I?ve not played for 20 years,? to
which he said, ?So you?ll play?? Hesitantly, I said yes, but with
the simple caveat that I had to play first base, the only position
at which I?m any good. The amiable padre responded, ?Great!
First base is yours!?

Picnic day came, I had done my church woman duty and
signed up to bring salad. I sheepishly slid mine onto a table covered
with food, found a place to drop my bag, mingled a
little,then got a plate and ate while talking to one of the college
students from the parish. We had a fabulous conversation, but
eventually, she moved on to talk to others.

Before I knew it, it was time for the infamous softball
game. After adding my name to the list of players, I struck up a
conversation with Mary the Curate, who warned me this game
was very important to Jim the Rector. She confided that she was
prepared to pay the opposing team to lose the game, just to
make life bearable. Apparently, Jim is not a good loser.
All-too-quickly, the call came for everyone to come to the
ball field. Of course, Jim had made sure that not only was I on
his team, but that I got my position? first base.

I?m here to tell you, friends, you haven?t played softball
until you start running around the bases with your breast forms
going one way and your body another! I had the added
advantage that the first-base sidelines were the preferred shady
sitting place for spectators, so I also had an audience!
It wasn?t two innings before I made first base my own
little stage. Barbara ?Shecky? Curry was taunting the batters
from the other team, not so much with typical baseball taunts as
with fashion comments, droll wisdoms, and downright
intimidation. Imagine, if you can, running to first base only to
have a 5?7? Queen standing on the bag, one hand on hip, gloved
hand with ball to the side, saying ?And WHERE do you think
YOU?RE going?? I loved it? and my peanut gallery did, too!
By game?s end, I had made friends and a few great plays. I
got through most of the game without embarrassing myself
(OK, I did strike out once). Best of all, I had done outreach to
people in the parish who had never taken the time to know me.
Now every time the Rector introduces me to someone new,
it comes with the endorsement, ?my fabulous first base person
from our winning team!?

Barbara Curry is at home anywhere from her pew in church to
onstage in P-town, and almost everywhere in between. She has been a
speaker at Fantasia Fair, Children From The Shadows, and the IFGE
Convention, to name a few, and with her spouse Susan produces the
fabulous Fantasia Fair Follies.