Like many Americans, I was looking forward to the Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner. I was positively gleeful and was titillated with the impending television special. If I were still in college, it would have been a cause to gather around the television with friends to giggle and laugh. What I experienced watching the entire two hours in real time...was something far deeper and unexpected than I ever imagined.
Bruce Jenner was an American icon from my childhood. A beautiful, strong Olympian that was the first face on a Wheaties box, guest starred on various shows, and became the face of the "perfect" man. What we didn't know was his private torment and confusion of gender identity. Who could have possibly imagined that this fine specimen inside felt like a woman? He had multiple marriages and many children. Until Keeping Up With the Kardashians, he hadn't been in the public eye in recent years. He was a peripheral narrative on this weekly reality show, but showed his very strong bond with all of his children. The best part of him seemed to be his fatherhood. It was only in the past year or so that the whispers began about him.
The relentless mocking and hunting of Bruce Jenner was featured in every magazine, TMZ type show, and internet blog. I can't deny my sheer delight in all the speculation. Couldn't turn away, like a car crash that you can't turn away from. When the rumors that the E channel was going to do the Bruce Jenner reality show, the titillation revved up again. The denials began or the lack of confirmation. The E channel did confirm that one episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians was going to deal with Bruce's transgender reveal. More promotion and anticipation. So, when Diane Sawyer and ABC announced that she had caught the only Bruce Jenner interview, I marked it on my calendar. I didn't want to watch it after all the talking heads and the Twittersphere analyzed and re-analyzed the conversation.
Friday, April 24, 2015 at 9:00pm, sitting on the couch with my Mom...ready. Not sure how I was going to feel. Would it be amusing? Uncomfortable? Sad? Emotional? It was all that. I found myself feeling a bit uncomfortable with his obviously more comfortable feminine side. He was dressed as a man wearing a ponytail and, then, symbolically pulled the tie out to let his long locks flow freely. He shed tears talking about the pain he didn't want to cause his 10 children. He was nakedly honest and his bravery was deeply moving. He has suffered in silence for most of his life. Knowing since he was a little boy something wasn't right. How comfortable he felt dressing up in women's clothes when ever he got the chance and publicly being a "he-man." The ultimate specimen of male-dom. How completely ironic to feel female in your soul and outwardly the statue of David. Can you imagine that? The pain he showed he suffered was palpable. He wasn't asking for pity. He really is asking for tolerance and understanding.
All of his children know and most are showing what unconditional love means. It can't be easy for any of them, but they love him. For some, things clicked into place. Things that they noticed when they were young, now it's like a-ha. It surely showed that he is loved by his children and it couldn't have been easy. Ten children, three marriages. Six biological and four step children. There in and of itself is cause for bumps in the road. His first two wives made very loving and beautiful statements. He had told them during each of their marriages that he had confusion and he liked to put on women's clothes. He revealed his struggles to all of them, including Kris Jenner. Kris Jenner is the only one that didn't have a comment. She had no comment. Probably waiting for Keeping Up With the Kardashians. You can say a lot about her, but Kris Jenner is an unparalleled marketer and manager. So, hopefully, she will share her true feelings on her show, not PC feelings. It's not about her.
It is all about him. Bruce Jenner is gone now. The interview was the last time we will ever see Bruce Jenner other than in photos and re-runs. He is gone. When he returns, he will be She. She will have a new name. She will finally be living his truth. You may ask, "why do all this at 65?" To that I say, how incredible that after 65 years, she will be able to be the woman she always felt inside before she dies. Haven't you met people that didn't come out of the closet until their parents passed? If her courage showed me anything, live your life, be your true self, and surround yourself with those people that love you know matter what.
Harvey Levin and TMZ, please lead the future and leave Bruce Jenner alone. Call off your dogs. Take the high road and maybe others will follow. That's the part that worries me the most. The Paparazzi chases him relentlessly. Leave him be! I can't imagine handling all of that on top of transitioning. Now that he has bared his soul to the world, it is time for the late night comics to realize that this is not fodder for jokes anymore. Let him/her be. It's time.
There were so many layers and reveals to this interview. If you missed it, I think it is thoroughly worth the time. You may never see anything more raw and courageous again. It may not be easy for us to accept, but stay strong, stay true, and we look forward to meeting you.
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