BODY & MIND

Survival of the butchest: A gay man's Alaskan migration

Photo Credit: Clark Harding
As nature thrives on diversity, it also thrives on camaraderie. "A genetic type may be more productive by being cooperative [and] forming friendships," writes Roughgarden. That night, my mom and I sat out on the porch. The wood stove was too big for the little room. The raging fire over heated the cabin, forcing us to cool off under the midnight sunset.

"You really have grown up," she said, touching my red, Paul Bunyan beard. "I just wish I could see you more." Parents love to guilt their kids for not moving down the block or, in this case, the dirt road.

"I know," I replied thinking of how to explain my absence. "I really do have the best of both worlds." My mom cocked her head, not understanding. "I'm like a weird, gay hybrid or something. I have my life here and my life there."

My thought came to a sudden stop. I got up, my mom's gaze following me into the cabin. Many of the rangers who stayed in these Lincoln log shacks over the decades have left books and magazines to either read or burn. Atop a dusty shelf, I found an ancient dictionary, next to a copy of Robert Service poetry. Flipping through I found it. "Hybrid," I read, "a person or group of persons produced by the interaction or crossbreeding of two unlike cultures, traditions."

There, on yellowed parchment, was the simple solution to my neurosis. In order for a creature to survive, it has to adapt. However, adaptation does not necessarily have to be a natural or comfortable evolution, but an individual selection. It’s survival of the diverse-est, so to speak. My femininity is not a handicap as much as it is an added bonus, yet another skill to stratify yet another environment. This leaves room for more species to live the best of all worlds: tranny biologists, gay Republicans and even girly jocks.

"IT TWISTS YOU FROM FOE TO A FRIEND"
The Dalls giggled at me once again as I loaded my backpack into the airport shuttle. The wild ptarmigan, now almost winter white cooed goodbye to the Japanese tourists leaving the park. Feeling like a tall, Nordic outlier among little Asians, I hugged my mother. "So I'll see you next summer?" she asked.

"Maybe sooner," I responded.

"Really? You can handle the cold?" She was getting excited.

"Yes," I smiled, "and I need to remind myself a little more often." And like the humpback whale, sand piper and salmon before me I started my migration south. As the bus pulled out of the Denali Headquarters lot, I looked back out the window. Standing by the side of the road was my mom, the alpha female, following her other half towards the lights of civilization, hoping he'll survive.

Clark Harding is a freelance writer. He lives in Los Angeles.