Home' LOTL : SepOct16 Contents Waters, a Detroit native, didn’t have the luxury of coming out as a teen-
ager. She didn’t come out in her 20s. She came out “just shy of” 40, with
three kids and a husband, and a straight life that didn’t fit anymore. What
happened afterward was a whirlwind of epic proportions. Once the dust
settled, Waters, now 45, decided to boldly share her experience in her
memoir, Switching Teams.
“I never imagined at the age of forty I would be divorced, raising three
children, living in a rental house, and embracing life as a lesbian,” Waters
writes in the opening sentence. She goes credits her sense of humor
with helping her get through it all, then takes the reader into the deepest
caverns of her heart.
Switching Teams has nothing to do with sports, although Waters stud-
ied sports administration and coaches youth sports. It focuses, instead,
on the emotional turmoil and upheaval she faced in the midst of a life-al-
tering event. Her nonlinear approach to the narrative was intentional.
“I chose to do that consciously, because for me to have it be authentic,
I was such a giant ball of emotions,” she explains. “If I had to put one word
on what the whole experience entailed, it would be ‘emotional.’ And that’s
what it reflects.”
Waters adds that her goal in writing the book was to put something
out there that would be relatable, because she had been searching for
just such a resource herself while she was going through the process
of ending her old life and starting a new one. Waters turned to books
for support, but she couldn’t find anything that captured what she was
“My goal was for someone to read to the story and say, ‘OK, I’m not
alone.’ You can basically substitute any huge life change in there and the
stress and emotions would probably be very similar. I didn’t want it to
read like a self-help manual, either. I wanted to give enough of the emo-
tional flavor without detailing the whole sordid mess.”
Readers will get plenty of raw emotional flavor for sure—so much so
that after finishing the book it’s hard not to want to give Waters a call and
offer her some compassionate, comforting words, or send her a virtual
hug through Facebook.
“They are all supportive,” Waters says of her family. “Everything is cool.
My ex and I have gotten to a pretty good place. It’s taken a little while. But
we really worked hard together on handling the situation so that it was
not affecting the kids negatively.”
Looking back on her journey, Waters admits that starting over at 40
was tough, traumatic, and one of the most challenging things she has
done in her entire life. But she has no regrets.
“It took me a long time to get to the point where I wasn’t mad at myself
because I didn’t realize I was gay until later in life. I can look back now and
see it. But I can’t change how it unfolded. I am who I am today because
In her heartfelt YouTube video “Enough,” Waters describes growing up
as “a tomboy with no interest in typical girl things” who “edited” herself
into femininity according to the wishes of society. After coming out, she
says, came “figuring out what I thought being gay looked like.”
She experimented with lesbian signifiers: baseball caps worn back-
ward, short hair, shaved hair, tees, tanks, and plaid, even tattoos. “The slow
changes happening on the outside were a prologue to what was happen-
ing inside of me.” But something was still wrong. She was again obeying
external expectations of who she should be via what she should look like.
“The fear I had about looking like a guy whispered to me each time I
got dressed,” she says in the video. It was only when Waters finally let go
of her fear about her pleasure in looking more masculine that everything
changed. “I was me, unedited and free...I am enough.”
Not long after Switching Teams was published, Waters received the
first of many emails from a woman thanking her for writing the book. That
was it. That was the moment she knew that she had finally succeeded.
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