From the air to the sea, Tracy Hadley likes to keep moving. A skydiving enthusiast who is trying to get a skydiving rig made to fit her small size so she can solo, she’s an avid walker and loves going to the gym. She’s run marathons and even triathlons. Soon, she’ll start scuba-diving lessons. “I live in Seal Beach, so it really makes sense to do something closer to home,” she laughs.
She wasn’t always so active. As a child, she loved to read, play with her Barbies, and listen to music. Being athletic wasn’t on the radar. In her late teens, she became concerned about weight. “I’m small,” she says. “It doesn’t take much to show the weight.” She started walking and running to stay trim.
Until her teens, though, she was the “kid with her nose in a book.” She read anything, including certain magazines her stepfather kept in his bathroom. “I was always sort of precocious,” Tracy laughs. Even at that young age, she noticed that she really liked looking at the pictures in those magazines. As time went on, she even had fantasies about them. “But I liked men, too,” she recalls.
She set it aside until she was in her 30s. She says that when she was younger, there were no places to go to even begin to talk about it. “I was afraid of being bullied. I didn’t think anyone at school was like me. If I had known about the OC center, I might have gone to a group or something. So it took me some time.”
In the meantime, she had married a straight man who knew she was also attracted to women. They were together for 12 years, and remain friends. “We were friends for a long time first. I could always talk to him about things. In fact, he introduced me to my lover.”
Now thoroughly at home with her sexuality, Tracy remembers that the early days of coming out were rocky. During college, she thought she might like to be a marriage and family therapist. She decided it would be “a good idea to see what it was like on the other side of the sofa,” so she sought out a counselor and began talking about it. She talked to the counselor, and later, talked to her husband. Still, she wasn’t prepared for the reactions she got.
“When I first started dating women, it was horrible,” Tracy recalls. She’d meet women and “they didn’t want to have anything to do with me” when she shared that she was bi. “I met this girl and she really liked me. Until I told her. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know. I figured it wouldn’t matter. I didn’t know anything about this. I just really was determined to figure out what it was all about.” Tracy was shocked when the woman asked her to call, then gave her the cold shoulder. She began thinking she had to make a choice.
“I wish I could explain that it doesn’t really matter what gender you are,” she says. She and her lesbian partner have been together ten years. “My partner’s pretty understanding. She’s not like most women.” Even though the LGBTQ community has come a long way, Tracy notes there’s still a divide. “It is what it is. I’m so over making apologies for who I am, that I’m just not going to do it anymore. I feel truly blessed that I’ve experienced liking different kinds of people. There’s something freeing in being able to just be who I am and not worry.”
Just being who she is led to her skydiving. She says she had reached a “certain age” shortly after she turned 40 where she felt it was time to start tackling her fears. One of her brother’s friends whom she’d always admired was into skydiving. “He does crazy things. He’s hiked Kilimanjaro.” When he asked Tracy to go skydiving with him, she thought, she would “just do it” and see what it’s like. She says it was a little scary at first, but once the chute opened up, it was great. “I sort of became hooked after that. Jumping was the hardest part, but once you’re in the air, it’s fine.”
Until she can get that custom-fitted rig, she’ll keep walking, working out and learning to scuba dive. She loves rock ‘n roll, everything from the Rolling Stones to Metallica and 9-Inch Nails. “And Joan Jett. When I was a kid I wanted to BE Joan Jett!” she laughs.
Tracy doesn’t think she has any special wisdom to offer those who are deciding if they are bi. “I don’t know. I just kind of did it.” She pauses. “I don’t know how you’re going know until you put yourself out there. It’s kind of like skydiving. You don’t know until you look over the door and kind of take the leap of faith.”