When Jake and I first walked through the door of that club those years ago we never really thought about assuming a fake identity. As we explored we learned that many people hid their activities from the world at large in various ways. We are naturally reserved people and so keeping things to ourselves comes naturally to us. The idea of using an alias or having a separate Facebook account seemed way too complicated.
As time went by we became more relaxed in ourselves about what we were doing. We didn't really advertise what we were doing but at the same time we didn't actively hide it either. I am a fundamentally honest person. I don't like to live a lie. That didn't mean that I wanted to go around with a sign on my head that says "I am a big fat slut swinger" but if asked a direct question I would answer honestly. With some people I would be vague and if I felt they really couldn't deal with the situation I would tell them not to ask questions because they might not like the answers.
Consequently most of the people that are close to us, including both of our sets of parents, know on some level what we get up to. On the whole they don't ask questions. Depending on the person, I avoid discussing specifics. I know some people feel that this is splitting hairs but I have never actively lied to anyone about where I went or what I did. My parents are a little judgmental but they have been told quite pointedly on one occasion that it really isn't any of their business. Everyone else is the way the people closest to you should be. Accepting and loving you for who you are. In our circle of friends we don't care to have anyone who isn't.
When I started writing and blogging Gemma and Jake came into existence. Their main purpose was to keep my actual name from being blazoned across the internet to be Googled for the rest of the eternity and to protect myself from crazy stalker types turning up at my front door. To deceive the people I knew personally or to have an alter ego that has adventures that the real me never would consider was not and never became my objective.
Over time my blog grew into something other than a way for me to introduce my writing to the world and my social network accounts grew into something other than advertising for me. Gemma became a woman who was all sexy and did all kinds of things that some people wished they could. During that timeframe the 'real' me has trained to become a Biology teacher. I have had some confronting moments when I have looked deep into myself and asked "Am I really a suitable person to be in charge of adolescents?" I have often pondered about the way my lifestyle fits into the other parts of my life.
Through my study I have been made aware of how one-eyed and judgemental people can be of teachers. I have read articles and been told stories of terrible injustices done to teachers because a disgruntled parent made unfounded allegations that ended up in the media. I have had moments of terror that I will one day be confronted with the front of my blog and a "Please explain" from a principal because of a complaint from a parent.
I avoid writing about virginity and teenage sex for this reason. Even though it is something that I think could have great value to young adults. I believe the popular media is very lacking in positive sexual images and story lines that give teenagers something to base their sexual education on. Instead we protect them by preventing such material from making its way into their lives and leave them relying on hard core internet porn and stupid soap opera story lines. Because of all this I have buried Gemma's 'real' identity down to the point where there are people in the world who know me personally only by the name Gemma Jones.
The question I ask myself often is, "How removed from Mrs Biology Teacher is Gemma Jones?" There is a line drawn in the sand between them. Gemma Jones NEVER sets foot through a school gate no matter how fabulous the fantasy might be for some. But there are people who think it goes further than this. They think that when I walk through the door of a club or party I morph into someone else, that the Gemma alter ego is a way for me to live a life that the real me cannot justify.
The reality is more complex. I cannot switch Gemma off and on like that, and I don't want to. I am who I am. Things flit into my head all the time. I have just learned not to dwell on them or act on them except when it is appropriate. I take the morality and ethics of the real me wherever I go. To say I am a different person given the situation I am in is unfair. If I am more flirty and sexual in a particular environment that is because I feel more comfortable in that environment and I think that the people I am with are grown up enough to be able to handle that part of my personality. In the "real" world people are just not that adult and cannot help but to fling the stones of their ill-informed judgements around without considering the damage they might be doing to some undeserving people.
Having an alias is not about having an outlet to be naughty with no repercussions. Nor is it about feeling guilty about what I do. It is a self-preservation technique. Of course I could stop blogging, I could stop writing and 'being Gemma' and then I wouldn't have to worry about being judged for not conforming. But that would be like making the last five years of my life a lie. Worse than that, it would make me unhappy and incomplete as a person. I am this person. Don't judge me if I choose to hide it from some people.