People often ask me how long have I been transgender and it always leaves me a bit confused on how to answer. I mean, I’ve always been transgender. I didn’t know it for a long time, for a long time I was confused about what I was, then once I figured out what I was it was a bit more before I actually started transitioning. In spite of all that, I’ve always been transgender. Kind of a weird meta-physical thing. You don’t suddenly become transgender the minute you realize you are. When you put on your first outfit, style your hair different, or go out in public as your true self isn’t the minute you become transgender. As far as I know, there is no bell that rings, or a counter that rolls over, no box that gets checked. You were trans before, you’re trans now, and you’ll be trans after.
Still, there’s that moment in every LGBTQ persons’ life when that changes, and it never stops happening, it’s a frequent occurrence but doesn’t come regularly. I told you it’s all sorts of meta-physical. Every LGBTQ person has a few moments in their life that are big markers; self-realization, their first date, their first partner. For trans people they get those and the first time they wear the right clothes, change their name, get the surgery (if that happens), etc. Yet there’s still that event that happens all the time, and each time it’s a big moment: coming out.
For each of us, there’s that first person we came out to, usually a close friend or a parent. It was a nerve racking, nausea inducing, sweat producing, shaking moment. If that’s never happened to you or you’re not LGBTQ, imagine giving a huge speech in front of thousands and at the same time you’re interviewing for your dream job while flying a rocket during the Super Bowl, and you can understand that feeling. It’s a huge deal, and you never know how it’s going to go. Your parents could hug you and be happy, or toss you out of the house. Your closest friend may never speak to you again. Of course once you come out that first time, you have to do it again. At church, at work, at school, to more friends, to more family, on and on. It never stops. Anytime you meet someone new, you’ll end up coming out to them. When you move to a new town, you do it again. New job? Same thing. It never, ever stops happening. After the first few big ones, it gets a heck of a lot easier. You end up having a speech, or you just make quick work of it and move on. Everyone has their own way of doing it.
Yet, that first time of first times is the big one. You run through all sorts of scenarios in your mind. Some use some chemical courage to get it done. Some will write the most heartfelt and elegant letter they’ll ever write. It’s even become a thing to make YouTube videos of the event. What makes this one the big one, is that no matter how many times you do it afterwards, this one does so much. Letting someone know your deepest, most personal secret, a weight that keeps dragging behind you like lead weights in the mud, is just so…relieving. It’s like that gasp of air someone takes when they’ve been trapped under water and if they had been down there one second more they would have drowned. Just one more second and their lungs would have burst, their vision blurring and going black. That’s the feeling every person feels every day before they come out that first time, and it is so excruciating.
But that first time, no matter the outcome, it’s that first gasp of air. You’re alive. You’re here. No matter what comes after this, you don’t feel like you’re drowning under your own sea of secrets. It won’t always be easy, and you’ll have conflicts and struggles in your future. People will hurt you and they’ll try to drag you back under. But there will be moments of pure joy and thrill ahead of you. No matter what happens though, no matter how many more times you have to come out or fight for who you are, no moment will ever be as great as that first breath of life as the person who you want the world to know.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2016 edition of The Gayly
Dear Famous Person Publicly Announcing Your Support for a Candidate,
No one gives a rat’s ass who you are supporting.
Anyone who is swayed by your endorsement is feckless moron who deserves to forever have their order wrong at the drive through.
It is only because you have the benefit that you sing better, run faster, can fake cry while not looking into a camera, write well, draw pretty pictures, or can sing and dance at the same time while having an intense need for people to pay attention to you, that anyone even knows who you are. That is the extent of what matters about what you do, or at least should. Of course this isn’t the way our society works and we have become suckers to caring far to much about things in your life. Okay fine. I’ll accept that we want to know what brand of toothpaste you use and where you vacation, who you’re fucking, who’s your ‘beefing’ with, and all that other crap. Hell, I won’t lie, I use the level of obsession people have about your personal lives as an indicator of the people I should avoid.
Having said that, I wan’t to revisit my original statement: No one gives a rat’s ass who you are supporting, and they shouldn’t.
You see, just because you are famous at something doesn’t mean you actually know…well…jack shit about politics. Sure, you’ve been tossed a gold plated pewter statue or two, you’ve used your celebrity to meet some very important politicians and academics at fundraisers, and you do get to influence our tastes about culture and entertainment, but you really don’t know dick about politics. No more so than anyone else.
There’s this great thing called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Lemme sum it up for you; “You’re dumber than you think you are.” Because you’ve been labelled an expert of some subject like, I dunno, let’s say ‘media manipulation’, you’ve become convinced that you’re an expert on other things. Or let’s talk about you, the reader and me the writer. You’re really clever at something like computer programming, accounting, plumbing, or even astrophysics. That’s doesn’t mean you’re an expert on anything else. I say astrophysics for one specific reason; Neil deGrasse Tyson. I do not deny that the man is an absolute genius about all that goes into astrophysics like math, string theory, chemistry, um…physics. If the subject came up, I would shut my mouth and let him talk, he’s the expert. However, many of you may not know this, but whenever the man has started talking about history, expert historians tend to groan in great agony because he’s not as good as he or the masses think he is. Sorry folks, but it’s true. He’s not a great historian, and only an above average philosopher…I mean sure, we’re all made of star stuff but so is dog crap.
I brought up Neil not to take him down a peg…okay, maybe a little…but I brought him up because he’s an example of a celebrity who might be good at one thing, but only average or even terrible at another. No, he hasn’t endorsed anyone I know of, but I would call shenanigans on him unless he based his opinions on anything other than the politician promising to fund NASA enough to build Disneyworld on Ganymede. Still, the point stands. Celebrities are just as full of crappy terrible opinions as the person in the next cube over. They can be as clueless and out of touch as your mildly racist grandmother. In fact, it’s not that they can be, it’s that they in fact are.
So, the next time my dear famous person, you get the bug up your ass to write a long and rambling essay for a clickbait crap hole of a website that name drops some over hyped mid-20th Century writer known for being quoted by people who want to sound clever about who you’re voting for and why, just remember. No one cares. It doesn’t change anyone’s vote. And anyone who’s vote is swayed by your endorsement, is a monkey with a brain injury. You’re just the equivalent of a cocktail party douche canoe who won’t shut up about their politics and just talk about Game of Throne like a normal person. You just don’t know it.
1.) Find his childhood sled.
2.) Hug him and whisper, “It’s not your fault,” until he cries.
3.) Tell him that we’re sure his father actually loved him.
4.) Defeat him in a downhill ski race.
5.) Have his old business partner Jacob Marley visit him on Christmas Eve.
6.) Tell him it’s the right size for us.
7.) Have Morgan Freeman read him a biography of Abraham Lincoln.
8.) Force him to watch The West Wing, Clockwork Orange style.
9.) Explain to him why invading Poland is a really bad idea.
10.) Don’t you think he looks tired?
1.) They have really bad haircuts.
2.) Both use intimidation at their political rallies.
3.) They have shitty books that lay out their beliefs.
4.) Both are xenophobic nationalists who make big promises that lack substance.
5.) Yes, both books are shitty. Being a best seller doesn’t mean its not shitty. Just look at Micheal Bey films and the Twilight series.
6.) Their taste in art is questionable at best.
7.) They both like tacky ostentatious displays.
8.) Both thrive on fear and intimidation.
9.) They both have really shitty taste in architecture.
10.) Both are mediocre talents with good charisma.
12.) Both of them really like the color black.
13.) Hitler and Trump both have terrible tempers.
14.) Their egos could fill the Reichstag and the Taj Mahal.
15.) Both hold grudges.
17.) Neither really live in the places their claim as their homes.
18.) Both are known for rumors and jokes about their dicks.
20.) Both will be long remembered for what terrible people they were.
Read it and then the comments.
Totally nailed it.
It’s the part where I called you stupid that got your attention to click on this isn’t it?
Ah, the reliability of people to be outraged.
And nothing makes people more reliably outraged than Award Shows.
It’s particularly odd to me, that come time for “Award Season” people get so particularly incensed that the film, t.v. show, or music they liked the most, or have the most in common with didn’t get nominated or won. What’s striking is that so many of these people are upset that their choice is often an artist who always talks about the shallow and arbitrary nature of Hollywood, or a work of art that tries to talk about the power of non-conformity.
“Hey, you know what, we should all recognize by popular consensus this work of art that talks about the importance of not worrying about popularity or conformity!”
Here’s another thing about these award shows. So many folks complain about the “cattle call” round up of the Red Carpet Walk, where the people they consider cultural parasites stand behind crowd barriers and shout at celebrities and evaluate their worth as human beings based on the clothes they wear, but are shocked and offended when their personal taste in art is “snubbed”.
Quite often people seem to complain about how their particular demographic of human being wasn’t nominated or won. “Why aren’t there any gay black handicaped albino transmen nominated this year!? ITS BIAS!!!” Why does it always have to be bias, or snubbing, or cliquish that someone wasn’t nominated? Maybe, and I might just be taking a wild stab in the dark here, but maybe that minority performer wasn’t as good as the others? Maybe there were two or three minority performers who really stood out, but because of the way voting tends to work, the vote split and ended up not getting either nominated. Maybe a good idea would be to have the final votes for nominations and final winners posted publicly. Since we’re electing pretty much a pop culture prom queen when we have these things, we should have them publicly list the vote totals? That would be fucking stupid wouldn’t it, getting to see actual factual numbers that fuck with the way you feel about things?
Another thing that’s interesting is that all these awards are given out by voting, and as people know, voting is all about popularity, manipulation, dirty tricks, and realizing that most of the time voters are idiots no matter the subject. Unless you follow EDM, you probably never heard of the incident I have termed “The Al Wasser Proves the Grammys Are Bullshit Fiasco”. So here’s the story. Al Wasser, a guy practically no one has heard of gets nominated for a Best Dance Recording for this. Now, since so many of you don’t know much about EDM, let me explain who also gets nominated in this category: Lady Gaga, Chemical Brothers, Justice, Fatboy Slim, Justin Timberlake, Skrillex, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia. Now, I’m not the type to say that an art form is empirically good or bad, but I do accept popular opinion on taste as valid decision (I won’t dispute that the Mona Lisa is better than a Bob Ross painting), and there is no way that song is in any way an equal of another winner in this category The Chemical Brothers. Though honestly, my favorite song ever nominated would have to be, this Basement Jaxx work of art. And that’s saying something, because I’m a bigger Fatboy Slim and Groove Armada fan, and they both appear on the list numerous times.
In fact, I would argue that on that list of songs in that category, about 80% have “legs” meaning that they’ll still be good songs about 20 years from now, have a longer lasting impact, and be remembered years down the road as quality. Last Grammy season, I made a post about music that argued that awards are meaningless because of cultural impact. Like I point out that the most popular best selling single of 1966 was Ballad of the Green Berets, a song that today is more appropriate to parody than lasting legacy like other songs of that year such as “California Dreaming”, “Paint it Black”, “Sound of Silence”, or “You Can’t Hurry Love”, just to name a few. Also, I note that the one year that Public Enemy was nominated for a Grammy they lost to Rob Base’s “It Takes Two”. Now honestly artist had a bigger impact on hip hop and r&b?
But since this post was inspired by the Oscars, let me ask you this. Have you ever heard of the film, “How Green Was My Valley”? Not unless your a film student probably. Have you ever heard of “Citizen Kane?” Yeah, of course you have. It’s considered the greatest American movie of all time. Guess which one was the Oscar winner for Best Picture? “Greatest Show On Earth” beat out “High Noon”. “Kramer vs. Kramer” beat “Apocalypse Now”. Now of course we’re talking about who beat who. What about who just plain won. Have you ever watched “The Apartment”? “Oliver”? “Tom Jones”? Have you even heard of them? No probably not. They won their respective years, but they’re pretty forgettable. You want to know an “award” that’s notable? Try the National Film Registry. The NFR is a list of films that have a copy locked in a vault by the Library of Congress because they have helped define American culture. Oliver isn’t on it, but you know what is? Animal House. Seriously, Animal House, Aliens, Airplane!, and Night of the Living Dead are just a few examples of the films they found helped define our collective culture. Not ever Oscar Winner production is on that list and a lot of these films would have been run out of the Academy with torches, but who really wants to chill out and watch Ordinary People? Fuck that. I wanna watch a film recognized as impactful on American culture in a way like “Willy Wonka”, “Ghostbusters”, or “The Exorcist.”
Additionally, if music, film, and television are supposed to be art forms. Why are they they only ones that have these stupid things? Maybe because its about the money. Because you can’t make a shit ton of cash for a painting. I don’t recall anyone ever feeling that Ai WeiWei was snubbed this year for that hack Banksy. No one demands more representation of bananas in still lifes. No one really thinks “Nighhawks” by Hopper was overlooked that year for nomination.
Fuck handing out gold plated trophy’s to a bunch of people in a popularity contest for a subjective artform. Award shows are just an extension of Hollywood business. It’s not a valid and realistic way to recognize anything, it’s marketing and advertising. Never, ever trust a work of art or a performance that has to be recognized by lobbying, and “buzz”.
I think numbers tend to cause eyes to glaze over and minds to go blank. So being flippant about a bunch of sad statistics really doesn’t seem like something worth writing about. Then it hit me the other night, and it did have something to do with a statistic: 41 percent of all transgender people attempt suicide at some point. Why did that statistic stand out? I was hitting on another trans person, who said she hadn’t had sex since her surgery three years ago.
I immediately stopped hitting on her, because I couldn’t be part of the largest cause behind that 41 percent for her: loneliness.
I’ve been there…hell I am there, so many other trans people have been there, and it’s something you can’t stick a number on and make it a frightening statistic to shake your head at. Trans people suffer far too often from loneliness, and it is such a crushing terrible thing that often many cannot see beyond that pain because it seems so often there is nothing beyond it unless you get to be one of the lucky few.
Just like the rest of the LGBTQ community, when we come out we often lose family, but we don’t have a vast wide open new community to find our new family in. Dating and companionship for a trans person often seems to be the exception, not the rule.
I have my OKCupid, my Tinder, hell even Grindr, as well as a few trans dating sites, and all it’s resulted in – in almost ten years of being out – are two disastrous relationships. Yes, I’ve had a few physical flings, but they were shallow and unfulfilling. There is a world of difference between being touched and held in that “you can’t stay when we’re done,” manner and that touch that you don’t want to ever stop. That embrace that you never want to end. And honestly, the latter seems so despairingly rare.
Trans people have to deal with telling people in those online ads, “Looking for someone who will take me out,” or “I’m not a secret.” Getting someone interested in you and willing to be open and honest about it seems to be as unobtainable as the Lost Cities of Gold.
Why? Because most of the time, the people who just want to have sex with you on the down low don’t even have the courage to have you come over to their place because god forbid someone think that they’re sleeping with a trans person. We can’t even have casual hook ups without being treated like a dirty secret and not being seen as something beyond a hook up, much less someone with feelings.
That’s why that 41 percent statistic is just so damn sad to me. Because who knows how many in that number tried because they just wanted to be seen as a person, as someone to love, someone who wants to be held and cared for.
It’s painful to have people who are hitting on you recoil in horror when they find out you’re trans. ‘Cause the idea your friends might laugh at you for being with us, or people at the store will whisper, or your entire identity is based on being attracted to a person who up until a second ago you assumed had the sex organs you were after.
You get to the point where there seems to be no point in dressing nice, going out, hitting the clubs or bars, because your phone is not going to end the night with a new number in it. All you want is a regular set of arms to fall asleep in with a smile on your face.
That to me is what I think is the one thing that never seems to get touched on during all these Awareness Months, or Days of Awareness, these think pieces, and shoutty articles talking about how trans people get treated is such a shame. What’s the point of all these pieces about how we deserve all these equal rights when people don’t even see us as someone worthy of being loved?
That’s why I stopped hitting on her and started to just have a pleasant and friendly conversation with her. I couldn’t do that to her. I couldn’t be the person that takes advantage of their loneliness and desire to feel loved. I have that same desire myself and often feel so terribly alone.
That’s what I want you to be aware of this month and every month when you think about our 41 percent. 41 percent of us feel so defeated and worn down that we try to end it all because life doesn’t seem worth it. God knows how much that number could be cut down if people just took a little bit of a chance and had a little courage to see us as a person who just wants to fall asleep in someone’s arms and have the stay the next day…and the next, and the next, and maybe even forever.
h, October…LGBTQ History Month! Like any other time when history gets brought up, I usually end up curled into a fetal position crying and begging for the stupid to stop.
I’m a bit history buff, for all the knowledge you might have of cars, Madonna albums, or sports records, I recite historical facts and analysis. Few people know this, but I actually helped create the most popular history web forum in the world which serves to answer questions people have about history. It’s grown so popular that my fellow forum moderators have been asked to speak to the American Historical Association next year on how to make history more appealing in the digital age. Yeah, I’m bragging. So what? I’m proud of that fact and I’m a snob about history. There, I said it.
History is probably one of the most important subjects everyone seems to misunderstand and abuse. For example, you have those terrible and simplistic quotes about history. “History is written by the victors.” No. No it’s not. The South didn’t win the Civil War and there are a lot of people who have twisted the history of slavery and the war to make it seem like it was a noble institution and a righteous cause. Also, the United States didn’t win in Vietnam and we have written a lot of history books about it.
“History repeats itself.” No, no it doesn’t. At best, it “rhymes.” Events are similar but not exactly the same. They seem similar because we have a strange habit of projecting our views onto the people and events of the past. You also have the ‘Historians Fallacy’ where we wonder why history happened the way it did. We have the ability to look back on the past knowing the full story. There’s also ‘Chronological Snobbery’ where we think that just because an idea, a work of art, or science is from the past it’s inherently inferior, like the idea that people in the Middle Ages must have just been ignorant fools.
I could fill up this entire article with different forms of flawed thinking about the past, and I would enjoy doing it, but that wouldn’t be the point.
These silly, overly broad, and illogical ways of thinking about the past at least are better than the worse alternative, which is not knowing history at all. Okay, to be fair, they are both bad, at least when you think Benjamin Franklin was President because he is on the $100 dollar bill. You think that because most people on money are presidents. Still, not knowing your history, your lineages, and the way you got to where you are is sad. It’s like looking at abandoned photographs at a flea market, all of it someone’s life, discarded and forgotten.
The other day, I was performing at the HiLo, and saw where the old door that said, “Private Club” from the days it was a gay speakeasy had been replaced and I was more than a little sad about that fact. It was against the law in Oklahoma to have sex with your same sex partner as late as 2003. It’s technically still on the books in this state! Did you know that the word ‘transsexual’ didn’t exist until the 20th Century? It was created by a German sexologist named Magnus Hirschfeld who also wrote one of the first gay themed movies, Different From the Others. Unfun fact: like most German films, it’s depressing and the main character dies in the end. Yeah, most people don’t know that the Germans were the first people to really study LGBT culture and history in a scientific sense and advocate for equal rights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Really makes you wonder what the hell went wrong there in the 1930’s.
I mean, I could throw so many crazy facts about LGBTQ history at you. Like one of the most notable HIV hospices during the 1980’s was a Catholic Church in San Francisco’s Castro District. Blows your mind doesn’t it? The reason that Pride Month is in June in so many places is to celebrate the memory of the Stonewall Riots. Did you also know the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Genovese crime family? Yeah, back in those days most gay bars were owned by the Mafia. Kinda weird and strangely cool…but if you know why, also more than a little depressing – they used it to blackmail closeted people and launder money. Thinking that gay history is nothing more than gay bars, parades, and Greek poets doesn’t begin to do our history justice.