6 weeks since my most recent testosterone shot

More things are different than I had expected, since going off T.  None of it is surprising, but it’s kind of like, when you’re in one sort of frame of mind, it’s hard to picture / remember how it feels to be any other way, even if you have lots of practice / experience being that other way.  And then once you’re there, it’s like, “Oh yea.”  It’s not bad, exactly, but it’s not awesome either.  It’s more nuanced, layered, a bunch of stuff all at once, it’s nostalgia tied up in knots around whimsy, wistfulness, and just… more.  There’s suddenly a bunch more to life.  I’ve felt like reaching out and connecting with people I haven’t spoken much to lately.  Music has sooooo much more depth, personal significance, and intrigue than it has in a long time.  Crying comes easily and often.  Remember crying?!  Been a while…  Also, the nature of my attraction and/or feelings of connection to people is quite a bit different.

The biggest change in my emotional landscape is that I’ve been stuck in the past for about a month now, like really deep in there.  This has happened countless other times, but never for this long or this constant.  And when it would happen in the past, it could be enjoyable briefly, but I’d inevitably end up in a funk, and I’d have to make a conscious decision to stop and pull myself out.  This isn’t happening this time.  It’s actually been super productive because I’ve been channeling it into writing.  I don’t know if it’ll end up as anything worthwhile, at this point, but I already have a lot written, and I’m not showing any signs of slowing down yet!  But yea, it seems like most of my spare time has been devoted to reading old zines, letters, and journals, listening to mix tapes, watching old videos, basically mining my past for nuggets to turn into stories.  And I have so much that, as I said, a month has gone by, and there’s still a lot to glean.

Other changes:  I showed signs of getting my period, today.  Cramping and spotting.  Not sure if it’ll be more than that or not, yet.  (Hope not!)  To be exact (I know I’ll want this for future reference), it’s been 46 days since my last T-shot.  I have not thought about my hairline once, so that’s a big plus!  I’m still getting facial hair at the same rate.  I pluck them all out.  I haven’t felt less sweaty and gross, but also it hasn’t been unbearably hot yet, so, we’ll see.  I was initially hungrier, but that leveled out after a week or so.  I’d say I’m now less interested in food, but still have an appetite, which hasn’t always been the case, so I’ll take it.  I’ve been in more physical pain, but nothing too bad.  I’m worried I’ll lose muscle mass, but so far, so good.  I do feel slightly more fatigued from time to time, like going up stairs at work and stuff.  Nothing too major.

I’ve had some visions of violence.  One day in particular was super bad, like, constant, and I don’t know why.  It didn’t last, thankfully, but yea that stuff is popping in my mind on and off, where I had been violence-free the entire time I’ve been on T.

Between the delving into the past and the visions of violence, surprisingly my anxiety has not increased at all, nor has my mood dropped.  My levels are still pretty much at zero (for anxiety) and whatever number means good mood and energy, which is awesome and I hope is always the case from now until forever.  Maybe I can thank my psychotropic drug for that.

Anything else?  I think that wraps it up.  Things have been… interesting!


Finances and the LGBTQ community

It’s been long-known and proven over and over that, in general, people who identify as LGBTQ are worse off, financially.  Discrimination at work and within housing, along with being kicked out, disowned, or cut off from family ties, are big factors as to why this might be.  Mental health also plays a huge role.  There have been times when I was so deep into depression that I was not able to function at my job (or, in the past, at school).  Fortunately for me, I was able to take multiple medical leaves, when I needed them, with full pay and full job security.  That’s not always the story, though…

I was contacted a couple of months ago by Linda Manatt, who works for OverdraftApps.com, a company “created to increase awareness of the annual $35 billion overdraft problem in the U.S., which primarily affects the most vulnerable populations of our society. By creating content and developing tools to inform the public, [they] hope to make a positive change and shape tomorrow’s consumer finance policies for the better.”

In July of 2018, they commissioned a research organization to conduct a survey about financial attitudes and realities.  1,009 people from 46 states, aged 18- 71 participated, and 11% of them identified as LGBTQ.  A couple of other factors were isolated, including renters vs. owners and income levels, but not age, race, education level, or any other demographic.

Some of the big take-aways, as it applies to the LGBTQ community were:

  1. While only 14% of people surveyed make less than $25,000 per year, 25% of LGBTQ people fall in this bracket.
  2. 51% of the general respondents reported feeling “that the system is trying to take advantage of them when it comes to financial products.”  When isolating for LGBTQ people, that percentage jumped to 61%.
  3. LGBTQ people are 50% more likely to overdraft between three and nine times in the past year compared to the general population (18% compared to 12% of the general population.)

It is surprising how many people overall have over-drafted at least once within the past year (46%), how few people were even aware that they can opt out of over-drafting all together (39%), and how frequently over-drafting happens without their knowledge (42%).  No wonder people feel taken advantage of, purposefully!  As I was reading through the data, the overarching human emotion running throughout is the avoidance of embarrassment.  And sure enough, there’s a quote within the article to suggest this:

Paul Golden, from Nefe [National Endowment for Financial Education], provides an … interpretation on the reasons people don’t opt out more often of overdraft protection. In his opinion, “bankers [don’t] say that overdraft protection is mandatory” but they do sell it as an insurance to one’s reputation.  In his experience, this is how they are sold to consumers: “You go out to dinner with your friends or work colleagues and the bill comes up. You don’t have enough to cover it – can you imagine the embarrassment you would suffer if your card was declined?” People react: “Oh yeah, I should have overdraft protection.”

It’s like, pay $35 later for the convenience now of not having to put groceries back, in front of other people, when there is not enough in the checking account.  I’d even take this a step further and go so far as to say that people who are more likely to be singled out, to be devalued, humiliated, harassed, abused, and assaulted, are exponentially more compelled to do certain things to get out of embarrassing situations, including (but not limited to, by a long shot!) financial embarrassment.

I’d be curious what types of trends would emerge if the data had been isolated even further, to account for transgender and gender-nonconforming identities, within the LGBTQ community.  I can tell you right now that the picture would become much more bleak, very quickly.  I’d love to hear your own stories if you’d like to share, in the comments section!

If you’d like to see the full study, it is here:
Overdrafting in the United States:  Distrust and Confusion in the American Financial System

And thanks to Linda Manatt for prompting me to get out of my comfort zone and attempt to cover such a big issue, in my own, semi-personalized, way…


Happy pride weekend, full-on week-long style

Last week was Pride in this mid-sized city I live in.  The theme this year was “Stand Out:  [Live] in Color.”  For the first time ever, I attended a week’s worth of events; it was pretty awesome!

On Monday, my spouse plus my drag buddy and her boyfriend and her friend from out of town all went to a panel discussion / conversation called “Fabulous Lives:  [Drag] in Color.”  The purpose was largely to honor a bar owner and drag queen named  Naomi Kane who had passed away a few years ago.  Everyone wanted to share their impressions of her (both her essence, and literally doing hilarious impressions of the way she talked and her signature phrases / philosophies).  My drag buddy and I used to perform at her bar.  One of the old school drag kings from that time was on the panel, as well as the drag queen who regularly hosted the weekly show.  We got recognized as fellow drag kings; the vibe of the event was full of love and emotion for the scene and community.

On Thursday we went to another venue for a DJ night and drag queen show.  I got picked out of the audience (unwittingly but not totally unwillingly!) along with 2 others to play a game involving a bucket strapped to my groin area with a dangling tennis ball – thrust your body in such a way as to get the ball in the bucket.  I lost, but still got a complimentary beer koozie.  The important part is I felt more than comfortable up there on stage doing something so completely silly.

Satutrday was the parade.  My spouse and I (again) marched for their employer, a food co-op.  It was just us and 2 other people!  We had a lot of fun though – it felt like the perfect combination of laid-back and exciting.  We were right behind the local goth nightclub, and the DJ was driving his goth-mobile, playing gloomy / angsty mostly 80s music, which was a great soundtrack!  One of the other marchers with the club told us he’s taking requests.  I asked for “Swamp Thing” by The Chameleons.  After we were done in the parade, we stepped to the side to watch the rest.  When there was a lull, two kids, probably around age 10, ran across the street, directly to me, and handed me a heart shaped rainbow balloon.  I have no idea why, but it pretty much made my parade!  My spouse and I used the balloon in our photo shoot we did back home.

Then that night, I went out to a dance party with my spouse’s sister and a group of her friends.  It felt really good to get wrapped up in dancing.  And!!!  Completely out of nowhere, a guy approached me and said,
“Hey, are you Kameron.”
“Yea!”
“We did a David Bowie thing together.”
“Oh, yea, cool…  At The [name of venue.]”
“No, it was the one at The [different venue.]  I was the promoter.  I never paid you.”
“Oh, OK yeah I remember.”
“I owe you $50.  Here!”

And he just handed me the money!  This was like 6 or 7 years ago, and I hadn’t seen or heard from him since!  I didn’t even go by “Kameron” at that point.  I was so amazed this was happening, I gave him a hug.  He laughed.  Then I went back to dancing, but I’ve been telling this story over and over again ever since, haha.

Sunday we went to the picnic.  Saw more drag.  Hung out with friends.  Said hi to more people.
I like the fact that this year it was a full week of festivities!  Here are some pics:

DSCF4589DSCF4598

IMG_20180719_191241

getting called up on stage

And here’s my archive of past prides:
Happy pride weekend, much belated
Happy pride weekend, and The People
Happy pride weekend, and BRAWL
Happy pride weekend

 


Getting a pap smear as a transmasculine person

I don’t have a gynecologist.  I haven’t had one for probably 15 years.  The reason for that is because I felt so out of place there, so I let that aspect of my health passively slip away.  I’ve always gone to the dentist twice a year.  I was really into chiropractic care for years, consistently.  I’ve gotten eye exams.  I regularly go to a therapist and a psychiatrist.  I even have a primary care physician, and more recently, an endocrinologist.  But I’ve neglected and avoided anything related to my junk (this is just my preferred term for what I got going on down there…)

My last pap smear was in 2012, and I went through that because it was a prerequisite for getting testosterone gel.  That was enough of a motivating factor to go through that.  It was super painful and anxiety inducing, but I had done it!  Since then, there’s been no reason to get it done again, in my mind.  Prior to 2013, I’m not sure how long it had been.

About a year and a half ago, I was on a panel  with two other trans-people, in front of a group of health-care professionals, talking about our experiences with health services.  I mostly talked about my experiences with top-surgery consultations, but during the Q & A, the three of us were asked about sexual and reproductive health.  I was super open about how uncomfortable I am with this aspect of health care, and how I have avoided it.  I even felt a stubborn pride about it – something like, “if I avoid it, that verifies how little I relate to my junk.”  This really makes no sense whatsoever, and why exactly is this a point of pride?  My two peers were much more proactive – they had had lots of experiences with making sure their needs and check-ups were on track.

Two weeks ago, I was eating lunch with a super close friend.  She was mentioning something about her menstrual cycle and about how she needs to get her routine check-up.  I told her how long it’s been since I had a pap smear, and she seemed aghast.  I said I wasn’t going to be getting one either.  She said something to the effect of, “But you have to.”  She sort of role played a scenario in which hypothetically something scary is found, like HPV or cancer, that could have easily been avoided by just getting regular screenings.  The emotions she was pouring into it were what got me.  I kept going back and forth between, “OK, I will get it done,” and “No way never again!”  The conversation stayed with me.

A couple of days later, I had a lump in my armpit.  I’d never had anything like that before.  My spouse told me I should get that checked out.  This was something that was more straightforward!  I could definitely go to the doctor for something like this!  I called and got an appointment for the next morning.  Then it dawned on me that I should be getting a pap smear.  I waffled back and forth for a while, wondering if I’d be able to get myself to call back.  I finally did, pitching my voice as high as I could so it would be apparent that this request would not be totally incongruous.  Blah.

The pap smear was just as painful as the other times I’d gotten one, but I would say it was less anxiety-inducing.  What helped me get through it was trying to stay present in the moment, in the room.  I did this by talking with the nurse practitioner.  “This room is cold.”  “Please use the smallest one possible.”  “This is really hurting.”  Etc.

I gotta admit I do not know the exact reasons pap smears are important – what is being tested, etc.  But I do think I will be more on top of getting them every few years from now on…

To top this all off, on Saturday we were out in the woods with some friends.  Sunday morning, I felt something chafing on my chest, and when I looked, there was a tick latched in right on my nipple!  Eeaughhhh!!!  My spouse tweezed it and pulled it in half.  Half of it is still embedded in my skin.  I’m thinking it will work itself out on its own.  She talked to our friend on the phone – he regularly gets ticks and gets them tested in groups, after he’s collected a bunch.  So far so good but lyme disease is a scary possibility.  Do I have to go back to the doctor?!

 


I was in Turkey and Greece!

So I went on a really big trip this summer – I visited my brother!  I flew into Istanbul, stayed with him there for two nights, and then we rented a car and went up to Sile on the Black Sea, Yalova on the Marmara Sea, the city of Bursa, and Ayvalik on the Aegean Sea.  We took a ferry to the Greek island of Lesbos / Midilli.  We also saw ancient ruins in Bergama and went to a Turkish bath with natural hot springs in Inegol.  We crammed a lot into 10 days!  This was my first time overseas since 11th grade, when I took a class trip to England and Scotland.  It was the first time I’d seen my brother in three years – it was pretty great to reconnect.  We did lots of swimming and hiking and we also went to a Whirling Dervishes festival, which was going on continuously for 114 days of summer.

If you wanna read more, I wrote about this trip, through the lens of someone who is non-binary, here!  I wrote about TSA stuff, but more excitingly, I wrote about feeling more comfortable in a “male” role in a way that I am not, in America.  I even swam without a shirt on, in front of others – something that I didn’t plan on ever doing!
Traveling Non-Binary:  Gender Perceptions in Two Cultures

The website is called Transgender Universe, and I’ve written for them before (this is my 4th piece).  I like switching it up with blog writing every now and then.


I finally made a resource page, of sorts

This is just an announcement that I added some stuff to my blog!  For the longest time, the additional tabs were “ask me something,” “what it’s about,” and “glossary of janitorial words and phrases.”  And that was it.

About two weeks ago, an outreach specialist who works for drugrehab.com reached out and asked if I would add their website.  She wrote,

“Studies have shown that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and drugs and tend to continue abuse throughout their lives. We work to spread awareness and to be an informational resource for those impacted by alcohol and drug dependence.

I believe that our website would be a valuable addition to your resources listed on your page.  Would you please review our resource and consider adding it to your website to spread awareness”

And that got me thinking, because I don’t have anything like that on my blog!  But I decided that I could – she kind of got me going to start organizing a resource page.  I told her, “I’ll need to start from scratch because I have yet to provide a resource page at all, but I love the idea, so thanks for that push!”  And then I started working.

I had always been of the mindset that although many blogs do have links to online safe spaces, hotlines, etc., I don’t need to be one of those blogs – people can google whatever they want to google and glean information from myriad places.  I wouldn’t even know how to narrow down a page.  Some, like Micah’s on Neutrois Nonsense, for example, are so comprehensive, I don’t really have anything to add!

So, mine might be a bit random, and it’s definitely not complete, by a long shot.  I included the one for the drug rehab site first, since she was the one to get me going.  I then added two overarching sites for mental health, Micah’s blog (of course!), the blog of a professional gender therapist who is very hands-on, and then two sites that are geared toward brainstorming and creativity, when it comes to gender.

You can take a look here:  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources.  Please lemme know if you want me to add anything in particular…  (The GSM stands for “gender and sexual minorities,” because there are not enough letters in the alphabet to cover everyone!)

I’ll just end with a little more information about the drug rehab website, mostly because I was so tickled that they wrote and wanted me to “advertise” for them.  It makes me feel like, wow, cool, my blog really is reaching people.  (This is something that waxes and wanes for me, whether it’s really out there or not.)  So, the outreach specialist said,

We are a free informational resource for those  battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Our website tackles many issues currently facing society today. We have a team of doctors and writers who update our content daily.
We do have a hotline that you can call with questions about different treatment options, as we know every individual is unique and so should treatment be as well.
If you want further information, check out my new resource page!!!  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources

3 months on testosterone

Today marks 3 months on T-injections.  My prescription is for 50ml / week, but I’ll admit I was using more than that for the first 6 weeks.  I’ve been doing 50 regularly for the last 6 weeks though, leading up to my blood test, because I really do want to see where the levels are, at that amount.  I have an appointment on Thursday with the endocrinologist to discuss this.  I’m going to ask to be put on a higher dose.  Which I may or may not bump myself up to.  I… just really like to stockpile testosterone and to have some personal control over it.

Changes have been occurring at a comfortable pace.  I’ve gained maybe 8 pounds, mostly in my abs, shoulders, and pecs.  I get more dark hairs on my chin and upper lip, which just means I gotta use the tweezers more often!  My voice definitely dropped within the last month – I’d say that is the most noticeable thing.  And I have mixed feelings about that, because it is such a permanent thing.  But, so far I’d say I’m getting used to it and will probably ultimately be happy about it.

We went to Easter Sunday at my Aunt’s, and it was the first time I’d seen my relatives since these changes have occurred.  I felt a little self-conscious, because they do know I’m trans and that I changed my name and some of them know about my top surgery.  But I haven’t said I am on testosterone.  And I’m not gonna.  It will just be.

Being out at work has been going super well.  Everyone is consistent with “Kameron.”  The “he/she,” “Mr.” etc is all over the place, which is overall fine by me because my gender is all over the place, and at least everyone knows that I said, “Kameron/he/Mx.”

Other than that, it’s been pretty low key.  It’s certainly not as big a deal in my head as getting on Androgel, 4 years ago, was.  I imagine I’ll be on the injections for a few more months at this point.  And then on and off of them, sporadically, for the rest of my life.  Probably.

I came up with a new term in my head, today, to describe my gender.  I’m definitely not “mannish,” but I do think that I am “male-ish.”

Here’s my face:  Other than not being able to get the lighting right, I think that my cheeks and neck have filled out a bit…

before injections

 

 

3 months on injections

Oh, also, I almost forgot!  I barely got my period this month – it was way late, and it was sooooo light, at that.  That was awesome.  It kinda freaks me out that that’s all it takes, and there are no health consequences(?) for the cessation of menses.  But, I guess it’s relatively normal, like with birth control and stuff…

Also, yesterday at work, we were using swing machines, which is uncommon (extra work over break).  And they require a lot of upper body strength.  I’d normally be sore after that, but today?  Not sore!


Mermaids and Transgender People

Content note:  sex and sexuality.
Also, spoiler alert for this super obscure film that is probably hard to find, but totally worth it!

My spouse and I just saw The Lure, a Polish film re-envisioning The Little Mermaid (meaning Hans Christian Andersen much more so than Disney, although there are elements from both).  It takes place in the 1980s, and these particular mermaid sisters are vampiric vamps who come ashore in order to perform as singers/dancers/strippers.  One of them also joins Triton’s punk rock band.  There is no sea witch in this version; instead, they are exploited by the humans around them, for their talents.  The director likened them to “immigrants, abused by the locals (used in the sex industry) on their way to their real goal—America.”  I didn’t quite catch that hidden meaning, although that’s super interesting; I guess I was looking at it through a trans-specific lens, and I saw a bunch of parallels that resonated.

The two sisters have two very different focuses/goals.  “Golden” wanted to perform and find her way to America.  “Silver” falls instantly in love with the young bass player at the nightclub.  Golden, very early on, warns her sister, something along the lines of, “would you be willing to eat him if need be?”  While on land with legs, the mermaids have no sexual or excretory organs.  They’re paraded around, and it’s said that they’re “as smooth as Barbies.”  When water is splashed on them (Think, 80s movie, Splash !!) and their tails re-emerge, they do have a “vagina” of sorts – it’s just super unconventional.  Also, they have a strong fishy smell (d’uh!), and another quote from the director, “they represent innocence, yet their odour and slime recalled girls maturing, they menstruate, they ovulate, their bodies start smelling and feeling different.”  The reason I’m focusing in on this in particular is because it is Silver’s motivation for what she does throughout the rest of the story.  She does want to marry the bassist, but even more clearly, she wants them to have sex, and he won’t, the way that she is.  There is a really graphic surgery scene where she loses her tail and gets new, permanent legs, fully formed with vagina and everything else.  She gives up her singing voice, as a trade off.  There then is a sex scene, which does not go as planned.  And then, OK I’m going to leave it at that, to not give away anything more!

I related to this sexual conundrum, as a trans-person.  Not literally, of course, but, in a way.  Just to cover the base-line, in general, trans-people feel all sorts of ways about sex and sexuality and their own anatomy.  It really is all over the map, from person to person.  And, as well, I’m sure, there are cis-people who feel a total disconnect, for a variety of reasons.  So it’s not really a “trans-specific issue,” but, overall, it is surely more common among trans-people.  Following that disclaimer, I’m actually only speaking about my personal experience in the next couple sentences.  I do not relate to what I have.  And I never did.  I’ve created some work-arounds, in my head, over time, that have helped.  And I’ve been able to become more present, which is nice.  But I still get hung-up.  And upset that there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

I’m not the only one, by far, who is making this connection between trans-people and mermaids.  If you are familiar with Jazz Jennings, 16 year old trans-activist, author, spokesmodel, youtube celeb, etc., she has linked the two in some very strong ways.  She even has a company called Purple Rainbow Tails, through which she sells mermaid tails she’s made herself raising money for trans-kids.  I found a really interesting article that touches on Jazz and mermaids called, Transgender Mermaids.  Here’s a quote from it!

Of course, the question that most people ask is “Why mermaids — why not some other animal or creature?” The reasons may be varied and complex, and they may vary with each girl. However, a common theme is that mermaids may hold a special appeal because they have a high level of human feminine facial features and upper body features while having a lower body that isn’t that of a traditional human female. Many transgender girls may relate to this because they know that they are truly females no matter what their genitalia may be.

Also, Mermaids UK is a support resource and advocacy group that has been around since 1995(!!!) focused on helping transgender kids and adolescents, and their families.

I was once in a really obscure play, a reworking and twisting of the children’s play, If Boys Wore the Skirts.  The original was “a satire on what may happen if women continue to copy the clothes that men wear. According to this play, in self-defense the men may take to wearing feminine things. Here we see a bunch of rugged males forced into skirts. The setting is a schoolroom in the present.”  (Present, meaning 1958.)  The version that I was in was a mature audiences, tripped-out dream-like version.  As one of the “schoolboys,” I got to imagine and create my own genital-themed skirt, called a “groinment.”  I had such a blast with this, probably much more than anyone around me could have known!  I’ll leave you with two images of what I came up with:

 

I pulled out the ol’ skirt and water-balloons this weekend, to get a photo of this creation. When I looked back at the pictures from the actual show, however, I realized I’d done a different water balloon configuration, haha. Either way works…

This is from the fashion show scene. I’m gonna spell out what I got going on here: There’s a highly delicate water balloon configuration at the top of the water slide. These pointy party hats are there to protect it. And in my right hand is a needle: I’m the only one who gets to “pop” it. (And I did, and the water actually did follow along the slide!)

 

 


How To Be a Girl, episodes I through VI

I wanna recommend a podcast!  It’s called How To Be A Girl.  A while back ago, I had been following a blog, gendermom, on wordpress.  It’s written by Marlo Mack (pseudonym), about life with her (now) 8 year-old transgender daughter, M.  I really love reading/hearing from the perspective of parents, especially parents of young trans-kids.  And this one in particular has a lot of input from the daughter.  They are in it together.

In the summer of 2014, she branched out and also started producing a podcast.  At first I was reluctant to check it out.  I guess because although I was listening to some podcasts at that time, I preferred reading and connecting through blogs.  But then one of the episodes was featured on a podcast I was already a big fan of, Here Be Monsters, and I made a mental note to go check out the rest of the episodes.  It’s taken a while, but here I am to say it’s great, haha.  I listened through episodes 1-6 twice now…

The first three establish some backstory and facts (I’m not going to give too much away!).  At this point, M is 6, and she has the support of her mom and dad (who are divorced) and other family members and friends.  Hardly anyone knows that she is trans (better to be more cautious at first and see how things might play out).  She had been saying she is a girl, basically as early as she could talk, and although it took a long time to convince her parents, they are fully on board now.  She likes the color pink, my little ponies, stuff like that…

Episode 4 is called Tom Boy Trans Girl, and it’s about, how girly do you have to be to be considered a girl?  There are plenty of tomboys out there…  M gradually shifts to liking blue over pink and getting into Pokemon and ninjas.  Marlo Mack is afraid the being-a-girl thing was just a phase.  M sums everything up super succinctly.

Episode 5 is about finding love.  Marlo Mack has to navigate through transphobia from potential dating partners, and she talks about how she handles it.  M also tells a love story.

Episode 6  is super cute.  It is a straight-up interview, Marlo Mack asking M a bunch of questions.  The perspective of this 6-year-old is really amazing and surprising.  Well, she’s been through a lot, so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising!

Some talk about the other episodes, coming soon!

My spouse and I have been talking about the idea of working on a podcast together.  We have a local community of radio people we can plug into / in with, and I already do a weekly music show.  This would be totally different though, and would involve a steep learning curve.  We got some books out of the library (always a good place to start!), and I’ve been trying to pull apart, think about the elements that go into the podcasts I do listen to:  the way the sound editing overlaps, the hooks to keep you listening, stuff like that.  We’ll see.  I think it would be a lot of work, but could be really rewarding.


Branching out

 

I started writing occasionally for a website called Transgender Universe.  Here’s the first article that I’ve posted!  It’s about pride flags being burned in my neighborhood, following the election, and then an impromptu rally, as a response to this hate crime.

(This first appeared on Transgender Universe, here:  From Burning Pride Flags to a Neighborhood Rally)

lgbt-rally

The morning after the election, I woke up to a text from a friend who said, “Hi! We’d like to get a rainbow flag to hang at the house in solidarity after what happened yesterday. Do you know where we could purchase one?” When he had said, “what happened yesterday,” I figured he meant Trump, but once I got on facebook, I saw that two pride flags had been burned in my neighborhood the evening before. Talk about getting hit close to home! It is being investigated as both arson and a hate crime, but so far there are no suspects.

So I looked up information for the gay pride store that had been a mainstay in our city, first opening in 1989 as a leather and fetish supplier, and later changing ownership a couple of times and morphing into a place that had something for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. I was shocked and saddened to learn that it had closed in August with the death of the current owner. So instead I recommended a couple of novelty stores to my friend, hoping he’d be able to track one down.

“AS THE EVENTS UNFOLDED, IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THERE WAS NOWHERE, LOCALLY, TO GET A PRIDE FLAG BECAUSE EVERY PLACE HAD SOLD OUT!”

As the events had unfolded, it became apparent that there was nowhere, locally, to get a pride flag because every place had sold out! A fellow neighbor had ordered 120 more flags, and she was formulating a plan to get these out to people and acquire more, flooding the area with rainbows.

On Friday evening, another friend in the neighborhood had texted me to see whether my spouse and I were going to the rally in the morning (I feel fortunate that I have so many friends who are in the loop, because there are times when I am totally living under a rock!). I said, “Yes,” as if I knew all about it (ha ha), and we made a plan to go together.

And so, my spouse and friends (a queer couple with a 10 year-old son) and I walked over to a nearby park Saturday morning, carrying signs and wearing fun outfits. As we approached, I felt a wave of emotion, moved by the size of the gathering, the amount of rainbows flying in the air, and the openness of everyone there.

A community comes together and holds an impromptu rally after two LGBTQ+ flags were burned in their neighborhood in an apparent hate crime.

Mary Moore, the organizer and the neighbor that ordered the flags, stood up on a table to announce the intentions of this rally: to hand out more flags for community members to show solidarity, and to show LGBTQ+ members in this neighborhood how much support is out there. Mission accomplished, by leaps and bounds! There were so many allies and families, along with people who identify as LGBTQ+. I walked around the outskirts of the crowd, taking photos and scoping out all that was happening. There was a station for people to make rainbows out of ribbons, as well as a spot to make construction-paper rainbows. Someone was doing face painting, and there was also a place to sign up to order a flag, because the 120 that Mary had ordered for the rally had sold out in 9 minutes!

The director of the local gay alliance also stopped by, got up on the table, and delivered a similar message of hope and love. I started to feel more comfortable, and moving into the crowd and approaching people with signs, asking whether I could take their photograph. I saw a couple of acquaintances, and where I would normally be too shy to strike up a conversation, in this environment, I went right up to them to say hey and chat for a while. My spouse and friends also connected with neighbors we know, as well as meeting a few new people.

I posted a photo album of the event on Facebook and watched my social network do its work, spider-webbing outwards from friends I had tagged, to friends of friends and beyond. I also messaged Mary, the organizer, to thank her and to ask her a couple of questions.

“…I LEARNED THAT SHE HAS BEEN AN ALLY AND SUPPORTER OF LGBTQ+ RIGHTS FOR A LONG TIME.”

We talked on the phone for a bit this morning, and I learned that she has been an ally and supporter of LGBTQ+ rights for a long time, even doing advocacy work in Washington DC. She said that for the past 8 years though, she could ease up because there was someone in the White House who was pushing for the same things; she could focus on her career, working as a lawyer in private practice, and on her family.

She first heard about the 2 flag burning incidents from a friend, while picking her kids up from daycare. Her husband had heard about it through the website, nextdoor.com, which acts as a community bulletin board and a way to connect with others nearby. I just joined, myself, to see what it’s all about (and to try not living under a rock quite so much). Sure enough, 5 days ago, there was a post from one of the victims of the hate crime, stating, “I hang a rainbow flag on my front porch and someone burned it down. Thankfully my house didn’t catch fire. The [police are] currently investigating; please keep an eye out for suspicious behavior in the area.”

And then, as a response, Mary Moore created the event, “Let’s Gather to Support Our Community.” She wrote:

In response to the burning of two rainbow flags in [our] area, let’s stand together and show that our community is tolerant and welcoming, regardless of who you love, where you worship, where you were born, your political affiliation, the color of your skin, or how much money you have. Many people in [our] neighborhood have been buying rainbow flags to put out in solidarity and to give to friends. … Would people be interested in organizing a central meeting place this weekend or next to give out flags and just to stand with our community in solidarity? … Please comment below if you would be interested in a gathering like this, if you have or can buy flags to distribute, and/or if you can assist with finding a location for this gathering. If there is interest, then we can set up a formal event on here.

I know that this is just one of many issues and injustices within our communities and that we are all so very busy, but we have to start somewhere and do what we can with what we’ve got every day. Let’s not be bullied or let our neighbors be bullied.

A community comes together and holds an impromptu rally after two LGBTQ+ flags were burned in their neighborhood in an apparent hate crime.

It all came together from there. I want to personally thank Mary Moore for showing my friends, my spouse, me, and everyone else who could be there for how much we are supported by our neighbors!

Regarding our rainbow flag status: We don’t have one, but when we moved into our house ten years ago, we dubbed it the “Rainbow Ranch” (it’s really a Colonial), and I spray painted a rainbow on our garage door. I sure as hell hope that never gets burned down – we just put a new roof on it a couple years ago!