16 – Candy Calloway

Lesbian/Kind of feeling more Non-Binary (she/her/they/them)

On how she identifies within the community…

“That is the hardest thing I think for me right now… with my whole coming out process, is where do I identify, because I know people want to identify me with the lesbian community… but I feel more non-binary than what most people may think. So that’s kind of where I’m at in the community right now…”

With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….

“As a young child, when I was a little girl I was just attracted to whatever I liked… It was from teacher, kids, it really wasn’t a particular gender… it was something with all genders, it was just based off of who you were. I grew up in a very Christian home, and I knew I wasn’t what the world called ‘straight’. Even down to what I wanted to wear when I was younger… it was always just always what I thought was cute, even if it was in the men’s section, or the female’s section…whatever it was. I like what I like…”

On her coming out experience…

“The biggest come out was to my mom, and that actually just happened last year… I came out to my friends in college, but my very close friends kind of already knew. I had 2 or 3 friends that I had from middle school on… the did kind of know about my sexuality. But once again, going back to coming from a really religious home, I did not want to come out because I knew I’d be kicked out. So I just recently came out to my mom, and I still haven’t really come out to all the rest of my family yet. I’m still in the transition process of truly coming out…

[Coming out to my mom] was a rough experience… my mom is very ‘religious’, but not someone that necessarily lives by what they speak, so it’s hard to be in a situation where you have people around you that you know the lifestyle they live outside of the church, or this religious lifestyle… and you kind of toy with that when you see that as a child… ‘What really is right and wrong? You’re telling me one thing, but you’re doing this that I see supposedly wrong…’ It still is a journey…

I just recently moved, and my mom cut off complete communication with me… right now I haven’t spoken to her in about 6 months. She’s hasn’t taken it well. It wasn’t hard for me to actually say it… I remember going home and we were going to eat, and she was like, ‘Tell the truth… what’s going on?’ Really trying to pull it out of me… because I think she kind of already knew what was going on with me and Yana… I just kind of was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my girlfriend… but this isn’t new…’ That’s what I was trying to really explain to my family… the family members I did tell, were just so shocked… This really isn’t anything new… I mean I had a girlfriend in high school… “

Biggest fears or concern about coming out…

“Coming out to society… I actually find more comfort in coming out to society, than to my own family. I am a big PDA person, I like to show affection in public, because I feel like, in a way, society can’t touch me, but they can look… so you see the looks, and how society reacts to you… the whole process of you being different… what kind of gender you are… Really my biggest fear with society would be how people perceive the type of person I am. I wish there weren’t so many boxes in society. There are just so many boxes. Sometimes I wanna dress a certain way, or be a certain way, and I’m in the in-between feminine – masculine… I get my nails done, I wear makeup… but sometimes I like [going to the barber] getting my hair cut… and I like wearing hats… sneakers… and I’m not even gonna lie, I do like acting masculine sometimes…” I just don’t want society putting me in a box – not necessarily what they’re going to say… or what they’re going to do… because there’s always going to be a look…”

First celebrity crush?

“On The Haunted Mansion… I was in like 2nd or 3rd grade when that movie came out, it had Eddie Murphy and I don’t remember that actors name [Marsha Thomason], but I was in the movie theater just mesmerized… ‘This lady is so pretty…it’s insane!’ I just wanted to jump in the screen… I was with my mom, and a little friend at the time… and I remember my hands on the chairs, and looking at this girl… I dreamed about her the next night. She’s not a huge actor, but she was just so pretty to me. I was crushing on her for weeks…”

Favorite part about the community?

“My favorite part is definitely the positivity… just how everything comes together… the festivals… the events… spreading positivity… whenever I’ve gone to an event, everyone is [having a good time]… I think that’s important. We live in a very negative world. It’s good to get into a world that is smiles and rainbows… something to get away from that drab type life. So I really do appreciate the community for all the positivity that it does shell out…”

Least favorite?

“I definitely have some tea for that… As the LGBT+ community, we already have these things that we have to fight against, and we have to come together on… and my biggest frustration is the divide with everything. How people will say, ‘You’re not gay enough…’ I don’t like how that is within the community itself. Also, the frustration with having that nose up to things that are coming in that are different… we made all of this because we’re different, and then you have people that are finally coming out and standing up for something that we haven’t seen, that is different… people within our community are like, ‘Hmm… I don’t know..’ We should just all truly be accepting to everything that is coming in, and all the differences… I don’t like how sometimes it is really separated… I like how now, in the media, I’ve noticed a lot of bisexuality coming up for men and women… and validation of it… My opinion is that it’s not fair how we have this stigma over men [in the community], but for women, [bisexuality] is just sexualized… it’s encouraged with girls, but with guys they truly have to hide and be the down low… because they’re not accepted in society as being bisexual…”

What is something you would tell younger you?

“Be yourself… from day one. The day that you question yourself about coming out… I remember just being a child and debating to myself if I should tell my mom that I have a girlfriend, or that I like girls… I would just tell the younger me to just be yourself… It’s okay to fear if you’re gonna get kicked out… It’s okay to fear, because the people with those stories… look at where they are now… truly look at where they are now… I would really advise my younger self to be yourself, and come out as young as you can…. I don’t care if you’re 9, 10, 13, 14… come out because you’re holding yourself back by not coming out… you’re holding yourself back from possibilities… dreams… from opening up… you’re holding yourself back… Please just open the door, just come on out, because you’re holding yourself back from a brand new world… there are things out there that you think you’re gonna lose, and it may feel like you’re losing everything, but you’re gonna gain so much more by coming out… It’s better to just be yourself from day one, because then all you can do is surround yourself with people that appreciate you for who you are…”

Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?

“Definitely come out… I’m in the boat with you. In this process I definitely have felt alone, I have had no one… my family has abandoned me… I don’t have anybody helping me… I’m in the boat with you, because even though I cry, and even though I have days where I do feel really down and low… it feels so much better being free, than closed. [Not coming out] is almost like a weird cage type safety net… it’s not as safe as you think. Don’t be afraid, and come out… there are people out there that will support you… that will be there for you… it feels so much better to be free…”

What in your life are you most proud of?

“I’m most proud of how I can make nothing into something… with everything in my life, no matter what it is, like I love to cook… I love going to the thrift store… clothes… food… everything in my life I know how to make into something. Even the clothes I have on… my shoes… my jacket… all that is from the thrift store… I’m a true thrifty person… I didn’t come from much, so I knew how to make a lot of stuff… fancy. Even with food, not having a lot in the refrigerator… I didn’t want to eat the same thing every day, so I learned how to mix up that stuff and make something different. I’m most proud of my ability to multitask through life… knowing how to make it shake…I’m very resourceful…”

With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?

“My list is long… I love helping people… one thing… I would make the poverty line go away. There wouldn’t be poor. Let me explain… They wouldn’t be poor because everybody would work at something they wanted to do… So, people wouldn’t be out of jobs… Everyone wouldn’t be rich, but there wouldn’t be any more poverty… that’s what I would change… That changes the whole quality of life… The key is making sure everyone has a job… If you’re not trying to work towards anything, and just trying to bum it out… no, you have to work, but there wouldn’t be that whole mindset of there being poor and poverty…”

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