Gay (she/her/he/him) // Denver, CO // Loves fundraising and doing things for the community.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know….
“I knew at a very early age that I was different. I had an attraction and an affinity for men. I found the male form very attractive, and one of the stories going way back was, it was shower time with Dad… I was very young and I, of course, announced that I hope mine got as big as his. And that seemed to end shower time. But I definitely have that memory… very early on I knew that there was something more about a man that attracted me, than a woman.”
On their coming out experience…
“So, I was outted my senior year of high school by my two best friends… and it was so many feelings that came out of that. I mean, I felt betrayed… I felt like these two people were very much my confidants… they both happened to be girls… and I had grown up with one girl, literally she lived two blocks away from me. We were best friends all the way through elementary, junior high, high school… the whole nine yards. So, it was really tough when they announced to everybody that I was gay. It was an interesting situation because a lot of people were like, ‘Yeah, so… we kind of knew that.’ Which I thought it was weird, because I didn’t really know. But hey… So, it was a mixed group of emotions …of people. I will say that, at the time, when I was a senior in high school, I was 6 foot 4… I weighed 240 pounds… I had a full beard… I was less apt to be a target… But it definitely didn’t change the hateful comments… the yelling f*ggot in the hallway… those types of things. I just probably didn’t get as much physical retribution…
[Regarding family]… I have a really unusual family situation. My biological mother was adopted by my grandparents… and then she married my father and she came down with multiple sclerosis… and they got pregnant and she went into the hospital after having me. She was in a wheelchair. She couldn’t walk. So… that was kind of a interesting childhood in that situation. But my dad was a career military person, and I think that he really was worried about trying to drag a newborn and a cripple all around the world to deployments and things like that. I’m not aware of everything that happened, but I do know that they ended up going their separate ways and I was about three years old the last time I saw my biological father… And then unfortunately my biological mother passed away when I was seven, and my grandparents then adopted me and raised me as theirs. I was very fortunate that I had that safety net. Never really discussed my being gay with either one of them. I think my grandmother absolutely knew. I don’t think there was a question in her mind. My dad caught me fooling around with the boy in the garage once. So… I’m pretty sure he had a idea… but it never really was a point with us. However, I was always the black sheep of the family, because my mother was adopted and there wasn’t this true family link… Also, I didn’t fit the normal… what everybody in my family expected. I was way far different than that… I was very much a theater person, and I was very outgoing… I was very gregarious… I did plays… I did all sorts of thing… And I was the one that would show up to family dinners you know with the different colored hair, and you know earrings even before that was the popular thing to do… FYI, people! I did it way before!! My family was from Kansas and Wyoming and… those places where, again, it’s not a widely accepted thing to be gay… And Lord knows, I was the peacock among the cowboy hats…”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“I think for me, [getting outted] was almost a blessing in disguise, because now it was out and I didn’t have to hide anymore… I didn’t have to worry about it. And for me the thing that I was most fearful of was my peers finding out… I really wasn’t worried about my family… I really wasn’t worried about any of that. I came from a very loving home. I knew that I wasn’t going to be ostracized if I did announce that I wasn’t normal, according to their standards. But I just knew that I was safe in that. My real concern was… I’ve got to still go through 6 more months of school, and I still have to interact with these people… and I don’t know what that’s going to be like. But really, for the most part, my fear was the first week of going back to school. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know how people were going to react, or what I was going to face. I kind of did go sort of prepared, I guess. You know, I was ready to fight if I had to… I didn’t want to. But you know, if that came down to it, I was going to defend myself. And those things all cross your mind too… You know when you’re going to school it’s like, All right, well what if somebody jumps you… or you go to the bathroom by yourself… or do you go with a bunch of people… all those things come up, and you start navigating your day around… where am I less apt to get my ass kicked… But then that week passed, and I didn’t have as much repercussion as I thought I was going to have. So my fears that held me back, that made me worry, were slowly getting erased. But I do remember hateful words… I remember somebody had stuffed a paper through my locker that said f*ggot on it …things like that. There were people there that had that hate, and we’re definitely not afraid to show it when they felt they were able to get away with it.
I know that it was probably easier for me in some aspects, because I was so big. I mean, they kept trying to send me to the teachers lounge because other teachers thought I was a substitute. So, I think that that probably helped me, and I’m grateful for that… but I always think about the people that weren’t so fortunate as me… that didn’t have that ability or didn’t have the size behind them. I always watched out for that… I remember going from junior high to high school and there was the whole scrub thing (hazing). You know… ‘You’re gonna get scrubbed in!’ What’s that mean? Oh they’re gonna punch you in the arm, and they’re gonna do this… it’s this coming of age thing, you know you’re now in high school… hazing…”
Favorite part about the community?
“I think for me it’s that everybody has a place to be in it. Yes, there’s still cattiness… yes, there’s still that stuff… Yes, yes, yes… it’s in every community. Get over it people. But the fact that everybody has a place within our community… everybody has an understanding, whether you have a real good understanding of the topic, or you don’t… you have a vague idea of what it is to be someone who’s trans… you know what it is to be someone who’s gay… you understand questioning… or being bisexual…”
On frustrations within the community…
“Right now, the hardest part is being my age and trying to figure out the new terms and the new non-gender defining portions and stuff… And it’s hard… It’s hard because I call everybody girl… it doesn’t matter, you know, I mean that’s how I grew up… I may not understand gender fluidity… I mean, I get it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t listen, and it doesn’t mean that I won’t try to understand your point… But I want you to understand my point… the whole fact that you’re able to even use this dialogue, and use these words is because of everything that we’ve done before.
I look at it more as, I had my time to do what I thought was right, and I fought for human rights… I fought for gay rights… I fought for equal rights… I fought for women… I fought for men… I fought for everybody that fell into those points… It didn’t bother me one way or the other… And now it’s their turn to be fighting for the things that they need to fight. And I should just be supportive. You know I may not understand it. I may not even get it. You know that’s a possibility, but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to look the other way and it doesn’t mean that just because I’m an older queen… The dialogue should still be there… and I think the important thing is for us as the older generation to just be supportive… You don’t have to agree but they deserve the same respect that you wanted shown to you when you were doing your efforts.”
What is something you would tell a younger you? 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?
“I would probably say to younger me… don’t let the fears be a barrier because you’re probably overreacting. You’re probably putting too much emphasis on it. You probably need to just take that leap of faith, and don’t hate yourself for it. Just do it. You know whatever your reasons are… just do it.
I think to those who feel they can’t come out… I think the first thing that you need to do is you need to determine whether you have a supportive family… because if you have a supportive family, that’s where you should start. If you know that you’re not going to be turned away… If you know that you’re safe… If you know that there’s unconditional love… turn to those people… it’s going to be hard… There will be tears… there’ll be anger… There will be all those things… But in the end, you know that you’re safe and you have that ability to do so. If you don’t have that, and you feel as though you don’t have a safety net… then you need to start exploring how you find that safety net. Is it through GSA? Is it school? Is it through the Centers in various locations? Is it through volunteering for organizations to find a path? Is it determining that you need to change something in your life, which means maybe you need to not be at the home where you are? Those are all horribly scary things to do. But until you can make those changes, and you can look at that and feel safe, you’re not going to be able to be in a place that you can start to come out… because if you feel that you have to hide, and you feel that you can’t have people see you for who you are… you can’t see yourself for who you are and you’re never going to be able to do it. So don’t be afraid to find your chosen family. Don’t be afraid to look to other people for help that you feel you can trust. You’d be surprised the amount of understanding and support you’ll get if you’re just open and honest.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I think I’m most proud of the two gentlemen that I take care of. And… knowing that I probably would have been a really good parent. That’s always something that’s been in the back of my mind, you know, being a gay male. Back in the day, we certainly weren’t worried about whether we’d have children… We were more worried about, ‘Where am I going to get my drink?’ In my day and age, too, it was still pretty hedonistic… you didn’t have long term relationships. You didn’t have people planning on getting married certainly… So I think all of those things play into that. I think being with the two gentlemen that I’ve cared for for the last 13 years, and watching them grow… and watching them accomplish things… and do things that I never expected to see them do, has been very rewarding. Also, because I’m a healthcare provider, being able to provide healthcare, and that situation, versus having to work in a doctor’s office is far more rewarding. You know you actually get to see what you’re doing having an effect. You don’t just see them every three months or four months… I think that’s probably the thing that I am most grateful for in my life, and the thing that brings me the most joy…”
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?
“The one thing that I would change is hatred. It would be abolished… and I think if we don’t have hatred, we won’t have suspicion… We won’t have jealousy… We won’t have a lot of the things that go hand-in-hand with that… I think if you could remove the hatred from the world ,and that’s everybody just removing hate period. The concept doesn’t exist anymore… I think that it would change everything about our society. It would honestly make people be more compassionate… more caring… and just less pretentious… if we got rid of that I feel like not only would our politics change… not only would our personalities change… but I believe that the world would change.”