I prefer to be known as being “male.” I don’t like “girl,” “honey,” or “sweetie” which is so common in the community, but these terms unnerve me. I don’t get upset, but I do politely correct people.
I hope younger generations will find this work inspiring, and perhaps avoid the years of coming to terms with their own sexuality. I think these portraits can help foster a generation of queer people who are at peace with themselves, and arrive at this place sooner than I did.
My coming out experience was to one person, my grandmother. I was twenty-five. I had just returned to New York from about ten years in Alabama. I always felt uncomfortable around gay men so I chose to volunteer for GLAAD or HRC, I can’t remember which right now. I marched in the gay pride parade that year, and as I looked at the many faces of queer people and supporters, I suddenly felt it was necessary to call my very religious Christian grandmother in Alabama and tell her I that was gay and confront the possibility that she would not want to be a part of my life anymore. She was silent for a few seconds but then she came around. She said that she loved me and that nothing changed. I was relieved and grateful, knowing that this response isn’t the most common. She was the only person that mattered, so hers was the only opinion that weighed heavily on me.
The only discrimination I experienced was in my elementary to junior high school years. From high school onward, thankfully, no.
Gosh I don’t know. The world today is such a different place than when I grew up. Mainstream American culture has changed so much and has become much more tolerant and accepting.
I want to ease the suffering of others; I want to have an impact on the next generation.
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love some body else?”
RuPaul said it best, but it is a truth that has many layers and applications. Just chew on that for a little while. Give it a couple decades to sink in.
My queer heroes aren’t famous (with the exception of RuPaul).