It’s October already, where did the year go? October is a special month for our community as it is LGBTQI History Month. Not just celebrated here in the U.S., but also in Australia, the U.K., Canada, Hungary and many more. Every year, our history becomes more transparent, more open and is now shared with so many people outside the community. According to Wikipedia, it was first celebrated in 1994 in October. It was declared a national history month by President Barack Obama in 2009. The month was created with the intent to encourage openness and education about LGBT history and rights. As the world changes and LGBTQI people are more accepted and so many more of us have COME OUT, having an entire month dedicated to our history is so important.
The world needs to know about our heroes, our struggles, our many diverse people that make up the community. On July 14, 2011, the Fair Education Act was signed into law. This act which was written by state Senator Mark Leno. It amends the California Education Code to include the fair, accurate, inclusive and respectful reference to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community in history and social studies curriculum. More information can be found at http://www.lgbtqhistory.org/about-fair-education-act/. We are lucky to live in a state that values all of its citizens.
In my research, I found some interesting information — things I had never heard of before. On Oct. 8, we celebrated International Lesbian Day; this is mainly celebrated in Australia and New Zealand but is spreading slowly to other places in the world.
This one is brand new in 2020: Queer Day on Oct. 9, created by three queer friends — Karen Offerein, Daan Smeelen and Aneta Leta — who thought that there needs to be more awareness of Queer people.
The third Wednesday in October is International Pronoun Day, which celebrates the usage and education of the use of all pronouns found within the Transgender and Nonbinary communities.
Oct. 11 was National Coming Out Day. This was started in 1988 to encourage all members of our community to stand up and show the world who we are and increase awareness about the LGBTQI as people, just like everyone else.
The third Thursday in October is Spirit Day. This was first organized in 2010 to support LGBTQI youth who are victims of bullying-related suicide. We know that the attempted suicide rate for youth has been climbing every year. LGBTQI youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. See more statistics at the Trevor Project website https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/
Oct. 26 is Intersex Awareness Day. Commemorating the first Intersex protest, which took place in Boston, Massachusetts.
The last full week of October is Asexual Awareness Week. This was created in 2010 to promote awareness of those folks who identify on the asexual spectrum.
That is quite the list and the busiest of months for the LGBTQI community (source Wikipedia).
For the Trans community, our history goes as far back as the human race began. Being Trans or being Gay has always part a part of the human experience. This is the awareness we need to impart on those we interact with. Because events which happened before the Trans explosion of the 21st century, most of the world was completely unaware of our existence. I was one of those people. Growing up in a slightly liberal household, a good Catholic kid, there was no way back in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s that I was exposed to any part of the LGBTQI people. Of course, there were no Transgender folks in any neighborhood that I lived in. There were no Gays and Lesbians anywhere to be seen. But now I know that they were there, just hidden in the closet with their shame.
Since it’s LGBTQI History Month, I would like to share my coming out story.
I had always known I was a boy, since my earliest memories I recall emphatically stating I was not a girl. My parents however had some very different ideas. I was told to never say that again. My mother was obsessed with not having the “neighbors” know I thought this way. When I turned 12, still insisting I was a boy and still dressing and playing as much as I could get away with as a boy, my newfound sexuality bubbled up. I was attracted to girls. Which, for most young Lesbians at the time, those thoughts were mixed with fear and loneliness. I found myself in a very strange place. I loved girls but I certainly was no Lesbian (no offense, ladies). That much I knew for sure, but what was I? In my world, there were no words for me. I was completely alone and learned quickly not to share my feelings with anyone. I was ridiculed at school for my male behavior, it wasn’t much better at home either. As I pushed the boundaries of my identity, my parents became more removed from my existence. No one quite knew what to do with me. When I did conform to my mother’s wishes, and not because it was fun, then I was rewarded.
I graduated from my Catholic elementary school and was thrust into an all-girls Catholic high school. Wow, look at all those beautiful girls. Wow, I don’t even have the courage to act on my impulses. From that moment on, I basically ignored the boys and the girls when my family moved from California to Massachusetts. Isolation was a much better life. About the only people I felt comfortable with were my athletic teammates. This love of sports carried me through to college. But it was not the happiest of times.
I had given up on who I truly was, I lost my hope and courage to go into the world and find out who I was. So, I did what was expected of me: met a boy, got married, and had babies. My kids were the only saving grace in my life. I endured 25 years of emotional and verbal abuse, which only sank my self-esteem lower. As my kids got older, I began to see a way out. I knew if I stayed in this life, I would die. Drinking away my pain and the turmoil inside just made things spiral more out of control. I was desperate.
You never know where your life will take you and I was completely battered down in my dark hole. But sometimes, something comes along and saves you. For me, it was three suicide attempts, and I realized I suck at suicide. Let’s try something else. I went to a detox and made new sober friends. Then I began making plans to be that Lesbian from long ago. Funny how coming out as Lesbian became my stepping stone to who I really was.
Transgender, what is that? Well it’s me — brain of a boy, body of a girl. What a mess. I did finally learn that I could take testosterone and masculinize my body. I could change my name and cut my hair, and I didn’t care who liked it or not. Since the divorce, I knew I had to create my own life, no matter the cost.
I moved back to California and stayed with my sister. I found a wonderful counselor and began my physical transition. My first shot of testosterone was like a drink from the fountain of youth for me. Finally the thing my body craved my entire life was here and working. From that point on, I decided that no one should go through as many years of pain, self-doubt, self-hate for who I was, all alone. No one deserves a lifetime of that.
I made a conscious decision that no matter what, I would help another guy through those hard beginnings. I was so fortunate to come to San Diego and meet so many wonderful, supportive and like-minded people I could share my life and my soul with. To walk among the world, as who you truly are, is the greatest gift one can give to themselves. I found as most people have, that the giving of help and support to others like me, gave back to me more joy and love than I could ever have imagined.
Happy LGBTQI History Month, Coming Out Day, Spirit Day to all of you.