It was July 4th. My aunt always threw elaborate parties celebrating the holiday at her spacious home on “the heights,” mostly because from the elevated height of her house, the fireworks from the city’s numerous parades could be observed clearly and we would all gather on her deck and watch them exploding in a cloud of color, streaking the sky with reds and yellows and bright royal blues. The greatest journeys tend to unfold as a result of ideas, and the idea that was presented to me that day hit me like a firework.
I was 17 and so confused about who or what I was and wanted to look like and wanted to date, like most 17 year olds. I was an extremely effeminate boy, and as a teen I had grown my hair long, painted my nails clear and put on just enough eyeliner to not cause a huge splash but still enough to know I was wearing it. My aunt had a social worker friend, a very zany, up-in-the-air type who said the most random things without regard to whether or not it was awkward or made people question her sanity. Perhaps she was in the wrong career field, but I still liked her and tended to gravitate to her as I did towards most eccentrics. We were sitting on the staircase talking before the fireworks began, discussing our lives. At 17, my struggles were already unique…I had dropped out of high school after a botched suicide attempt and was just starting to accept myself as being gay. I had thought I’d been able to close the door on those pesky sexuality issues, I’d come out to my family and started expressing myself through my physical appearance and thought that was that. This lady, however, stirred up a storm with a few words that would linger and make me think about things I never thought I’d question. “Are you sure you don’t just have a distorted view of what it means to be gay? Maybe you’re transgendered.” I had a very vague and convoluted idea of what that word meant at that point in my life, but it set in motion a journey that would span the rest of my life. Though I couldn’t see it then, that day marked the beginning of my journey…and it all started with an idea and a chat on the steps.