The title of this post really highlights the way I’ve felt the last several months and the experiences I’ve had the chance to take in. Since my last update here I’ve really come to find an even deeper purpose for the form of expression I display to the world. Unlike previous years, where I’d get glammed up and mostly stay indoors and occasionally venture out in public, this year I’ve exclusively dressed up with the explicit purpose to venture out and meet up with friends, catch a fun show around town, or in the case of this past April, head up to Chicago for a gender nonconforming kind of a weekend with amazing friends. All this, fitting into my goal of making my place in the world, especially out in public and enjoying the company of great people.
This all leads me to my continued efforts at putting positive energy out into the world and saying “Yes!” to opportunities that pop up. In May, my new friend and performer, Goldie Dee, was hosting a tea dance and drag show and I knew I couldn’t miss it. I was feeling a bit lazy and was just thinking of showing up as my male self, but I had the feeling that it was a good opportunity to dress up for a Sunday afternoon show, feeling like some good things could come from this event, and my feelings didn’t lead me astray that day!
The show and the performers were amazing, and I had a great time having the chance to talk to them a bit in the dressing room and in between acts. While in the crowd, something happened which has become more frequent over the past year or so, I was stopped by a couple of people asking if I was a performer or saying that I should be up on stage. After making a Facebook post about the evening and the thought of maybe hitting the stage myself, I was greeted the following morning by an invitation from the next month’s tea dance host, and a queen I admire, Bella DuBalle. She asked if I’d like to do a number in the upcoming show and my heart immediately started to race, and before I let too much time pass I just said YES, I’m in! Beyond the opportunity to perform for the first time, this show would also help raise money for the Metamorphosis Project, whose goal is to help homeless LGBT youth in the area.
The next few weeks were filled with planning for a song I’ve always thought of performing to (Love Letter by Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes), practicing some moves, planning for a couple of outfits to wear, and practicing some more dramatic makeup looks to display.
On the day of the show things started nice and early getting myself ready and gathering the things I’d need to take. This is where it was great to have my wife there to help out; she was amazing all day helping out, even being my social media manager LOL. The other queens I’d be performing with (Moth, Imagene Azengraber, and Coco Flores) and I wondered around the pub for an hour or so before the show, schmoozing with the growing crowd. As the show got under way I kept track of when it was my time to head to the dressing room and change into the fun bold pink dress I had picked out for my number. As I was waiting for my cue, I had a great opportunity to talk to Coco, who was gracious to share her experiences and thoughts with me.
As my song started I swung the door open, strutted down to the middle of the crowd and started to do what I had planned and before I knew it, it was over. The song went by so fast and I had only done a small amount of the moves I was thinking to do. I became truly overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in attendance, not only with the tips, but also with the love I felt from everyone that I couldn’t help but say thank you to each person as I was trying to keep on track with the song.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the room, chatting with friends, meeting new people, and supporting the other acts. By the end of the day I was happy to have learned SO much from this opportunity; what to do, what not to do, don’t overthink things. I got great feedback from the other performers, which will only help me going forward, and couldn’t thank them enough for sharing with me. I don’t think this opportunity would have come my way if I’d been a little lazy that one day and miss out on an experience of a lifetime, reinforcing the ideal of never passing up on an opportunity when it shows up.
In the end, this whole experience reaffirmed so many feelings. The love I felt from the city and the community made me feel once again that after living here 8 years, we are where we need to be. We absolutely love the people here and the friends we’ve made. Now I think I’m ready for a little break this summer, which will give me a chance to try some new makeup techniques, think of some new songs that might work for my style, and to keep working to evolving the form of expression I present to the world, all with purpose.
Much love to all,
I think that I share many people’s sentiment that the past few weeks, since the inauguration, have been a bit difficult. I’ve been challenging myself most days to try and stay off of social media and avoid the news headlines, but ultimately failing to do so on most days and falling into the rabbit hole that is the depressing situation we face today. Since I’m an immigrant to this country, a scientist, and a gender fluid individual, it’s hard to let these things pass by without being affected by them. So, with all that heaviness it was with great pleasure and relief to have the opportunity to go to this year’s Mystic Krewe of Pegasus of Memphis Mardi Gras Ball, and blow off some steam, all while helping raise money for charity.
The theme for this year’s formal ball and fundraiser was Las Vegas, which meant plenty of glitz, glamour, and high rollers. This also gave my wife a chance to dress up for a formal event, which we hardly ever have a chance to participate in, and something she’s been wanting to do since most days she’s in drab nursing scrubs. For this year’s event, we decided to rent some fancy designer dresses from Rent the Runway, which allowed us to rent high priced dress for a more than reasonable price. Mine was a lovely Elie Tahari dress, while my wife was stunning in Bradley Mischka.
I was excited for this event, not only for the chance to dress all fancy like, but for the opportunity to see some familiar faces. It’s been steady work over the years to build connections with a great community. The first time we went out to an LGBT events like this, we hardly knew anyone and wouldn’t stick around for too long, or do much after the event. This year it’s been nice to see good friends and catch up, while meeting new people, which I took full advantage of. A couple of those new friends, David (who has a wonderful blog), works with my wife and has a twin, who is a fierce local drag queen named Goldie Dee. We all had a great time watching the different acts on stage, everything from singers, dancers, drag queens, and aerial performers.
I sometimes get asked “Are you different as Katie, compared to your male side”? The answer I give is mostly no. I feel very comfortable in either expression, and I don’t feel like I’m presenting as a different person, but there are a few subtle differences. For example, throughout the night, we’d take a break and sit at our assigned table, but that wouldn’t last long as I would get the urge to walk around and mingle with the crowd and chat with new friends. As a guy, I would tend to have less of an urge to do that, and blend in more. Katie is a bit more outgoing in that respect. As Katie, I also tend to say “Yes” to more things. At the end of the event a small group were going to Mollie’s, (A beautiful old Victorian house turned into a lounge with amazing cocktails and music), and as a guy, I would have tended to make up some excuse for why I couldn’t make it out, just because I’m a bit more reserved and shy. But as Katie, I was like “Absolutely! We’ll see y’all there!” That attitude lead to some great conversations with great people.
In the end, I felt more comfortable than ever as I keep challenging myself and pushing beyond those boundaries I’ve put in my way. All this is my effort to make my mark in the world and claim my space to express myself.
Much love to all,
Thanksgiving, one of my favorite times of the year where we get to enjoy good food, drinks, the company of those close to us, and be reminded of the important things in life to enjoy and be thankful for. In the current climate we’re in today, and especially after the election results, there have been plenty of things online and in the news to be bummed out about, which makes this time of year all the more important to recalibrate and enjoy the things we have control over.
In the past month I can say that I’ve been thankful for having the opportunity to make positive progress in my life and taking those small steps to achieve my goals, while at the same time sharing what I can to help others. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet with a wife who works downtown, minutes away from me, and whose husband had recently come out as a crossdresser. Over a couple of beers at a pub we chatted about this new aspect in their relationship as the husband begins to discover what this means for him as she blossoms going forward. I know that at the end of our chat, the wife felt much more relieved having been able to speak out load to someone else, someone in the community with a few years of experience. Having had the chance to meet with her gave me the opportunity to look back and see how far I’ve come along in the last six years.Also, in the past month I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to go out a couple of times. This is really starting to become a regular thing, which I’m actually excited for. At the end of October, I was able to have some drinks and dinner with a great friend, Shari, and one of her good longtime friends. When Shari suggested we meet up at Babalu, which is a great but very busy restaurant, I immediately said yes. I was ready to venture out alone (my wife had to work) and meet Shari and her friend at a busy restaurant. Sometimes it helps not to think things over and just say “yes”, especially if you’re like me and have a tendency to overthink/overanalyze/over-plan everything. Needlessly to say, everything went of great and we all had a great time out with no issues. All the better to raise that confidence.
Finally, in a much needed effort to increase positive vibes, we planned another outing to go out and watch Drag Me Under the Mistletoe, a drag theater performance filled with a cast of local performers. One twist to this outing was that at the last minute one of my good friends and coworker had invited another coworker (let’s call her J), who didn’t know about Katie, out for the evening and I was all in on this opportunity to get to know J better and open up. Since it was last minute, I didn’t have a chance to give J a head’s up on who she’d see coming out for the night, so I was intrigued on how she would react to me showing up at the pub to have a drink before the show. As with all my other experiences, things went great! We chatted a bit, we met up with friends who we hadn’t seen in a while, we drank, ate, and enjoyed each other’s company.
After dinner and drinks we left for the show, which since it was a Christmas themed, put us all in the Christmas spirit by the end of the night. The show was funny, raunchy, and entertaining. Everyone in our group had a good time, which we all felt was much needed after the rough start to the month. After the show I was able to meet up with a couple of the performers and thank them for a fun show in which we all were able to be distracted for a short time from the all the negativity out in the world.
I am thankful for many things, so today we eat, drink, and celebrate.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Much love,
There’s nothing quite like a nice Sunday with friends and a pot of gumbo. Ok, make that a couple of hundred friends and over a dozen pots of delicious gumbo, some tasty King cakes, and a fun Mardi Gras atmosphere!
Last year my wife and I went for the first time to the Tennessee Equality Project’s annual gumbo cooking competition. This fundraiser helps out TEP in their efforts in supporting LGBT issues in the state. Anyone can help the cause by buying a ticket, sampling dozens of yummy gumbos, and voting for their favorite. When I went last year I was kicking myself, thinking that this would have been a great opportunity to take Katie out on the town and show support for our good friend, Nathan, who was competing in the event. I made a commitment that this year would be different, and my goodness was it ever!
As this event was a contest/Mardi Gras party, I of course had to break out my good ol’ glue gun and put together some fun and colorful accessories for the event. I knew I wanted to dress up my new hair, so I threw together a nice headpiece, which ended up getting a lot of positive attention. Oh, since my last post I took advantage of some great online deals and got myself a wonderful new wig called Heidi by Jon Renau, and I absolutely love her! 🙂
This year, my wife and I were more than happy to help Nathan out in setting up for the event, transporting some chairs, tables, gumbos, rice, drinks, and many, many King cakes! I made sure to plan accordingly in advance, so I had some nice comfortable flats to help haul everything from the car, and some nice booties for when the paying public started to arrive.
As a general trend, especially with my trip up to the Twin Cities last November, I was much less stressed out or anxious than ever before. The more and more one does this, the easier and less stressful it becomes. I was happy to meet some of the others enlisted by Nathan to help out, and also happy and relaxed to walk around the event floor, meeting so many new people. My good friend Gabby, who knows a ton of people around town introduced me to anyone she knew, and I was more than happy to strike up a conversation.
One of the big things I realize now after a couple of days thinking about the evening was how I kept wanting to walk around the room and interact with people. Nathan’s team, called “Rouxlin’ On The River” had a table set up with chairs, and I could have sat there most of the night, near the table with people I knew, but I instead wanted to keep circling the room to see what would happen. I was stopped a few times by random people for photos, many gave me warm compliments, and others a wonderful smile. In other words, I didn’t think I’d want to put myself out there like that, and as an introvert I usually wouldn’t do that, but damn that was fun! Human interaction…who knew it could be so much fun! LOL 🙂
By the end of the night, I had made some great new friends, met a bunch of new people, and we were all happy and proud for Nathan for receiving third place for his turducken gumbo, which was to die for! What an amazing cook! Congratulations to him for a job well done!!
Much love to all,
The 100th post! Wow, how time flies by, and what better way to write about it than to talk about sharing, that thing our parents always told us to do. Over the last 99 posts I’ve been happy to share my thoughts and stories as it relates to ones character and identity. Another aspect of sharing has been the ability to open up to others around me, in an effort to solidify my identity, and to build strong relationships with people I care about.
Last month something happened that I didn’t ever expect to happen. I came out to a close friend from work. Opening up to someone from a workplace can be a tricky situation, and one that I thought might one day happen, but was never expecting to occur. A friend from work, my wife, and I were at a local brewery, enjoying some drink, music, and a beautiful fall day. We were having a great time conversing and eventually we all began to share some personal things about ourselves. It was at this point that I decided it was a good time to share my story as a genderfluid/trans individual. Following the trend so far, things turned out great. I felt like this friendship went to a whole new level. We talked for quite a while about all things gender, which all helped reaffirm my decision to come out to him. The funniest question I was asked was weather I had ever been hit on while out as Katie, which lead me to talk about my experience at my first drag show.
A couple of weeks later, we all had another chance to hang out over some good food and drinks. I figured that it would take some time for things to settle in before we had a chance to talk about this topic again. We all had some great and engaging conversations about LGBT issues, which I find helps me out so much. When I get a chance to engage with someone, I find that it helps to reinforce the ideas that I’ve thought about for the last couple of years.
During our conversation I had an epiphany, a connection of dots that became clear to me. It relates to one of the things my friend, Anna, talked about (#28), as well as a couple of TED talk videos posted by my friend Ariana. It has to do with shame. I could have chosen to live my life with shame for the way I am. Instead, I chose the path of self-love, a path of sharing. I find that by sharing who I am with people close to me, I’m living a life of my choosing, and a life that no one can argue against. By choosing this path I take the power away from those who would rather see me be ashamed of who I am.
With that said, have a great weekend. Love,