“Out” by Cei Loofe

Out

hi! i’m not heterosexual!
i came out on the evening news.
it wasn’t something i chose to do.
it was accidental.
after all, i was hidden in a sea of faces.
but the cameras seemed to have no other places to focus their rest,
than on my chest.
my ‘silence equals death’ t shirt silently screamed to the
viewing area,
“i’m here, i’m queer!”
(no need for announcement cards that year.)
it was 1988 and my fate was sealed by that evening news reel
because someone decided,
a few days prior,
who ever said we all had equal rights to liberty and life,
was a liar.
they decided that because my friend was also queer,
he had no right to be here,
so they killed him.
but like all good martyrs, his death was not in vain.
the pain of losing him put us into action.
there were benefit shows every week
for our brothers and sisters with AIDS
queer nation coming into town teaching us how to act up.
businesses, uncomfortable with our affection,
who would zip us out, got zapped as we gathered about,
sat in, kissed in.
we shouted ‘try us!’ to the military,
marching just as proudly as they did in our own uniforms
born of homo-anarchy,
pissed off they wouldn’t let us openly protect our own rights to protest.
afraid we would molest them in the shower?
what power they gave us, even in taking it away.
my coming out didn’t start all this.
it was started long ago,
with someone else’s upraised fist.
but i helped.
i did my time.
i paid the price with dead animals, and death threats and fire
so that my younger brothers and sisters
could have a higher quality of queer life.
so the closet door could crack open,
just a bit, in places where it’s shut tight.
i helped.
a lot of us did and
if you didn’t, that’s ok, because it is an action that can still seal your fate.
in a lot of places, you can still lose your job,
the place where you live,
they could still take your kid,
if you piss off the wrong judge, on the wrong day.
but no matter what the judges have to say,
we ain’t going nowhere.
one out of every ten of us is born some kind of queer.
and its better now than it was then.
it was better then that it was before.
but that isn’t good enough.
we need more.

it is wonderful that two SOGI kids can walk hand and hand
in the street and we all feel relief they didn’t get beat.
but wouldn’t it be better
if we didn’t have to wait for that relief to drop?
someone fed them the ideal they have a right to be safe
and they do,
but not everyone they are meet is gonna agree.
and see, that is why those of us
who can choose to risk what we have to lose, must.
it’s not just activists who decide our fates.
we must contribute too.
those contributions can be anything we do.
i wear my colors in my skin
so if you didn’t know when i walked in,
you’d know when i left, that i was kin.
but those of you who aren’t as loud can still be as out,
still be proud.
just be normal.
your sexuality or your gender doesn’t have to be formally announced.
put up your lover’s photo,
make them know that your partner is not about business.
and if this is still too scary, a thing for you to do,
if you are too wary to risk it,
actually?
that’s still ok too.

Cei Loofe

This particular piece, ‘out,’ commemorates the death of a member of the SOGI (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity) community in Lincoln, Nebraska (and a friend of the author) who was shot and killed at a party the man was hosting at his home. It was ‘crashed’ by two shooters who ended his life due only to blind hate.
‘Out’ also gives mention to Queer Nation, Act Up, military bias (again), the AIDS crisis and the general, painful, hardships and dangers being honest might bring.
The author, Cei Loofe, he/him/his, is a transgender man who lives in Omaha, NE. He spent 25 years as a freelance journalist, and now writes as a poet and essayist. Loofe shares his space with his dog, Shelly, a myriad of fish, and a clutch of plants that, so far, are still green.
He lived his first five years in a Nebraska town of 105, peeing off wooden bridges, harassing livestock and getting locked in barns like all the other boys in his village before experiencing different parts of the Midwest, and a reality that took years to correct.
Far worse things happened to LGBTQ Nebraskans in the time written about and prior. Amazing things happened too. Those are different poems.

“No Gender in Mother’s Love” by Jamie, PFLAG mom

A little over seventeen years ago I gave birth to an adorable baby boy. That day I discovered the greatest love I will ever know and even all these years later my child remains the most beautiful thing I keep in my heart.

On January 5th, 2019, my 15-year-old son confided in me that she was, in fact, a girl. That night we had a long conversation and at the end of it we both seemed to find a comfortable peace. Over the next couple weeks, she seemed more confident, more relaxed and less guarded. It was beautiful to watch. But then all the hostile complexities of being born in a body of the opposite gender started to present themselves: Issues finding a therapist that has a background in gender identity in children, finding a doctor for HRT -hormone replacement therapy, school officials recognizing her new name and gender, ability to use the correct bathroom, ignorant people, gender-friendly stores that allow her to use the correct dressing room or size her for a bra, horrific bullying and soul-crushing depression. I watched helplessly as every aspect of her young life became impossibly difficult overnight. I tried my best to stand by her and support her in every possible way. I tried to educate myself on transgender issues, I watched YouTube videos of parents with transgender children, I asked for advice from the pride resource group at my work and I joined PFLAG. However, at the end of the day, I am just the mother of a transgender child. I have no real understanding of the depths of her struggles. But she and I, DO know who she is. We have her gender identity nailed down and from that anchor she can truly begin to live an authentic life even when her path is so hard. That is a truth many people do not have the courage to live.

So, what did I do when my son told me she was female? I loved my daughter. Was it hard? No, loving my daughter is the easiest thing I have ever done. All the other stuff, the crap that occurs outside this house, that’s hard. But watching her discover her true self, develop her femininity, create her own style and step into the women she is meant to be is not hard at all. In fact, the inspiration and the strength and willpower she has shown is exquisite.

‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ‘
– Anais Nin

Jamie

“Living in a world of isolation” by Jamie

Many people today are struggling with anxiety due to the fear of spreading or contracting the COVID virus.  This fear has resulted in forced isolation.

Without a support system during this time of isolation the pain and anxiety we experience can be very traumatic.

For most of us, our only support comes from being able to communicate with others through social media and other forms of electronic communication.

But what many people fail to realize is how similar the anxiety they are experiencing is to what people who are LGBTQ experience every day of their lives.

We were forced to live in the closet trying to “fit in,” because of the fear of being ostracized by society through ridicule, abuse, and rejection.

For us, our support only comes from being able to connect with others who are struggling with the same issues as we are.

This is why organizations like PFLAG are so important to our health and wellbeing.

I know all too well, the pain of isolation because I was born transgender. I was never allowed to be myself.  My fears of rejection forced me into the closet where I lived most of my life. If it hadn’t been for LGBTQ support groups like PFLAG I could never have survived.

Today I am free from my fear and isolation.  As many others will one day when this pandemic is over.

So I wrote a little poem to share with you what I endured growing up transgender. I hope it will encourage you to never give up and realize that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

A little girl of only three is trying so hard to be free, 

But is told she must go away,

Because her love has to lead the way.

So she hides in darkness enduring the pain,

That she can never come out again.  

Her only hope is to trust in him, 

And find a little peace within. 

But as the years pass by the darkness closes in.

And even though she has faith in him,

She starts to weep so loudly that others say,

She must forever stay away.

But there is one whose love is true,

He knows just what he has to do.

Even though he would have to go away,

He decides to let her out to stay.

Now this little girl of three is finally allowed to be free.

No longer trapped within their soul, 

They both find what makes them whole.

Jamie

“A place to be accepted” by Lia – PFLAG Mom

My gay kid and I came to Omaha PFLAG on the recommendation of a therapist.  We were told PFLAG would provide a supportive environment. Finding support was important to us because my kid is diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, Anxiety and Depression.  They were bullied in High School to the point they tried to take their own life. I can’t make it any clearer, therapeutic support is a necessity for them not a luxury.

We came to our first meeting over a year ago and we keep coming back because what the therapist said was true.  PFLAG is amazing.  My kid finally has a place where they feel accepted. I have seen them bloom with the support of the wonderful people we have met through PFLAG.   What I didn’t realize was how much PFLAG would help me as a mom.  Especially one who wants to advocate for not only her kid’s rights but everyone’s.  It is hard to explain how good it feels to be able to be open and honest about my kid with no scorn, judgment or uncomfortableness at the meetings.  PFLAG has given me the opportunity to meet people who have gone through similar homophobic situations as us.  We learn and improve from our shared experiences because we find we are not alone.  Where else could I explain how it felt to go to the theater and receive a round of applause just for showing up with my kid because they are gay?  What other parents gets applause just for showing up?  It’s mind boggling to me.  When did it become OK for parents to stop showing up and supporting for their kids?  When did loving our kids become an option?

PFLAG’s mission is to “build on a foundation of loving families united with LGBTQ people and allies who support one another, and to educate ourselves and our communities to speak up as advocates until all hearts and minds respect, value and affirm LGBTQ people.”  All I know is PFLAG made me a more open and loving person.  It has helped me feel less isolated and alone.  It has expanded my limited thinking.  It has certainly made me a better mom to my kid whether they are gay or not because the truth is they are my kid no matter what.  I love my kid.  I’m trying to love everybody.  My hope is others struggling know PFLAG is a wonderful resource available to all.

Lia

“LOVE” by Amy – PFLAG mom of 14 years

They say there is nothing greater than a mother’s love. As a wife, daughter, sister, friend, and mother… I know that to be true.

I remember over 25 years ago, putting my 3-year-old son to bed and whispering to his father as we tiptoed out of his room, “I think Matthew is gay”. I had nothing concrete to base it on, and it wasn’t a judgement, just a passing comment. I just felt it in my heart. His father’s reaction was not one of agreement and he was, in fact, quite angry with me, but my heart just “knew”.

Throughout the years, I loved my son with ALL my heart. I watched with anguish as he struggled with shyness making friends as a kindergartner. I encouraged his love of art, drawing, and nature as a young child by spending countless hours together at the kitchen table doing projects and watching his talent grow. I wished time to stand still as we snuggled, giggled, and whispered when I’d tuck him into bed each night. I cried countless tears seeing the pain he endured when his father and I divorced, and he began to navigate a new “normal” as a young adolescent. Then came the teen years… it’s definitely harder to love an angry, defiant, and confused teen, yet I did… with all my heart.

When I accidentally “outed” my son at 14 by coming across some correspondence he’d been having on the computer, it broke my heart to see his reaction. I lovingly said, “Matthew, I know. It’s okay. I love you and will support you through this.” I was terrified, not because he was gay, but for his safety and how the world would treat him. He cried in my arms that day. I’ll never forget his words, “Mom, I’m going to go to hell, aren’t I?” We were practicing Catholics at the time, and he had been carrying around a rosary for months in his pocket, trying to “pray his gay away”. That comment was truly heart wrenching for me. It was that day I made a call that led us to PFLAG.

Becoming involved in PFLAG helped both of us embrace who Matthew was and who he has evolved into today. The love, acceptance, help, and encouragement that PFLAG has given us both over the years has undoubtedly shaped who we are. That scared 14 year-old-boy is now a successful Landscape Architect with a distinguished degree from Harvard. He is living his best life in Kansas City with Michael, his incredibly wonderful husband of two months (YES, they just got married!) and their sweet puppy, Bella. We are closer now than we’ve ever been, and I could NOT be prouder of this amazing, talented, strong and resilient young man! I am blessed to be his mother! Having a gay son has truly been a gift, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Yes, there truly is nothing greater than the love of a mother for her child. I am sure of that.

Amy

“A snail’s pace” by Arty

Even a snail’s pace is okay.

I am a 23 year old man, I had lived in Nebraska for the majority of my life, and I move very, very slowly when it comes to my own identity.

The truth is, I came out several years ago as a transgender man and proceeded to do very little more than letting it settle into the minds of others. I’m going slowly, and that’s perfectly okay.

A decent number of years ago, a man called me ‘little buddy’ at the library, and I was so happy I’m fairly sure I had stumbled around like a fool for a while after! Male pronouns and being called a ‘male’ name on the internet made me the happiest I had been in a very long while, as it just felt right. I gravitated towards male clothing, and eventually my family had to notice. Coming out to my mother and father was rough, seeing as their ‘daughter was dead’ now. They cried. With this weighing on their hearts, they sought out the help of PFLAG to understand what was happening to their child, and to seek out company from people who have been through the process. I don’t know everything said during those meetings, as I wasn’t there at the time, but I do know that my parents were able to make friends and come to terms with their ‘new’ son.

So I was out publicly. Work, school, home. “My name is Arty and I am a guy.” I dressed like a guy, I became one of the guinea pigs for a gender inclusive housing dorm at UNO, I wore binders, and that was that. That was several years ago, and little else changed from that point onward. Sure, I corrected people and kept having little ‘coming out’ moments to new folks, but I was taking my time with everything else. I let it stew for a bit, came to terms with it for myself and just… lived.

There’s nothing wrong with going slow and waiting until you’re ready.

And a couple years later, when I really felt I wanted it, I took my next step. On November 14th, 2018, a Wednesday, at 9:45 am, I legally changed my name, and it was wonderful.

But, like I said, I move at my own snail’s pace, so I’ve been taking my time with everything else. In the meantime, my family moved out to Oregon, I got an internship, and followed them to my new home. Lots of things happened, and I finally feel ready to take the next step. On December 12th, I finally received my first testosterone injection. It may have taken me a good number of years to get here, but it is all worth the wait.

So if I have to give even a smidgen of advice, it would be this: Everyone moves at a different pace, and none of them are wrong. Go as slow as you like, and you’ll get to where you’re meant to go.

Arty

“Human” by Lynne

The older I get, the more confusing this world seems to get. When I was a youngster growing up in Michigan, my friends were white, people of color and Native American, girls and boys and straight. When we moved to Nebraska, as far as I knew they were all white and straight. By the time I got out of college, the world had changed some. There were now some black friends, still a few Native American friends, some gay friends and one transsexual friend and the rest were male and female and straight.

As my number of acquaintances increased, so did the changes in the people I now knew. Now I had white, African-American, Native American, Hispanic, Latino, Indian (from India), gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, male and female and straight friends.

In the last few decades, what used to just be a Gay community, then became a GLBT before becoming a LGBT community, and before we added a Q and added other letters, was an interesting community to just listen to from various news sources. Remember, we did not have the internet until some 20+ years ago. It was always interesting listening to comments on who was gay, lesbian, bi or trans enough to be a member of that community. One can still hear the same comments being made today and the debates on which letters belong in our community. But the one thing that most of us agreed on was a binary system. Most people over the age of say 40-45 grew up in a binary system where we recognized male or female. It didn’t matter as to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, we still thought of only male or female.

In less than a decade, there has been a large increase in the non-binary or gender- fluid people in our community. Along with the changes in pronouns, a lot of us as parents, allies, teachers, and the public are learning to deal with something new in our lives.

Some of us adapt easily to change. Some of us never do. But just like the friends of my youth were still the same friends, but the nomenclature has changed. As it has for our community, we have learned to deal with new letters being added and new terms being used. We have all learned to deal with being different ourselves. Let us learn and listen to our non-binary or gender- fluid friends. Just like in the past we learned about our androgynous friends and in decades before the “beat generation.”

Maybe life isn’t really so confusing as I age, maybe it’s just keeping up with changing terminology.

Or maybe instead of LGBTQ we should all just be HUMAN.

Lynne

“I am transgender” by John

I am transgender. I am in the process of physically transitioning into a man after living for many decades as a woman filled with shame, guilt, confusion, depression and dread. My transitioning has been filled with sunshine, fresh air, freedom, truth and acceptance for the first time in my life. For the first time, I can finally truly be the person that I am. It has brought me an amazing sense of joy, contentment and peace within myself.

The journey of becoming myself has been a very long and crooked road that had many wrong turns, potholes and dead ends. During the journey, there were also pit stops as well. I still have baggage, but I am carrying a much lighter load these days.

I began to realize that I should have been born in a male body after serious reflection on my life and trying to make sense out of it after my mother passed away and my daughter became an independent adult. I was exhausted from the old ‘scripts’ in my head that told me I was stupid, incompetent, ashamed of what I thought and felt, and scolding ‘scripts’ that kept me frozen emotionally. I saw myself like an onion, and when I began peeling back the layers, I came to the realization that I really was in the wrong gender body. I was surprised by this core fact, but also not surprised. This became the place where I could begin a new life.

My journey, then, began with the onion. And I had no clue what to do when I came to the realization that I was transgender. Although this is a huge fact to realize, it is an entirely different thing to know how to proceed. I did have a choice. I could ignore this new information about myself. After all, I had lived many decades the way I was. Or I could find a new way to live. Not only did I have to do that, but I had to try to find words to be able to talk about it. When so much of myself had been hidden for so long, (even to me), it is difficult to know how to express these new/old thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Besides trying to verbally express these ideas, it was the need to check (and double check) my past with this new-found information. This meant reflecting on my past with new eyes. I have been continually remembering past events of my life. For the first time, I can look at my past with a fresh perspective. And I continue to do this process.

I wondered if I just thought I was transgender without really being a true transgender person. Did my parents just really want a boy and convey that to me emotionally? Had I been sexually abused and blocked out all memory of it? What would I gain by physically changing to a man? What would I have to do to actually do that? Is that even a ‘thing’?

By exploring my past, I realized that many of the uncomfortable, confusing, guilt and shamed parts of my life were actually primarily transgender related. I have come to realize that dating men (and even being married to one for four years) felt so awkward and uncomfortable because I am actually a heterosexual man. I don’t hate men, I actually really like them, because I am one. However, I am not sexually attracted to them. I had thought that I had to like men in a sexual way because I was in a woman’s body (I grew up in the 1950’s).

I have to say that two of the most important things I have done for my transition is to find a good therapist to help me better understand being transgender and secondly, to meet other transgender people to talk to. This has given me the words I need in order to express my thoughts, emotions and give support to my journey. It is amazing how much I now have to say about being transgender and transitioning. The peace that I felt the moment it was clear to me that I had finally found myself was so profound, that I had no choice but to continue toward doing more substantial things towards transitioning. Deep in my soul, I knew that I was on the correct path. And I became greedy for more clarity, more peace and more sunshine.

So I had a new beginning: new words, and release of old, useless, worn out, damaging baggage. Now what do I do? I had thought when I first went to therapy that my therapist would have some sort of a certificate with an official stamp to certify my transgender-ness. She did not have one of those. But what she does have, are words and guidance to steer me through the quagmire of my past that would lead to a new, brighter future. Each physically outward step that I have taken puts me closer to feeling in synchrony with my inside self. Wearing men’s clothes feels right, not carrying a purse feels right (what a relief) and cutting my hair into a man’s haircut all felt so wonderful and natural. It was surprising how easy it actually was to make those changes. I did, living as woman, love shoes and jewelry. However, I was shocked to learn that my jewelry, even though it was expensive, now means nothing to me. In fact, I now believe it was a prop or part of a costume for me to prove to others and myself that I was a girl. I did love my shoes, but I had a talk with them, and now we’re good. I was able to get rid of them, too. Men’s shoes can be mildly exciting. Even cutting my shoulder length hair turned out to really be no big deal. It has been such a relief to shed these outward affectations of gender.

Physically there are other issues that take on a larger meaning. Finding a doctor to administer hormones was a hurdle. As a post-menopausal woman, putting any hormones into my body seemed radical. Testosterone has made me feel like a new person. I’ve also had a double mastectomy and it all feels so natural. I’m scheduled to have ‘bottom’ surgery in a few months. I’m waiting for that with excitement and anticipation. I’m also getting hairier and I love that my face now feels like sandpaper.

It has been amazing to me that all of these changes have just made me feel more comfortable with myself. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to like my body and even my face and can look at myself in the mirror with some satisfaction.

Along with all of the physical and emotional changes I have been going through, I have had legal issues to deal with. I legally changed my name and my gender through the courts, social security and for my driver’s license. I have also had to change my name on property, car titles and credit cards. My latest legal change was changing my birth certificate. I cannot believe how fabulous it makes me feel to see that now my birth certificate matches my true gender. My parents, although both deceased, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. I think I’m going to frame it.

One of the most difficult issues facing a transgender person is coming out to friends and family. All of the areas of transition that I have mentioned, affect me personally. But the one issue that effects everyone that I know are friends and family. They are important for everyone’s life and every transgender person has to deal with this. There is no way to predict what the reaction of another to the news that I am transgender. As I become more and more physically like a man, discussions were going to be needed with others emotionally close to me.

My first major concern was coming out to my daughter. I have no other immediate family members. I was actually not ready to talk to her about it (I didn’t really have the words, yet) but I told her that 2018 was going to be an unusual year for me. For some reason, she assumed that I had cancer, so we wound up leaving a really great New Year’s Eve party so that I could tell her that her mother was really a man. It went better that I could have hoped in my wildest dreams, and she has been a huge support for me. She even allowed me to be at her wedding in a tuxedo and had me give a toast to her and her new husband. She and her then fiancé insisted on staying with me after my double mastectomy surgery, and plan to help me after ‘bottom’ surgery. I am even grandpa to her cat. I almost declined going to a family reunion because I didn’t know if I wanted to have to ‘come out’ to 40 people that I really don’t know all that well. I did tell a couple of my cousins, they insisted that they still love me and insisted that I attend. I did, they do and they treated me like a guy, but talked to me like I was their cousin. I know that I am lucky, but there is no way I can predict how people will react to me being transgender. I had one ‘friend’ who told me in the nicest possible way that I was going to hell and that being gay and/or transgender are two surefire paths to never having God’s forgiveness or love. We are no longer friends.

I realize that I have forced people who are friends and relatives to deal with their basic beliefs, question sexual orientation in themselves and how they feel about it in a close association with a transgender person. My daughter went to therapy herself, and questioned her own gender. She told me that she is now glad that she doesn’t take her gender for granted, but she knows she is female, likes it and knows exactly who she is.

I really like that. I have made people evaluate their beliefs and feelings towards something that is incredibly radical in many people’s minds and very difficult for cisgender people to understand. There are several things that I know about my journey. It has been extremely rewarding, but also extremely difficult. I am still physically changing and still evolving and learning new things every day. Being transgender is unique and complicated. No person without gender orientation dysphoria would ever go through this amount of chaos to change. And every transgender person that has made changes in their life knows and understands the joy of evolving and growing in ways they can’t even predict, when taking a journey to find and become themselves.

There is an ancient Greek myth about a man named Tiresias who was changed into a woman by the goddess Hera. After many years and children later, Hera relented and changed her back into a man. Greek myths helped people to understand the natural world. Most people are only one sex, but transgender people get to experience both sexes, a very rare and special thing. We see the world from a very unique perspective. In the myth about Tiresias, the gods and goddesses later had an argument about who had the most sexual pleasure – men or women. They decided to ask Tiresias, of course. He declined to give a definitive answer. As a transgender person, I know that what matters the most is just finally being able to be comfortable in my own skin and my realization that for the first time in my life, I am finally free and able to feel like one, whole unified person. And that alone is worth everything.

John

What does it mean for me to be a member of PFLAG? by Jamie

It means being accepted for who I am.

I was born transgender back in the early 50’s. Back then very few people had a clue what it meant to be born with a gender identity conflict.

By the time I was 8 years old my parents had gotten pretty fed up with my gender identity so my father sat me down and explained to me why I couldn’t be a girl. Up until then my father had always been supportive of me. I really loved and respected him for that.

Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite case when it came to my mother. I was constantly facing verbal and physical abuse from her.

To have my father tell me that I couldn’t be a girl was probably the hardest thing I ever faced in my life. He convinced me that my gender identity was a delusion and if I ever wanted to have a normal life, I would have to learn to accept my gender assigned at birth.

To make him happy I agreed to try really hard. So, I made every effort to live the expected norm.

This not only meant denying my gender identity but also denying my sexual orientation when I started experiencing sexual urges.

Going through biological puberty was horrible on me. Not only was my body becoming further away from who I was on the inside, but I found I wasn’t attracted to girls and to make matters worse I liked boys.

This really scared me because I was trying really hard to fit in and be normal.

You cannot begin to imagine the pain and conflict I endured trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was depressed my whole life and was constantly struggling with gender dysphoria.

In fact, it was so bad that I tried to end my life twice while a teenager. Following my second attempt of suicide I decided that I needed to get married. I had convinced myself that it would drive out my conflict. So, I asked a girl who at the time was just a good friend, if she would marry me. She accepted, but only on the grounds that we were sexually compatible. Ugh!

This was probably the hardest test I had to go through. Because I had to go against my sexual orientation. But I did it anyway. Guess what I didn’t like it!

I realized you can’t change your sexual orientation. You can force yourself to do something, but you can’t make yourself like it. I only did it because I had to.

I failed miserably the first time and she was ready to walk out. But I pleaded for a second chance. Fortunately, I managed to pass the second time around and we eloped to North Carolina because I was too young to get married in Oklahoma without parental approval. Of course, the marriage didn’t last. She could easily tell I had no sexual attraction to women. But I kept trying to force myself. This went on most of my life.

When I finally came to the point that I could no longer handle my gender identity conflict I transitioned. What I realized after I transitioned was how real it was to be born transgender. When I transitioned all my depression and gender dysphoria disappeared and for the first time in my life, I was happy with myself.

I also discovered during my transition how real sexual orientation is too. It is not something we choose. Sure, you can make yourself do just about anything. But you can’t change your sexual orientation. I know because I tried for years to convince myself I was attracted to girls. When I finally had sex with a man it felt wonderful. It was like all the pieces of the puzzle came together. There was absolutely no question in my mind that I was attracted to guys.

This is why I love PFLAG. Being LGBTQ+ is not a choice and to truly be happy in life means being true to ourselves. PFLAG is probably the only place I can go and be loved and accepted as a transgender woman.

Jamie

Exciting PFLAG National Leadership Change

On January 17, PFLAG National’s board of directors named a new Executive Director of PFLAG National, Brian Bond. PFLAG National’s Board President Kathy Godwin said, “I am thrilled to welcome Brian to the helm of PFLAG National. He has a proven record of success unifying people across communities, building strong alliances and partnerships, and working in challenging environments and moments to effect change. His personal story—as a young gay man raised in rural America—will resonate with so many people, including our supporters and members. I know Brian is the leader PFLAG needs to continue our work, and greatly expand our reach.”

During the Obama Administration, Bond served as Deputy Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement and primary liaison for the LGBTQ community. Prior to his political service, Bond was the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and is credited with expanding the success of the organization and support for LGBTQ candidates during his six-year tenure.

Mr. Bond’s reputation, background and resume are impressive. LGBTQ leaders and supporters are applauding his appointment. To learn more read PFLAG National’s press release:
https://pflag.org/press-releases/brian-bond-named-new-executive-director-pflag-national

In Omaha, we have a committed leadership team. Our chapter has a volunteer board of eight members. Each board member agrees to serve a two-year term with a maximum of eight years. I serve as PFLAG Omaha’s president and have the privilege of serving with the following board members: Suzanne Doupnik, Vice President; Maria Bateman, Treasurer; Kelly Coleman, Secretary and members at large Michele Fisher, Patrick Heese, Luke Pella and Mariano Uberti. The board meets monthly to discuss and manage our chapter’s business. It’s an important responsibility and everyone on the board is a valued and much appreciated member.

I encourage you to visit our chapter support meetings and get to know your board of directors and the many other PFLAGers and guests who join us monthly. Meetings are the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. On the second Thursday we meet at Countryside Community Church and on the fourth Thursday we have a Spanish & English bilingual meeting at OneWorld Community Health Centers. Meeting information, including what to expect at a meeting can be found at:
http://pflag-omaha.org/ More information about our bilingual meeting can be found at http://pflag-omaha.org/latino/

Carrie Spencer