Friday, April 27, 2012

Space for "queer" to exist in my universe

My very first night in Baton Rouge I was staying in a hotel. I knew this town was going to be my new home, but I was nervous, had just driven 1700+ miles in two days, and was far far away from anything familiar. I didn’t know it at the time but I was on the edge of the entire world changing. I was on the edge of everything shifting far more than I expected.

Looking back it is a bit amusing to recall what I watched on TV that night. I was knocking on the “queer” door without even realizing it. I sat with my knees up under my chin in the giant hotel bed. Everything was damp from the humidity in the air and the air conditioner running non-stop.  I was watching an intense episode of Oprah that was being rebroadcast during the evening hours.  

Oprah was interviewing Thomas Beatie, the world’s first pregnant man. He told his story of transitioning from a gorgeous Hawaiian beauty queen to a rather handsome man who had decided that he wanted to have a biological child.

I sat there captivated by his story. The story felt “wrong” in that Mormony way. A woman taking hormones, having surgery, and living as a man was certainly not a church approved sort of message let alone the idea of an individual like that having a child… I felt guilty watching Oprah interview him. I felt guilty for sympathizing with him and his story. I felt guilty for liking him and hoping that all would go well for him and his child.

Seeing Thomas cracked the “queer” door open just a little bit for me. In some ways he showed me how ordinary and normal LGBT people could be… Not that his story was ordinary, but he himself, his personality, his mannerisms, the way that he looked was so ordinary… He seemed like just a regular guy despite this extraordinary story. Hearing his story somehow made space for my ordinary little self to consider the word “queer” in a new light. In an accessible light.

Yesterday I saw this story about him and his wife in the Huffington post. He is getting divorced apparently after the relationship turned abusive. His wife hitting him and kicking him. It broke my heart. If I were a praying person I would probably pray for him right now. I find myself thankful that he could stand up on Oprah and share his story. I am thankful that he made space for "queer" to become part of my vocabulary. 


  1. I was quite young and niave when I first heard about "a man having a baby" and it definitely did not really seem right to me at that time, nor did I understand how that could be biologically possible.

    I was talking with my 13 year old 2nd cousin; we were doing riddles. one was about someone with 7 kids, and half of her kids were boys. So my cousin said, well one of them was transgendered (not the answer). When I was 13 I would have had NO idea what transgendered was. I am trying to decide if that is because the world is changing or because I was a sheltered niave child. Any ideas?

  2. I was first introduced to the idea of transgender back in the 70's on a some TV show where a couple had switched parenting roles, and their gender. Even though I was a little kid, it fascinated me and oddly made me feel really happy for them. It never occurred to me that what they were doing was wrong. I guess that may have been the spark for me that has always forever kept me from ever agreeing with the Mormon way on gender and gender roles. Especially the way the church would treat people who have gone thought sex reassignment. In my perfect world in my head, changing gender would be something that we could all do at any time when ever we feel like just by thinking about it and no one would care.


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