Rising to Your Greatness, Sharing Your Journey and Transforming the World
A Community Discussion with Gabrielle Hermosa on Saturday, September 20, 2014 @ 6:30 PM.
About the event
Life can seem hectic, stressful and unfair. Social inequalities, separatism and disparities have many of us feeling helpless, lost, alone and without options.
But we’re NOT alone. We’re all in this world together. By making changes in the way we think, feel and act, we can turn things around and super-charge our lives. Working together we can build strong, uplifting, supportive communities. By rising to our greatness, sharing our gifts, passions and journeys, we have the power to transform the world and make it a better place for everyone.
Image credit: unknown
Friday, July 18 through Sunday, July 20, I experienced my first (ever) Pride festival and parade. For three days, I was high on life, low on sleep, and filled with love, gratitude, and an emotional bliss I’m not sure how to describe. It was beautiful, just beautiful!
The photo above was taken on Saturday, July 19. That’s me in the top row, 4th from the left, flashing “I love you” in sign language. Not only did I attend my first Pride Parade, but I was also in it, riding on the first ever official transgender float to grace the RocPride Parade. Represented were several trans organizations, including: The Q Center (Syracuse, NY), Genesee Valley Gender Variants (Rochester, NY), Trans* Alliance of Greater Rochester (TAGR), and the Transgender Alliance of Central New York.
I’m trans and proud! So how is it that I attended my first Pride event at the age of 43? In a nutshell, I’m a late bloomer. It took quite some time to fully figure out who and what I Am. Better late than never. Let’s face it – many people never do truly figure themselves out, regardless of gender identity. I very much wanted to attend RocPride in 2013, but…
Passing without passing
The photo above shows me walking through a local mall carrying my bag of goods. That’s how I look to most people – just another random woman shopping in the mall. Until, that is, someone looks directly at me from 20 meters or closer. Contrary to the carefully chosen photos I post publicly, I don’t pass – not in person. Most people read me as trans without missing a beat. More importantly, most people treat me very well.
The right attitude goes a long way
Years ago, when venturing out into public I’d get laughed at every time. Getting laughed at, disparaged, and called names by homophobic/transphobic cowards made me self-conscious and fearful of going out. In retrospect, I understand the difficulties I used to experience.
Other trans women frequently told me, “It’s more about attitude than passing.” How can attitude affect how one is viewed by others? It took me a few years to figure out. Having the right attitude in public can be the difference between having an amazingly positive and enjoyable experience, or not. It’s a little like a magic trick, but it’s not magic. There’s something more powerful at work, and it’s not just attitude, either.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the documentary “Just Gender“. It was shown at the Little Theatre downtown, Rochester, NY.
The film explores various myths and misconceptions about transgender people. It was very interesting to learn about experiences shared by some of the people interviewed, that closely resemble my own. Things such as creating a “character” for oneself (of the socially expected gender role prior to coming out) in order to fit in and having to come out to people a second time after figuring out one’s true identity, really hit close to home. I was impressed with the very polished, informative presentation, and the depth of the people interviewed, offering a realistic look into many of the dangers and challenges we face in today’s society. Transgender people are shown as human beings, dealing with some very unique and difficult obstacles in life. I was almost brought to tears a few times.
Because I felt like sharing a beautiful day and a smile
This short video was recorded a couple of days ago. A friend and I were “tabling” volunteers for the GAGV downtown Rochester at the Metro Center for SUNY Brockport during their Wellness Fair this past Wednesday (April 16, 2014).
Making new friends
This kind of volunteer work offers an excellent opportunity to meet people, converse, share, increase positive LGBTQ awareness, educate, learn and make new friends.
This past Saturday, March 22, 2014, I had an opportunity to speak about transgender realities at the University of Rochester. It was my 6th time talking publicly about transgender awareness and education.
A long time ago, in a hospital far, far away…
I start by telling my personal story: from birth to where I am today. It’s limited to key points in my life as they pertain to growing up different (trans) in a world that demands conformity and punishes those who fall outside “social norms”.
Some rather painful and emotionally devastating moments are shared. In contrast, I incorporate humor to keep things fresh, fun, and prevent the audience from loosing interest.
Last week, Thursday was a day of teaching, personal growth, and another adventure in coming out. It started out with an early morning SafeZone presentation at a local high school.
Along with two other speakers, I was deployed by the GAGV, to educate teenage students about LGBTQ realities, share our personal stories and struggles, and answer questions. The school’s health teacher requested the presentation. There was a complete lack LGBTQ coverage within the standard curriculum in my school days (back in the 1980’s). This is, unfortunately, still pretty much the standard today. It’s promising to know there are such forward thinking teachers working hard to offer more of a real-world and well rounded education, above and beyond the status quo.
Talking, sharing, educating
Matthew (not his real name), a well spoken and very stylish gay man in his 30’s (who runs a local gay youth group) started out the presentation with a general overview things, and then we each told our personal stories. I went first, followed by Linda (not her real name), an attractive 30-something lesbian, and then Matthew. Having only met Linda and Matthew for the first time only minutes before the presentation, it was really interesting to hear their stories.
After sharing our personal stories, Matthew did a superb job explaining aspects of LGBTQ people that are often confusing to “straight” folk. The social structure in high school can be pretty brutal and restricting. As a result, teenage students may be reluctant to ask questions (verbally, in front of the class) out of fear of ridicule by their peers. We asked them to write down their questions on a piece of paper and place it in a basket that was passed around the room.
Getting shy teenagers to open up
During our first of two presentations, very few questions ended up in the basket. For the second presentation, I added, “I’d like everyone to please write down something and place it into the basket. If you don’t have a question, then write down the name of your favorite band.” That seemed to work better now that every student was expected to write something. There were several good questions submitted by the second class… and a few favorite bands.