This past June, the Library put on Pride programming. As part of that initiative, we collected Pride Stories from our community. Here are a few of those stories.
I’m going to put this out here in response to the current pride posts about the library and whoever for that matter. This is my son. This was his own drawing of himself as an 8th grader and all the emotions he was dealing with because society made him feel this way. There is actual duct tape on this paperboard even though you can’t really see it. I feel moved to share it bc it is very disheartening to look back and realize my son had all these bottled up feelings going on that I didn’t recognize.
He is now 24 and a well balanced, cultured, loving and productive part of society. I taught him self value. I taught him unconditional love! I taught him non judgement. I taught him to be comfortable with himself and to love others. I taught him how much I love him.
He learned sign language as a second language and I cried for a month straight, off and on, after I watched a Christmas performance he did at a deaf church and he could speak to a deaf and blind man by holding his hands and signing. The man could not see him, but when he took his hands and signed with Him, the man finally felt connected and loved because he knew what my son was saying to him, even though I didn’t. They could speak!!! I don’t know how many can communicate with a deaf and blind person. But my son did. And it is one of my fondest moments of humanity. I just want to say, be kind and love one another. I always thought I would have to teach my kids about the world. Then I found out I have to teach the world my children. He is one of the most awesome people you could ever meet! I don’t care what his sexual gender is! He learned that early on when he finally told me what I already knew. I taught him it wasn’t his excuse or crutch in life. So please, be accepting to everyone. Please look at what his emotions were and how he felt like a bottled up boy. It could one of the people you so care about. Your child or loved one. Just felt the need to share this tonight. I will never be the judge. Thanks for listening. Please take a good look at his display.
My LGBTQ story is fairly unique. At age 68, as a straight, male professor, something happened to me. I describe it as “a ton of bricks fell on me” or as “I was run over by a Mack Truck”. Black became White, White became Black, up became down, left became right. This was a month before my retirement.
I found after 68 years of life, I had a female side to me. I started cross-dressing – but only at home – and that was definitely a problem for my wife. About the same time, I had a major heart operation where my surgeon said that I was lucky to be alive. After the surgery, I was depressed and felt I had no value. And, somehow, I found peace in my female side and dressed more and more as a female. My wife’s clothes fit me and, especially when she was gone, I dressed as a woman. Watching my budget, I did purchase some things for myself. I didn’t hide anything from my wife as I believed (and still do), that honesty is the best policy.
I started going to PFLAG meetings (Parents, Families of Lesbians and Gays) – and soon dressed as a woman for those meetings. My wife insisted I see a mental health counselor. On my first visit, after a rigorous interrogation, my counselor declared that I had “Gender Dysphoria”. My wife wasn’t happy with that, and over the next six months, I saw four different counselors – with two of those as joint visits with my wife and myself.
I have a Christian religious background and I prayed deeply and fervently about this change – and I felt great peace. To me, ‘peace’ has been a confirmation from God in the past in my life, while angst is an indicator that something isn’t quite right.
My wife sent me away five times. The first was just ‘get out of the house’ for a couple of hours’ (so she could think). The second was most of a day as I drove to Marble Falls for the day. The third was three days in Taylor, the fourth was a week in an extended stay hotel in Round Rock and the fifth was that she wanted me out of the house permanently and I moved to an apartment in Georgetown.
I lived as a woman in my apartment for two months – then in an attempt to work out our relationship, I went to a conservative Christian based program that, seemingly, was for drug users, alcoholics, those addicted to pornography or other issues. Having a person who said he (or she) was transgender was a challenge for this program. For this program, I lived and dressed as a male for 3.5 months.
This program didn’t work for me. I found I couldn’t deny myself. The end of that attempt brought me completely to starting my transition. I saw a doctor and was prescribed feminine hormones, I got a wig, and I started to live 100% of the time as a female – because I AM A FEMALE!!
In February 2020, the Great State of Texas declared that I am legally a woman, and that my name is Karen. I have a driver’s license, social security account, bank account and all related accounts changed to my name. My wife started divorce proceedings. I am not contesting the divorce. Her comment was that “I was not the man she married” – and that is 100% true. I AM A WOMAN.
As of the writing of this information, I am looking forward to gender reconstruction surgery in the fall and live out my remaining years fully as the woman that I am.
In Georgetown, I have been part of the PFLAG group, and the ALCH (Austin Lesbian Coffee House) group. I am playing “Granny Basketball”. In all my relationships, I am myself.
I did make a mistake last fall though. The university where I graduated 50 years ago had invited me to be part of a special recognition of outstanding alumni from the class of 1969. I debated going as Karen or as the old person. I figured that any alumni that I knew would remember me as a male, so I went as a male – and had a lousy alumni gathering. As part of an old Ricky Nelson song “It’s alright now, I learned my lesson well. You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself”.
Many of my best friends these days are on the LGBTQ spectrum. Although, I am now 72, I do consider myself as a lesbian woman.
When I came out as a lesbian at 17, I had no idea of how I would meet others like me. Back in the 1980s we did not have cell phones, internet groups, and organizations that included people who looked like me. I devoured books about the Second Wave Feminist movement, Stonewall, and the developing AIDS crisis. The few out LGBT people I knew, I studied carefully as though they were case studies, in order to figure out how I could navigate the world of school, work, friendship, and relationships as a gay woman. Being an introvert, I resorted to a lesbian match group. For a hefty subscription fee, I was able to call in once a week to hear about the profiles of local women who matched my profile. The labels were so confining. You could identify only as butch, femme, or androgynous. There was a lot of scorn for bisexual women. Trans Women were excluded. Most often, I was matched only with other Black women, without regard to interests. I did get to go on a few dates, but I felt alienated and disappointed.
I struggled for acceptance, even in places where I was so sure I would be accepted. In college, I came out to my women’s studies class. The next time I went to that class no one would sit near me. One woman had her boyfriend accompany her to and from class thereafter because she felt threatened having a dyke around. Whenever my family called, they were abusive to Jackie, my first serious relationship. Jackie and I argued so fiercely about this abuse that it was one of the factors in our ultimate break up. An acquaintance called me to share cautionary stories about LGBT people who had committed suicide, warning me to save myself from what she saw as an empty, sinful life. Dejected, I retreated to the anonymity of being closeted. There is no lonelier place than living in contempt of oneself.
Knowledge truly is powerful. When I learned about systems of oppression and the people who stood up for justice, I knew if I remained silent, I was perpetuating the lies about LGBTQI people. This ultimately helped me to love myself and “do me” on my own terms.
What gives me hope today is that not only has the language of discourse changed, the landscape has changed as well. Language has developed to include expressions that embrace the myriad identities we have. These words remove the veil of suffocating silence and give us our dignity. Today there are many groups and so many ways to identify that encompass the diversity of the LGBTQI community. Mily, my wife, and I have been together for eleven years. Not until the day we married in 2016 did we believe that our relationship would be legally recognized in Texas, of all places! Because of those who refused to be silenced, today healthcare, the media, and academia acknowledge our identities, needs, and rights. There is still much work to do. Many institutions and countries still deny full social and legal rights to LGBTQI people. Trans women and men, especially Black and Latinx trans women, are still murdered simply for being Trans. Discrimination from the wider culture still limit discourse in the areas of racism, ableism, and ageism within LGBTQI circles. Sadly, there are still young LGBTQI people who kill themselves because of lingering myths, discrimination, and rejection. LGBTQI people and allies have power in our presence and voices to change the world.
We met on a last-ditch Tinder date. Both of us had been burned and disappointed by online dating—by all dating in general—but we each figured we’d give it one more try (or, in Lisa’s case, her friends did). We agreed to meet at a bar on the East Side of Austin. When Sarah approached Lisa sitting at the bar, her first words were, “Oh! You have freckles!”
Despite that awkward start, we connected immediately, talked all evening, and ended up jumping the fence of the Texas State Cemetery to see Ann Richards’s tombstone. And over the next few months, we spent as much time together as possible, both pleasantly surprised that she had actually met a genuine, loving, committed person on Tinder (it can happen!).
After six months, we got engaged at a spa in Santa Fe, and six months later, we got married at a restaurant not far from the one where we’d met. Now four years into our marriage, we’ve embraced Georgetown as our home. We still talk about how grateful we are for each other every single night before we go to sleep.
-Sarah & Lisa
My Pride story is probably similar to a lot of others. I grew up in Austin. Texas in a very conservative Christian household with my father being a minister, and actually had never heard the word “gay” until I was a teenager. I always felt different from my friends because I was not interested in the girls at school…I liked the boys. During High School I started to figure things out about myself and finally put things together that I was gay. I confided in a long time friend and she told me she had know for years and was just waiting for me to figure it out, her support made it much easier to accept. I finally came out to my family when I was 20 years old and as most cases it didn’t go well but I persevered and went own with my life….I’m a very independent man!! When I came out it was 1983 it was the start of the AIDS crisis and not a good time to be gay, now there was a new reason to hate gays!
I remember being harassed by the police, having hateful note left on my car, being ask to leave restaurants and even being denied an apartment but I just rolled with the punches kept my Pride and dignity and lived my life. As a young man in his early 20’s I enjoyed dating some and didn’t let what other people thought stop me from living my life… I was young and single and enjoying life to the fullest!
Well, in 1987 my bachelor life changed when I met the love of my life, we were introduced by a mutual friend and there was an instant spark. I remember being terrified when a couple days later I called to ask him out, I was actually hoping he wouldn’t answer, but he did! He said yes and we went to the movies for our first date and it went well so of course there was a second date and so on until 6 months later I moved to Georgetown and we moved in together.
Now as of September we have been together 33 years, married 25 ( 5 years legally)! We live in the house my husband grew up in with our 3 dogs and gave a great life. We’re out to our family, friends and neighbors and generally have their support and I even work at the High School where my husband graduated. My life has come full circle, from a naive sheltered kid, thru my single years in the 80’s to a happily married middle aged guy living here in Georgetown.
If I could tell the young people today anything its to stay strong and keep your head up, be proud of who you are! My life and coming out wasn’t easy but I made it through and so will you….always love yourself and let your Pride shine and be your strength! There’s a whole world of love and possibilities out there just waiting for you.