GAVIN

Philadelphia, PA

What are your pronouns?

Any and all, as long as they come from a place of love and respect, except for when I’m in drag, and I only go by “he/him” when I’m in drag.

Where do you work?

I’m a realtor at Keller Williams and am on the Condo Shop team. So, each agent is an independent contractor. There are about 60 of us on the team, and all of us have different roles. We do property management, we do sales and some people specialize in rentals. So there’s a bunch of different people on the team that do different things.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you do for fun?

I love performing. I also am a sailor, so I sail whenever possible, and I usually set a couple goals every year [for] where I want to sail. 

Like whether I want to sail on the East Coast or West Coast or in Canada or somewhere else. So the things I do for fun are performing and sailing. I don’t own a boat myself. I do belong to a sailing club over in New Jersey. I pay a yearly fee. I go and I can use the sailboats any time during the season, which is May through October. But I also sail with a crew out of Chicago sometimes, so when I go to Lake Michigan or up to Chicago I get to sail on Lake Michigan. The school that I got certified in sailing through is out of Colorado, and sometimes I will go on trips that they’re going on to different places to get different certifications. I have a lot more flexibility, so I like to go sailing in the middle of the daytime. Boats aren’t available at night and a lot of my friend’s work 9 to 5, and the weekends are just madness. There are races on the river, and lots of kids learning how to sail. You have to kind of navigate around them. So I tend to go in the middle of the day, like on a Wednesday, I’ll go sailing for a couple hours. And if there are people around that can go, I surely invite them.

I was in Colorado, and I have a medical condition that prevents me from flying for long periods of time, and I love traveling, and one way to travel is to sail. I looked up online to see if there were any sailing schools in Denver, and there was, randomly. There’s actually a really big sailing community in Denver, and in Colorado, and out West. “I’m going to sail around the world” was originally my statement, but I don’t think that is my goal. Sailing to experience and travel is my goal. If I get around the world, that will be a bonus. I think about tiny houses an obscene amount, and I think about selling everything and running away on a sailboat all the time. I would eventually like to own my own sailboat that is for sure. But I’m definitely more of a cruiser and less of a racer when it comes to sailing. I like racing just fine, but I’m all about the leisure and the experience of the sailing, and not necessarily the panicked mode of racing.

How do you handle the issue of pronouns and being gendered when interacting with strangers / mixed company / etc?

I don’t really have a preference for the pronouns that I use, and as long as they are used with respect, I don’t really care. I don’t really correct people. When I do interject, it’s usually an instance where a kiddo says, “Why is there a boy in the women’s restroom?” or something like that, and the parent kind of freaks out. [But] let’s take this as a teaching moment, [a] “Not everybody looks the same,” kind of situation. But in general I don’t really interject because most people – even my closest friends use several pronouns in a story talking about me. So I think I came to terms with that a long time ago, because I honestly don’t care. I walk a line of privilege where: one, I don’t care about it, two, it doesn’t bother me (maybe because I don’t care about it), and three, I feel like I can blend in to whatever situation, and some people will think I’m a man, some people will think I’m a woman. Some people in the same space will be calling me different things, and it doesn’t even dawn on them that I’m not one or the other, or that the binary doesn’t really matter to me. So I don’t feel like I come up with that issue a lot, and haven’t for many years. I think the moment I stopped caring about it, it just became a non-issue for me.

Have you had difficulties with changing your name and the way it affects you moving through the world, being recognized how you want, or being mis-gendered?

No. I started using Gavin Danger as my performer name, and I started performing in 2001. I started going by Gavin around my friends around 2005, and by 2007 I went by Gavin exclusively. And it was an interesting thing; I never really felt the need to come out to anybody and [say], “This is my name now,” because I’m not offended when people call me by my birth name either, it’s just nobody that I know in my friend world or my community knows me as such. Only my family does. And a lot of my family has transitioned to calling me “G” or Gavin, or some variation of a nickname that I had when I was a kiddo. So it’s been a very interesting transition, because there wasn’t this epiphany of, “I want you to call me this.” At first it was more out of convenience, because I would be promoting for a show, and I would meet someone one night, and I would call them the next day to do a follow-up and they’d be like, “Who is this?” [And they wouldn’t necessarily realize it was me until I said “Gavin.”] They met me in drag as Gavin, and so when I would use my birth name on the phone, they’d be like, “Who? What?” So it just sort of evolved into that, and now I can’t imagine – even though I love all of my names, but different contexts, you know.

What word(s) would you use to describe your identity?

Unicorn. I don’t know if you noticed the unicorns sprinkled throughout this apartment. I have been collecting unicorns since I was about five. And it’s interesting to see the surge in unicorn things these days, and moustaches. There’s a unicorn up here that my grandmother made me. She took a ceramics class and made that for me. I think I might’ve been like 10 or something. I still have all of them that have not broken. But I have them sporadically throughout the place, and I love them. I use many words to describe myself and it can be different day to day or story by story.  I feel because I don’t really have a preference, except in drag, the words are so fluid and are ever changing. It really depends on the day, honestly, because when I’m performing, I definitely feel like I identify in different ways than every day. But as far as every day, I would just say – I typically tell people that I’m genderfluid or non-binary.

Are there ways that you dress / act / speak / etc. to specifically make a statement to others about your identity? Why?

I wear a lot of ties. I definitely am more masculine-of-center for sure in my presentation. I haven’t really put a lot of thought into why that is, or what I want people to perceive me as, as far as how I present. But the reason why I wear a lot of ties is because I love fancy knots. A few years ago I learned that there’s over 100 different ways to tie a tie, and I got slightly obsessed with it. I will literally wear them sometimes with my pajama pants. I feel kind of naked without a tie on now, in a weird way, and so I wear ties a lot. I do have quite a collection of bowties too, but they are more for special occasions than the general tie. But I don’t know if I’m really trying to make any particular statement, other than – I’m good at knots and I like ties. I’m a sailor.

How early on did you know or suspect that you did not identify within the binary?

Oh, so early on. But you know, in retrospect – you knew things about yourself at a young age that you didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate, right, and I didn’t know that until probably my 30s. My early 30s is when I really started honing in on the vocabulary and the accessibility of the words to say that I didn’t really belong in the binary. But I remember when I was a kiddo, and I’d be running around without a shirt on, and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t have my shirt off when everybody else had their shirt off, and thinking that I was just like everybody else. I didn’t really see the difference between boys and girls. And I would say, in retrospect, probably around about 7 or 8, I was still, “Oh, I’m just like everyone else,” and it was a learned response to be like, “Oh, you’re supposed to be a girl.” And that didn’t kick in until I was about 13. I was like, Oh, I’m supposed to be a girl, I’m supposed to date boys, and I’m supposed to do this prescribed thing that all Catholic girls do. And it’s just weird that – I feel like I kind of went backwards as I got older, until I got to a point [of], Oh, I am this, and now we need to figure it out. So yeah, it was convoluted when I was little, and I just always thought everybody kissed girls. I kissed all the girls and all the boys in the neighborhood. I didn’t know that I didn’t fit in until I was told I didn’t fit in, and that I belonged in this category, and that you need to stay in that category, and you need to do x, y, and z. And it wasn’t until I got older that, after I left my home, that I was able to really explore that and experience that in a different way [as] a choice instead of just, Oh, this is the way that I am. But like I said, in retrospect, I knew at a very young age that I didn’t really believe that I was a boy or a girl, but didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate it.

Do you think anything about the way you were raised or where you grew up affected how you drew conclusions about your identity?

Absolutely. I grew up in a very small town in West Virginia. And it was not okay to be queer or different in any way, shape, or form. People in the area have come a long way since then. I know a couple years ago there were these two women that got married in our town and it was a big deal for me, but it wasn’t necessarily a big deal for everyone else, which was really great. And that was a shocker. But it definitely had an influence and impacted me, because I could not be out, and therefore I denied who I was for a long time. Even though I had my first girlfriend at 15, I still refused to say that I was queer, because I was going to hell if I did, right. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I actually really came out to myself even. And then I came out to my parents, and then a couple years later I came out to my brother. But I’ve never really come out to anyone else in my family, except my cousin (she was the first person). I just sort of stopped hiding it. So things were definitely strange in Small Town USA. It was a very interesting experience. In some aspects I’m really glad that I grew up in a small town, and in some aspects I couldn’t wait to get out, because I knew if I stayed there I would not make it.

The things I really dug about growing up in a small town though – the majority of my family lives there. Like a lot of my family lives there. I grew up with almost all of my cousins, first, second, third cousins, all my aunts and uncles, all my grandparents – within a couple miles, really like three miles of each other. And that was really awesome. My hometown probably has a population now of maybe 2000 people total. And a lot of those people are my family. And for better or worse, my family loves me for me, and they accept me for me. They might not necessarily understand or accept queerness in general, but sometimes we have to pick and choose our battles. I really dug having the closeness of my family. I saw my mom’s mom every week. She picked me up nearly every Thursday. We’d go fishing in the summer. She taught me how to do all kinds of really cool outdoorsy things. My other grandparents I saw all the time. It was nice growing up and having that much family and that much community. I don’t regret that. I do wish that it were a more progressive small town. I think that’s why the Northeast is so appealing to me, because a lot of the smaller towns are super progressive.

Can you give any examples of misconceptions people have about those who identify outside the binary? Have you personally dealt with them?

I think the misconceptions that I have dealt with or come across are that people just don’t understand. It’s a little too vague for them, or they [say], “Well, are you a man? Are you a woman?” To them there’s nothing in-between even though we know that to be untrue. Everything is on a spectrum, whether it’s your sexuality, or your identity, or your presentation, or whatever that may be – it changes dramatically throughout the span of your life. And some people need to put you in a box, and it’s like they can’t compute what you are if you don’t identify with one or the other. The things that I come up [against] the most are people that identify as non-binary or anywhere on the spectrum that is not man or woman, sometimes they have the biggest issue with me saying my pronouns are any and all. They [say], “No, what pronouns do you use?” That’s the whole point. I don’t have to choose one. I don’t have to choose any, if I don’t want to. I don’t really use “they/them.” I’m not opposed to it, but – when I talk about myself, it depends on the story, and the context, right. Like when I’m in drag, if I’m talking to someone, everyone uses “he,” if I’m talking about my everyday life, it’s about how people perceived me that day. What I did or how I looked or whatever. So I think that it comes down to a teaching moment again. I think I have better more productive conversations with people that really have never experienced it before and don’t understand it, and trying to help them understand that people can live on a spectrum, than I do with people that sometimes are on the spectrum. It’s really a weird juxtaposition for me to have to explain.

I find that a lot of teaching moments happen in those sorts of situations where people want to force you to choose something, and people that don’t understand that you can identify however you would like. I always find it a little bit ironic when people [say], “I don’t buy into the binary,” but [they] use x, y, or z. You have to buy into it to say that it doesn’t exist, in a weird way. I think that I just sort of came to this conclusion that I don’t care what people call me. I kind of had been living my life that way, but there came a moment where I [realized], It doesn’t really matter. Why does it matter to anybody? Why anything? I remember my therapist [saying], “I think you’re having an existential crisis,” and I [said], “I don’t think it’s a crisis, I just think it’s an epiphany.” [laughs] So it was a really interesting and eye-opening thing to [realize], Oh, I really don’t care. I’m not offended if somebody calls me “she.” There isn’t one particular pronoun that makes my heart sparkle more than others, except for when I’m in drag. They all have the same sort of weight to me. None of them make me smile more than others.

"The term “queer,” to me, is all encompassing and limitless in a way."

In your own words, how would you explain that gender identity is different from sexual orientation? How might they be related?

I would say my identity is genderfluid and my orientation, while I identify as fluid in theory, in practice it is much different.  I think this is why I prefer the term queer over gay/lesbian/bi because again it lends itself to being fluid.  I like options and not being boxed into one particular thing.  The term “queer,” to me, is all encompassing and limitless in a way.  However I am primarily attracted to and act on those attractions with AFAB [assigned female at birth] humans and Trans folk.

How do you feel represented in media and society at large?

Not very represented at the moment, but more represented than, say, 15 years ago. There are characters on TV, and I think I feel more representation in queerness than I do in the genderfluid/non-binary aspect. I can’t remember the [person’s] name in Billions – I just found out they go by “they/them,” and they were on Orange is the New Black. They have a shaved head, they’re super androgynous-looking, I do believe they’re an AFAB human, they go by “they/them/theirs,” and I think their characters on the show goes by “they/them/theirs.” 

I’ve not watched it, so I cannot confirm that, but someone was telling me that. Even though The L Word did not represent who I am or my community, I think any visibility about the LGBTQ community in general that is even remotely positive or entertaining is a good thing.

Having people like Ellen on TV who basically lost [her] career because [she] came out 20 years ago, and then years later [she] became the most watched TV show in the country – I think it’s things that I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I never thought I would see a TV show that had nothing but queer  characters/people on it. Whether they identify as lesbian, or queer, or however they identify – never thought it would happen in my lifetime. Never thought that gay marriage would be a thing. Never thought that the legalization of marijuana would be a thing. Not in my lifetime. I thought it would be maybe towards the end of my life. Or I wouldn’t get to experience it or really be party to what was going on. Never thought I would see tons of LGBTQ folks on TV, in the media. But I think they’re more present now; I don’t think that they represent necessarily who I am. Take Ruby Rose for example. Not everybody has that aesthetic. Not all women that identify as queer look like Ruby Rose. But when there’s visibility like that, and mainstream can pick up on it, or there’s gender neutral runway models – there’s tons of models that walk the runway in both “men and women’s” clothing, and everything in-between. That’s pretty amazing, and those are things that I didn’t really think that I’d see either.

So while a lot of things are becoming more visible, I don’t necessarily feel like non-binary folks have hit that stride yet. And I don’t know if it’s just not consumable enough, or what it is. I feel like it’s trendy. I feel like until it can be commodified in a different way, it will not be as mainstream as some of the other things that we see thus far. I feel like it’s moving that way – especially gender identity and gender presentation specifically, is becoming more trendy and more mainstream than ever before. I feel more so especially for AFAB folks. [Billy Porter wearing a tuxedo dress to the Oscars this year], he looked amazing, and people were like, “Ho-ly shit.” A woman shows up in a suit and tie, it’s not that big of a deal anymore. But a man shows up in a ball gown? Shit goes crazy. Internet breaks down for a week. So I think that the trajectory is there, and maybe at some point in the near future that it will be not as big a deal and more readily accessible on mainstream media, and there will be lots more representation. I feel like gender neutral things are becoming more prevalent, because even in Pennsylvania you can get an “X” on your driver’s license.   From my understanding it is fairly simple, from what friends have expressed.

What improvements would you like to see happen inside your communities, and in society at large?

Acceptance over tolerance. Calling in instead of calling out. Courageous conversations.

Could you tell me about an experience or moment in your life that was very impactful for you?

When I was 25, I almost died. It was when I found out that I had a blood clotting disorder (hence why I can’t fly for long periods of time). But I nearly died, and it was such an epiphany of how short life is, that it kind of altered my perception of reality and what the possibilities were. So I stopped focusing on, “This is what I’m supposed to do,” and moved on to, “This is what I want to do.” There was a sense of urgency that I had not had about things. Before it was the typical, “When I get to a certain age I’ll go do this thing,” or “When I retire,” or when “fill in the blank” happens, I will do this thing. And the sense of urgency changed my perception [to], I might not make it to tomorrow. Let me do this thing now. Let me go travel, let me experience, let me do whatever it is that brings me joy, and figure it out. Just figure it out, because nothing is really guaranteed. There’s this diagnosis. Everybody knows what PTSD is, or they understand it a little bit, how it’s caused – there’s also the opposite of that called Post-Traumatic Growth. And they’re not mutually exclusive, you can have them together. But Post-Traumatic Growth is when something really powerful happens in your life, and influences you, [and] you excel from that thing. So I feel like I had a lot of medical PTSD, and a lot of Post-Traumatic Growth for sure, because it altered my life in such a way that I have tapped into wanderlust to an extreme a little bit, and sort of changed my life and my perception about how much time we have here in this space and time. In a lot of really amazing and positive ways.

Who in your life do you feel you can trust or depend on?

Besides myself? [laughs] I feel like at this moment in time, myself would be the number one answer. But I do have a few really good friends that consistently show up and are there when I need them, and sometimes when I don’t. They’re the type of friends that if I called and said, “I need you to be here,” they would find a way to be here. And vice versa. I will show up for them.

How has your identity played a role in your relationships, romantic or otherwise?

I think it doesn’t really have an impact on my friendships or my family. I think it had an impact on my romantic relationships. In particular if people really like masculine-of-center or butch-presenting people, I think that’s where it shows up more. Or they have a pre-conceived notion of what I am or who I am or what I’m about. And sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not. I wear ties with fancy knots because I like knot work, and I also like ropes, so some people that I’m romantically involved with have an expectation that there will be rope play. And that can be true. So it can show up in ways like that. Or it can not show up in certain ways. I think those are some of the only instances. I think it’s mostly romantic, like when someone wants a specific dynamic, like a butch-femme dynamic. You’re photographing one of my partners [later this week], and we both look very masculine/androgynous. And people get very confused. So it’s only shown up in a handful of my relationships, but when it does, it’s very extreme. It’s like someone that wants the butch-femme dynamic, or they want someone more masculine-of-center in general. But it’s never really an issue. I’ve only ever had it happen a few times, someone who wanted my particular identity in a romantic context.

Are you able to find adequate medical care?

Yes and no. Because of my blood clotting disorder I have regular doctor appointments that I have to go to every month. I have to get monitored. And I choose to see this one particular practitioner, because she consistently calls me by my name. Even though it’s in my file, most people will call me by my birth name because it has to be the legal name in the medical records. But in there there’s “nickname” or “preferred name” or whatever, and most people just don’t even bother. And my last name is so difficult that people just say the first name typically. So I feel like when I find a practitioner that really understands and wants to be respectful, I will go out of my way to see them repeatedly. I went to a chiropractor the other day that was referred to me, and on the form it said, “Legal name,” “Preferred name,” “Gender identity,” and something else. At the chiropractor’s office. And this was some cis-het [cisgender/heterosexual] man. I forget what his receptionist’s name is, but [it’s this] gay boy, and I’m fairly certain this gay boy just changed this guy’s life. “You need to put these on there.” One of my partners gave me the doctor’s name, and they got it from someone else in the queer community, so I’m pretty sure that this guy gets an influx of queers just because he changed a couple things on his intake form, and that he’s really chill and has this gay receptionist. And he was really great, he was a really great chiropractor, I really dug him, and I will refer him to anyone.

The very first doctor that I ever saw here, I remember that I walked into her office, and she looked at me and [asked], “What pronouns do you use?” A lot of people see me and they assume that either I’m a man or I’m in transition of some sort. She [asked if I took hormones.] I was like, “No, but thank you for noticing!” Most doctors [just won’t say something until you say something]. When I do find doctors like that, I stick with them. I’ve had some really great experiences and I’ve had some really poor experiences, and fortunately I’ve had more great experiences than I have had not. And I know that’s not the case with a lot of people. I’ve been navigating the medical complex for more than 20 years at this point. I feel like my privilege comes in and the fact that I now know how to work the system, and I know how to find the doctors that I want to find, and I know how to advocate [for myself] – because a lot of doctors’ offices now work in pods of people, so you don’t necessarily always get the same doctor – I’ll say I only want to go to doctor So-And-So unless it’s an emergency or something inconsequential. But I think because of my unique circumstances and having to deal with medical professionals for so long at this point that I have a little bit of a leg up in the game of figuring it out and advocating for who I want. And I don’t feel uncomfortable asking for what I want or need, either. Because I am paying you to give me a service, and I want to have the best service that I can have.

How has your view of yourself changed since you were younger?

[laughs] So many things. I had a really bad perception of what it meant to be from West Virginia when I was younger. Because a lot of people use West Virginia as a joke in a lot of aspects. And I think the thing that I have learned about myself, or have a different perception about myself now, is that not everybody that’s portrayed in the media is like that in the whole entire state. Because whoever’s willing to be on TV, or whoever’s going to be the most entertaining, or who’s going to sell the news that night, is not representative of who I am. I don’t think that I’m represented in media as a person from West Virginia, and I don’t feel like I’m represented in the media as someone who’s fluid/non-binary. I have changed that perception. I get why they do these weird things now for TV or media or whatever. But I remember when I was younger, I was probably in my late 20s, and somebody asked me where I was from and I said West Virginia, and they [said], “But you have all your teeth!” “I do. I do have all my teeth. Thank you very much.” [laughs] But those are the kind of comments that I would get when I would tell people that I was from West Virginia. I [thought], This is really weird. Is that how all of the United States or all of whoever feels about West Virginians? It’s a really interesting perception that people have about people who are from West Virginia, and I think when I was younger, I may have had that perception too. Because that’s what I’d seen and learned. So growing up and [realizing], Oh yeah, I do have all my teeth, I don’t have a meth problem, I am educated. Stereotypes are not an accurate representation of a group of people, I think that’s the biggest thing that I learned from when I was a youth to now about myself.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t go to grad school. Don’t incur the debt. Honestly. I don’t regret going to grad school – I have two Masters, I got them concurrently in three years, one’s Landscape Architecture and one’s Urban Planning – but knowing what I know now, what I would tell my younger self is: I probably actually would’ve gone into real estate much sooner. And I would not have spent the money that I spent on university. I made more money with an Associate’s Degree than I made from either of my Masters.

What are your concerns for the future?

Oh man. My immediate concern is how long this future is going to be. Whether that be an environmental impact, or my medical condition impact, or where I’m going to be, what I’m going to be doing. So many things. Because I had a very different trajectory 6 months ago than I have now. A lot of things have changed, and not by my choice. So life and the future seems very uncertain to me at the moment. I just don’t know where I will be, where I want to be, where I’m going sort of thing. So I’m trying to just focus on the present and not worry about the future so much, because it’s a little too overwhelming at the moment.

What do you look forward to in the future?

Sailing more. This year I would like to go sailing in the Caribbean or the British Virgin Islands. I’d like to sail in warm waters, which I’ve never done. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been warm water sailing. I’ve sailed off the East Coast, the waters are cold, it’s usually been in the Fall. I sailed out of Boston Harbor one time to go to some of the islands out there in September or October. I’ve been to Canada, the water’s freezing. Lake Michigan has been the warmest water, but it’s not tropical water. West Coast, cold water. The boat inside is not cold, but above deck it’s very cold, especially if you’re cruising pretty good. There are some days that the temperature’s warmer, the wind is warmer, but the water’s cold. Which makes it feel colder when you’re going across it. But you know, I’d love to be somewhere where I could go sailing in shorts and a tank top, which has not happened, really, other than on Lake Michigan. And while Lake Michigan is giant – you can be out in the middle of Lake Michigan and not see any land – it’s not the same as sailing in crystal blue waters where you can see the sharks before they eat you.

Do you have a philosophy of life? What’s your best piece of advice?

I think the philosophy that I live by is – this sort of goes back to what we were talking about, about the Post-Traumatic Growth – you will never be in this time and space again, and you should experience all the things that you can while you can do them. And never really deny yourself that if you have the ability to do so. I know that it’s also a privilege to be able to do that, and I also hustle my ass off to be able to do that. On my Airbnb profile it says something like, “I live to experience but I work to travel.” Because traveling and exploring are where my priorities lie. So find out what your priority is, and do that. Whether it’s your family, whether it’s traveling, whether it’s “fill in the blank” – and focus on that, because those are the things that will bring you joy. [Don’t] worry about all the things that won’t bring you joy or that you can’t really have control over, which is sometimes hard for me. That’s something I struggle with, because I’m a planner and I like when plans go well, and I feel like if you plan well enough they will go well. But there are external factors, especially in relationships, that you don’t have control over. I didn’t necessarily think that my recent relationship would end, let alone the way that it did, and so I don’t have control over that, because they ultimately didn’t want to be with me. So I try not to focus on the things that I can’t change, and focus on the things that I have influence on. And one of those is traveling and getting to experience things. Whether those things are a new place, a different food, good whiskey, whatever that is, I just make it happen. Because I want to have very few regrets about all the things that I didn’t do when I die.

Are there any other questions you would have liked me to ask, or anything else you would like to talk about?

It’s interesting. I’m 46. So I talk about how I’ve seen things evolve and change throughout the years. We touched on this briefly, the media. It’s an interesting evolution to see the incremental changes, and then some of the bigger changes that come into play. And nothing really happens instantaneously or overnight, but it’s been really nice to see some of those things come to fruition in my lifetime that have been fought for, for so long. As long as there are people in power there will always be inequality. So there will always be something to fight for. Something or someone or a group of people; there will be some sort of fight that needs to be had. We are nowhere near where we need to be, but it has been a really cool thing to see over the decades, some of the things come to fruition and actually change and get implemented into everyday life.

Not every high school and not every kid is having this experience [of progressive growth], and I feel like if I had the resources that kids have these days, whether it be the Internet, whether it be a local organization, whether it be PFLAG or some other organization, that let me know there were other queer people in the world – I think my life would be dramatically different. The accessibility that some kids have these days is phenomenal, and it is just eye-opening. I don’t even think my high school has a GSA, still to this day. But you know, my niece’s does, and that’s pretty radical to me. I went to the Trans Wellness Conference [here in Philadelphia] last year, and had met up with this friend/acquaintance, and they had a bunch of youth here from the middle of Pennsylvania that they were chaperoning to this event, and they were telling us about all the resources that these kids have. And it’s still not enough, but I was like, “You’re where? You’re in like, Amish Country? You have enough kids to bring to the Trans Wellness Conference?” That’s insane to me. Enough kids that their parents let them come to this conference. They had to sign some sort of waiver, this is some sort of chaperone situation. What would my life be like? What would people’s lives that I know that were in the closet for many many years, what would their lives be like? The kids these days, what are they going to be like when they’re 46? You know what I mean? It just blows my mind.