Monday, October 24, 2011

Pleasantly Surprised

As you all know I host my own show on called Confessions. Last night I invited a friend of mine on who recently went through a gender transition and is now an F to M. Translated, when he was born a biological woman but always identified as a man. I asked Shai to do the show to add a little depth to things. Thus far the show has been a lot of tawdry sex stories and I wanted to mix it up by giving someone who truly had something to say a true platform. And that person would be Shai.
To give you a little background on my friendship with Shai I knew him when he was living as a woman. I remember him being unhappy as he struggled finding himself. I remember him also suffering with bouts of severe depression. During that point in our friendship I would worry about him. I knew him to be a butch lesbian at the time though and thought perhaps he, well rather she at this point, was going through a rough spot. It was however when he came out as trans and asked to be referred to as male pronouns that it all clicked. The word trans has only entered our vocabulary in the last decade or so and even still we are struggling to understand it. I do believe nature makes mistakes and unfortunately sometimes people can be born in the wrong body.
Over the past year I had seen Shai transform into a strapping young man. As I witnessed this I thought perhaps I should make my show a platform for some activism. That’s when I asked him to be on.
Truth be told after I asked I felt a flinch in my stomach. Being the Mama Foxxx of Confessions I know we get people from all over in the chat on YouNow. While Adi Sideman and company are good about manning it, it just takes one moron to make someone feel unwelcome forever. I was ready to play Ninja though. The way my chat works is that there is no racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, or weightism of any kind. If I see that the person is reported and they are banned. But with the advent of a trans-person what would the reaction be? Would there be an onslaught of this? I was prepared.
When Shai came on his mic wasn’t working. It looked like they were going to vote him off. Oh no, this was already going to be a disaster. However once the mic began working Shai started talking. That’s when the people in the chat pleasantly surprised me. They asked intelligent questions about Shai’s transition as well as his taking of testosterone as well as the surgery required to reassign one’s gender. In addition they also wanted to know more about Shai’s life and skills. Very confidently, in a deep male voice, he informed them that he could beat box and rap. He rapped a little for us, told us about his welding and his parakeet sat on his shoulder the entire time. The audience responded in turn with love and support not only for his bravery to tell his story but for his courage to be himself. I was pleasantly surprised at this. Not only was I proud of my friend Shai for finding happiness and taking perhaps one of the biggest risks one can take to do it, but also for my friends and fans on the younow chat for being supportive, inquisitive, respectful and tolerant. I would have to say I was so pleasantly surprised I almost cried. And even better the audience not only did not want Shai to go but they want him back every week!
My only regret was having to bump him out after a while. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to hear more about his new life or transition which were very fascinating but unfortunately there were five more people waiting to go live, I had started late, and as host it is unfortunately my job to keep things moving. And unfortunately that means being the bad guy. But if any one of my broadcasters took a risk last night it was Shai, and he taught us all a little something about what it truly takes to be brave.
This morning I kept thinking why I was drawn so much to activism and giving people like Shai a platform to do it. The answer was, not only was I bullied as a child but also went through the nightmare of an abusive relationship as an adult. And the reason I am so sympathetic to LGBTQ causes is that the friends who got me through that time in my life were mostly gay. They cooked for me, did my hair, and gave me the smack in the head I needed. Because of those experiences not only don’t I like to see people bullied in any way but will give anyone a platform for any sort of activism, especially LGBTQ people.
I also thought about what a wonderful new network YouNow is. Adi Sideman and Robert Galinsky have gone out of their way to make it safe and welcoming for anyone of any walk of life, ethnic background, sexual orientation or faith. In essence perhaps we have created an internet utopia.
As for Shai, I am pleased to call you my friend and best of luck on your journey to becoming the man you always dreamed of being. You now have a new set of friends and family members at who want you to come back every week. Xo April

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