Wait, what? There is Another Option for Gender???

Growing up there were only two options for gender. I had the parts for a boy, so I was sorted into that category. My identity did not match my birth gender so obviously I didn’t in. Actually I stuck out as sore thumb.I would always tell people that inside I felt like a woman. Looking back I always thought it was because I was a gay boy. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that I never really fit into the gay community either.

I tried hard to fit in and it always made me feel horrible. I was constantly judged for my size. To most gay men a fat person is a leper. When I found the bear community I thought at least I found the place to fit in and I couldn’t be more wrong. Toxic masculinity is rampant in the bear world where everything is hypersexualized. Where the bears are real men. No fats or fems allowed. I suppress my femininity for a long while, especially around those in the bear community. I hid behind this masculine facade. It was all an illusion. I fit the type. I was a big, hairy and bearded. My outside didn’t match my insides. I felt less because I was comparing myself to others. I didn’t have another example to go by.

The toxic masculinity ran so deep that I was oblivious to it for a very long time. I first started to chip away at that during 2010 when I performed in drag. When I looked in the mirror for the first time I was amazed. I felt like I was looking at myself for the first. It was the first time I felt beautiful. I was totally fabulous, all dolled up. My outside finally matched who I was inside. These feelings quickly subsided as my life didn’t warrant embracing that side of me. I didn’t have a word for it, nor did I know what I meant. I was in an abusive relationship at the time and that took priority having to deal with the aftermath of moving out of state away from him. I did what I have done in the past and went back into hiding. It became just another memory of my past.

After a while I gave up trying to be that person everyone wanted me to be. I couldn’t do it anymore. I had pretended to be someone else for too long and I was fed up. So I embraced my fabulousness and my femininity. Without thinking what it meant I started to identify as queer a few years ago. Even with that I didn’t realize it went deeper than the label of describing my sexual orientation, that it was related to my gender. Like I said for the longest time I didn’t have anyone to compare myself too that was like me.

That was until the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I started to notice the queens who embraced that side of them. They didn’t try to wrap themselves up in that mold. They just lived freely and were no holds barred fabulous! Queens like Jinkx Monsoon who didn’t try to be anyone but themselves. Jinkx after her time on RPDR would come out to be non-binary. Even then I didn’t connect it to my gender. I didn’t realize I was looking at myself.

It wasn’t until recently when I started to work on my comic book Dragzilla that I started to open up. Slowly the layers started to peel away. I had always had some sort of facial hair. I haven’t been clean shaven since my early twenties. I didn’t realize that I was hiding behind my beard. It was until last year that I realized that I didn’t even like my beard. I started to embrace Dragzilla and the lines between fiction and real life started to blur. Dragzilla is the story of fierce drag queen superhero who stands up against hate crimes while her alter ego is shy and insecure. I realized that I was telling my story. Dragzilla is who I am. Who I am becoming.

It took me a while to see the writing on the wall or in this case the pages of the comic. I remember going into therapy with a word that I was struggling with. I was scared to say Transgender. Was I transgender? That was the only other option that I saw. If my body didn’t match my insides then it was natural to question it. I had very little to go by and what I did see was Transgender people. I was really confused for a while and I still am a bit. It took a few months then it dawned on me that there was a fourth option. It was then I realized that my queerness related to my gender, that I was genderqueer/non-binary. It was a huge revelation. No wonder I hated myself for most of my life. I have never felt like I could be myself. I had always felt like I was a freak who never fit in anywhere.

I remember Courtney Act (a fierce, fish of a queen) talk about gender being a spectrum and I really related to that. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how true that was. I’ve started growing out my hair, which is also new for me. A few weeks ago I had went to the grocery store and put my hair up. I don’t think I have ever felt that free. It was an amazing feeling. I wish that it lasted. While I have this new discovery I have forty years of falsehoods to shake free. I wish it were just as easy as transforming myself like a butterfly from a cocoon but unfortunately live doesn’t work that way. The transformation is much more gradual.

Today in therapy I talked about how I felt the old me was holding me back. I had recently decided to change my name to Drew. At first it felt great when I changed my name on Facebook but very quickly I started to feel less because I started to think about what others would think. That’s the problem. I care too much what others think of me. I hate it. That’s something I really wish I could let go of. I have come a long ways but I still have ways to go. I use to let it stop me from doing what I wanted. Now I say fuck it and do it anyways but deep down inside I’m afraid of being judged. It’s not just my gender that I do this. I live in fear. I’m disabled and on food stamps. I hate when I have to use my card. I try to hide it the best I can because it’s always my fear that someone will confront me as I look like an abled-bodied person. This is just one example.

I’ve had a bit of buyers remorse which isn’t nothing new. I have done that most of my life. The closer I was to who I was inside the more I tried to fight it. I have mastered self destruction. The difference now is that I’m in therapy and have a therapist I love. I’m able to process it deeply and look at it in a different way. I feel a bit of tug and war. My old self is trying hard to pull the new me under. The stronger I get the harder it becomes. I have days I feel like I can embrace Drew and then there are days Derek takes hold of me. I haved lived 41 years falsely as a man and that caused a lot of damage. It’s created a lot of baggage that I must dust off, pick up and throw away. One piece of luggage at a time. The days will pass when I have more days where I embrace non-binary than not. The key is to not beat myself up, which I do a lot. To be easy with myself. To expect that there will be days where the process is messy and difficult. I wish it were just as easy as putting on a wig and makeup. While that’s a start I have to work from the inside out if this will ever stick.

It starts slowly like a ripple in the water. I want to buy a safety razor so I can start shaving regularly. That will be a big step as having a beard isn’t me. I’m starting of think of new ways of embracing all parts of me. I’m learning to be comfortable with who I really am and part of that is expressing myself on the exterior. I’m excited about growing my hair out to the point of frustration because it’s taking to long to grow out. Hopefully the exterior and interior will be welded together. As I get more comfortable inside it’s easier for me to embrace it to the world. I had the thought today as I was leaving the grocery store about what would happen if I wore a dress. I went right to fear of someone saying something nasty to me. I just need to let that go. If someone has the nerve to come up to me with judgments expect to be knocked to the ground. I just need to embrace the strength of Dragzilla. Just live my life as I want and not care what anyone else thinks. So what if someone judges me, they will do it regardless. As RuPaul says, it’s not my business. I don’t have time for them. I’m too busy being fabulous.

I just need to enjoy the ride. I hope that everything fades away and I can start loving myself. I’m inpatient. I want to attach my cocoon to a stick and whip it all around. The butterfly will never emerge that way. The metamorphosis is gradual and natural. All in due time. The transformation is a journey and a process. Eventually I will fully shed my male skin and it will just be another memory in the past.

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Stop Derek from Being Homeless

https://www.gofundme.com/dereksnewhome

A few weeks ago I received an eviction from the people I rent a room from to be out of here by the end of the month. It was unexpected and unfounded. I’ve been a great tenant, paying my rent on time. I’ve come to find out that they want someone else to move in. Now they’re trying to push up my move out date by a week, which has left me scrambling for a new place to live. As it stands now the only option I have is to go live in a homeless shelter. I’m trying to raise enough money to help pay my rent (for my own place) until my SSI court date in Feb next year.
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I’m disabled and unable to work. I’m waiting for a court date for SSI disability, which will be Feb 2017. I’m hoping to raise enough money to get me through until that date. I’ve suffered from major depression disorder and PTSD most of my life. There hasn’t been a time in my adult life that I haven’t suffered from depression and PTSD. When I have a PTSD episode friends/family become strangers and strangers become enemies. It’s like being in a war zone. My current living situation has pushed me to my limit, as the last few months have been extremely stressful living here.

Stability is something I’ve never had and something I’m so desperate for. Being able to get my own place would bring that into my life. Lately I’ve made an effort to better my life. I’ve consistently been in therapy and on medicine since 2013, as well as seeing a psychiatrist. I’ve recently moved all my services to this county and having to move out of this town would put my health at risk.

I have a new therapist who I love. She’s working on a new treatment for those with PTSD called EMDR. It’s helps the patient to reprogram traumatic events into more healthy ways. I’ve finally taken my life back after four years of complete hell. In 2012, my Mom died from cancer causing me to spiral into a deep, dark depression. It’s taken me four years but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’ve come to terms with my disablity and now realize that I need to treat it like diabetes.

I’ve tried to do this on my own and that doesn’t work. So I’m asking for help. I’m so very scared to be homeless. I’ve made a lot of progress the last few months and I want to keep moving forward. I’ve also started to embrace my art again by working on a new comic book. My passion for art has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Having my own place would give me a safe space to create new works of art.

I’ve suffered for too long and finally realize that I deserve better. I’m taking my life back and I’m determined to get my own place. No matter what is thrown at me I don’t let it keep me down. Every time a hurdle is placed in front of me I clear it. I will keep climbing this mountain until I get a home of my own. While the last two months have been some of the worst times in my life it has helped me find an inner strength that I didn’t know was there. All this time I thought I was broken but I always rebound. Then it dawned on me through all the bad things in my life I’m still here. I’m strong as steel.

Thanks for taking the time to hear my story. Please consider sharing this campaign with everyone you know.

Here are some of my recent sketches of my comic book. Also follow my facebook page for DragZilla! DragZilla is the story of a gay man brutally attacked because he’s gay. He cries out for help and in his hour of need a glimmer of light appears. A goddess like entity, who goes by the name Glimmer, transforms him into a drag queen superhero. He starts off his journey to find justice for his attack but in the process becomes a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community. I’m really excited to have started work on this new project of mine. Having my own place would help me bring to life DragZilla!

LATRICE ROYALE will be at the PINK Party at Axis! #RealEqualityWearsPink

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Amazing news people!!! Latrice Royale from RuPaul’s Drag Race will be performing at the PINK Party at Axis Fri June 14th at 9pm!!! She is donating her time in support of Columbus!!! Latrice is a class act and fitting of the title of QUEEN!!!

So now you all have to be there!!! I would if I still lived in Columbus!!!

Click here for more information about the PINK Party!!!

Pink Party w/ LATRICE ROYALE FRI June 14 at 9pm A Benefit For BRAVO at AXIS in Columbus

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Amazing news people!!! Latrice Royale from RuPaul’s Drag Race will be performing at the PINK Party at Axis Fri June 14th at 9pm!!! She is donating her time in support of Columbus!!! Latrice is a class act and fitting of the title of QUEEN!!!

This Friday everyone should be wearing pink, painting their facebooks pink and attending a special benefit Friday night at Axis Nightclub (775 North High Street, Columbus, OH) in Columbus, Ohio that proceeds will go to BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization).

Donations at the door ($5 is suggested)!

This event will be hosted by the wonderful Nina West and features some of Columbus’ best entertainers including Viva Valezz, Paige Passion, Freesia Balls, Maria Garrison, Selena T. West, Kiley Dash West, Cassandra Terrace, Vivian Von Brokenhymen, Drew Terrace, Cookie Crumbles and many more! Doors open at 8pm, with the show starting at 9pm. Take your PINK to the streets and take a stand, and make a difference!

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BRAVO, as many of you know, does a great service for our community as they provide a link to survivor advocacy and assistance regarding hate crimes, discrimination, domestic violence,and sexual assault. BRAVO is a founding member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). Each year, they document incidences of hate crimes and domestic violence along with similar agencies across the United States.

To make a donation online directly to BRAVO you can do so here via the Network For Change.

If you live in the Ohio area and have been a victim of a hate crime contact Bravo, 866-862-7286. BRAVO also has a helpline available for resources at the number above. Their helpline is staffed weekdays from 10AM to 4PM, and Sunday through Thursday from 6PM to 10PM. BRAVO also has self-defense classes available at various times. If you are interested in taking a class or having a safety workshop for your local group (whether its a euchre group, softball league or any other group) contact BRAVO. Services provided at BRAVO are free of charge.

Rajesh Lahoti from Union Cafe also posted some amazing news! Dr James Ford DDS (51 North High Street, Suite 100, Columbus, Ohio 43215) is going to match another $1000 in donations on Friday at the PINK EVENT for BRAVO, so if we can raise $2000, then BRAVO gets $4000. A big thanks to James, this is very generous, and continues to show that our community is strong, resilient and will unite against anyone or anything that tries to attack or take advantage of us.

“Many businesses are also donating merchandise, funds and sending out blasts for the fundraiser. Our allies are with us. We will get a list of those groups and individuals and post them. We must make a point to support the businesses that are here for us at times like these.”

Get your pink on Friday. FCKH8 is making the official Pink shirt with 100% of the profits going back to BRAVO. They will have a stand with sizes from S to XXL available on the sidewalk in front of Union (782 North High StreetColumbusOH) all day this Friday.

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As well as Skreened, a Columbus business, that creates custom apparel has stepped forward and offered the donation of 500 t-shirts to help those who don’t own a pink shirt. The founder of Skreened, Daniel Fox has graciously offered up the service of his company to provide shirts for Friday to help those take a stand against gay violence.

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Skreened will be giving away pink shirts at Outlook Columbus Magazine at 11:30 am this Friday June 14 at 815 N High St, Ste Q, Columbus, Oh 43215. The shirts will be first come, first served. Donations accepted will go to BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization).

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Continue to watch my blog on any further updates about this event and others.

Thanks. Derek. Huggs 🙂

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Bullying… It won’t stop until adults stop doing it!

So I have a love/hate relationship with RuPaul’s Drag Race…  I love all things Drag but after watching the first episode of  the All Star edition it reminded me of all the things about the show I dislike… I know it is TV but I find myself asking myself, REALLY???

If I personally hadn’t dabbled in drag for about six months I wouldn’t have the insight that I do about many things. In that short time I learned A LOT about the Drag community. Honestly the show is very much real life. You have the heathers (the ones who think they are better than everyone else)… You have the clowns (the comedy/camp queens), the ones that everyone makes fun… You have the beauty queens (the pageant queens). The misfits (Sharon Needles, Tammie Brown, etc). I mean it all just like High School, even with teachers who also do their own bullying… SANTINO!!!

This week episode confirms quite a few things about the show and the queens in it…  It reminded me how as adults we bully each other just as much as kids bully other kids, if not more… Where do you think they learn it from? Their family, friends, media, etc… I know that drag has a level of reading, but there is a line.

I think many of the queens miss out on the real prize and it isn’t the $100,000 grand prize or the fame. It is the experience they have and what they learn from it. RuPaul is notorious for saying “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” This goes both ways and it isn’t just for romantic love. An ego can be confused for love as well.

During the Untucked episode (which is all the behind the scene footage)  most of the drags (over 10) bullied one of the drag queens, some very viciously. I know it is tv, and it makes for good television but what message are you sending the world? For me, it takes away not only the illusion but the art of drag itself.

What I see is a bunch of broken individuals who feel the only way they can get the spotlight is by extinguishing someone else’s light. I found this own during my own time as Puddin Pie. Some drag queens were so desperate to get into the spotlight they didn’t care whoever they walked all over. All they wanted was the fame and attention.

Another problem I have had with RPDR in general is this idea of what real drag is. Anyone who has watched the show can see it is obvious what they feel is acceptable and normal. I am honestly shocked ( well maybe not really) that Sharon Needles won… but again she wasn’t a comedy/camp queen either. That is the genre of drag that I feel they really stick their noses down at. Just look at any critiques, especially from Santino… I am sorry but the whole stick with a comedy queen is not high fashion, that is not who they are… Again Santino was knocking Pandora Boxx down for her clothing. People go to see these queens not for what they where, they go for their personalities and what they present on stage. Honestly I think people are intimidated by comedy queens because it takes a lot of nerve and talent to do what they do. They don’t just rely on pretty, and honestly with makeup… ANYBODY CAN BE PRETTY!!!

Not everyone can be funny.

Even how they gave Pandora and Mimi their group name “Mandora” set them up…

The other thing I have found interesting about RPDR is that they judge a lot of the show on superficial things. The only time you see them perform is when they lip sync for their lives. Rarely do you get to see them perform live. Isn’t stage presence an important part of being a drag queen? But this isn’t really what my blog post is about…

Sure RuPaul is probably one of the most famous drag queens but she is about the only one of her genre of drag who was famous, other than comedy queens prior to RPDR. What do Varla, Lady Bunny, Jackie Beat, Lily Savage, Coco, Dame Edna, and Divine all have in common? Comedy… They became famous for their acts not for being on some reality competition.

Watching that show last night made me angry, I am still fuming!!!

Even during Mimi’s lip sync versus Chad Michaels, Chad didn’t even compare. Mimi out performed Chad hands down, she even changed outfits during the number. She gave personality that I didn’t see with Chad. Yet her and Pandora was the one sent home. I mean did I miss something? I believe it boils down to styles of drag, and it is obvious they don’t like Pandora or Mimi’s style. The biggest question why have them on there??? Like RuPaul says she has the ultimate say… I have to wonder how big of an ego RuPaul has… That is another topic for another day…

Even the queens I had come to love like Latrice, JuJu, Pandora, etc I was disgusted with. Sure some weren’t as vocal in the bullying but they certainly didn’t stand up. All they appeared to me to be were a bunch of children preying on the weakest link. Not to mention Pandora’s attitude being paired with Mimi…

I left the show not caring to ever watch it again. I have also unliked all these so called queens facebook pages.

I find it ironic that what they were berating Mimi for, was the exact same thing they were doing. I also love this whole we are sisters crap, yeah maybe wicked step sisters like Cinderella had. You can’t pick and chose the parts of family you believe in. Let’s be clear most of them see it as a competition and will do WHATEVER it takes to win. Even if it means making someone cry.

Which reminds me of the season of the HEATHERS. Which embodies this whole nose turning down thing. How low do you have to feel to be like this? Anyone who is in drag knows of the term booger queen. What makes anyone the ultimate queen of what is and isn’t acceptable drag??? Plus everyone starts somewhere. If you look at a lot of these polished queens they weren’t always like that. Rather than constantly beat others down, why don’t we try to build them up???

I guess watching RPDR really turns me off towards drag, and that is a shame. I know I am not alone. I almost think there RuPaul is her own genre… She/he doesn’t speak for everyone, nor is he the end all of Drag… I just think with all the bullying going on and the teenagers killing themselves over it we have a responsibility as the gay peers of the community. Whether they want it or not, they are in the limelight and they could do so much good for the world, yet they choose not to. They are totally missing the mark…

Even drag queens like Latrice Royale who spent time in prison didn’t treat Mimi with the same kind of compassion. I wonder how that is? If anyone should know what it is like to overcome a bad choice it should be him!!! People make mistakes, it is apart of life. Sure Mimi picking up her competitor during their lip sync for their life was wrong but she got kicked off for it. A lot of the queens were like Mimi shouldn’t be here… yada, yada, yada…. What is it to them? They are their and if they believe that she isn’t on their level, it just means one less spot to the 100k! The only reason they point it out, is for face. Just to cause drama.

Then I think of the concept of the All Stars being paired with another queen for the rest of the show, and both being kicked off. If they were in pursuit of the best All Star they would never do this. For one, each queen has their different style and two if one queen doesn’t perform to par the other goes down with the ship. Lets be real, you knew that none of those queens would have picked Mimi or Pandora… Okay!!!! So they might as well set them up… If RuPaul was all about lifting people up, why would he set them up to fail??? There are flaws there… cracks in her makeup if you might say…

Even queens like JuJu who wasn’t the most fashion forward or popular to the judges the first time around, now all of a sudden was best friends with Raven? Raven isn’t known for her niceness. It reminds me of in high school when those who team up with the bullies in order to not get bullied themselves.

With all the bullying and teen suicides happening don’t we as a community have a responsibility to them? Kids learn what they see and not just from their family. RuPaul and her show has put a famous face to the gay community. I guess this whole philosophy that Ru has doesn’t fit into line with the concept of the show because a lot of what goes on has nothing to do with love. It is about tearing down someone else.

I am angry, FUCKING angry. I think partially because it reminds me of my own experience and how others in the past have made me feel for being different. So now when I see injustices I just want to SCREAM!!! I want to say wake the fuck up people.

I think what if a gay youth happens to see the show? What will they think??? I don’t think they will feel good about their own personal experiences.

If they really want to be true superstars not only do they have to have talent and charisma but they have to have heart. Honestly I don’t see much of that on RPDR. Just a bunch of mimi-rupaul wannabes… and those feeling left out because they don’t fit into that mold…

That is when you step out of that mold and realize that you will never fit into their realities because not only is it built for them but often times it is skewed.

And during that whole incident with Mimi, not one person stood up and said enough is enough… Not one person!!! Which reminds me of what happens when a kid is bullied, that happens all the time. All it takes is one person to step up, just one… Kids have an excuse, they are young and impressionable. Adults on the other hand, DO NOT!!!

I will not be watching another episode of All Stars and I am considering not watching the new season of the regular edition. It has become to difficult to stomach. So I will take a stand and say enough is enough. The only shade I find comforting is under a big old tree during a hot sunny day.

A star is a light that is meant to shine brightly. It is meant to bring light to the world, not burn those they encounter…