By SAMUEL BUELOW
I first heard the term “transgender” in 2001, when I was a senior at LAHS. Although the school had started a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) the year before, it wasn’t until the spring semester of 2001 that they announced their meetings over the school loudspeaker, inviting the whole student body. A few friends and I decided to check it out, and it was there that I first heard the word. I had no idea what it meant, and was too afraid to ask, but something deep inside said that maybe, just maybe, this was me.
When I got to college, and finally had access to both the internet and an extensive library, I did what nerdy old me was most inclined to do, I read everything I could get my hands on. Although I saw “transgender” defined a million ways, I eventually found definitions that worked for me. At the time, the transgender movement was still deeply heterosexist – barely acknowledging that gay and lesbian transgender people existed, and I had a hard time carving out space for myself as a gay transgender man (I was assigned female at birth, transitioned from living as a girl to as a man, and am predominately attracted to men). For me, it took moving halfway around the world to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to meet a cohort of other gay and bi transgender men.
I’ve been to a lot of Pride festivals since I came out in 2002, the first being Santa Fe’s, followed by big cities like Albuquerque; San Diego; Indianapolis; Louisville; and most recently San Francisco; as well as Spencer, Indiana’s “Rural Pride Fest;” and an LGBT summer camp on the shores of a mountain lake in Central Asia. Each experience has had something different to offer me – it was exciting to see the shear multitude of LGBTQ+ supportive people in San Francisco (we stopped watching the parade after 4 hours), and the Central Asian summer camp was a multinational community-building exercise, many of whose participants had no avenue to express their sexual orientation or gender identity in their daily lives.
When I heard that Pride was finally coming to Los Alamos, I knew I had to take part. I remembered vividly the days when announcing the mere presence of a GSA was risky, when LANL sponsored pride banners were vandalized, when homophobia and transphobia permeated the air in a way that made me want to get as far from Los Alamos as possible. Today, I am proud to be home and proud of my hometown for its support. Happy Pride Everyone!