The strange intertwining of nostalgia, prophesy and my true happiness.
In the late 1970’s, I was a paradoxic teen; naive, precocious and socially inept.
I knew who I was inside, but kept it to myself.
After seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show 3-4 times in 1978, I attended its convention at the Calderone Theater in NY with my occasional friends, Paul D and Kurt F.
Watching the crowd Time Warp and emulating Riff Raff, I remember wanting to be Columbia.
But, the time was wrong and I continued my pseudo-masculine camouflage.
I was 14, knew nothing about sexuality but lived in SoHo and snuck out to clubs and venues in NYC, including the various regional interations of the village.
Most of the clubs became either legend or commercial success; Studio 54, Mudd, CBGB, Pyramid, Ruelles, Kenny’s, etc.
I saw historic bands get started, Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, Buzzcocks, Plasmatics, Dire Straits, Police, Psych Furs, Menthol Wars, Talking Heads.
The world around me was exploding with excitement, but I kept my secret to myself.
I exposed myself to the incredible, but I was still confused and inexperienced in the blurring lines of gender and sexuality.
I went to the opening night of Platos Retreat, leaving in terror. I still have the T shirt.
My naïveté probably saved me.
I rarely practiced sex of any kind, let alone unsafe and ultimately lethal.
I didn’t use cocaine or heroin.
In fact, I don’t drink, not in 30 years, (though alcohol saved me from gender confused insanity in college).
The art world called to me.
I went to exhibitions by Moira Dryer, David Salle, Eric Fischl and Robert Mapplethorpe.
Mapplethorpe’s sexually infused photos opened my mind to the underground homoerotic scene.
I never jumped in because I was never interested.
I had a revelation, I was not gay; my true self is female, transgender, confirming what I knew since I was 4 and discovered had options after reading the Wendy Carlos interview in my dad’s Playboy magazine.
I was scared but also relieved.
I finally knew myself with certainty.
But, still my secret was mine.
Later, I met and became friends with Mark Kostabi, Ronnie Cutrone and Ron English, among many others.
I became Kostabi’s double, attending events and giving interviews as him.
I modeled for Ron’s first book.
Over objections from Mark, I attended medical school.
Chicago was away from everyone and I began exploring transition.
But, anxiety kicked in and I foolishly pursued body building as my camouflage.
My body changed - the wrong way.
I became completely opposite from who I am and how I wanted to live.
My inner conflict continued, I wasn’t ready to come out and kept it quiet.
My friends and girlfriends were uninformed and unaware.
I trained and practiced medicine and surgery, even assisting in performing the SRS procedures.
I was living under dark clouds.
False smiles and laughter hiding the fact that true happiness meant substantial change that I didn’t have the courage to pursue.
I made my way to Miami.
Became friends with two transgender women.
Never let on.
Attended law school and added a new degree to my professional repertoire.
I practiced law, too.
Still living in a cloudy world, it became harder to fake a smile or force laughter.
In early 2013, I woke up and made a decision.
No more hiding. No more secrets. No more pretending. No more lies to myself or anyone else.
I looked up a gender specialist and began therapy.
My plan was to transition and be 50 and fabulous.
Only my therapist knew.
In the summer of 2013, my baby, Vixen, needed expensive emergency surgery and rehab.
My transition was tabled.
Nearly a year later, October of 2014, on the eve of my birthday, two years ago today, I sought out the sun through the clouds.
Therapy resumed, HRT began.
On Halloween 2014, Shawna became real.
Over the next year, she made appearances on nights and weekends.
In December 2015, I outed myself.
Everyone was in on my secret.
No one laughed or ran screaming.
Old friends became family, new friends appeared.
I was respected and loved for being the real me, Shawna.
In late spring of this year, my beloved grandmother came to me in a dream, “it’s ok …,” she said.
So, I told my parents.
Nearly a year after coming out, and three weeks after SRS/GCS, I am whole, I am happy.
My sun shines, positivity reigns, clouds whisked away.
Last night, I watched the RHPS for maybe the 3000th time.
As my Hero, Tim Curry, brought Dr. Frank N. Furter home, the lyrics brought me back to 1978 when I first heard the poetry that I wish had impacted me harder; “Don’t dream it, be it.”
I am Shawna.
I am the girl I was born.
Everything is correct.
I have said it before, it’s been a long, strange trip.
I took an extended torturous path.
But, none of it matters.
It’s not how I got here.
The journey is a good story.
Even better, is that I ride off in to the sunset with a genuine smile and real laughter.
Nostalgia is just remembering the past.
The prophesy is a confused 13 yr old hearing the words.
Happiness is getting what means most.
DON’T DREAM IT, BE IT.