Laura Carmichael & Rob James-Collier: Dance With a Stranger - Love #8 by Mert & Marcus, Fall/Winter 2012-13
This is my favourite shot from the editorial. It tells such a gorgeous story, I love it!
LGBTQ* Stories of Acceptance and Being Who You Are
It Happened To Me: I Told My Boyfriend I Was Born A Boy
Janet Mock Writer, speaker, and trans advocate; Staff Editor, People.com
“This is my song,” I remember saying frequently. It was that kind of night.
In the midst of my tipsiness, I felt someone looking at me. You know that feeling when you sense there’s a singular focus just on you? That’s what it was.
As I turned around, I saw the guy, this handsome, handsome man with skin the color of caramel popcorn and almond-shaped eyes. His beauty, to me, was right out of my mind’s own sketch pad.
He was a fantasy come true, and I wanted him to want me.
I found myself out on the cold streets, walking beside this beautiful stranger into a coffee shop on Houston. We had lattes and a cinnamon roll. He told me he was from North Dakota; I told him I was from Hawaii. He told me he took photos and trained dogs for a living; I told him I was an editor for a popular website. He told me he hoped to have horses someday; I told him I wanted to tell stories that matter for a living.
It’s the kind of exchange only two people who are willing to fully be seen can share. It was natural and life-shifting.
I could feel the mystery I had so tirelessly built around me fall, until I was just me.
He kissed me on the cheek and put me in a cab, where I received his very first text: “You’re a complete pleasure. -Aaron.”
“I have something to tell you,” I remember saying.
Aaron stood at the foot of his bed, readying himself for disappointment, it seemed to me. Or at least that’s what I internalized.
How do I say this? I asked myself.
“OK, let me just say it: I was born a boy.”
I didn’t look at his face while spouting off the details of my journey through genders as a kid: “I knew I was a girl from my very first thoughts… I began presenting as female from age 12… I took hormones in high school… I flew to Thailand to have surgery at 18.”
When I finally stopped talking, I exhaled. I’d finally told my whole story to someone I was falling for. And I was afraid that my biggest fear would come true: Aaron would look at me differently.
And it did come true.
I could no longer just be Aaron’s fantasy, a mixed girl with curly hair from Hawaii with a master’s degree and a job that “a million girls would kill for.” Our fantasies had ended, and now we were just two people bare in front of one another.
“Can I hug you?” Aaron asked.
And it was then that I went into the ugly cry. For the first time in my young life, I was being seen, fully seen, as the totality of my experiences.
Fast-forward a few years, and Aaron is now my guy, the man I order dinner with every night, the one who grudgingly sits beside me as I watch every Real Housewives franchise (except for Orange County), the one who questions my newfound love of neon-pink OCC lip tars.
He’s better because he’s real, because he exists, because he wants more than just the idea of me. He wants me.
I Love My Boo campaign features real young men of color loving each other passionately. Rather than sexualizing gay relationships, this campaign models caring, and highlights the importance of us taking care of each other. Featured throughout New York City, I Love My Boo directly challenges homophobia and encourages all who come across it to critically rethink our notion of love.
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I simply cannot express how wonderful this is.