Evan Jones

The First Holiday Out

As we enter the biggest holiday week of the year many people will face their first holiday out. The next few days are sure to be filled with parties and get togethers of all kinds. From family get togethers to church settings, the end of the year is packed full of fun and sometimes awkward gatherings.

And what can make this time period even more chaotic and anxiety inducing is one’s orientation or identity being the year’s topic of conversation. Which often feels like the case the first holiday season after a person comes out. Or the first holiday one brings a new partner home or begins to show their true gender expression. As always we are here to help. 

Two of the biggest hurdles of this time are religion and family. So here are some practical tips on navigating these spaces.


Religious Ceremonies

Of course there are many queer people of faith, but the holidays can make these experiences difficult. Often we feel required to attend sanctuary’s from our childhood, or ones for which we are not familiar. It can be especially hard and even triggering to return to a place of faith that once held negative memories. And when returning for the first time since coming out, the anxiety intensifies.

You don’t have to go

This is a constant reminder for every event and function. When feeling unsettled about returning to religious space, then tell a family member or friend. In some cases they won’t care or understand. For some families, going to church is a “requirement” during the holiday season. Which puts many queer people in a tough position.

Go back into the closet if necessary – Our strongest suggestion is to be safe. And sadly sometimes this means going back into the closet. An incredibly devastating experience that an outsider can never comprehend. If you’re an ally reading this, then please never ask this of your loved one. It is mentally and emotionally excruciating. But as a transgender or non binary person being forced to hide their identity. Or a gay individual who is not allowed to bring their partner into church with them. Or a bisexual or pansexual whose orientation is repeatedly ignored and invalidated, just know this will not last forever. These closet doors are no longer permanent and they don’t close the way they used to. 

However, if the place of worship is a friendly and accepting environment then there are ways to the experience positive.

Making The Best Of The Experience

Take what you can from the ceremony – Perhaps the teachings are no longer believed. But rituals and experiences can be nostalgic, especially at this time of year. Finding appreciation in the ceremony does not invalidate one’s growth and journey away from the past.

Find an excuse to slip out – It’s always good to have a plan prepared. Tell parents or friends about an important and expected phone call. Mention an illness coming on or ask to sit near the back to make ducking out easier. Keep the Uber or Lyft app downloaded and ready.

Bring candy – Yes this tried and true method matters. Sugar increases our dopamine levels and gives a little boost to our happiness. If sugar isn’t available then another reward system will do. Drawing or coloring also works and is meditative. It provides a good distraction to focus on instead of the message.

Stand Firm – We don’t want to trivialize religious trauma with distractions and candy. These are simply small ways to make the best of a bad situation. But ultimately the best reward is found in being true to oneself. By wearing the clothes in which one is most comfortable. And by going by the pronouns and name that is chosen and CORRECT.  Most importantly, by refusing to give into the momentary pressure of denying true identity.

Don’t expect the worst – After the backlash that coming out often incurs it’s natural to be on guard. Our defenses cause us to prepare for the worst. And there is a chance we face scrutiny or harassment. Having a polite and prepared answer in response to cutting comments is appropriate. Not because they deserve an answer, but because you deserve the respect.

However, there is also something to be said for embracing people for where they are at. Setting down the gloves and remaining open to positivity will often lend itself to surprise. As hurtful as religious spaces can be, they are also known for great healing. Perhaps allowing a spiritual encounter will soothe the open wounds of past religious pain.


Friends and Family

This is of course the hardest and best part of the holidays. If a person’s coming out experience happened earlier in the year, then no doubt most close family knows by now. However, there always seems to be at least one distant friend or a random aunt that somehow missed the memo. As we’ve said before,

Coming Out is a Lifelong Process 

The first holiday out, one is rarely prepared for how many times they must come out again. Our best suggestion is to have a short and to the point speech to give anyone who asks. Something that doesn’t hide who you are but also doesn’t allow for follow up questions. Quickly redirecting the conversation also helps in this situation. Some examples are as follows:

“Yes I came out as a lesbian, this is my girlfriend Denise. When is the family game of Uno starting?”


Actually my name is Joseph now and I go by he/him pronouns. I started transitioning this past year and I’m so happy. Is there anymore apple pie left?”


Of course this suggestion is not foolproof. It works very well in work and social settings. But the difference in family and close friends is the level of familiarity. Family will ask questions that no one else would dream of asking. So It is up to the individual to decide their boundaries.. 

Make Time for these Conversations –   Our suggestion is to have a designated time for important conversations when returning home. Especially if family does not live close by or is not seen often. The reality is you are probably the best person to help them understand who you are and what you need. If the intention is to retain a relatively stable relationship with family, then it is probably helpful to talk this out. However,  when maintaining a relationship is not the goal then refer uncomfortable questions to Google (or Your Queer Story) and drop the conversation.

Hold Strong Boundaries – Unlike the rare instances of the workplace or an occasional visit to a religious institution, family and friends are more permanent and constant. Any slight ignored today could mean years of battle for recognition ahead. This doesn’t mean anyone needs to cause a scene. Usually a gentle correction for a loved one will do. Smile and shut down any inappropriate questions as firmly and quickly as possible. Leave no room for the conversation to be reopened.

Take Space – It is very important for family to realize that their queer loved one is not less than. And therefore will not be subjected to subpar treatment. Insulting gifts that ignore a person’s gender or expression should be addressed. Abusive language should not be tolerated. And if everyone else is sitting on the couch holding hands with their partner then there is no reason the gay couple shouldn’t do the same. Perhaps standing up to insulting language or behaviour will cause a fight.  However, that is the offenders hangup and their responsibility to find a way to treat their loved one equally. 

Have Some Personal Time – Even if things are going great, spending the holiday educating people it’s going to be draining. Have time away from family and friends. Meet other friends somewhere, take the dog for a walk, go to a movie, or find a small cafe or bar. Don’t burn out trying to fix everything and please everyone. Some people will be mad that about the whole coming out situation. And they will choose to remain that way until the next holiday season.

It is not up to the queer person to make everyone okay with their decision to be honest and live in truth. That is not why people come out. We live openly in order to live authentically. In cases where family is supportive, it is still on the family to educate themselves. The greatest gift a loved one can give their queer friend or relative is self learning.

Be Practical

Stay Someplace Else – This is not always affordable and realistic we understand. But if there is a cheap motel or a good friend nearby, then better to be careful.  We don’t say this to be alarmist, we say this from years of experience. Especially in homes where conservative family seemed okay. There’s always the ability to cancel the hotel or friends house if the holiday goes smoothly.

But many times, even after a person comes out, it takes a while for the truth to sink in. This can turn a happy and festive atmosphere into a chaotic and tense one rather quickly. Often queer people are told they have a safe place to stay only to find themselves on the side of the road christmas morning. Please do some research before you head home and at least find a good shelter nearby. 

Have Your Phone Charged and Ready – Text friends, stay in contact with a support group, reach out to a mentor or counselor. Don’t stay in an uncomfortable situation alone. And remember to keep Uber and Lyft downloaded!

Don’t numb it out – One of the easiest things to do is drown out the holidays with mood altering substances. In the moment this can feel like the best option. But in reality it keeps us from properly addressing issues and from properly experiencing healing. No one wins when alcohol, or drugs is used as a coping mechanism.

Congratulate Yourself (next year will we even better) 

Whatever happens this final week of of the year, remember the most important thing. YOU CAME OUT. You took a huge and courageous step and should always be proud. The first year out is always the hardest. But as they say, it truly does get better. Keep taking those small steps. Keep fighting the fight to be true to thine own self.

And don’t forget, stay queer! Don’t get a lobotomy.


-Evan and Paul


Realities and Lies Around Transgender Issues

The past 20 years we have seen a large surge in scientific research and understanding around sex and gender. This has been prompted no doubt by the voluntary outing of more and more trans and gender non-conforming folk. And as has been the case every time a minority group finds their voice, bigots and commentators on the “other side” find reason to increase their attacks. The realities and lies around transgender issues grows with time. Because of this, there is quite a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there about what it means to be transgender and what transitioning entails.

Why the confusion?

This is *mostly* not the fault of the scientific and medical community. Who’s main institutions agree almost unanimously that gender and sex are much more diverse and complex than our binary system teaches. Which isn’t to say that every doctor and nurse is on board. One survey showed that 28% of transgender people were verbally harassed in a medical setting. And that’s just the trans/NB people who have the courage to go to a doctor or hospital at all.

However, over the last decade the majority of medical institutions, research facilities, and even many insurance agencies have made huge strides to become informed and educated on transgender issues. So, in order to counter the attack of science and reason; every conservative blogger, preacher, and self-appointed authority has publicized their own – often uneducated – thoughts on gender and sex. All one has to do is google the word transgender. And there’s bound to be an article criticizing gender non-conforming people within the first search page. Add in the hype and flat out lies surrounding trans kids and any person would be terrified by what they heard or read. 

I’m not going to address every lie out there as that would take a book and not a blog post. However, on our 76th episode of the Your Queer Story podcast, we spoke on some of the big misconceptions about sex and gender. As well as some general information about the trans community and how non-binary people fit under the umbrella. So let’s start off with the basics.


Misconception #1:

What Is a Transgender Person – A transgender person is someone who’s gender identity or gender expression is not in agreement with their biological sex or their sex assigned at birth. This term is an umbrella term for anyone who falls in this category. And therefore covers the following:

Transsexuals: people who seek medical treatment to change their bodies  – Transsexual is an older term and specifically and only refers to those who seek medical intervention. Even so, most younger trans individuals prefer the umbrella term of transgender to the older term of transsexual.

Cross Dressers:  This term is used in a legal sense to cover anyone dressing outside their perceived gender. But in the queer world it applies specifically to men who cross dress. Meaning they prefer to occasionally wear the clothes and makeup culturally associated with women and temporarily act in feminine fashion. Cross dressing men still identify as male and most are heterosexual. The old and outdated term for cross dressers is transvestite. But that term along with the word “tranny” are offensive and should not be used. *Side note* Drag is NOT considered  cross-dressing in this sense. Drag is an art form while cross-dressing is a lifestyle.

Non-Binary/Gender Queer – There are a few terms which people who don’t fit into the gender binary use. We will not get into the various definitions on this post. Though I will point out that those who don’t identify as male or female are still considered transgender. This is because they have all been assigned a gender at birth and their expression or identity does not fully match that gender or perhaps does not match any gender at all.  

Misconception #2:

Gender and Sex are the Same Thing: The more research is done on sex, gender, and sexuality, the more concepts on binary genders and orientations are broken down. But a big misconception is that sex and gender are the same. In reality we have three categories; Sex, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression.

Sex- It is the biological makeup of an individual combined with their assignment at birth. If we base sex upon gonadic criterion (meaning based upon genitals), then we have 3 sexes; male, female and intersex. But there are other ways we measure sex such as genetic (Chromosomes), hormonal (the predominant hormone either testosterone or estrogen) and anatomical (how the genitals look). In the 1990’s Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling found 5 sexes in her gonadic research alone. When we factor in the following 20 plus years of genetic research, the number of sexes becomes almost infinite. Regardless of what an individual wants to use to define sex, what we know for certain is that there are more than 2 sexes. 
Gender Identity – This is the internal sense of one’s gender.  Here is where a lot of the confusion comes in. Most transgender people will not debate on whether sex is limited to a few (current) definitions. However, gender identity is socially constructed and therefore is the neurological aspect of sex and gender. Studies have shown that many trans people have the brain scans of the gender they identify with rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. Though I must point out that these studies have not yet proven conclusive, there is more research to be done. Yet when people say socially constructed they mean is that gender identity is created by the surrounding society.
On the podcast we have spoken at length about the various gender identities in other cultures in times past and today. One of our most in depth episodes spoke about the Two-Spirit individuals of the North American tribes. Almost every Indigenous society in America, pre-Columbus,  recognized 3-5 genders. And this was not central to North America by any means. In 2015 PBS produced a map which shows multiple gender identities all around the world. 
Gender Expression –  This is the outward expressions of gender through name, pronouns, clothing, etc. The final ladder on the rung of gender is by far the most culturally obvious and most dangerous. Most people in Western Society today won’t argue that an individual can dress and express themselves how they please (I emphasis MOST PEOPLE). Provided of course that the individual chooses a “gender” and sticks with it, except when entertaining – such as in Drag. And this is where our non-binary friends truly struggle. Because while a binary trans person “sticks to their role” so to speak, a gender queer or non-binary individual does not fit any role.
There is certainly a large amount of hate spewed at trans people daily simply because they ask to be acknowledged for who they are. But Ironically, it is often the binary trans community which gives their non-binary trans friends the most trouble. For instance, a transgender man wanting to put on a dress draws much harsher criticism than a cisgender man doing the same thing. No doubt this is a result of fear of further backlash from the bigots. Yet this reaction ignores the lines between identity and expression. Every individual – trans or cisgender – has the right to identify and express themselves how they please. And if the expression doesn’t seem to match the identity, then it is our perception of expression that is skewed and not the expressive individuals error. 

Misconception #3:

It’s Easy to Transition – That’s  such a loaded and false statement. The reality is there are many layers to transition and most transgender people never feel that they are quite done transitioning. The three main stages of transition are Social, Legal, and Medical. Not every trans person will undergo all of these stages. This does not make them more or less trans. Transition is a personal journey that varies from individual to individual. Each stage comes with its own risks and rewards. There are as follows:

Social – Coming out as transgender, possibly changing names or pronouns, possibly changing clothing and grooming habits. 
*POSSIBLE REWARDS – Living openly. Expressing how one pleases. Being true to one’s self.
*POSSIBLE RISKS – Loss or ostracization of friends and family. Loss of job or housing. Social ostracization. Physical harassment and violence.  
Legal –  Changing one’s legal name and gender identity on government and public documents.
*POSSIBLE REWARDS – less risk of being outed by documents. Having the correct information on one’s I.D.’s
*POSSIBLE RISKS – Often lengthy and expensive process. Chances of denial by schools or government branches. Having to come out every time you go to have a new form/I.D. corrected
Medical – The first step for most trans people who want to medically transition is hormones. Testosterone for trans men and Estrogen for Trans women. Many transgender women will also take testosterone blockers in order to aid the Estrogen as testosterone is the more aggressive hormone. Surgery is a different topic all together and there is no such thing as “the surgery”. Meaning, there is not one single surgery which makes a person a man or a woman. Our identities make us who we are, not our genitals. However, the most common surgeries are as such:
For Transgender Men – Top surgery (male chest reconstruction), Hysterectomy (removal of ovaries and uterus), and sometimes Phalloplasty (construction of a penis) or Metiodioplasty (which causes the clitoris to somewhat grow and work like a penis).
For Transgender Women – Breast Augmentation (implants), Orchiectomy (removal of testes), laser hair removal on face and sometimes body, tracheal shave (reducing Adam’s apple), facial feminization (smaller and more feminine face), and Vaginoplasty (inversion of penis to create vagina).
*POSSIBLE REWARDS – Finally feeling affirmed in one’s body. More chance of “passing” so as not to be harassed. Able to change legal documents (many states require sex affirming surgeries before legal documents can be changed).
*POSSIBLE RISKS – Financial instability especially if rejected by insurance. Slow healing time. Botched surgeries. Loss of job while recuperating.
The most important thing to note about medical transition is that it is a very long, very painful, and very expensive process. Surgeries are almost never covered out of pocket and must be paid for up front as they are considered elective surgeries. In addition, few places of work will allow for the months of time off required to heal from these surgeries and even fewer jobs will give paid time off. Because of these many obstacles, the majority of transgender people undergo few if any of the above surgeries. And as stated, not every transgender person feels it is necessary to have surgery to feel comfortable in their own skin. But others will struggle with the knowledge that they need a surgery which they will never be able to afford.

Misconception #4:

Transgender Kids Get Surgery – One of the biggest lies around the trans community is spun by alt right pundits who write articles with titles like “Trans Child Experimental Guinea Pig” or “Transing Kids is Child Abuse” or “Why Are We Encouraging Girls To Mutilate Their Bodies?”. These are all real headlines that spread the myth that young children are undergoing surgeries and life altering transitions during their childhoods. It’s an absolute, flat out lie.

Children under the age of 15 do not undergo trans related surgery anywhere in the world. And the few surgeries that teens can go through at age 15 are reversible, require multiple doctor referrals, parental consent, therapist approval that the teen is cognitively aware of the consequences, and generally more than a year of social transition with the teenager living in their correct gender. More advanced surgeries such as genital deconstruction or reconstruction are only available to teens 17 and older and hold the same requirements (minus parental consent).   

Social Transition is not Medical Transition
A lot of people assume that a child coming out as transgender means it’s all over for the kid. This is again due to the misconceptions about identity, sex, and expression. Doctors have found that a child expressing themselves through clothing and actions is incredibly healthy and helpful for their development. Transgender kids especially have an outlet for their frustrations over being in the wrong body. But social transition has nothing to do with medical transition. A child wearing a dress does not produce estrogen. Neither will a short haircut create testosterone.
Medical Transition is SLOW
The earliest a child can start any form of medical transition is at age 12 when they can receive puberty blockers. Puberty blockers are approved by the FDA and have been used for decades to stem hormones in children who hit puberty at an extremely early age. They are completely safe and completely reversible. From ages 12-14 a young teen can use blockers to prevent their body from changes and thus prevent the start of the wrong puberty. Again, this is after doctor and therapist have agreed the child is suffering from Dysphoria and after the parents have consented.
In the Netherlands a large study of transgender youth found that only 1.9 percent of participants chose to stop transition after starting puberty blockers. At age 16, in most Western countries at least, a child can begin the proper hormones for their correct gender. Again, these hormones are reversible, though some of the effects may not go away entirely if they are used for a prolonged period of time. For instance, several years of testosterone may cause an individual to always have facial hair. But this is only after a lot of exposure to the hormone and varies from person to person.

Misconception #5:

Trans People are Unstable and Unable to Fully Adapt to Society – This is perhaps the most foolish and harmful notion out there about transgender individuals. If you’ve followed our podcast over the last year then you know this is not true. On the podcast we covered trans heroes who made advances in the medical industry such as Alan Hart. Business entrepreneurs such as Lucy Hicks Anderson and Reed Erickson. We’ve covered activists like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Author and local character Joseph Lobdell. Even veterans such as Albert Cashier and Kristen Beck. Wherever you look in history there the trans community exists. Yes, often in the shadows or hidden in the back of history books; usually overlooked and many times maligned. But still trans people have been contributing to society the same way as every other human.

So What’s the Difference?
The biggest difference  is we’re still being murdered for who we are. Since accurate record keeping began in 2008, well over 3,300 transgender people around the world have been murdered just for their identity. The slaughter of trans and gender non-conforming people is an epidemic. One that is fueled by misinformation and hate. If you would like a full list of those murdered check out tdor.info.com.
And I strongly encourage folks to be careful about who they’re listening to when researching trans issues. If the individual has a history of attacking the queer community, is this really where one wants to get their information? Wouldn’t it be better to go directly to the source and just ask trans educators? Misinformation is more deadly than no information so make sure to help spread awareness. And for those still seeking info then check out the Your Queer Story podcast. Its available on most platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher,and more! And of course you can always just tab over to the link right here on our website.

For More Transgender Resources:

  1. Trans Equality – https://transequality.org/additional-help
  2. Point of Pride – https://pointofpride.org/
  3. Trans lifeline – https://www.translifeline.org/
  4. TWOCC – https://www.twocc.us/
  5. QTPOC Conference – https://queer.ucsc.edu/resources/qpoc.html


  • Evan 


Keep The Pride Going – A List of Queer Related Books, Movies and More

Alright ya bunch of queers. We’re reaching the end of pride month. And if you’re like me, you’re hitting those post pride blues. So how can we keep the pride going? Well here’s the most buzzfeed-esque article I’ll ever write. Below are some of the songs, shows and books I recommend to keep the pride going all year. Or at least for a little longer.



I grabbed these from Spotify so if you’re listening from another platform I’m not sure how accessible these may be. Most of these are newer music and most are pretty upbeat even club style. But I had to put in a plug for Ben Platt of course. I mean, come on.

  1. Back In My Arms – by Carlie Hanson
  2. I Wanna Let Love – Aaron Porter
  3. 1,2,3 dayz up – Kim Petras feat. Sophie
  4. Don’t Hate Me for Me – Dizzy Fae
  5. Grow As We Go – Ben Platt


  1. Haus Party, Pt. 1 by Todrick Hall – definitely one of my favorite albums released this year. The entire thing is one gay anthem.
  2. The Prom, Original Soundtrack – yes, this is a musical. Maybe I’m biased because it’s about Indiana. Maybe I just want more queer musicals.


  1. Gentleman Jack; The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma – Does this sound familiar? Well that’s probably because it’s currently a show on HBO and will be listed TWICE in this article. Honestly though, I recommend this twice because the book has more excerpts from her diaries. The story of Ann Lister is fascinating, and don’t worry, it WILL be covered on our podcast.
  2. Indecent Advances; A Hidden History of True Crime and the Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin – The name says it all. If you’re a true crime fan and a queer history fan, then this is the book for you.
  3. The Stick McLaughlin Series by CF Frizzell, published by Bold Strokes Books – This series has been around a while but only recently came to my attention. I admit that when I started reading the first book I though it was cheesy. But then things quickly turned and I was sucked into a 1920’s-1930’s mob drama. Complete with all the lesbian romance a person could want. Check out boldstrokesbooks.com for tons of queer novels.
  4. On My Wish-list – Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz – this book isn’t released until later this year. But it is the memoir of a queer woman who grows up in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida. She speaks of the pain of watching family struggle with addiction and acceptance. I’m all in.


  1. Tales of the City on Netflix – The show is a continued story and it is beautifully done. The way the cast and writers confront some of our biggest issues today – including racism and transphobia within the community – is necessary and flawlessly executed.
  2. Bonding on Netflix – As I said in one of my episodes, these people ripped off my story!! But seriously, this cute – super short – show, so accurately portrays the BDSM/Fetish community. I can’t recommend it enough.
  3. Gentleman Jack on HBO –  It’s a period drama, based in history, following the life of Anne Lister. The first woman in England to record her marriage to another woman. Check. It. Out.
  4. Pose on Netflix – Yes I know it’s just the first season. But you need to get caught up! And if you’re already caught up, you need to re-watch and make sure you have all the details fresh in your memory.


  1. Disobedience on Amazon Prime – None of these movies are new, but who says they need to be. Disobedience is a love story between two women in a Hasidic Jewish community. Tantalizing and seductive, the only thing that would make this movie better is if the actresses were actually queer.
  2. Akron on Hulu – This story of two men unfolds in such an unexpected way. I won’t drop spoilers, so just go watch it.
  3. Professor Martson and the Wonder Woman on Hulu – we don’t know how historical accuracy of this film. Though we do know that the creator of Wonder Woman did live with his wife and his mistress. And we know the two women continued living together for decades after his death. Regardless, I love this positive portrayal of Polyamorous love.


  1. All In My Family on Netflix – This story follows the journey of an Asian gay man to find acceptance and understanding from his family.
  2. I Am Divine on Hulu – This is the incredible story of drag performer Divine, once named the Drag Queen of the Century. 
  3. Bridegroom on Hulu – A moving tale of a man who loses his partner a horrific death, this story shows why marriage equality is so necessary.


And that’s all of my suggestions for now kids. Feel free to send others my way so we can pass along the information. And even though Pride Month is coming to a close, stay queer.



A Sobering Pride

My first Pride celebration sober I went in with far too much confidence, and quickly lost it. I was just shy of 7 months clean when I took on one of the biggest alcohol events of the year.

Pride weeks are known for their heavy sale of liquor. Especially events such as the Providence Night Time Parade. Which is held in the evening, on a street lined with bars, and quickly followed by massive block parties. And don’t get me wrong, its fun – it’s REALLY fun. But alcohol and other party substances are EVERYWHERE.

And while most cities have purposefully made their parades early to avoid the heavy drinking, its still a problem no matter where one goes. I grew up outside of Chicago which is (in my opinion) the best parade in the country. But every year people were getting so trashed the city organizers kept moving the time of the parade earlier and earlier. It didn’t matter. Whether drunk at 2 in the afternoon or 10 in the morning, people love to get wasted on Pride day.


I’ve Been There.

Up until 4 years ago I was one of those wasted party members. I don’t remember most of the previous pride parades. Though I do know that one year I came to and found that I had wandered into the midst of the Chicago parade. I was marching down Halsted street in a rainbow bikini proudly waving a flag that I don’t remember purchasing. Everything was a blast, until I woke up the next morning and realized I had spent my rent money and had no idea what I did the night before

So four years ago – and newly sober -I headed to the Boston parade, decked out in full queer apparel. I quickly felt that I was in over my head. But managed to power through the pre-parade activities and was relatively distracted during the main event. Until we headed to the after parties. Immediately after paying my $20 entrance fee I regretted the decision.

I could feel my mouth literally salivating for a taste of alcohol. My eyes darted back and forth, wondering what drinks everyone was purchasing. I was on edge and short with my girlfriend. My teeth were nearly ground to bits. I felt trapped and panicked. I didn’t live in Boston and I didn’t know any people in the city, other than my current friends. Eventually I faded from the dance floor and found a quiet spot in the jammed packed bar to sip my Red Bull.

I managed to make it through that night. But I was attending the Providence Night Parade the following weekend and I determined I wouldn’t put myself in that position again.  I contacted my sponsor and we came up with a plan. This is what I have done every Pride -and alcohol fueled event – since.


1. Plan Ahead

Take a few moments to answer these questions:

  1. How can I leave if I feel uncomfortable? – Do you have Uber or Lyft downloaded on your phone? Do you have a bus pass? Are you taking your own car? My first year was right before Uber really took off so that wasn’t a very accessible option. So instead, I looked up phone numbers of cab companies and had them saved in my phone. I also made sure I had enough money to pay the taxi.
  2. What will I say if someone offers me a drink? – You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Try saying you’re on a diet, or you’re not feeling well. Perhaps the excuse that you’re in training or you’re allergic to alcohol will get people off your back. You can also get a red bull or sprite. Ask the bartender to put the drink in a glass with some fruit. Most people wont offer anything if you have a drink in your hand.
  3. Where can I go to take a break? – If you’re at a bar or a house party, look for a spot you can dip out to if you need a break. Bring some cigarettes or a vape. Or you can have someone on back up to call you so you have a reason to be on your phone.


2. Be Honest

Not just with yourself. Be honest with your friends and sponsor.

  1. Be honest with you – My biggest problem my first year sober was that I wouldn’t acknowledge how I was actually feeling. I had to be willing to let some things, and people, go.
  2. Be honest with your sponsor or sober companion – Find someone to hold you accountable and tell them the truth. Let them know when you’re struggling. Again, you can’t do this unless you are first honest with yourself.
  3. Be honest with your partner or friend – No doubt you’ll spend Pride with other people who drink or use other substances. Sometimes this can hold us back from being honest because we don’t want to be a “buzzkill”. But chances are, if you’re sober, you’ve got people in your corner supporting this decision. Rely on these people, let them have your back. And if you can’t think of any friends who want you sober, then you might need to re-evaluate your friends.


3. Let Go

Let go of the person you were and experience a new person

  1. Be a new party animal – For so many years I believed I could only party if I was drunk or high. And my first Pride I stayed in that mindset. But the next year I tried again, and this time I let go of that old me. I had a blast. Last year was also fantastic and this year I expect my Pride partying to be the best pride yet. But I don’t party the way I use to. I’m more reserved, I’m not the center of attention, but I have fun.
  2. Realize other people aren’t watching you – You may be watching everyone else (because it’s fun AF to watch wasted people when you’re sober) but I promise they’re not watching you. So let go. Dance, sing along, get in the mosh pit, scream your head off. To be honest, that’s what everyone else IS doing so really you’re the odd person out if you’re not joining in.
  3. Enjoy being able to absorb the experience – Many people at the parades, bars, and block parties won’t remember the majority of events the next day. Like I said, I can’t remember most of my first four years of Pride. But I remember every detail of the last 3 years and there are so many moments that still make me smile. The gift of sobriety is that I can absorb the moment and hold those feelings with me. Embrace that gift.


So have a wonderful Pride Month my friends. And remember, you’re not alone and you don’t need a substance. To thine own self be true.



So You’re Being Discriminated Against At Work

I’ve been in retail for almost 10 years now and spent the majority of my time in management. I’ve worked in several different companies in at least 3 different states. And I say all that to say that I’ve had quite a bit of training in Human Resources and workplace discrimination policies. I guess I’ve always take my experience for granted and assumed that others would be as knowledgeable of their resources as I am. However, I often find that is not the case. So here’s a few basic tips on what to do if you think you’re being discriminated against in the workplace.



The first signs that things are going south usually start with write-ups/corrections/counseling or whatever term your company uses. Basically they’re starting to take steps towards termination. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that every corrective counseling means you’re set for the boot. Perhaps you truly have some areas you could work on, and your employer or manager is just trying to get some better performance out of their colleagues. Don’t panic, but be aware.

And most importantly, save EVERYTHING they give you. Copies of schedules, write-ups, requests off, company guidelines and handbook. Most places are required to give their employees copies of all these items and you will need them if it goes to HR, mediation or court.



Factor in the tone and atmosphere of the office to see if there has been a shift in authorities attitude towards you. Write all of this down in a notebook, every little instance no matter how small it may seem. Again, this all matters and will benefit you in the end. This includes a change in your schedule (have your hours dropped? Did you switch from days to nights for no reason?). How about request’s off? (Are you suddenly finding all your requests denied even though you have the vacation or personal days to spend?). Is your boss making rude or sarcastic comments towards you? Are you suddenly being written up for issues that weren’t a problem in the past?

I have a friend who worked for a company for over 10 years. She was a good employee, but she had a bad habit of being late. And this was true in every area of her life, not just when it came to work. But because she was such a benefit to the company, they overlooked her tardiness. Now I’m not saying her lateness should have been excused, but I am saying the company and the manager had set a precedent. So when my friend came out as transgender to the company, it looked pretty suspicious that after 10+ years she was suddenly being written up for her tardiness.

But the write-ups didn’t start immediately. First she noticed a change in her supervisors attitude towards her. Then she overheard the staff making some inappropriate comments. Finally, she felt isolated and cut off from her work family. Then the write-ups began. I can’t say that a journal would have saved her as she did break company policy by continuing to be late. But I can tell you that evidence goes a long way.



I know. It feels like we’re forced to dot every i and cross every T just to avoid illegal termination. But the simple reality is, if your boss is looking for a reason to fire you, don’t give them one. I understand that my friend’s company set a precedence of ignoring her tardiness for over a decade. And that’s why she would have a legitimate case to bring to court, or at least to the HR department. However, at the end of the day, there’s still a handbook (which she probably signed) that boldly states tardiness is not permitted. If you have a weakness at work and you’re being targeted, focus on that weakness. In the long run it will do you a lot more good. But don’t stop there and simply tread water. Move to the next step.



I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to queer individuals who never reported their discrimination. There are federal laws in place that prohibit workplace LGBTQ discrimination. In addition, most states and most national and local companies also have these protections in place. YOU HAVE TO GO TO HR! The biggest fear people have about going to HR is retaliation from their team or supervisor. However, if you’re already being targeted then it’s too late to worry. You need to protect yourself and that means leaving a long paper trail. If you can prove you reported these issues then that’s more on your side for the future. Regardless of whether HR has your back or not, set yourself up to be legally protected.

Also, you may be very surprised to see that HR actually does care about your well-being. There is a reason companies develop and staff a human resource department. Now reporting may mean that some changes will occur. Perhaps you’ll be offered a transfer, or a position in another department. You are not required to take these offers. But maybe the change will be beneficial in the end. Or perhaps you’ll aid in the removal of an unhealthy supervisor.

If nothing comes from your report, again, request a copy. Keep it on file and continue to keep your journal. This is extra stress and worry, but in the end you are protecting yourself. Don’t let a company or a group of supervisors beat you into silence. If you are being unfairly treated, take steps to fight back. If all else fails, take this to a legal level.



There are many companies out there that offer free legal aid for those who have been discriminated against at work. Utilize these resources. You are worthy of help and fair treatment. Don’t sulk away in fear and rejection. We are a resilient people! Dig deep for that strength inside of you and ask for help. Lamba Legal, GLAAD, the HRC, and more. Also, check out this link for the Huffington Post that lists a state-by-state directory of aid specifically for queer people of color.

There are so many ways we can stand up to workplace discrimination. You don’t have to take this lying down and you don’t have to face these attacks alone. If you’re still struggling or in need of advice, feel free to message us here or on social media @yourqueerstory. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Or email us at yourqueerstory@gmail.com. We’re always here to help.

Homo So Alono

No I’m not going to apologize for that title. I know Paul will message me and tell me that Homo So Alono isn’t going to show up well in our SEO scores. But I don’t care. I am creative goddamn it!! But what the hell does it mean? I started to title this post “So You’re Alone for the Holigays”. But then the other title just came to me. And if someone doesn’t turn that title into a song then I don’t know what I’ll do. Perhaps I’ll be forced to take matters into my own hands and create one myself. Stay tuned for more news on that.


But with Thanksgiving just a few days away and the official holiday season about to launch; I thought it my duty to publish an obligatory article. You know, one on what to do when your family doesn’t want you for Christmas. And I don’t mean to come across as flippant. I’m simply using sarcasm to cover up years of trauma and rejection, and yes, my therapist simply adores my cynicism.


In all seriousness though, the holidays are hard. This is my 7th holiday season since first coming out as a queer infidel and my first season since coming out as transgender. And I absolutely can not wait to be misgendered at every holiday party, and to fend off a series of inappropriate questions about my body. ‘Tis the season to be sure. In reality, I have to admit is has got better. Been better…? Become Better? It gets better and so it did.


I really am looking forward to a few wonderful and relaxing days with my fiance and her family. This is my third year partaking in their traditions and I am finally ready to tackle them fully. However, the first year was not so easy. It had been a while since I had really been immersed in a family setting during the holidays, and I became a little overwhelmed. In fact, at about 8 pm the night of Christmas, I had a break down in my car.


I can’t quite explain everything that went into my meltdown. Part was due to the constant movement as I tried to keep up with the many different faces.  Part was due to the immense kindness shown to me. Even though Samantha and I had only been together about 8 months. And part was due to the flood of memories from my own family Christmases. A mound of emotions were triggered that I could not stop.


The first few years after leaving my church and coming out were very lonely. Though I would often still stop by my parents for an hour or two; the truth is, the experience was so uncomfortable I couldn’t wait to leave. However, being alone on the holidays is also a hard experience. I found myself with a lot of time and little idea of what to do. Coming from a very structured environment, where every moment was planned and filled, I felt suddenly lost. Throughout that first year I dreaded each holiday and breathed a sigh of relief when the calendar moved to January.


The next season I decided to take things into my own hands and began to set a series of traditions that I held until last year. Here are my super creative, totally out-side the box ideas of what I did on the Holidays.



I know, no one’s ever thought of that ever. But seriously, I always thought only loser’s worked the holidays and somehow felt obligated to take them off. Then I realized that people who work holidays make mad money and I was totally broke at the time. Not only will most places pay time and a half or even double time (for certain holidays) but it’s the one time of years customers actually pity you. I worked as a server at a country club and a cashier at a gas station.

Not only were my tips at the club incredible, but people buying gas were ALSO trying to give me money. My bosses let me eat the extra food and take all the coffee I wanted. Plus, strangers would bring in random cookies and treats and even little nip bottles (back when I drank). On top of it all, I stayed busy and didn’t have time to focus on my loneliness. Seriously, working the holidays is the best. And even though I’m a manager now, I still usually work Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.



My family had so many traditions that I literally didn’t know how to do Christmas when I left. Once I got out at work, I found I usually had several hours to kill. My options were to go home and drink alone, or find something else to do. For me, it was movies. Now I have to point out that I love going to the movies alone. And Christmas movies are the absolute best. Especially when you love musicals and Star Wars.

I made it a whole thing. I’d get to the movies early because I’m not here to mess around. Get my ticket, then my popcorn and soda. And I’ll be honest, back then I usually smuggled in a flask. If you’re not an alcoholic like me, DO IT! I’d wear a warm, snuggly sweater and comfortable pants and curl up on my seat. Once I even brought a blanket because it’s Christmas. I’m at the movies alone on the biggest holiday of the year, no one is saying shit to me.

That’s the tradition that worked for me. Later on my thanksgiving tradition became a late dinner with my roommates and friends. It doesn’t matter what your tradition is, make one. Buy that expensive bottle of booze and save it. Go to a restaurant every year. Get a huge tub of holiday popcorn and movie marathon at home. But find some way to make this holiday yours again, even if you are alone.



I’m not kidding. Working through the holidays and having my movie tradition was great. But I still felt empty and every year I drank a little harder and a little longer. One year I actually didn’t work just so I could drink non-stop through the whole day. I know, goals. It wasn’t really that fun. When I got sober (one week before thanksgiving) I knew I needed something else. I worked the holiday, went to a movie, then volunteered fro my recovery group. And today that’s one of my new traditions. I help to run marathon meetings on holidays for recovering alcoholics/addicts.

I can’t explain what a game changer volunteering was for me. As bad as I thought I had it, I always saw someone in worse condition. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, your church, the local queer organization. Almost all of these places are doing things for the holidays and need helpers. My personal belief is the more we help others, the more we help ourselves. Even when I’ve felt my lowest, helping another person has ALWAYS lifted my spirits.



Remember that meltdown on Christmas Day? I was so broken from years of rejection that I couldn’t tear down my walls. Afraid to love these people back because I didn’t want them to hurt me. I felt like I didn’t belong. And I didn’t want to try to belong, because of fear. When my therapist brought this to my attention, I decided to change. Opening my heart to another family has not been easy. But the more I do, the more I heal. Today I don’t have to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving alone. But I do have to work to keep my heart open.


No matter how many times we’ve been rejected. And no matter how many times we’ve been hurt. There is always hope for healing. It wouldn’t be fair for me to hold my new family accountable for my old families actions. Neither of us would benefit from my closed off heart. Today as I receive love, I am able to give love. I am excited for my future and the future of my children. I know they will grow up in a loving family and never have to spend the holidays alone. And I know that I am okay. No matter what happens, I have survived and I am Alono no Amorno.


Happy Holigays Queerstians


Setting Boundaries With Un-Supportive Family

When I set a boundary now, I wait until I am in a healthy space.

So I want to start off first by saying that I’m not a therapist. I’m not licensed as a counselor and I’ve never practiced in a professional setting. What I have to pass on comes from either my own experience, advice that I’ve passed on to others, or advice that’s been passed on to me. That being said, let’s talk about coming out to a hesitant or un-supportive family. This is a topic I’ve had plenty of personal experience with as I’ve had the opportunity to come out twice in my life. Much to my parent’s chagrin!

The first time I came out was one week before my 23rd birthday. I was had been married for 4 months and was still heavily involved with my Fundamental Baptist Cult. So I decided, what the hell! Let’s shake things up and come out as a lesbian. (Not really, but it seemed that’s how everyone viewed this sudden announcement). If you know anything about the IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptists), then you’re probably wondering if they even allow gays in their clique. And the answer is no, no not at all, not even a little. So I left and started over while trying to figure out how to have some kind of relationship with my fanatically, religious family. It took a lot of time and a lot of arguments but eventually, I learned the beauty of boundaries.

Boundaries are a wonderful thing because they allow us to keep people in our lives but with as little harm as possible. Now, this is only if you WANT to keep someone in your life and as long as that relationship won’t bring you physical or mental harm. I still have my parents in my life, but it is very limited. Our conversations aren’t always healthy for me; however, I do find some peace in staying in contact with them. And I do believe they honestly want to be a part of my life even if it’s ever so slight. So for now, I maintain some contact. I say all this to point out that it’s okay to cut people out of your life, yet it’s also okay to try to find a relationship that works if you wish. But you have to have boundaries, or at least I do. So here are some hard lines I’ve learned to draw through the years.

1. I Don’t Hide Who I Am

Boy is this easier said than done. Almost 8 years later I feel like I’ve finally worked most of this one out. About a year after I came out as gay this boundary was tested when my stepfather pulled me aside to talk to me about the Facebook. For a YEAR I had been as quiet as a mouse on social media about being a lesbian. As I was coming up on my first June as an open homo I put up a small post about my excitement. My stepdad told me flatly that I was welcome to live my life how I wanted but I shouldn’t disparage the family name by blasting my lifestyle all over the internet. I responded by going home and covering my profile wall to wall in rainbows, and Pride memes, and posts about how I proud I was to be queer. To be fair I went a little overboard, but the point was made that I was done hiding in a closet.

2. Occasionally We Have To Compromise

However, the next time my family asked me to hide who I was I had a much more difficult time. My baby sister was getting married and to this day I don’t know that I love another human more (other than my other siblings of course!! In case you’re reading this ;)). Two months before the wedding I shaved my head, which is a whole other story in itself, and my family was flipping out. I was getting calls from every member in the family tree, folks I didn’t even know were in the tree! My sister was insisting I wear a wig if I wanted to be in the wedding because guests might suspect I was gay. I had been out for nearly 2 years at this point…EVERYONE knew I was gay. My family just wanted to give the impression there might still be hope for me, and we ALLLL know that all hope is lost for the butch lesbians. I wrestled a lot with their proposition. I was finally living authentically and this seemed like a lie.

But I love my sister and this was her day so I swallowed my pride and wore a wig. I looked like Jackie freaking Kennedy. It was hot and scratchy, and the woman who prepared my wig (who wasn’t in our church/cult)  seemed very perplexed as to why I would do such a hideous fur. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad once we tamed it down and bit, and I don’t think most people suspected I was nearly bald underneath, but I knew. And it ate at my core because I had betrayed myself. To this day I don’t know what the right decision was in that situation. I don’t regret being in my sister’s wedding, but I do still feel ashamed when I think about the wig. We are all going to face compromises when it comes to family and my only suggestion is to pick a line you can live with. I decided I couldn’t live with myself if I ever had to hide like that again, so when my brother got married last year I wore my normal men’s clothing and short haircut*. I was not in the wedding, but I was happy in my own skin.

3. Don’t Let Fear Make Decisions

Throughout the years my family has pushed my boundaries and I use to feel shame or even fear when trying to hold them in place. Being the over-thinker that I am, I often wondered if I was being selfish or unfair so I constantly caved under pressure. Of course, this left me frustrated and hurt time and time again. I realized that I wasn’t moving my boundaries out of compassion or love, but rather out of fear. Fear that I might fully lose my family forever. Fear that I might end up all alone in this world. In recent years I have worked to take fear out of the equation and it has not been easy. When I set a boundary now I wait until I am in a healthy space. That means I try to not set boundaries in the heat of the moment; you know, as you’re fighting with your parents and screaming “Fine! Then how about we just never talk? How about we never talk ever again!!”.

Rashly set boundaries are almost certain to be broken and this sets a precedence that our boundaries aren’t meant to be kept. When I set a boundary today I examine it carefully, I look to see how this is going to look in a few weeks, months or years. And most importantly, I look hard at WHY I’m setting a boundary. If I’m setting a boundary out of fear, then I am more likely to hurt myself and those I love with this boundary. When I set boundaries out of love, both sides benefit. If I don’t draw clear lines with my family then they will continue to cross those lines and our relationship will crumble under the bitterness and hurt. And if I set guidelines out of fear, and then I will break those guidelines when I’m feeling good, the confusion will again cause the relationship to crumble. Fear-based decisions are rarely healthy and rarely helpful.

4. Make Boundaries Clear

I realize these thoughts aren’t groundbreaking but I hope they are helpful. I would challenge any reader to think of a few lines you are not willing to compromise on and communicate those clearly to your family. Often it is easier to set clear boundaries through a letter or email. And if you’ve already set these guidelines, then examine why you set them. And above all, remember that its okay to walk away completely if the people in your life refuse to respect your boundaries. I found this out especially in my transition. In coming out as transgender I have had to make these lines sharper and more rigid, and it has caused relationships to decrease and even go away completely. What I do know from my past is just because someone isn’t in your life today doesn’t mean they’ll never come around. If I stand firm in who I am, those who respect me enough will respect my terms for being in my life. And those who have no respect for me aren’t healthy for me, no matter how much I may miss them.

Remember you are always welcome to reach out to us here on Your Queer Story. We are also on all forms of social media and you can find us using @yourqueerstory . In addition, we have an online support group on our Facebook.

And if you’re in or around Rhode Island, we have face to face support groups posted almost every week so check out our calendar page.

Stay queer my friends,

-Evan Jones

What Sobriety Has Taught Me About Transition

989 days, 32.48 months, 2.7 years ago, I woke up and for the thousandth time promised myself I wouldn’t get drunk today. There was nothing special about this particular day. I had no pressing reason to get sober. I didn’t fear losing anything because I had already lost it all. I was crashing on a dirty red sofa in my best friends, boyfriends sunroom. I had about $30 to my name, a car which thankfully ran, and a rolling cleaners rack to hold my clothes, and I didn’t even have enough clothes to fill the “closet”. My relationship had ended, my job was close to ending as well and my friendships were quickly evaporating. Yet honestly none of this motivated me to quit drinking. I wanted to quit because I was certain that I was just a few days or hours from drinking a poison I’d researched and ending my life. And I was sure that if I kept drinking I would have the courage to follow through with my plans. I had not yet begun my transition.

So I headed off that morning to a 12 step recovery program that I didn’t particularly like in hopes that today I could stay sober. And somehow I managed to hang on. The next day I returned to that program and the next day I stayed sober too. Every day I repeated this process slowly accumulating days that turned into weeks and then months and finally years. And I want to say clearly that I don’t have this sobriety thing handled, and I don’t know if I’ll be sober tomorrow, because addiction is a bitch. There’s been a lot of coverage in the media lately about Demi Lovato’s relapse. And there’s been plenty of judgment in sobriety meeting spaces online and in the real world. Everyone has their opinion on my Demi overdosed but my reasoning is simple. Eternal vigilance is the mother effing price of sobriety and no one ever beats addiction. We all just learn how to live despite our weakness.

But now that I’m done and with my pessimism, I don’t want people thinking I’m just wasting my time running from a drink. The lessons I’ve learned staying sober and listening to others who have stayed sober have translated into all aspects of my life. Especially concerning my transition. So here’s a Buzzfeed-esque list on how this lifestyle has helped me.

1. I’m powerless over the rest of life

This step is about acceptance and not giving up. I have to accept where I’m at right now. I can work to make things better, the future doesn’t have to be bleak. But in this moment, I must accept the reality of my situation. And accepting helps me to get a clearer picture of what I need to do to get to my goals.

2. There’s hope

I can’t get caught up in the idea that I’ll be stuck this way forever. In my program, we have a saying, “Just do the next right thing”.  When I was overwhelmed with my name-change process I kept repeating that phrase to myself. I couldn’t handle thinking about everything that needed to be done. I just focused on one step at a time. And once I completed that step, I looked for the next.

3. Identify, don’t Compare

Comparing myself to guys 2 years, 5 years, 10 years into a medical transition can kill me. I’m. Not. There. But I’ll get there. I can listen to their struggles and their motivations and use those in my own life. I can aspire to be them, but I’m not them yet. I can’t look at someone else’s journey and think “Well I’m not like this guy” or “I’ll never look like that” or even “He’s doing it all wrong”. That’s not the point of my transition. This is my journey. I take what I need and leave what doesn’t serve me.

4. It’s One Day At A Time, EVERYDAY

Everyday I have to wake up and take today as it is. I don’t find peace living in the past and I don’t find comfort projecting into the future. Every day is a fight. Every day I have to keep doing what I’m supposed to do. Every time I want to give up I remind myself that I just need to get through today. I don’t know about tomorrow, I’m just taking today.


A few more notes….

1. This is simply advice for living. If you struggle with mental illness then please seek professional help and trust your doctor. There is no shame in admitting we need help. There is no shame in mental illness.

2. If you need help battling addiction then please reach out. We can put you in touch with local recovery centers. We can be reached at yourqueerstory@gmail.com or through any messaging on our social media @yourqueerstory.


Blog by Evan Jones


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