April 2018 Reflections
What a groundbreaking month this turned out to be. Most notably, I went to Coachella for the first time, something I had put on hold for a year to ensure I did it right, and I did. I thought I was going to experience Coachella Weekend 1 via the influencer route; going to sponsored events and late-night exclusive parties, but instead I had the raw organic experience one should have their first time around. I wrote out my entire weekend in detail onto a Google Doc but nine pages later I’ve decided to publish the full version at a different time, perhaps with a video as well. Since most of my lessons learned this month happened during Coachella or stemmed from it afterwards, I’ve written an abridged version for your enjoyment.
To answer a lot of people's question, I drove down with a friend of mine from work, both of us without tickets. For Night 0 (Thursday night before Coachella the campgrounds are open and so is one area where there's a silent disco) and the first day of Coachella I did not have a wristband, but sneaking in is part of the longer, unpublished story.
At a certain point I enjoy parting ways with the friends I go with and being on my own, especially when it comes to seeing artists I have to see; I won’t compromise that to appease a group of friends or the fear being lonely. Throughout the entire weekend I met some incredible people who I most likely would not of crossed paths with otherwise. By being my most authentic self, I was able to touch and be touched by acquaintances, friends, and strangers through random conversation, sharing my personal story, and discussing different ideals. The main artist I needed to see at Coachella was Kygo. I’d seen him perform several times before, but this time it was extra special. While under the influence of a few different substances, I was feeling overwhelmingly happy to see my favorite DJ. In the height of my roll I started to feel anxious, but luckily two guys were standing behind me whose kindness made me feel better. As we started talking I realized how cool it was to be meeting them. I definitely noticed people noticing the three of us together. One asian with long black hair, the other black with cool twists, and me, a blonde transgender “golden beach goddess” (Day 1 look vibes) people wondered how we were friends, and I loved it. I felt immediately comfortable with them helping me. I told them I had always wanted to have platonic guy friends that I’ve met under the circumstances of just being friends, and we had several group hugs that night. With them standing behind me making sure I was okay, I became re-filled with immense happiness. I had prayed to a mysterious god that Coachella would work out for me, and being in the crowd for Kygo’s set was extremely meaningful for me. As I looked up to the stars in the desert sky while he played Firestone, the words “Thank you God,” left my mouth; something I never thought I’d say with such enthusiasm. I became immensely grateful for everything; to be able to stand, dance, see, and hear my favorite songs surrounded by genuinely good people is such a blessing. Life and how it unfolds is so beautiful. I had a revelation in that moment; my god, my own personal higher power be what it is, truly is guiding me and will show itself to me when I need to believe in it most. My two new guy friends stayed with me for three performers at the same stage, Kygo, SZA, and The Weeknd. Afterwards we exchanged numbers, took some pictures, and hugged goodbye. On my way to meet my friends at the silent disco, what I thought was 20 minutes was in reality an hour and half of me talking to strangers, taking photos, and sharing stories with them. By the time I got to the disco my friends had left, but I couldn't be less worried. I was enjoying taking my time, exploring new people, and I spent the remainder of the night with another friendly stranger who made sure I got home okay. This was all on Night 1. I even said to myself if it was the only night I’d be able to go, I’d be 1000% satisfied with my Coachella experience.
The weekend only continued to get better and more euphoric on Saturday. My friends and I found out that one of my favorite artists, Zhu, would be guest performing in The Do Lab tent. We all went together, but during his set they left to go see Post Malone. Once again I was alone, rolling on MDMA, as close as possible to the stage with my body against the metal gate, but I wasn't happy with the people surrounding me. The energy was off and I had a gut feeling telling me to move backwards and find my way out of the sweaty crowd. While I was peeling through all the bodies, a 19 year old stopped me and asked if I was okay. Later telling me, “I looked into your eyes and it was like the lights were on but nobody was home." He and his two friends took care of me, literally sucking away the bad energy I was feeling throughout my entire body, and I started to dance again. This 19 year old and I ended up falling in love for the weekend, calling each other our respective Coachella boyfriend and girlfriend. We were legit #CoupleGoals and I could hear people calling us that as he and I sensually danced to Beyonce and took pictures together in front of light installations after her epic performance. Making our way to the silent disco together, we stopped and spent another hour and a half talking to strangers. Eventually, upon meeting two guys from Thailand, he and I got into the conversation of me being transgender (something I had told one of his friends earlier, but not him just yet). During our discussion he told me his family friend was transitioning and his mom was sharing articles with him written by a young transgender woman who shared her experiences being abnormally normal given her situation. Turns out, the articles his mom was sharing are mine from this very site, and he had done a little reading of my work on his own. How crazy is it that the guy who potentially saved my life just hours before has a mother willing to have an open conversation about transgenderism and is educating their child through my own work? At this point during the conversation, he turned to me, looked me deep in my eyes and said, “I love you.” He then kissed me, and I said it back while smiling the biggest possible smile. My entire life I have waited for a guy to love me for me in my entirety, and he did. I know that we weren't in love, but we loved each other's being, and that itself is pretty major. This 19 year old college freshman changed how I will come out to someone in the future and set new standards for their acceptance and willingness to learn. How this person will need to conduct themselves and their behavior towards my openness is something I cannot lower my standard on from here on out. During this entire conversation, the two Thai boys sat next to us, and eventually we all went back their tent at the nearby campsite, and I, Corey Rae, camped with these three boys, and didn't sleep one moment of it.
Sunday, after leaving Coachella grounds at 7:30am with the 19 year old, I went back to my place, slept, showered, had a protein shake, and went back to Coachella for the last day. This day was way more relaxed and chill. My friend and I sat on the grass, people watched, and listened to some really amazing up-and-coming artists. We eventually met up with the 19 year old and his four best friends. We all went to a deep house tent, which is where my night took a turn for the worse. As I turned around to hug a coworker of mine who I saw unexpectedly, the 19 year olds best friend started to have a bad trip, and without thinking (and with my jacket in his backpack) he left in a hurry to get his friend to a medical tent. He texted me about 15 minutes into me being alone (my friend had left yet again to see a different artist) but this time I was worried. His text said his phone was about to die but he was going to charge it and call me then. His phone died immediately and I continued to wait where I was. All of my friends phones had died, and I felt completely abandoned. As time went by my mind was racing with negative thoughts. I couldn’t fathom why he’d leave without grabbing me first, he knew he needed to be with me in case I had a bad roll again. I thought he’d finally freaked out about me being trans, or maybe his friend had during his trip. I tried my hardest to trust the universe as I had learned to do on Friday night, I figured this would be my last test to see how much I could trust it.
After an hour and a half (and a quick cry in a porta potty) I got myself together and tried to see Eminem (the last person I really wanted to see perform) but when I got to the stage all I could think about was finding the 19 year old, so I left, just as my other favorite rapper, 50 Cent, came on to join Eminem. I went back to the tent I had met the 19 year old at, and sat by a tree waiting to see him. After what felt like forever I saw what I thought was him leaving with another girl. I ran up to the guy, realized it wasn't him, and quickly headed in a different direction, which is when I saw the 19 year old standing with his friend. I went over to him, immediately asked for my jacket, and his first reaction was, “Oh my god you were alone, I am so so sorry.” He tried to take me to see their remainder of Eminem as we had planned on seeing him together, but as we arrived to the stage the rapper wrapped up, and someone came on to announce Weekend 1 was over. Fireworks went off, but instead of us kissing in euphoria, I was still traumatized by being alone, and we sat on the ground until I felt better. About 30 minutes later we tried one last time to go to silent disco, but instead we hung out on a hill overlooking the grounds outside of the disco. Eventually we caught a petty cab to the Uber pick up spot, got a car, and headed to my place where we finally were able to sleep in a bed together and explore one another a little more intensely. Monday morning was hard when we had to part ways. We brushed our teeth, washed our faces, packed up our stuff, sat outside, and he waited for my Uber before walking the four minutes to his own place. We told each other that no matter how our relationship unfolded, we'd always have love for one another and are grateful for meeting. He told me to always be myself, and as I kissed him I told him I hope to find someone like him again someday.
After kissing the 19 year old goodbye, I got into my Uber that would take me to meet friends who would drive me home to LA. As the door shut and my driver started to leave the La Quinta residence we had been staying in, the song The Climb came on, and I didn’t even try to fight back the tears streaming down my face. How perfect that that particular song came on as my Coachella weekend came to a close. Life sometimes has a very funny way of showing its sense of humor. I think this is one of them, my higher power literally giving me the background music I needed to leave the area where my life had so drastically changed.
The weekend in itself, especially on Friday, was a huge reminder that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to as long as I want it bad enough and believe it will happen (a lesson I first learned when I became the world's first transgender prom queen after transitioning for only 7 months). That Friday I realized I needed to trust that the universe, the path I’m on, and every single thing happening will manifest itself in my favor if I put positivity out there. On Sunday I had my final test with this when I was left alone, and found that the decisions I make in a split second can affect how my life turns out, which was proven when I felt the need to leave Eminem, find the 19 year old, run up to the wrong person, and in my embarrassment turn to find the right one.
Not to be cliche in the slightest, but Coachella truly changed who I am as a human being for the better and for that I couldn't be more grateful. I cried the entire day at work on Tuesday, I just couldn't stop. I cried for missing how the environment made me feel, I missed the boy who changed me, I missed it all. On top of my sadness, I was sick from the dirt, being out in the cold, and not eating enough (I really did take good care myself, making jammed packed protein shakes each morning, snacking on clementines, and protein cookies, and drinking a decent amount of water given the circumstances of being on MDMA and weed). Everyone told me I’d be sick for a week after Coachella and they were right, but my sickness lasted two full weeks, and now that I’m feeling much better, I feel inspired to get back on track with my goals. When you’re sick, you don't feel like being too productive and I needed that time off to rev up for what's to come for the rest of spring, into the summer, and continue on for the rest of my life. I know that this summer will be another major life changer for me, and by inspiring so many at Coachella and becoming more comfortable with coming out to new people, it boosted my confidence in knowing the importance of my story. Post-Coachella, I came to the conclusion that nothing should stand in the way of my happiness, and it cannot be compromised no matter what. I cannot allow the stresses of everyday life, jobs, and others opinions to stop me from being the happiest person I can be.
As my Instagram presence grows, my talent as a model and writer sharpens, and my passion to help save our planet with progression continues, I feel ready to take on whatever life throws my way. I know now to take my time with accomplishing small, medium, and larger goals while learning to cope with the bad days and reveling in the great ones. I am slowly but surely understanding that the journey I’m on is a climb and happiness is not found at the end of it all, but throughout the ride. On the last day of this month, I learned how to organize the necessary steps it takes to crawl, walk, and then run when it comes to my future endeavors. I am so looking forward to all the projects, photo shoots, and video content to come in both the near and distant future. To all my readers, followers, and support systems; fasten your seat belts, I’m about to take all of you with me going full speed ahead.
Written by Corey Rae --- Edited by Emily Turner