June 2018 Reflections
June was another monumental month for the books, or my blog rather. This specific month is always filled with fun stories and has always been one of growth for me; being it my birthday month, Pride month, and the official start to summer.
My birthday weekend started the month off strong. On Friday the 1st, I did a Pride-themed photoshoot for my friend Jeff’s Instagram account, @TheTravelinBum, about my coming out story, (I’ve previously shot with him in NYC as the first trans-woman featured on his page) and the response was heartwarming; which was a great indicator that June would be a month filled with love, pride, and positive people. On Saturday the 2nd, I had brunch at my favorite spot, Toast, and celebrated at night with both close and new friends at my favorite bar in LA, Davey Wayne’s.
Akon, the rapper who’s song “I Wanna F*ck You” (which was my 7th grade ringtone - followed by Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,”) had a table next to mine and we started having a casual conversation. One of the models he was accompanied by abruptly asked me, “So are you a woman that used to be a man?” Knowing she was tipped off by my voice, instead of getting angry, I sat down next to her and told her I wanted to help educate her. I started off by saying she should never ask someone about their gender identity in that way or tone again. She was quick to defend herself, arguing that she’s “just very blunt.” I told her there was difference in being blunt, (I myself am very much so blunt,) and being ignorant. I then talked to her about transgenderism and told her my story/typical spiel. At one point she kept interrupting and Akon turned to her and said, “Shut up and let her talk.” She then let me finish before apologizing for her actions. At the end of our conversation Akon got up and hugged me, thanked me for being so open and sharing my story, and said our conversation taught him a lot. We then took an epic group photo which I posted to IG.
On Sunday the 3rd, my actual birthday, my grandparents came up from the desert to take me to brunch at my favorite Vegan restaurant, Gracias Madre, and then I went home and watched movies in bed with my bff turned new roomie, Maddie. My birthday solidified the fact that I’ve found good hearted people in LA who love me for me, which is hard in this city and makes me feel accomplished. To be honest, I had no expectations for my birthday weekend and it turned out to be incredible. I entered my 25th year looking and feeling my absolute best, which I wasn't anticipating in the slightest. Most people had said I’d have a quarter-life crisis surrounding my birthday, but luckily I only had a minor breakdown on the morning of the 1st. I will admit it was over something meaningless that spiraled into something more. I had gotten a low amount of likes within the first hour of my Instagram post and got upset over it. My solution? A phone rant with Turner, pulling myself together with a cold Matcha, and going on a hike at Runyon Canyon. I got into a Lyft Line on my way home from the hike and talked to my driver and the model next to me about my morning meltdown. They both gave me sound advice; I need to separate my self-worth from IG to help cope with my stress. I couldn’t have agreed more, and I am now trying to work on making social media less about validation through likes/followers and more about showcasing how I really am day to day, and letting everything happen as it should. That mentality helped me to take on 25 and carried over into Pride weekend.
LA Pride this year was magical. My friend Jeff (@TheTravelinBum) was flown from NYC by LAPride to create backstage social media content. I was his plus one, and we ended up having his friend David join us for the weekend as well, and it was everything. Friday started off with a pool party at the West Hollywood Standard Hotel. I met a few new friends and it was the perfect way to kick off a stellar weekend. Saturday started off with walking around the parade in West Hollywood and then going backstage at the festival. While waiting for Jeff to finish his red carpet appearance, I met Kim Petras without knowing it was her (and not knowing she’s the singer of a recently favorite song of mine, “I Don’t Want It At All”). For the first time ever, I wasn’t able to tell if someone was transgender or not, and to my surprise, Kim Petras is.
Throughout the weekend I was backstage, on stage, and in the VIP tents surrounded by LGBT celebs I had been following or known about for years. I felt at home, not fan-girling over them, but just being my true self; and I noticed such a positive response from the people I encountered, which is something I'm not used to. I'm used to walking into a room and being self-conscious about whether or not people are talking about me being transgender, or not. In the back of my mind I am always thinking about that, it’s my number one insecurity. At Pride, I felt pride in being the transgender woman that I am. I noticed that fellow parade-ees weren't giving me confused looks, but were more so in awe of my energy. I noticed this one woman eyeing me up and down, looking at me like a snack, everyone noticed it actually. We ended up having a conversation and during it, I casually told her and her friends I was trans. She and everyone else around us wa in shock, and said “I thought you were just a lesbian,” and “wouldn’t of had any idea” that I was trans... lol. The rest of the night we fluttered around the festival’s main stage and watched the performances from the VIP section.
When we arrived to Pride on Sunday, there was a photoshoot happening next to the red carpet, which wasn't there the day before. The producer of the shoot passed up talking to Jeff and David, which sparked my curiosity as to why. I asked the backstage coordinator what they were doing, and he told me it was for Vogue and that they only wanted to interview gender non-conforming and trans people. I asked him to introduce us, and he brought me over to their producer. The Vogue producer was surprised when I said I was transgender, and loved that I was the world's first transgender prom queen. She told me that they were interviewing a lot of people and not everyone would make it into the article; I felt confident regardless and was happy to even have the opportunity to talk with them.
They soon had their makeup artist do some touch ups on me, interviewed me about my story and opinion on pride, and I shot some video footage with them. Later in the bathroom, I ran into the woman directing the shoot, and she told me I’d be on Vogue.com the next day, I was SO ecstatic. The producer and director then came back to find me soon after, and asked to shoot with me one more time for the “opener video.” Thinking this was a group video, I didn't think much of it. Well, I ended up being the opening feature to their article on 23 Pride-goers. Vogue then posted me to their IG page of 18.6 million followers. I was in absolute heaven. Two years ago on my goals list I wrote down being on the cover of Vogue Magazine, and this was getting pretty damn close to that goal. It gave me the confidence and push I needed to keep pursuing this activist/spokesmodel/writing career of mine.
I spent the rest of this month surrounding myself with good, positive, ambitious people and enjoying the small moments in life that bring me pure happiness and joy. Two of the five people I interviewed for my StyleCaster piece this month were new friends I met within these past four weeks, one of them I met at Pride. I also went out of my comfort zone, and I went on an impromptu commercial audition, and even got a call back! I’ve never claimed to be an actress so this was pretty cool for me. I learned two crucial things that have stuck with me from meeting the two women who run the casting agency that reached out to me (they found me through Instagram) 1. Ask for what you want and 2. just do it, like Nike.
One of the women asked if I had representation and told me she wanted to put me in touch with a talent agent-friend of hers. Not even an hour after I left the audition, the talent agent reached out and we set up a meeting. Taking the advice of the casting agent, I asked for what I wanted; to be notified if a sooner meeting time came available. The next morning the talent agents assistant said there was a cancellation for that morning. From my meeting with him I’ve realize now is the time to be proactive, package myself, and take flight. I feel more comfortable, strong, and excited than ever before. I very much so believe everything is falling into place for me. I am speaking my wants into existence and it feels freeing to know I am the captain of my fate, the master of my soul. I am thinking positively, manifesting my future, trusting the path it takes to achieve my goals, being confident, persistent, thoughtful, and enjoying the wild ride that is this life of mine.
I learned from this month that if I wanted something for myself I have to get it together, and go for it. I got a pin from Pride that read in rainbow letters, “It Gets Better” and I've now added that to my mantra list as well. As humans we are always improving and evolving with our personal comfort levels, but you have to be proactive about it. Incredible opportunities are coming my way, and I am so excited my hard work is starting to show some slight pay offs. The compliments I get on my writing far exceed the compliments on my appearance, although both lovely, I keep finding that my written words are truly making a positive impact on our society, and that feels incredible.
Written by Corey Rae