Yet Another Rebirth

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve made posts like this on new blogs I’ve created. I started my first written blog on Xanga over a decade ago, and have since created several blogs all with the desire to reframe and re-represent myself. In truth, rebirth is a central part of who I am. I am one person, but I feel I’ve lived many lives and sit at many intersections. I suppose this is why I’ve spent so much time reestablishing and recreating myself. Finding the honest person between those intersections has been quite the journey for me, and I suppose that’s what this blog will be about.

I am many things, but if people were to ask me to describe myself, I’d say that I am a creative at heart. One of my first blogs was about my desire to go to, what was to me at the time, the best art school in the world: Cal Arts. In the 5th grade, my parents took me to a conference for creative children of color. They’ve always invested in and supported my creative endeavors and that’s really the only thing they’ve ever supported me in. Nonetheless, it was this conference and their support that would introduce me to Cal Arts. I left completely inspired and would devote all of the following years to getting into Cal Arts. The California Institute of the Arts was a school started by Disney and because of that, it was very prestigious and well respected. It’s rare that people get in on their first try, but I did; and thank god for that because it was the only school I applied to. However, college was rough for me because it was also when I very solidly discovered that I was a transgender woman.

2009 Sophmore Year of College in my Cal Arts Character Animation Cubicle

Not to be a tired cliche, but ever since I was young, I always knew I was different. I innately understood that the narratives projected onto me didn’t feel truthful to me. However, I didn’t exactly know what those feelings were. I investigated the stories of people who had similar feelings and started to recognize that the feeling related to the misalignment between my gender and sex. If you manage to track down some of my earliest blogs, you’ll find me describing myself as gender queer as young as 14. College was where I recognized that part of my gender queer identity was this desire to hold onto a previous version of myself while reaching for the next, more honest version of myself, which was undeniably, a transgender woman. So when I went away to college, I understood that I had zero responsibility to be the person I said I was the day before and I decided to be honest with myself and begin my transition. As you can imagine, that was quite the challenge; going to one of the best animation colleges in the country, while also medically, socially and physically transitioning. But frankly, most of my struggle was specifically in the complicated journey of confidently claiming who I was and doing so without shame. Shame has been a constant and powerful emotion through my life in many ways.

After I graduated college in 2012, I got into the animation industry and was surprised to discover how much I utterly hated it. All those years working towards a goal and ultimately discovering that it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t the art so much as the pressure to constantly kiss ass. I’ve always been allergic to groveling. I don’t enjoy creating things I’m not proud of for the mere chance that one day I might potentially be able to maybe work on a different thing that might, just maybe, make me slightly more money and be more along the lines of what I actually want to do. It’s not that I don’t believe in hard work, I absolutely do, but I found it very hard to essentially exploit my labor for very little pay to create something I didn’t care for. I was foolish to believe that this was a standard 9 to 5 job. No, they wanted me to get there early in the morning and leave late in the evening. And I didn’t have the privilege most of my other classmates had to be able to be underpaid while groveling for a better job. My first animation job paid me $8 an hour and the only thing I was really able to afford after 3 months of working there was a pair of Doc Martens and my bus fare going to and from work every day. 3 hours to and 3 hours from; I spent 6 hours a day on the bus. I remember those days when I’d get home and only have enough time to shower and quickly eat before going to bed. It was exhausting, unfulfilling and exploitative and I haven’t worked in animation since.

2010 Junior Year Halloween Party Costume

Going on from that phase of my life, I started doing Children’s Illustration. Afterall, my final review in school concluded with my teachers saying that I was likely more properly suited for Children’s Illustration than Animation anyways. But I did it in the ass-backwards way of working directly with often very egotistical authors and not through a publishing company. What this meant is that for two years of my life, I put a lot of energy into projects that I couldn’t actually share. Projects that still to this day aren’t published. I made very little money doing so, but at the time, I didn’t exactly need to. I was living with my unaccepting parents and thankfully my expenses were low. So I didn’t need to make a lot of money, but I certainly needed to get the hell off of their couch. I was able to do that once I go into a relationship with a man that would inspire many of my musings to come.

I moved with my ex into a small room in a house in Long Beach. It was my first time being on my own and I really started to feel like I was doing something. Because of my work ethic, I was able to continue working from home in Children’s Illustration, as well as complete commissions and such on the side and I was able to make far more than I made at the Animation studio I worked at. I would spend from the time I woke up to the time I fell asleep working tirelessly on art trying desperately to make art my career. Over time, however, I would recognize that a lot of people struggled to see the actual value in what I was creating. I found myself fighting with clients about my payment, which was always quite modest. This became unfulfilling and at the same time, I started to recognize a misalignment with how I saw work and how my partner saw work.

He was an overtly privileged biracial, but white passing man who’d never once had to really struggle in his life. My struggles in life were related to the amount of exploitation, abuse and othering I’d experienced as a black transgender woman and his related almost exclusively to familial disappointments and a college sports injury. I wish my life could have been like that, but because it wasn’t, we saw work very differently. He always had someone to catch him when he fell, and I’d been on my own since the day I told my parents I was transgender and they decided to no longer financially support me. They’d only very begrudgingly allowed me to sleep on their couch while I figured myself out. That time with them was quite toxic, but I was still thankful. When it came to my partner, our different lives meant that he would start several jobs, and then be frustrated that he had to work his way up the way everyone else did and unlike me, the response to that annoyance was not to continue working in another way or seriously invest in himself enough to be able to work a different job; it was to whinge and complain while never changing. This was hard for me to watch as a person who had much less support and much less privilege. We were together for 5 years and while I loved him very deeply, I recognized that I had to start a new, more genuine life for myself. Not to mention there were traumas I hadn’t addressed that were sabotaging the relationship in other ways.

Living together with my ex for the first time, 2013

Unfortunately, when I was coming into myself as a teenager, the most supportive people in my life were older men who wanted to sexually abuse me. I’ll spare you the details, but I experienced a lot of sexual violence before turning 18, long before I met my ex. Growing up very sex negative, I had internalized all of these abuses as my fault and of course that encouraged me to have really dark feelings about myself. I got mixed up in the wrong crowd and they would sexually exploit me and use me as a bargaining chip for their business. It was a very dark phase of my life I wanted to put behind me when I met my ex. So I recreated myself yet again; I was the chaste, intelligent, hard working transgender woman with a degree, which was so much more appealing to him than the trans women he dated before who were sex workers with zero education. Back then it also felt good to be preferred over other women in this way, but it would take me years and years to unpack the toxicity of that pick-me mentality.

Towards the end of that relationship, I recognized that as I became more confident in myself, there were aspects of that old life that appealed to me. Towards the end of our relationship, I had shifted quite a bit as a person. I became more extroverted, more financially independent. I had more professional success and I was traveling the country speaking about being transgender. I was a more self assured, confident person who no longer functioned from a place of desperation. I didn’t miss the exploitation or the abuse, but the unabashed sexual freedom; and I was curious if it would feel more empowering at this current phase of life. I started privately investigating BDSM and Polyamory and found that these were things that appealed to me. So much so that I wanted to present them to my partner, but I would never get the chance to do so as our relationship had other issues. Primarily the fact that I hadn’t spoken about any of this with him because I hadn’t yet addressed or attempted to heal from my trauma and the shame I’ve felt for what I’ve experienced in my past, and now what interested me for the future. So I broke up with him and began yet another cycle of rebirth. I moved to Los Angeles.

When I was a teenager, I’d often run away to LA. I thought the city was more progressive than the small town I lived in where I was one of two black people i knew and the only openly trans person. I’d put on my sewn dresses and stuff them into a pair of baggy jeans and a baggy hoodie so that my parents didn’t see how I was dressed as I walked to the bus stop. Back then, I was able to catch a bus that took me directly to Hollywood Blvd. I’d change at the bus stop and go to the city and live a completely different life.

This was the time I’d spend with these random men who were abusing me, but they felt safer than my unaccepting parents. I fell in love with the city during those teenage adventures, but I spent most of my 20s in aggressively white and suburban Orange County with my ex. I felt even more alien there than my hometown because while I grew up in the suburbs, I did not grow up steeped in a bastion of whiteness. So I hungered for a connection to diversity, better food, more color and more art. So when I broke up with him, I naturally decided that my next stop would be the city.

Outfit for the New Orleans Vampire Ball, 2021

And that’s where we are now and why this blog is called Blaque in The City. I moved here four years ago and it has been quite the adventure. The reason I’ve created so many different blogs is because I was constantly trying to rephrase and recreate the kind of person I wanted to be. The kind of image I wanted to maintain, and how much I’ve compartmentalized myself. I’ve worked very hard to feel like I am finally a shameless embodiment of everything I am. So we will not be compartmentalizing on this blog. We will talk about it all. Gender, race, sex, kink, creativity, travel, adventures and nightlife. This will be my space online to share and synthesize thoughts, ideas, and the many lessons I learn through life. Let’s hope I stick with it this time!

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