Tag Archives: story

The power of story

images.jpgWhile I was grocery shopping last week, a woman approached me.

“I know you,” she said. “You spoke at my church last year.”

“I remember you,” I said.

She asked if I remembered her son. I did.

Big kid. Transguy with a great sense of humor. When I asked who had a purse story, he was the first to share. Turns out he had two purse stories.

She told me he was doing well. Graduating from high school next month. Just got a new job. Forming a support group for older trans teens and young adults.

“He still talks about you,” she said.

And I was reminded about how important it is that we keep telling our stories.

No matter how much the world has changed.

Or how busy we are.

Or how tired of our own story we might be.

Never underestimate the power of your story.

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Telling the truth

Yesterday was not a good day for your favorite butch blogger. I pretty much sat around in my pajamas clicking the refresh button on my Twitter feed. It was not pretty or handsome.

downloadBut then W came home and I vented. I started Maggie Smith’s The Argonauts before I went to bed. And I was like hell yeah, because words and ideas and poetry and unapologetic truth telling. The world needs more of that right now, if you ask me.

And then I started thinking about #PressOn, which is a campaign to support facts by paying for journalism. It’s critical right now. So, pubs like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian … and Teen Vogue, they need our support.

That’s right, Teen Vogue. They’re kicking ass these days in the world of journalism. With a bold lip, but kicking ass no less with in-your-face articles like “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.”

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Teen Vogue, Vogue, Vogue

So here’s my offer. Are you the parent of a young feminist? Do you know a young feminist in the making? Teen Vogue says the magazine is appropriate for those 14 years of age and older. Keep in mind it is a fashion magazine but does a good job with politics, LGBT issues and self-identity. Drop me an e-mail at rae.r.theodore@gmail.com and I’ll pay for a gift subscription to Teen Vogue for your fierce, fresh youngster.

Because words matter. And the truth matters.

Resist.

* * *

What are you reading these days?

Does my story matter?

In the next few weeks, I am planning on reaching out to some local groups (gay-straight alliances, PFLAG, etc.) about my book.

The people I contacted in November and December said to try back in the new year.

In this in-between time, I am worrying that my story isn’t relevant in this day and age.

Mine is a story about growing up feeling different. It is a story about being a tomboy and not understanding why that me — the one who wore boys’ clothes and could throw a baseball farther than anyone on our block — was so offensive. It is a story about having feelings for other girls and then squashing them out of fear of what other people would think. It is a story about marrying a man, because isn’t that what I was supposed to do and wouldn’t that make my parents proud. And then coming out in my late 30’s, radically altering the trajectory of my life plans.

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A lesbian with a talk show. Gasp.

Things are so much different today. Kids are out at school. Same-sex marriage is legal in this country. Ellen is no longer in the closet and she has her own daytime talk show on a major network.

So, does anyone need to hear my story? Will anyone care? Will it make a difference?

I was reading Curve magazine the other day and Editor-in-Chief Merryn Johns had this to say:

“We lesbians, especially older lesbians, must record our histories so that the younger generations have a point of reference for their own lives, and have something to build upon.”

images[6]That’s what I’m trying to remember. That my story is a Lego block. And that others — this generation of young people who have so many more freedoms than I did — will use it to build upon, brick after brick after brick.

Until it forms a tower so tall it pokes into the clouds.

* * *

What do you think? Are our old-timey stories still relevant?

Middle-age Butch speaks

So, guys, I had my corporate speaking gig on Thursday.  It went really well.  Who’s the butch?  That would be me.

Remember how nervous I was?  I wrote about my fear here.

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Looking good.

To get myself psyched up, I watched wrestling.  And I wore my power tie.  One that had belonged to a friend who passed away a few weeks ago.  The guy got things done.  I’m taking you with me, I told him.  I figured I needed all the help I could get.

And there at 11:30 a.m. I stood in the front of a conference room full of people in my black Dr. Marten’s and navy blue vest and red-and-blue striped silk tie.

I talked about the power of story.  I told this story:

About 20 years ago, my mother threw me a bridal shower at a very fancy country inn.

I had wanted a bowling alley bridal shower with rented shoes and pepperoni pizza and pitchers of beer.

Note: You might be a lesbian and should not be marrying a man if you want your bridal shower to be held at a bowling alley.

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Me and my flowered dress.

There I stood in a pair of black high heels and a flowered dress drinking punch out of a small glass cup with a handle.  I wore a paper plate hat made out of ribbons and bows.  The shower was ending and I was supposed to thank everyone for coming.

I froze.  I had to be rescued by my best friend.

Penn State was playing Michigan that day.  “Kick-off is in 30 minutes,” she said.  “We have to go.”  We were PSU alumni after all.

And that’s been our running joke or running story.  “Kick-off is in 30 minutes.”  It has gotten me out of every single uncomfortable situation for the past 20 years.

I rewrote my story on Thursday.

I’ve never been big on all of that positive thinking stuff. It’s always seemed hokey.

But I’m thinking about things differently these days.  I’m careful with the stories I tell myself.  I pay close attention to the thoughts I allow in my head.

It just goes to show what a flip in your thinking can do.  That and a power necktie.

* * *

What personal story do you want to rewrite?

The stories we tell

When I had my bridal shower back in the day when marrying a man seemed like a good idea, I was supposed to stand up at the end and say a few words.

I’m not very good at speaking in front of groups of people.  Even in front of people I know.

As I sat on a chair in the center of the room in my floral dress from The Limited and started stammering, I was rescued by my best friend.

Beaver Stadium“Kick-off is in 30 minutes.  We have to go she said.”

It was a perk that came with being alumni of a university with a dominating football program.

It’s been our running gag every time I am nervous about speaking in front of a group of people or trying to get out of an uncomfortable situation.

“Can’t you come and tell them kick-off is in 30 minutes?” I ask.

Even when it’s not football season.

Last week, I called my friend and told her that because of my book I have an opportunity to speak at a large, multinational company that has an office near my house.  The company has an LGBT group and often has speakers come in.

She tells me to go for it.

“But you know me and public speaking,” I say.

“Maybe it’s time to stop telling yourself the story that you’re not good at public speaking,” she says.

She’s a terrible friend.  The worst, really.

After I get off the phone with her, I think about the power of story.  The stories we tell ourselves.  The stories we tell others.

Then I stumble across this quote about storytelling:

“Being a storyteller is about helping other people tell their stories.”

I know my presentation will address the power of story.  That’s my passion.

In my head, I am mapping out how it will go.

NecktieI am working on a new story about going to the company that first time for a meeting. I am unsure about what to wear.  I am afraid about being judged for being a woman wearing men’s clothes in a corporate work environment.  About looking like a little girl who just raided her dad’s closet.

I sit on the edge of my bed and remind myself to be me.

It will be ok, I tell myself.  Stand tall.  Be strong.  Be butch.  Be yourself.

It’s a pep talk.

Another story.

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What are the stories (good and bad) you tell yourself?