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Posts Tagged ‘Transgender’

 

This past weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend, creating art with her and attending a very inspiring event in Portland Saturday evening.  Where oh where, do I begin?

For those dedicated followers of my humble blog that go back to the early years, you may recall mention of a dear friend by the name of Diane. She specialized in vintage hairstyles with a passion for history and design and we collaborated a number of times on various photo-shoots and events. She is truly one of the loveliest and most talented of individuals I have worked with. There are very few moments that prompt me to lose my British stoicism and cry with delight, but finding out the gem of good news that she had moved to Portland, Oregon was one of them.

Liliane Hunt, Basic Rights Oregon, Ignite Black and White Ball, Portland, Fashion , Blogger, Avant Garde, The House of Hunt, LGBTQ, Human Rights

Liliane Hunt – Image by Shalom

When Diane found out about the ensemble I was wearing and the event I was attending (namely the Ignite 2017 Black and White Ball a Gala for Basic Rights Oregon) she offered to do my hair for this grand occasion and to weave it around my black and white feather hat. Obviously, I found it impossible to refuse her gracious offer.

Liliane Hunt, Basic Rights Oregon, Ignite Black and White Ball, Portland, Fashion , Blogger, Avant Garde, The House of Hunt, LGBTQ, Human Rights, Equality, Gala, Poison Waters

Poison Waters

The ball was indeed a grand event. Oregon’s largest LGBTQ gala and dance party held at The Hilton in downtown Portland with a dizzying array of well dressed attendees, champagne with titillating garnishes, a vodka room sponsored by Absolut, and a full bar.  They offered up a variety of tastes to suit everyone’s fancy. After one or two glasses of champagne (who’s counting) we were encouraged to take our seats. Thankfully, my full skirts did indeed fit under the table and I breathed a sigh of relief that I used a modicum of restraint and went for the smaller of the crinolines in my closet.

Liliane Hunt, Basic Rights Oregon, Ignite Black and White Ball, Portland, Fashion , Blogger, Avant Garde, The House of Hunt, LGBTQ, Human Rights, Equality, Gala, Shannon Scott

(Left to right) Tracie, Jose, Shannon Scott, Tyke, Liliane Hunt

The evening was emceed by the thoroughly delightful Poison Waters and Kelly Russell from Artisan Auctions, who are both so enormously talented, and captivating to watch.

We sat down for a lovely dinner, which I did eat, and I rarely do when I am all put together, minus the dressing on my salad. This of course prompted Tyke to create a meme “NO Sauce in Cavalli” which I may of said at some point. Dessert comprised of scrumptious little tarts and a decadent chocolate truffle, which frankly I could devour right now with a cup of tea. You can take the girl out of England but perhaps not all of the English out of the girl. Thank heavens.

The event was indeed grand, however the work that Basic Rights Oregon does is truly epic and feels deeply personal to me as both an immigrant of almost eighteen years and as someone who believes deeply in the equal rights for all LGBTQ people.  Their vision is to be a leader in political and policy work that centers the needs of LGBT Oregonians. They managed to win key victories for transgender and queer folks in Oregon for 2017 and they aren’t finished yet. The night was a huge success, raising over $300,000 for the non-profit.

Liliane Hunt, Basic Rights Oregon, Ignite Black and White Ball, Portland, Fashion , Blogger, Avant Garde, The House of Hunt, LGBTQ, Human Rights, Equality, Gala, Shannon Scott, BRO GALA
Liliane Hunt & Tyke

 

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What I am about to talk about maybe a trigger for people who have been the victim of assault, so here is my heads up to walk away freely if you need to. For those of you that chose to remain reading till the end, I have one more thing to say.  Some of you will not believe what I have written, they will think it blustery or self-aggrandizement and you too may walk away. It is not your time yet and I sincerely mean it when I say, I hope you never know what I am talking about. For those of you left, some of you will recognize what I am about to say and we will probably know each other, because on some fundamental level these experiences change us and mark us for life with an invisible mark recognized only by those that have been there.8150080687_faa25346ab_b

About 15 years ago I was living in New York. I worked at a nightclub in the City on weekends and caught the last train leaving Manhattan for Queens around 4:00 am after finishing my night. Before I left work I always changed into army boots, tied my hair back and put on a hat; which was standard routine when trying to stay safe. I also studied Tae Kwon Do, another way to stay safe.  There was a serial rapist in Queens that they had not caught and that was that; you do what you have to do and what you can do.IMG_1162.jpg

So this particular night, I got on an empty train car and sit down in an aisle seat. About 2 stops in, a heavy set white man in his 40’s steps into the empty car and looks right at me.  (Now here’s that bit about if you have been there, you will know what I mean.) That man looked at me and in that look, beyond that look, in the air and energy that surrounded him and surrounded me; I knew he was thinking about hurting me or killing me. He was analyzing the situation and his subject if you will.  There is no exaggeration to this I promise you, it simply was.Subway (1).jpg

The man walks through the empty train car and over to me, his footsteps echoing.  We studied each other as he walked to towards me, our eyes never left each other the whole time.  He then sits on the inside window seat right next to me, and we both turned in a very deliberate manner, looking directly into each other’s eyes.  What he was doing was reading me and he was exceptionally good at it, I knew this for a fact. This man was reading me for fear; he was hunting for it like an animal in the wild studies which of the herd he will target.

I had both my hands in my pockets; in my right a knife, in my left mace and I had my body which studied martial arts every night of the week. I knew where my strengths and weaknesses lay and held myself ready. I had also been studying energy and you better believe I had called upon the most powerful sign of protection placing it right there in front of me glowing. The man looked and I looked, and I could feel him reading my mind.

I said in a voice that only he and my gods could here, “I am not of afraid of you, I have been fighting my whole damn life and I will fight you. I will fight you with everything I have and you don’t know what I have and we don’t know who will win, but I guarantee you it will be bloody.” I said it over and over and over again like a mantra as he continued to study my face. I even allowed the slightest, tiniest hint of a sneer to form itself at the corner of my mouth.

Liliane Hunt Peter Czernich Neck Corset Liliane Hunt, Ms Liliane, The House of Hunt, Avante Garde, Portland, PDX, Model, Fashion, Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, West Coast, Performance Artist, Performance Art, theatre, Theater, Stage Show, Hunt, House of Hunt

Liliane Hunt – Image by Peter Czernich

It may seem impossible to believe this was my reaction, but I understood darkness. I was raised in a house where the very walls were soaked and dripping with it and I learned to survive. I learned very early on to study, learn and fight, and not with a half-assed sort of approach, but as if my life depended on it, because it did. I had learned more often than not that meeting this kind of evil with full on rage could and would save my life.

We continued to stare, our eyes locked; this man and I with a lion that is in me growling ready to spring. I am not a runner I have never been able to run in my life, I have always had to fight and right there and then I stared at a man who was thinking of killing me. At some point he got up and he walked off the train, possibly in search of someone else. I wasn’t shaken; I was incredibly calm as I watched him disappear away from the platform. That night I went home, I slept, I did not worry, nor did I think about it. I just got on with trying to stay alive for another night and then another and anothera0ebb46b26fb44704463919df8c38dbe

This is a small piece of my private life. You may wonder why after all these years I have chosen to out myself, I have chosen to lift the curtain just a peak on who I really am. I am full of stories and that is only one. But this story, this one has been circling round and round in my head the last few days.

It keeps playing itself on repeat and I have to question “Why? What is its purpose after all these years?”

The truth is, outside of all the public hoo-ha, I am actually a very private person. For the most part, I keep my stories to myself and I am an introvert in the rather ironic position of having a career which requires me to be an extrovert. Many over the years have failed to notice me beyond the fancy hats and frocks. They have failed to see or grasp what lay underneath. That’s OK, I know what’s there, and I also recognize the ones that have it; that have that steel underneath their skin. They don’t wear it on the outside because they have nothing to prove, only to themselves. They are the old warriors the fighters who have hung up their swords because they got tired of fighting and they wanted peace. But the truth is many of the most peaceful of, the most Zen, were warriors once.

Liliane Hunt Image by C Morey, black and white, Liliane Hunt, Ms Liliane, The House of Hunt, Avante Garde, Portland, PDX, Model, Fashion, Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, West Coast, Performance Artist, Performance Art, theatre, Theater, Stage Show, Hunt, House of Hunt

Liliane Hunt Image by C Morey

Right now, I feel as though I am on that train, only this time I am not alone; my friends, family and my community are on that train.  The conductor driving that train is friends with the man and the man is not alone, he has friends. So call me a coward and I will look in your eyes and say, “test me”.

Don’t tell me to fight as if you were talking to a child who wasn’t born understanding there was no other option and don’t tell me to get over it, because it is my life and is the life of everyone in this country I care about. It took my 10 long years to become a citizen, to wave my small U.S. flag and feel like I finally belonged and that I finally had rights.

Here is my story, for my sisters and brothers out there who feel like they are waking up in hell right now and it has barely begun. I hear you, I see you, and I recognize you. You, yes you, who has been fighting your whole damn life to stay alive. I guess that’s it, that’s the message. I am not going to tell you to fight, or run, or judge you, hell no. I am going to tell you to do what you need to do to stay alive and I am going to respect the hell out of you for doing it.

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If I asked you to describe to me what the archetypal hero looks like; I wonder what you would say? Depending on who you are, and what your reference points are, you might describe a character in a movie.  Someone you read about online or in a book, or you may have been fortunate enough to know one or meet one.  If I asked you to describe the attributes that a hero has you might say brave, strong, fearless, and triumphant.  There is something so powerfully connective about the story of “The Hero’s Journey” that the same formula has repeated itself throughout the mythology of nearly every culture in the world. If you are not yet familiar with the writer and philosopher Joseph Campbell, and what you are reading right now interests you; take a deep breath and google him because he is going to blow your mind apart and give you some fundamental truths to rebuild it.

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If you consider for a moment the movies that seem to stand the test of time, that have amassed the greatest following, they all seem to share the formula of The Heroes Journey; Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, the Matrix, and Lord of the Rings. The premise is timeless. Our young hero is awakened to a journey to answer a calling. Along the way the hero encounters a guide, a teacher.  They study or apprentice, face his or her fears, then slays or transcends them returning wiser, and sharing what they have discovered.

It is, as I mentioned, the universal story that unites us in our individual and our collective consciousness, the soul’s journey if you will. Yet it seems the world we live in has begun to erode the ancient story of the hero and has replaced it with an artificial hero, essentially an inauthentic hero. The self-proclaimed hero or heroine, who we are consistently presented with, appears to be he or she who shouts loudest, the one who is swift and agile with the put down (this is truly evident on Twitter and social media generally). These so called heroes have already accomplished their mission.  There is no journey of the soul, they are already there and they know best. They are the champion and they will tell you so with every opportunity they get (insert name of musician or reality TV star of your choosing). There is no search for the Holy Grail for them; they have a house full of grails. Several grails in fact, each one better than the last and as for pulling swords out of stones; well they can do that too. In fact they do it every morning before breakfast and so on and so forth (insert name of politician).

You may have also noticed the media seems to present a very narrow bandwidth of what a hero looks like. More often than not they all look the same, give or take a nuance here or there. They are most often white, male, cisgendered, young (no older than 40 if a woman, older if a man), handsome in a main stream media approved way.  Rarely, if ever, is a hero presented as a person of color, disabled, gay, or transgendered.

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Why is this?

Authentic heroes are as varied as every single person on this planet, and yet you wouldn’t know it if you believed everything the media told you and showed you.

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I could, I suppose, end my rant there. I could put down the metaphoric pen and walk away, waiting for the end of the world. However, the bearers of hope, the teachers, the ones who shine the light, often come in the forms you least expect. Look at Yoda or Gandalf for example. The first part of the lesson begins when the hero recognizes the teacher and is willing to learn. They disregard their ego that tells them this is not what my teacher, my mentor should look like, be like.

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Continuing with the theme of storytelling, are you sitting comfortably? No? Yes, well do the best you can and I shall begin by telling you a true story of a real life hero and teacher. He is brave, strong, fearless, determined, resolute, and compassionate but it doesn’t stop there.  He is kind, generous, likeable, non-judgmental, and insightful. It seems to me impossible to spend time in his company and not be aware of how magical he truly is.

Ian is my cousin. He has deep blue eyes, golden red hair and a smile that seems to reach passed his eyes encompassing his whole being. Ian was born with a physical and a learning disability but in no way is he defined by this. He has, at every step of the way, refused to limit himself; he has defied every voice that said he couldn’t. The metaphor of the hero slaying the dragon, couldn’t be better represented than by the stone dragon that lives tamed in Ian’s front garden. In fact you have to walk past it to get to the front door, a powerful metaphor indeed.

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So the hero of this story, who rides his wheeled chariot, or walks aided but with a strength vigor and determination that is very much his own, discovered laughter at the age of ten. Ian then embarked upon his quest (his grail quest), to pursue the nature of laughter. His quest has taken him all over the world to meet the funniest people and the people that he most admired clowns. Much like the young Luke Skywalker, Ian has his own special gifts, (he is contagiously funny, passionately loves animals and music) however he has also apprenticed and learned and studied his craft.

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He is every hero that faced seemingly impossible odds and didn’t give up. He is Jack that slayed the Giant, the young Frodo on his quest with the ring, he is Harry Potter.

Pablo Picasso said “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

I know of no one in my life who better exemplifies the true meaning of the hero on The Hero’s Journey than Ian.

He heard the call, he answered the call, he subdued the dragon (remember our hero has a way with animals, so he probably whispered to it) and for 30 years he has traveled throughout the world on his metallic steed. His trusty wheeled chariot playing the fool and teaching the world how to laugh, how to love and how to truly listen.
Ian is my hero, who is yours?

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