I created TRANZGENDR about two years ago to help me come to terms with the fact that I am transgender. I was deeply closeted and afraid for most of the last 40 years. The fear that I knew was consumed while watching people belittle and degrade others who were different. Most of that hate was directed at people who stood the tallest and appeared to be the most unafraid. Boy George was a favorite target for many during my childhood.
Boy George was a pop icon in the 80s. I was born is 1977, so when Boy George was setting MTV on fire with his music, style, and aesthetic, I was in elementary school looking out at the world with big brown eyes.
I remember being confused as to why people hated him. At first, I couldn't understand why people hated someone they didn't know. It wasn't everyone, but my family was deeply religious so many of the people that surrounded me did. They called him gay like it was a slur and some would turn the radio dial if they heard his music playing. If his videos popped up on MTV, there was often an immediate call out to change the channel or to label him with hate.
Those acts of hate gave me a glimpse into how the people I loved really felt about me. It made coming out as transgender nearly impossible. The abuse that Boy George endured and that I bared witness to, was my abuse. It was the ideology of self-hate that I was indoctrinated with.
But then one day on that path to finding my way out of the closet, Boy George followed me/TRANZGENDR on Twitter. When I saw Boy George's handle, @BoyGeorge, I was immediately taken back to the 80s and all the hate that I witnessed. I couldn't stop myself from thinking about how far we both have come. In the past, I would have been deathly afraid of him following me, for fear that if someone noticed I would be outed and persecuted.
But things are different now. I am no longer afraid of anyone finding out that I am transgender and pansexual. I live openly as a trans woman and I do so fearlessly. His 'follow' acts like a milestone in my life. The 'mutual follow' says that we both are not afraid. He has been fearless for decades, but I am just coming into my own. Part of my fearlessness comes from disempowering the hate that I watched him endure as a child in the 80s. His endurance has become a symbol of strength for me. His journey a comforting reminder that there is a wonderful and long life to be lived outside of the closet.