Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

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Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

shooting, 2010, I had a full-time job at the Open Society Institute. Every weekday morning, no matter how late I had been out the night before, I had to wake up and get myself to an office by 10ish. Photographing was my night work, the work of my heart. But I never could have done it without the steady paycheck of that job. 

It was sort of convenient, in a way, that I fell in love with how film looks at night, because the  night was when I had free time to make my art. And yet—things definitely started getting weird, going back and forth between worlds. The more time I spent out in the queer community, the closer it pushed me towards my own transition. And then I'd have to get up and put on work drag, cute dresses that I couldn't relate to anymore but were the items in my “professional” wardrobe. I started noticing how different I felt when I was in community, versus my very lovely, but mostly heterosexual work world. I hated getting dressed in the morning. I got a mohawk and felt like a double agent. Finally one morning my boss, who I adore, closed the office door and inquired gently about the shift in my appearance, which had started to stray boldly beyond “nonprofit professional.” I burst out into tears. “My gender is really confusing right now,” I told her. I loved the work I was doing, but the day/night transition became psychologically very, very hard.

Then everything changed very rapidly. I remembered some pretty intense childhood trauma in early 2011 and quickly spiraled into a season of PTSD. It rendered me basically immobile, I had to go on leave from my job, and yet it also meant that suddenly I was in the queer world full-time. And except for some consulting gigs, I haven't really gone back. Once you transition to being a mohawked, tattooed, non-passing genderfucker with a foul mouth and an itinerant schedule your life options sort of change, but you're kind of OK with it. Because I had over a decade of solid work experience behind me, I was able to hang on to a few freelance gigs, and have had to figure out how to make my life work with more limited, intermittent income. But I wouldn't trade my lifestyle for anything anymore. The money part is hard at times,