Inspirational LGBTQ+ Transgender

Clea sat quietly, the campfire crackling and illuminating the darkness. She watched and listened to her surrounding friends. Perhaps her new family, or so she would like them to be.

Clea had told them her story and opened herself up to them. It was the first time she’d spoken the words aloud, Clea had never intended to keep her past a secret, but she never felt she could talk about it before this moment. Just something warm and inviting about this group of people made it easy for her to speak and open up about herself. Now that she was done and her story told, she felt relief, as if someone had lifted a weight off her shoulders. But Clea also felt anxious, anticipating what everyone else would say or think of her now.

Andreau was the first to respond to her story told.

Clea listened with unabated focus as Andreau thanked her for being so open about her experience and telling them her story. He admitted he had not always been open-minded and accepting of those in her shoes. He explained how he had been raised by heavily religious and closed-minded parents and that they taught him there was only one truth, their truth, and anyone who deviated from it was in the wrong. Andreau went on to explain how he changed his entire mentality when he joined the workforce and experienced being around folks from other walks of life. He said he did his best to be open-minded and inclusive of others and to be as non-judgmental as he possibly could, but he was always having to fight back against the constant teachings his parents forced upon him.

Andreau concluded his response by thanking Clea once again for telling her story. He told her he accepted her for her and he hoped she would forgive him if he ever came across as judgmental. He said he felt as though they were a family now and that he loved her.

Clea felt an array of emotions well up inside of her, but she didn’t want to have an emotional outburst yet, but she wanted to hear what the others had to say, so she fought back the tears and listened on.

Following Andreau, Renee spoke up.

Renee told Clea how her parents tried to control her life, to decide for her what she would do. She said they always pushed her to study, study, study. Renee explained how her parents wanted her to go to an ivy league school and do something up to their standards, to marry a wealthy man and be the mother to his children. She explained that she didn’t have much social life as a kid ‘cause her parents would never allow her to have friends unless they measured up to her parents’ unrealistic standards. But, as Renee explained, she refused to follow their strict rules. She constantly would sneak out to go to parties and drink and smoke. It was at one of these parties when Renee discovered she was not into boys and was only attracted to other girls. She explained that when her parents learned of this, they forced her to a gay conversion camp, but she refused to change herself for anyone. Renee said she stopped studying so vigorously and her grades began to drop as a result. It was apparent she wouldn’t make it to one of her parents’ choice colleges. She didn’t care though, but her parents have since disowned her. They told her not to come crying to them when she needed money, that they wouldn’t support her until she apologized and conformed to their ways. Renee told Clea she could relate to her having to fight against those she thought loved her for her. To have to fight to be who you are and not who you’re parents want you to be.

Renee told them all they were more like family to her than her own flesh and blood. And she dubbed them the campfire family.

After Renee, Nicky was next to speak.

He explained he was the last of three kids born in his family. All boys, but his mother wanted badly for a girl. But her body had complications with childbirth. Apparently, she nearly died giving birth to him. The Doctor urged that another pregnancy would most likely kill her. So Nicky’s father got a vasectomy, and there were no more children born in their family. But Nicky’s mother wanted badly for a daughter, and so she decided if she couldn’t bare one, then she would just have to make her little boy into a little girl.

Nicky explained he was raised being told by his mother that he was a little girl. She called him Nichole. Nicky explained that his father had to travel for work and was gone for long periods of time. When he came back to find Nicky had been going by Nichole and made to believe he was a girl, well then Nicky’s father had had enough. It ignited a big fight with Nicky’s parents, and it led to his father moving out and filing for divorce. Nicky said his father sued for custody, but the court sided with Nicky’s mom. Her lawyer had claimed Nicky’s father had been an absent parent too much and didn’t support them enough.

It wasn’t until Nicky was a teenager and he began hanging out away from his mother that he came to realize he was in fact a he. Both outside and in. As Nicky approached adulthood, his mother attempted to coerce him into getting a sex change. But he refused. Finally, he escaped her, and he aims never to go back.

Nicky told Clea that while their stories went in different directions, the theme was the same, struggling to be who you are inside while those you trusted tried to convince you you were someone else. He told Clea that just as he was happy to have stood up for himself, he was also happy to hear that she prevailed in becoming the strong woman before him. He said he was excited to be a part of the campfire family.

Finally, Clea became overwhelmed with emotion. She had never been so welcomed, so accepted for being herself before. After years of being called “Carl” and being told she was male when she knew otherwise. After being told by those who claimed to love her that she would burn in hell for eternity just for being herself. Finally, she found a family that she wanted to be with, a family that wanted to be with the real her.

As her campfire family hugged against the crackling of the flames, Clea felt for the first time that this was true happiness.

September 02, 2022 22:51

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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