Living Collections bring together Hidden South Stories, Road Notes, and Observations about specific subjects or groups of people. Living Collections continue to evolve over time as more content is added.
For a while I wore a purity ring and tried to force myself to be straight and to be in relationships with females. I was 14 when I finally admitted to myself I was gay. I never planned on telling my family, but one day I did.
I did fall in love in prison though... He was the first person to read that I was trans. When he touched me, he touched me like I was a girl. He treated me like a fucking princess. I wasn't really interested in him at first, but he coerced me into having sex with him and then he treated me like I was a woman. It became like a fix for me.
Then she just kind of stopped and looked at me in the eye and said, "You know, you're born how you are, and God made you. Scripture says you're beautifully and wonderfully made." In that moment I realized that God made me who I am.
I was about 10 when I stayed home alone for the first time. I'd already thought by this point in my life that I'd make a beautiful girl. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I could never be a beautiful boy, but I could be a beautiful girl.
Two minutes later I turn around and she's walking towards me and she says here you go and she gave me her number on a EKG strip [laughing] and I still have it. We've been inseparable ever since. Today is our four year anniversary.
I've never had a man say, "Ariana, I want to be with you. You're the one I want to be with." and that's OK. I think that people when they meet me, or when they see me, they already have this fantasy of what they want...
I got expelled. I ended up going to an alternative high school for two semesters and I was able to get my diploma. Ever since then my mother has been on me about being gay, and how being gay is a sin, and that I'll go straight to hell if I don't repent...
It took my mom about three years to come around and it took my dad six. Living in the Southern Baptist household, it's wrong to be gay. Both my mom and my dad prayed that God would take this away from me, you know? When that didn't happen they finally accepted it.
He locked the door behind me. At that moment my heart sank and I realized that something was really wrong here. That moment of impending doom. I ran for the other door in the classroom. He jumped over the desk and locked that door too.
My mom saw something on Facebook that I "liked". Some lesbian page or something, and she emails me. She asked if I was gay. I didn't want to say no again, because this was the third time she'd asked me in my life. At work, I sat there typing the email, crying...
My life changed after that completely. They sent me to a camp in Montana and they beat me and electrocuted me. I fought everybody who touched me. I fought until they had enough, and sent me home.
I want people to know who I am but the way trans people are treated… someone finds out that I am and they could fucking kill me.
Now, being transgender in jail… First of all, my ID says that I’m a female. So, I get to the city jail. They asked me if I was all woman. I said no. At this point all of the officers are like staring at me like I’m a freak of nature.
Actually I’m not homeless. I have a place but… I do drugs. I stay in Norwood and I prostitute over here [downtown] so it’s too far to go home and come right back over here. I might as well go on and stay over here in the downtown area, keep going, get clothes from the shelter.
I knew I was gay in high school but I never had any experiences until I was older.
I kind of ran the gamut of the whole drug thing but starting to use heroin was a big turning point for me. I was on a path to success and my life quickly became this downward spiral of failure. It’s such a terrible thing to get into.
I came out on the first day of high school. I actually had a girlfriend at the time but… fourth period hit and I saw the most beautiful guy I’d ever seen in my life. Instantly I knew.
she says, “I don’t never regret being with you. Even though we put each other through a lot of bad times, we had so many great times too.” And she was right.
Me and my lover, we liveded together but he was a bad boy. He was a thug. He wanted me and everybody else too. He ended up getting killed because he was running around.
in my opinion he’s not gonna take men who take up with men because see, when two women get together, it’s just two gifts that got together but when man takes up with a man, he’s rebuking the gift that God gave him and denying the design plan.
So, my first job out of high school was working on Michael Jackson’s Bad video. I was nineteen, the youngest one in the video.
I met Corey and Mickey on the edge of The Bluff, an Atlanta neighborhood known for drugs, prostitution, and gang violence. I approached them because they were clearly out of place and I wanted to hear their story.
I became a transsexual at the age of 13 or 14. Going to school was hard because I had to fight all the time. I was always suspended. My father never approved of me being the woman that I am. So, I got emancipated at the age of 16.
He died in 2006. It’s been a while but I still think about him cause it was the happiest time of my life. I wish he was here right now. I really did love the guy. I did. After all these years, I still love him.
I was 15 when my mom found out that I liked girls. She kicked me out of the house. That’s what hurt me the most. She was there for them boys [brothers] more than she was there for me.
you know, in all these years, I’ve only had one person say anything negative to me and it was a 12 year old girl. She called me a fag and told me to get the fuck out of here.
I travel all over the Southeast U.S. in search of stories. I've recently started asking people to write a note about something that has been weighing heavy on them and drop it in a lock box. Here are some notes from various regions that relate to this topic.
Special thanks to Susan Turner for helping me bring this collection together.