‘When I played T-ball, I twirled in the outfield’

Isiah Fish

What does the word “queer” mean to you?

It’s 2007. I get my first job popping corn & frying funnel cakes at a movie theater. With my first paycheck, I buy the “Queer as Folk” complete boxed set. Night by night, I devour it in the dark, sitting in a chair close to the TV, sound on low. I fall in love with one of the characters–Justin Taylor–& I find a boy at my school who’s just as blonde & I date him for two years. I’m not consciously aware that no one on the show looks like me; I’m only conscious of the fantasy: glitter falling from the dance floor in Babylon, gay comic books & men to make love to, torso after torso in a smoke-filled back room, the city as a maze where beautiful men trick & treat their bodies far into dawn–& I’m right there. I’m sitting in a chair, blanket wrapped around my shoulders like the toned arms of Brian Kinney, but I’m there.

“Queer” for me started here. This is what I think of when I hear the word, one consonant away from “Queen.” Rhymes with “clear.” The sound has a glassy ring to it, as if a martini glass was struck with a bread knife. “Queer” is a martini glass in the sill of a stained-glass window. Queer is a cocktail that heteros choke on.

How do you identify?

Artist. Beauty-monger, aerialist, circus-butterfly, mermaid in a martini glass materializing in a moonlit hotel room, a boy with sharp gold stars in his pockets, little witch bitch, little dreamer with the faux-diamond fist running towards a burning mustang with a fashion magazine rolled in my fist.

Where are you originally from and explain what it was like growing up in KY?

Louisville. J-Town.

When I played T-ball, I twirled in the outfield. When my coach asked why I refused to slide into home plate, I told him, “Because these pants are WHITE.” Dirt horrified me. I watched kids bake mud pies behind Mr. Ray’s blue house but never joined them. Middle school was suffocating because everyone was so wearily heteronormative. In eighth grade I made my first queer friend: a bi girl who pierced her own lip with a rainbow stud, & got reprimanded for it. No one understood us, so we moshed in the rain. Enter MySpace. Enter my Puerto Rican boyfriend who lived in Yonkers, NY. I’d ride my bike to talk to him on the payphone outside a Speedway. I can still hear his voice asking me if I owned a horse. Enter my parents finding a note from a boy & asking the question I’d been waiting years for them to ask. Enter my declaration. Enter my dad saying, “I already knew. You never liked to play with trucks,” with a smile. Enter the first straight boy I ever fell in love with, who was white, & played baseball at a Catholic school & would talk to me on the phone for hours each night. Enter my emo phase, the discovery of guyliner, the way I wore belts around my neck because my mood was a sad-boy-rager with an affinity for good lighting and self-portraiture. Enter my first kiss with a boy behind a fence in winter at a fish fry, how his hands were so cold they cracked & bled. How the kiss confirmed my sexuality, but further convoluted his. Enter high school. My boyfriend’s mother saying to him, “Why can’t you just date a nice white guy instead?” Enter a complex about my race, about my masculinity to effeminacy ratio, enter hating my own body, not understanding that my natural hair was just as beautiful as the hair of the boys on the lacrosse team. Enter my best girls, the ones I laughed into the night with, photographed at abandoned churches, & remained a constant lifeline despite the boys who came & disappeared.

What would you say to someone struggling to come into their own identity?

We’re on this planet for such a brief time. I know that it feels like you have to be a certain way in order to be accepted or validated, but realize that the only acceptance or validation that truly matters is yours. Sometimes “realizing” it is just something you have to live through. It’s a practice. Also, the only person in this world who can be you is YOU, so bitch, you better be the best you possible.

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself?

I did gymnastics when I was younger, & in my twenties, I became an aerial acrobat for a circus company based out of Memphis. Grace is second-nature to me. The way I carry myself is an extension of that. I’m a lithe birdie, & I’m good at sneaking up on people.

In another sense, I’m vigilant. In his memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives, Saeed Jones writes, “Being black can get you killed. Being gay can get you killed. Being a black gay boy is a death wish.”

I know I’m illegal in some parts of the world. I know my existence is illegal. I know there are places I could be battered to death with boulders for loving another man. I know I could be imprisoned for life. I’m grateful that I can be who I am in America, but I still have to be vigilant, okur? Hypervigilant, even.

Once, a white man in denim & cowboy boots called me a faggot under his breath in Borders, while I perused the CD collection. (Do y’all remember Borders? Do y’all remember CDs?) I walked over to him & said, “What did you say?” & he stuttered, “What? Nothing.”

Nevermind that he called me a faggot; nevermind that when confronted, he couldn’t own up to it. Some men skip the name-calling & come straight at your throat with a broken bottle. Some men torture you & then murder you with their buddies. I’m aware that I move differently. I’m aware that some people love my theatricality & flamboyant lust for life. I’m also aware that some men fear it, which is really about them, not me, yet it could be my life on the line. You know what happened to Matthew Shepard. Do you know what happened to Jadin Bell?

What issues do you see in the queer community?

I could list dozens, from racism & internalized homophobia to drug-abuse & body-image issues & many of them are the same issues rampant in the “straight” community (if that’s even a thing?), but I think in the human community, there is a prominent lack of kindness. I think many queer people have been marginalized & traumatized & never learned how to love themselves, so the self-hate manifests as destructive behavior to themselves & to others. I’ve sought validation in other people because I didn’t believe that I was good enough. It’s something I had to live through to realize. An aha! Moment, like wait, I don’t have to live up to anyone’s or any society’s ideal. I just have to honor my true authentic self. I’ve been teaching myself how to love me (thanks RuPaul) & how to be kind to myself. Because that is where happiness is. I used to think I needed someone else to make me whole. Now I know that I have to be whole on my own. Shout out to Oprah on that one.

Recently, I was at a friend’s house & a mutual posted a picture of his battered face on Instagram. His boyfriend had been beating the shit out of him for months, but no one knew. Looking at the picture, my friend says, “but they were so cute on Instagram!” & I said, “Instagram isn’t real.” Instagram is one of the grandest illusions, like gender. I would know, because my Instagram is curated in this flowery, fashiony aesthetic–it’s one of the ways I make my life into a work of art. But some people endlessly scroll, & they get warped into this frenzy of social-media masochism: all the beautiful bodies they see that make them feel bad, instead of logging off, they keep going! When my friend posts a pic & doesn’t receive the amount of likes he wants and then deletes the pic–so this is all for validation then? & what does validation give you in the end? I’ll wait.

Do you feel excluded from the mainstream queer community?

I don’t feel excluded, but there was a moment when I felt super judged by “someone in my community:”

I was standing in line for a burger at one of WKUs eateries & this gay boy sees me, & I have this gift where, when people look at me, they know I’m gay right, & so this gay boy comes over & straight up says, “Wanna hook up?” & I said, “Um, no,” & he said, “Why not? That’s what we do.”

It was a really strange moment. It wasn’t even how forward he was, it was the disgusted way he looked at me when I said I wasn’t into casual sex. It’s like, Gurl, you do you, & I’m not judging you for having your casual flings, so can I get the same respect?

I’m really grateful to have embraced what I used to think made me an outlier. Anytime I don’t feel good enough, or I feel like I’m lacking something, I stop & I say, “Who are you comparing yourself to? What ideal are you trying to live up to?” & the negative thought is neutralized. Then I remember that as far as I’m concerned, I’m the new American Standard.

Where do you feel at your most fabulous?

I went to Louisville Pride 2019 & it was pretty fabulous. My daytime look was a yellow skirt & soccer jersey–lots of leg, lots of androgyny. My nighttime look was the real kicker, though: a red crop top that read “1990” & a fucking wide leg trouser that fanned out just above my cheetah print stilettos. After Todrick Hall performed, I walked down the middle of the street to Nowhere Bar, & I was spotlit by streetlights on Bardstown Road & someone called out, “Okay PANTS! I see you!” & a boy broke away from his group of friends to ask me my name. I told him it was Butterfly. I walked slow. So slow that every step dropped honey. So slow that from a distance, I imagined the little girl who was watching me with rainbow face paint on her cheek thought that time was crumbling all around me.

There is no one way to be queer: Kentucky Lesbian couple tells all

McKenzie and Colby

What does the word queer mean to you?

M: I always thought of it as existing outside the heteronormative universe—with rules about the things you’re “supposed” to do. It’s marching to your own drum and being different while not having to worry about what society says you have to do at a certain time or a certain age. C: To me, queer has become a catch-all term that can be used to describe an array of gender and sexual identities. It is a term that can be morphed and molded to fit however someone needs. I often use it when I’m trying to describe a group to be inclusive of all the variation that exists within our LGBTQIA+ community. How do you identify? Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything at all? M: Lesbian. (Let the record show that upon answering this question, McKenzie broke out into an adorable chuckle.) A soft butch. I heard the term GNC recently and was excited because in my mind I thought oh it’s a new way to say sporty fitness gay since you know that store but I found out it meant gender non-conforming which in a way works too because I don’t exactly fit into the standard feminine mold.C: I’m queer, and I’m gay. I like “hard femme” to describe the way I present. I’m tattooed and pierced, my hair is longer but shaved up the back, I only wear black though I secretly enjoy a nice floral, and I’m not afraid to open my mouth to tell you the brutally honest truth especially if your political opinions are trash. Where are you originally from and explain how was it growing up/living in Kentucky? M: Campbellsville, KY. I grew up in a very Southern Baptist family. My dad was/is a deacon at our church that my family has been attending for decades. I was in church 3x a week, youth group, and even went on mission trips around the state rehabbing homes. I was always the rough and tumble tomboy that just liked playing outside, participating in sports, I got along better with boys than girls because I didn’t want to just sit around playing dolls. Nothing seemed amiss until early high school when the usual things happen. All the girls who I was friends with would be like “he’s cute”, started going on dates and I was always like “eww, boys are gross” and had no idea why. I started to figure things out mid-high school but knew because of where I lived, I couldn’t tell anyone. There were a lot of years of listening to angry music and taking lots of art classes, and wearing what I thought was emo clothes to deal with the keeping it all in—trying to rationalize being gay but at the same listening to a pastor who said I would very much go to hell. I was determined to get out of the city and live my true self in a city far away from prying eyes. I even went to a college that I knew no one from my high school would attend. C: I grew up at the dead-end of a dirt road in Hampton, Connecticut. My graduating high school class had 50 students, and a third of them had gone to school with me since we were in kindergarten. That part of Connecticut was, and still is very conservative. In elementary school, I wore my work boots with either overalls or dresses my mom sewed from fabric we picked out together (bugs, ants, the solar system, school supplies—you name it, she was cool with it). I was often the only girl invited to an all boy birthday party, and I played on every sports team. By the time high school came around, I felt different than the other girls in my class, but I did not have the language to explain why. I liked to wear make-up, I wore dresses to semi-formal dances and proms, and I even had a boyfriend all four years (first and last time that happened). Thinking back to then, we were really just best friends who were really into being emo together. After graduating high school, I went to Smith, which is a womens’ college in Northampton, Massachusetts. It took all of about 20 seconds for me to realize why I had felt so different all those years—I was very, very queer. By the time I moved to Louisville, Kentucky five years ago, I was very confident in my identity as a queer human. Admittedly, I was scared I would not be able to find anyone to date based on my assumptions of a red state as far south as I have ever lived, but meeting McKenzie was the most perfect surprise of my life. What would you say to any person struggling to come into their own identity? M: Do a lot of reading and search out resources. I spent a lot time on the computer in our upstairs bonus room late at night reading and researching, then carefully curating the search history so my parents wouldn’t figure out what I was doing. I also latched on to, as corny as it sounds, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it was the first tv show I watched with a queer character that was accessible to me. I remember reading the old TV guide magazines my mom would buy and I saw an article about all the “gasp” LGBT people on TV! I just remembered seeing the characters and knew I had to watch it! I got really into the online communities surrounding that show almost 15-20 years ago that really expanded my understanding of what being LGBT meant. There were no limits to message boards filled with questioning kids like me with people from all ages offering all kinds of advice. That was how I coped living in a community with no representation. Once I got to college, I finally could be around other queer people who were open and confident with who they were. You have to find your own tribe who you can trust, who will support you, sometimes that might be a digital tribe until you find your own space. C: There is no one way to be queer. The way you choose to be yourself is beautiful and perfect in every way. You are enough, exactly as you are right now. How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it? M: My identity has always been a part of how I carry myself. I am a butch woman who lifts weights. I have never been dainty. I don’t walk demurely, or dress how women are “supposed” to dress. I am more comfortable shopping in the little boy’s section (I’m short) than the womens. Many people tell me I walk with swagger but that is the furthest from the truth if you knew me, but I’ve been told that since high school. It’s just who I am! C: I take up a lot of space and I’m proud of that. When men walk toward me on the sidewalk, I never move to the side and sometimes that means they walk right into me. As a queer person, I know I do not fit the mold of how society would like me to act, and I find that freeing more than anything else. I’m not afraid of calling out microaggression when I see or hear something. I will be loud and I will get in your face if you choose not to hear me. People in Kentucky seem to mistake this passion of mine for aggression, but I think it’s kind of a common New Englander thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like to think I also know when to listen—but I won’t stand for anyone getting stepped on. Now that I am in medical school training to be a primary care provider for LGBTQIA+ people, I am way more open about my identity than I ever have been before. I am proud to be someone who is out and can help my colleagues learn to be more inclusive. What issues do you see in the queer community? C: I think there are a lot of ways that the queer community straight-up fails at intersectionality. Queer people are living at the intersections of multiple oppressions all at once and until each one of us is free we will not be truly liberated. People are comfortable wearing rainbows and going to (partying at) Pride, but not marching for Black Lives Matter, rallying for immigrants and refugees, or speaking out for any other marginalized groups under the queer umbrella. M: I echo a lot of what Colby says in her statement about not standing up for other marginalized parts of our community, but I also think to the overall health problems in our community. I like to exist in queer safe spaces but often times those spaces are surrounded in clouds of varying types of smoke, especially patio areas on nice nights. This may also intersect with our state problems as well. This states populace smokes way too much. Being into fitness I wish our community would take better care of ourselves. It’s hard to fight the white supremacy and the patriarchy when you have COPD. What do you think would solve those issues? C: As a white person I know I have directly benefited from centuries of enforced white supremacy. Since I have recognized that, I can use the resources I do have to unrig the system. There is a lot that I do not know, and a lot that I know I will never understand, but I am willing to put in the work to learn on my own time and read up on how I can use the skills I do have to help my community. I think we can move forward together if each of us gave what we are able to. M: I know many of the health issues surrounding the community are also connected with being marginalized by family. They are coping mechanisms for pain. I hope that over time we recognize these and steer away from unhealthy vices. As a member of the Crossfit community that sometimes gets a bad reputation as a bunch hypermasculine meat heads, I do see many gyms reaching out to the LGBT+ community. I want to see women pick up the weights and get strong, for the community to get better at finding spaces to congregate that don’t involve smoking and excessive drinking. As I’ve gotten older, I am turned off by going to bars where the goal is just get blacked out. I’d rather get sweaty lifting!

Knox County trans woman stays true to self despite opposition

Lu Fields, Barbourville

What do you identify as? Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything?

I am a Proud Transgendered Woman from the small city called Barbourville in the County of Knox.

What does the word Queer mean to you?

Queer has many meanings to me as a Trans Woman who proudly fights for all LGBT and minorities.

I’ve heard the word Queer in the derogatory form my entire life.

I have been called the word Queer many times as well in a hurtful way! I believe however the word is best defined by me personally as happy and openly proud!

Where are you from and explain what it was like growing up/living in Kentucky?

I grew up in Barbourville, Kentucky. My entire life I’ve fought for equality and to simply be treated as a human being. My first memory of hate is scorched in to my memory like an iron burning flesh.

I was in the fourth grade when a bully relentlessly attacked me. My father told me I had to fight back or he would whip me when I got home.

The boy started poking and hitting me first thing the next morning so I fought back “after he stabbed a pencil threw my hand” which I bare the scares of still to this day! Instead of the teacher reprimanding the student who had hit me everyday the teacher grabs my arm dragging me into the hallway! She beat me with a paddle so severely it fractured my tailbone & legs!

As I cried in pain she told me I’d learn to act like a lil boy or get beat every day!

What would you say to anyone struggling to come into their own identity?

Dig deep inside yourself to find your loudest voice because you’ll need it! Surround yourself with only positive people to lift you when you are challenged or have fallen!

Stay Strong like a Willow Tree as my grandmother used to tell me! The Willow branch bends but does not break she’d say! To me that meant take time to listen to understand their perception. Take time to inform and educate but do not allow them to harm you with negativity until you break!

Bend like a branch in the wind but never let them break you!

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?

I carry myself with such Pride. I do so for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is there are people watching that are struggling and may see you as a light.

What issues do you see in the queer community?

I hate that there is division in the Queer Community over silly things! We should all love and support each other! I also think there should be more outreach for the struggling youth! Finally, we should have an education program in place for disease prevention and drug abuse!

What do you think would solve those issues?

Love is the only answer for bringing us together to stand against such hate in these hostile times in our country! By loving each other we can stand stronger & former against these assaults!The more united we are the fewer the numbers would be caught in situations that allow abuse!These situations are not limited to verbal & physical abuSe either.

We could help solve a lot of this recruitment by traffickers who exploit our abused LGBT members! Our community feels so alone & isolated that most simply want to be loved!

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?

I don’t feel excluded but it’s because I travel so frequently to other areas in the United States making new friends. These friends make my alliances stronger not only for me but everyone in my LGBT community!

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)

I made a promise to myself a very long time ago to live my best life. I have never lived in true fear until this administration took office!

Now I’m constantly waiting for new laws stripping my rights daily! Even though I am fearful of the growing hate I live my best life!

We must be bigger! We must be better and we must rise!

Who influenced the life you live now?

My biggest influence was probably my Grandmother. My grandma loved me endlessly and always told me to be proud of myself! She always loved me just as I was! I will be forever thankful for feeling loved enough to simply be me!

‘I want other brown trans girls to look at me and be proud’

Kay Moss

When I hear Queer I think gay man or butch queen. A lady like myself doesn’t use that word to describe herself.

I can settle for words like TS or Trans woman but not Queer or tranny. I am from Louisville, Kentucky I was born at Norton Hospital. Growing up in Kentucky was very interesting. I was adopted at the age of five and I lived in a really good area of town and was fortunate to have nice things.

As a teen I was very androgynous and super feminine. Secretly, I always wanted to be a famous model. I would walk around with my nose in the air practicing my runway up the church aisle, neighborhood, sidewalks and wherever there was a crowd or a chance to turn someone’s head.

I was often times the smallest person in my class in school. I had an athletic body and smooth skin I never had much face or body hair. I was a cheerleader and a very good gymnast. I never gave my sexuality any thought but other people did. The world treated me like a girl for the most part. I was bullied for my skin color and femme ways all through school I dropped out of high school at 16 because I couldn’t focus. Dealing with my home life and being bullied was too much for me. I did obtain my GED at 18.

I always struggled with my spirituality sexuality and identity. I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal household. I thought I was going to hell until I was around 25. There came a point when decided I was going to live for me so I took my first hormone injection that I got from a friend. I started laser hair removal not long after I got breast implants. The first thing I wanted to do after getting my implants was do a nude shoot. So I did and things just went from there.

Being trans has been very eye opening and honestly I wish I would have done it sooner. My life has change so much for the better I was very mean and bitter before transitioning and I wanted to die young — now I want to live forever with out aging of course. I get a lot of support from my LGBTQ+ community.

I have always loved photography & modeling. I remember asking my adopted mom if I could be a model — she said no and I was devastated. I told my biological mom that one day I would go to Atlanta and pose nude and I was around 14. Well 14 years later, you can’t keep clothes on me.

I’ve always loved fashion but I love to be the naked body that is when I am most comfortable. When I am in front of the camera I feel sexy and powerful I think ‘wow I’m so lucky to do something I enjoy and to work with such awesome & creative people. My dream is becoming reality. My goal is to pose nude for a big campaign, be on the cover of magazines and billboards. I want to have a fancy manager — the whole bit. I want people to find beauty in my brown skin and trans body. I want them to see me as art and not a sex object. I want other brown trans girl to look at me and be proud.

‘I am a woman that loves women’

Lakisha, Louisville

What do you identify as? Why? Or why don’t you identify as anything?

I am a woman that loves women. My love for Women goes beyond the labels placed on me based on who I choose to be intimate with. My soul belongs to the Woman

I choose not to say that I identify as anything because regardless of who We feel we truly are, the outside world will always label you as They feel, not as you feel. So I rid myself of labels and live as I do. In Love.

What does the word Queer mean to you?

To me, Queer is Life. It’s just as important as me saying I’m an African American Woman, it’s not a label. It’s a way of life. It’s a bold ass statement in the face of the bs that asks us to hide.

Where are you from and explain what it was like growing up/living in Kentucky?

Born and raised in Louisville. There was nothing pretty about my upbringing. As a child in poverty I have to say the love from my stepmom over shadowed that we were poor or that I had a father on drugs and in and out of jail. I moved away at 16 to Alabama to escape the abuse at home, fell into abuse from my child’s father there, moved back to Kentucky at 19, from that point on I made a promise to live my life for me. I came out at 19 with a newborn baby, no place to live, no job at the time but I was free from abuse and starting to find a sense of self and had a purpose to be my strongest self for my daughter. I have to say I “grew up” in Alabama but the glow up definitely took its course in Louisville, Ky

What would you say to anyone struggling to come into their own identity?

Do not run from any insecurities or fears you have!!!!! God that is the worst shit ever taught, to not express that. If you find yourself in a space or around others that make you feel like you cannot be vulnerable Get Away!!! Those are natural emotions, and it’s not until we allow ourselves to fully feel it and speak it that we grow through it. People are going to judge you anyway, so why not just be who you want to be and sleep well with that. You’re not out here alone, speak out!!!!!

How does your own identity run how you carry yourself? Or does it?

Man!!!! It’s a testimony that no matter how down I’ve seen myself, I am one hell of a woman to not look like an ounce of it. It gives me that extra thought on my hard days, because we will experience them, that I am a beautiful healer, healing every day. It’s testament. Every day for me.

What issues do you see in the queer community?

Projection. Seeing someone living who they are now, happy with that, but because you walked a different path you are shaming another.

What do you think would solve those issues?

Self love really does show, you get a group of people together that are happy with themselves, they will always come together for the better. They can listen to a journey and see it for the outcome, without judgement. More self love will definitely make a difference, whether that be the openness about accepting therapy, promoting ones to speak out about hurt etc. we have to start the process of self love

Do you feel excluded from the “mainstream” queer community? Why or why not?

I did for a while because I chose to try dating men. But again, I was projecting my own insecurities. Once I started being more open about myself, people took to my story and journey more, I still catch a few side eyes here and there, but my journey has molded me, so I feel no need to overcompensate my gayness to make up for any time missed lol

Where do you feel “at your best” (safe, happy, fabulous, comfortable, etc)?

In my garden or in my work room making products for my newly started business. I’m a very spiritual woman ao when it comes to someone reaching out to me to help them on their spiritual journey, there’s that reassurance for me that I’m on my right path

Who influenced the life you live now?

The child molesters, physical abusers, the verbal abusers, the fake friends, toxic relationships etc Who influenced me to KEEP GOING: My mother Karen White. Raised 8 kids, went pedal to the medal with nursing school My step mom Vera Lewis Jackson, took me in as a baby and raised me like her very own daughter also killed the game in nursing My amazing headache of a daughter Keiana Patterson… gave me a reason to not only find love, but be love in every sense, all those years I was too afraid to fight for myself, to speak out against my abusers, she helped me find my voice and my fight! She is a out and proud lesbian that finished high school at the top of her class with honors, a basketball genius, a music genius and grind just like her mother. I know for a fact that all was capable because she had the support at home to be open and true to herself!

BREAKING: POSE Star Dominique Jackson to speak at UofL Pride Week

According to a Facebook post from the LGBT Center at University of Louisville, Dominique Jackson, Star of POSE & Author of The Transsexual from Tobago (Revised), will be the keynote speaker for the University of Louisville’s Pride Week.

This event is in partnership with the LGBT Center and Student Activities Board at UofL.

The event is Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the UofL Activities Center.

Model, Actress, Author, Advocate and Activist Dominique Jackson was born on the smaller island of the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

At the age of 15, she moved to the US to escape traumatic situations. Jackson graduated in the 10th percentile of her class at Owings Mills High School before going on to attend Fayetteville State University and Morgan State University.

Enduring intolerance, discrimination and prejudice, Jackson left school and moved to New York City, where she became a member of The Underground House/Ball Community, the NYC LGBT Entertainment Circle and The Pageantry System – winning six crowns/titles while competing locally and nationally.

A leader in her community, Jackson has been awarded several accolades and was also inducted into the House and Ballroom Hall of Fame and deemed Iconic on February 27, 2016 at the NYC Ball Awards. In 2017, Jackson received the Legacy of Pride Award presented by Harlem Pride and received the first Bronx LGBT Leadership Award presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz JR and Allies LGBT PRIDE CELEBRATION. That same year, she was honored with the New York State Assembly Citation issued by Mark Gjonaj.

A fashion model since 2000, Jackson began her career at Brooklyn Fashion Week before moving onto Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. In 2011, she served as Mistress of Ceremonies in Solomon Harris’ take on the ballroom scene Newark Is Burning at NJPAC (Newark, NJ). Jackson is one of the resident models to Adrian Alicea Couture, Manuel Pelferes Couture and Angel Ayala Couture. She added Gypsy Sport by Rio Uribe and Stevie Boi to her runway accomplishments during 2016 Fall/Winter Fashion Week.

In 2014, Jackson released her autobiographical memoir The Transsexual from Tobago (Revised). Later that year, she starred in Carla Pridgen’s Incongruence produced by Ivy Theatre. In 2016, she starred in Oxygen Network’s GLAAD Award winning reality docu-series Strut, executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Leonardis, and the short film T Times by Gabriel Torres.

Jackson has served on the Community Health Program Board at the Montefiore South Bronx Healthcare Clinic for the last two years.

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