Author: Eli Rigatuso

Supporters

This page is for our SUPPORTERS!  And anyone can become a supporter and it isn’t just about giving us money but about creating a powerful network. A network of AMAZING humans, businesses, and non profit organizations.  All who believe in one thing, BEING HAPPY, and celebrating diversity!  So if you have something you would like us to share on Speaking of Happy please email us at elirigatuso@catchcreative.com so we can work out the details! A GREAT BIG thank you goes out to the following supporters of Speaking Of Happy, without you we would barely know how to manage our way around the interwebs!

pmaulogoCatchLogoPFLAGOmahaSNAP!Productions

What’s in a Name?

What is in a name? From before we even take our first breathe, outside of our mothers belly, we are given a name. Something people can know us by, and can start to formulate opinions of. People can begin to shop for you based on that name and they feel some sort of comfort in knowing if they are shopping for a boy or a girl.

When I was born it was 1965 and back then ultrasound technology was not being used in the United States. As a matter of fact it would be another 5-10 years before it would even emerge in the states and I would already be firmly known as Beth. There is a part of me that wishes the world could come to a place where we just allow our little creations to emerge as HUMAN and then allow them to share with us who they are as they grow and develop. So that young trans humans would have the say in what they will be called long before a name that might not suit them takes hold. And they could be respected in their choice to wear non-traditional clothing for their assigned gender.

It’s probably not typical in the trans community that I have never hated the name Beth. Or that I don’t honestly feel I was born in the wrong body, just not the one that is 100% me.  I still don’t hate my name but I do know that it doesn’t fit who I see myself as being on the inside.

The process for coming up with my name was a funny one. After being born and raised in Omaha and 50 years of being Beth and creating my own personal brand, so to speak, it was hard to think of how it might feel to let that all go. Or perhaps to re-create myself on the outside to match who I feel I am on the inside.

Would people still love me?
Would they understand and support me and respect my choice to be called Eli?

Well one thing is for sure, after 50 years of living a life being something I do not feel is 100% authentically me, it was time to start living for ME and allowing myself to have the freedom to be Eli! Regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.

So, here is a short video which further explains my choice to be known as Eli and to allow Beth to take a rest, after all she has really done some extraordinary things over the past 50 years! I will share more with you as I continue along my transition and I promise to answer all of your questions! Thank you for the incredible love and support you have showered on me. Thank you for giving me the freedom to be Eli!

EliNameChangePaperworkEli Rigatuso shares why he chose the name Eli.  After 50 years of being known as Beth to his community it took some time to settle on a name.  And as of Thursday October 22, 2015 his name change was submitted and hopefully by December the name will be official.  We of course will keep you updated (it is a 6 week process)!
A GREAT BIG THANK YOU goes out to Joni Watke Stacy of Sena, Polk, and Stacy LLP

If you need legal assistance we highly recommend Joni Watke Stacy!

SNAP! Productions

SNAP!Productions

On the show today we speak with Michal Simpson, Artistic Director at SNAP! Productions a Non Profit theater space in Omaha.  SNAP! has been around for 22 years and has produced award winning theater productions and musicals all focused on educating people on diverse topics.  Simpson has been with SNAP! for 22 years and shares some heartwarming and wonderful insights from both past and present shows.

Simpson also shares about the current production which opens on November 12th and runs through December 6th.

Mama’s Girls – Written by Marilynn Barner Anselmi

The show is about Eleven year old twins Amelia and Sam who argue about everything. Barbies, sports, chores, everything – except Sammy’s knowledge she is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Amelia fights for everyone and everything who opposes Sammy, including their parents. The shrapnel of these conflicts brings Sammy’s transition and the fragility of their parent’s marriage to the fore.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.

We hope you enjoy the podcast we sure enjoyed our conversation with Michal!

If you don’t see the player you can click here and listen to the podcast on Pod-o-matic! Thank you for listening!

GLSEN Omaha

Today on the podcast we are talking with JohnCarl Denkovich who is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for GLSEN and his primary role is to serve as the local chapters Director of Policy and Legislative advocacy. He also sits on the National Advisory Council for GLSENs National Board.

GLSEN Omaha is a Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The mission of GLSEN Omaha is to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. They primarily serve the Omaha metropolitan area, including Council Bluffs, IA but provide services across Nebraska. They strive to protect students from bullying and harassment, to advance comprehensive safe schools laws and policies, to empower principals to make their schools safer, and to build the skills of educators to teach respect for all people. They work closely with the national staff of GLSEN to implement programs and affect positive change in school communities.

If you don’t see the player you can click here and listen to the podcast on Pod-o-matic!  Thank you for listening!

PFLAG Omaha

On this episode of the podcast we interview Ellen James, board member.  PFLAG Omaha was established in February of 1987 PFLAG Omaha is a 501 (c) (3) non profit who meets people where they are and in collaborating with others they realize their vision through:

  • Support for families, allies, and people who are LGBTQ
  • Education for ourselves and others about the unique issues and challenges facing people who are LGBTQ
  • Advocacy in our communities to change the attitudes and create policies and laws that achieve full equality for people who are LGBTQ. for confidential support or information contact the helpline 402.291.6781 or email them at info@pflag-omaha. org
  • Check out their website
  • or on facebook

PFLAGOmaha

If you don’t see the podcast player you can click here and listen on Pod-O-Matic.

Vulnerability in Action

BriannaHumphrey2Today I was going about my morning as usual when I came across a lovely post on facebook by a young woman living in Kearney, Nebraska. People ask me all the time, why are you such an activist? Why does the LGBTQIA Community celebrate Pride? Why? Why? Why? Well, I can’t explain much better than this wonderful post by my new friend Brianna Humphrey, so I am not even going to try. But I will say this much, when ther day comes when people are not being rejected for being who they are, when our youth are not taking their own lives in numbers to high to even stomach, when we can truly just love and let people be and celebrate their milestones in life with them, that will be the day we no longer need to celebrate Pride, but that day has yet to come and this post reminds me of the need to keep educating, to keep being an outspoken activist, and to keep spreading HAPPY!  When I read her post and immediately asked her if I could share it here.  She agreed and here is our first guest contributor! I hope you enjoy it!  Oh and please be sure to give her some love with amazing and supportive comments!  Thank you!

(just click the date below and it will open in FB so you can read her post).

Review New Janet CD: Unbreakable

My Janet CD

In the mail today we received the brand spanking new Janet Jackson CD Unbreakable! It went immediately into the computer to import into iTunes so we could take it for a spin. And first impression, it DOES NOT DISAPPOINT! The opening song is very Janet lyrically and instrumentally. It is a toe tapping salute to love and trust me when I say it will make you want to grab your love and get your dance on! I like that she started the CD with this track because as we move through it gets a little deeper but I will get to that in a moment!

Next up is a little ditty featuring Missy Elliott and it definitely wakes up your senses and creates a fun ride as they come together to Burn It Up! It is a wonderful union of these two amazing women that will surely get lots of play time at the local clubs. It’s reminiscent of the times I spent dancing on the speakers at The Max and although it is a new song it takes me to a place that puts a big smile on my face. I am TOO OLD for the clubs but this one will surely aid with cleaning around the house! Give it a listen!

And she keeps the beat moving with track 3 Dammn Baby (yes it is spelled with two mm’s and you will understand why when you listen because I guarantee you will say DAMMN!).

The next track blew me away! Literally! I completely stopped what I was doing because I had to check the CD to make sure it was in fact Janet and not her brother Michael. I honestly thought maybe it was something he had not finished but his name doesn’t appear on the liner notes on the CD insert so it is in fact Janet. But she was surely channeling her brother on this track and it definitely has some subtle, or not so subtle, nuances of her brother throughout the track. The beat and the lyrics SCREAM Michael! Get it?

And the next track starts out slow and melodic. As a matter of fact it seems innocent and sweet until about 47 seconds in when it kicks into high gear. And then it slows again at a minute and twenty seconds which immediately drew me back to the CD insert. I had to read the lyrics and once I did I LOST IT, yes tears! The chorus is powerful and pure and the lyrics are vulnerable and sincere. She is telling one on herself about how she has had to overcome critics and her own naïveté and then she says, “Enlightened minds and open hearts together make the world a better place!” This song draws it’s power as an anthem for us all to see how we can do better for ourselves and for one another! It’s about revolution it’s about real solutions and it’s about OPENING your eyes! It’s FANTASTIC! She closes the song with a powerful softly delivered verse that will tug at the heartstrings of her Rhythm Nation fans but you will have to buy the CD or search online for what it is because I want this CD to break records! Buy it now! But if what I have already shared isn’t enough to convince you I will continue.

From track 5 to track 6 she slows it down. It starts out with her amazing voice and a piano. Singing right to your heart. Asking the question Who’s going to be there, After You Fall?” She shares heartache and pain in a way to understand what others might be going through when they are hurting. Questioning trust. She ends the song with that same question and then slowly, softly she says, I will. Choked me up!

The next track is definitely a shout out to Michael. She sings of long ago, remembering the good times when they were young making up songs together while they did chores and harmonizing, everyone with their part. Dancing and singing through most anything and always feeling safe. The second verse she refers to him leaving her in the summer. And she shares her intimate pain at the loss of her brother, her best friend, and the unbelievable pain but she does it in an upbeat Jackson way with “Broken Hearts Heal.” I have no doubt her brother LOVES it!

The next track is “Night” and it is all about love. Waking up in heaven. A wonderful tribute to the way love can take over and help the darkness fade and bring us joy. Another fun dance track that will have you shaking your groove thing!

I could go on and on and on about this CD but I am going to jump ahead to one of my favorite tracks! “Black Eagle” which is track 15. A dreamy, intoxicating melody which almost feels like it’s a plea to allow yourself to come out of a difficult time. A time so dark that might have you want to end it all. She calls it a love song and it feels like a bridge from one heart to another with a plea to stay with us. To honor your life and to be a stand that we reach out to one another. I may be reading into this but the lyrics are powerful and LIFE GIVING! The lyrics are here:

Suicide is a real issue. I hear about someone almost daily who has ended their life feeling as though they have no other choice. I believe this song could help someone. I will share it wildly. Because WE ALL NEED TO DO BETTER!

If you don’t have the CD you can buy it here.  She is offering some GREAT packages that include other merchandise.

Thank you Janet! I heart you big time! Can’t wait to see you in Omaha and I would just die if I was fortunate enough to meet you and shake your hand! You are INCREDIBLE!

Transition

This video was created from a spoken word piece written by Eli for his significant other. When he first realized he was transgender and he shared with his life partner there was some struggle. Transition isn’t just about the person who is transitioning, it is about everyone near and dear to that person as well. This video is for anyone who is either tranistioning or is close to someone who is. Please be gentle with yourselves in this process and be sure to surround yourself with people who love you and support you and will listen to you when you need to speak. I am very fortunate to have a life partner who is willing to look within and challenge herself to see the world in new and wonderful ways. She is choosing to walk this path with me and I am so very grateful for her. She is my rock, my salvation, the place I can go to find true comfort and love. There are amazing people in this world, if you are willing to let them in, they may surprise you with how they will respond! Much love and blessings to you today! I hope you enjoy this video.

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