Posted by Eli Rigatuso On December 31, 2015
This is the last day of the year. The last time in 2015 that I can say, I accomplished X or I did Y in 2015. What does that mean really? Well for me this year brought with it a great deal of firsts and a whole lot of transition. Transition in how I view myself along with who I choose to share with the world! Today I choose to share the real me authentically, but it took many years to get to this point. Many ups and downs. Much heartache and pain as well as triumphs. When I look back on the last 50 some odd years of my life I can honestly say I have accomplished more than I ever believed imaginable.
The greatest accomplishment is surrounding myself with people who are willing to love me unconditionally for me. To accept the me that I am sharing with them and to help me learn to love myself unconditionally too. Believe me, this has not come easy. I have had friends say some of the meanest things to me, needless to say, they are no longer my friends. And I have had complete strangers want to tear me down for sharing myself authentically with the world. But I am here to say that did not and will NEVER stop me from sharing me. From telling my story or from sharing the stories of other local LGBTQIA heroes I know.
Today marks a day I can sit back and reflect on with great pride. In the past year, I have accomplished more than I could have ever imagined to include this website. Creating a space where I get to share so many wonderful things about our world, things that make me happy but I am finding they make other people happy too! This website would not have been possible without the love and support of so many wonderful people to include the incredible love of my life Kira! The woman who has stood quietly by my side and supported my journey without hesitation. She has not only helped teach me to love and accept me for me, but to also shine a bright light into the darkest parts of myself in order to find true peace and appreciation for who I am and what I have to offer this world.
She was a stand that I stop saying mean things to myself. And she would call me on it at every turn. Eventually I began to see that how I treated myself and the things I said when I thought no one else could hear were hurtful. You see no one could ever hurt me more than I had been hurting myself. As I slowly began to peel away the rough exterior layers of the person I had become I started to realize and acknowledge the truly wonderful things about myself. I could no longer allow the things I disliked about me to stop me from telling my story or from sharing my journey! And as those things began to fall away I started to realize the me, that is truly me. And acknowledging it out loud and proud to the people in my life has made all the difference in the world for me. Her love is the fuel for my fire and knowing she is by my side and loves and accepts me for exactly who I am helps give me the courage to continue on this journey.
The other person I need to thank as I reflect on this year is my dear friend Alyssa. Once I began to share my transition with the world and introduced myself as Eli, she reached out to me and asked how she could help me realize my dreams. She asked me what I wanted to accomplish in sharing my transition with people and I told her. And then she did the most amazing thing. She said, I would like to coach you! No one has ever offered me such a gift and together we put a plan in place that helped me over the roadblocks in my way in creating Speaking Of Happy the website, the blog, and the radio show! With her guidance I put a plan in place that inspired me to accomplish tasks one at a time and before I knew it the website was created and I was publishing content I am proud of consistently and having a GREAT time doing it!
In three months I fully launched the website, produced, recorded, and edited 11 episodes of the radio show, produced shot and edited 3 videos (one that shared some personal stories of my life which has yet to be published to the page), wrote 3 blogs as well as had one guest blogger, and produced a One of A Kind comedy show and fundraiser that premiered my video 1976, my stand up comedy, plus I had more than 50 pieces of my photo art on display and for sale!
My good friends Brody Ray
donated their time and talents and sang their hearts out at the show too so please go and support them and their music! And certainly last but not least I took some of the biggest steps on my journey to having my outsides express the man that I believe I have always been. I began my hormone treatments which has opened me up to a world that has been truly amazing and at times a little scary as I navigate these waters. On December 21, 2015 and with the amazing support of Kira, I ventured on the next step in my journey and had top surgery. As I type this I have an amazing freedom today. I look in the mirror and I see the me that had been there all along. A friend asked me, “what is it like, do you miss them?” I said, “My breasts?” He nods yes. I respond, “I don’t miss them at all, you see this is what I have always felt was me. I feel free and alive in a way that I have never experienced in the Fifty years of my life and I am awake and ready for the next 50!”
Also, if accomplishing the above wasn’t enough, with the love and support of many wonderful friends, I am also writing a book. I have finally found my voice and believe me, I will continue to shout with pride from the roof tops today and every day! I may not be the most prolific writer, comedian, blogger, or videographer in the world but I tell you this much, I am on the court of life, playing with everything I have to give and when I go to bed at night I sleep more soundly than I have all my life and awake and greet every new day with inspiration and determination to continue to do what I can to make a difference in our world!
I am truly blown away at what I have accomplished and fully believe 2016 will be one of my greatest years yet! My dear friends. If you take anything from what I have written here please know that allowing yourself and those around you be who they are and share their gifts with you, we all get to be GREAT together. So go, sing, dance, write, produce, support, and applaud yourself/others and all our successes! Let’s all have an amazing 2016!
I will be making my photo art available very soon so stay tuned!
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On December 16, 2015
Today on the show we sit down with Brody Ray, Kearney, NE native, who is working hard to make his dreams become a reality! He recently released his first EP Detour worldwide! He has an upbeat alternative rock sound that is full of life and energy! On this episode we talk about how Brody became a musician along with some wonderful stories about his growing up knowing he was different.
Brody’s life started out different from most. Brody, born female, new that his body didn’t match what he felt on the inside, as young as a toddler. Brody’s mother remembers him kicking the back of her seat in the McDonald’s Drive Thru until he got the boy toy in his happy meal, and jumping around in diapers and cowboy boots with a guitar singing at the top of his lungs.
I happen to think Brody is an incredible talent as well as being an amazing human being! He has a heart of gold and a deep desire to make a difference in the world with his music and I believe he is well on his way! He has performed at numerous Pride’s around the US along with performing right here in Omaha for Heartland Pride! Be sure to check out his website at www.brodyray.com and BUY HIS MUSIC which is also available on iTunes.
Brody also sang live in the studio for us and we shot a little video footage for your viewing pleasure!
If you can’t see the player above click HERE and listen to the show on PodOMatic.
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On December 7, 2015
One of the aspects of my job is voice over work. It wasn’t the main reason I was hired but after cutting a few tracks co-workers began requesting my voice be used for their videos. Ever since a very young age I have always LOVED To talk.
Ask anyone who knows me. I probably came out of my mothers womb chatting up a storm! My mom even wrote in my baby book that my first song that I would sing to was the double mint commercial on TV. Singing has always been a favorite past time of mine too!
When I went in for my initial meeting with the hormone doctor she listed a number of things that will change when using T. One of those things is my voice. I really had to think about that one because obviously, I make a living or at least part of it, by using my voice. Would the change effect that? Would people stop requesting my voice for their projects? So, I have been trying to remember to keep track of the changes as time has gone on. I can pull old audio from videos I have done to hear my voice pre T but I wanted to note the changes. So I recorded a snippet at 1 month, 3 months (missed doing the 2nd month), and again at 4 months. This is the result.
My voice he is a changing! Also prior to my starting T I decide to record myself singing some of my old Karaoke favorites so that I could do a mash up of sorts with my voice then and now! I haven’t done the second take of the songs but I will work on them and update this post once they are done!
I was curious to see if anyone else had done anything like it and found this guy! Joshua Kipp who wrote/produced the song “Little Girl” using both his pre T voice and his voice after having been on T for awhile.
Here is what he said about the experience of putting the two tracks together.
The melding of both his pre- and post-transition vocals happens only on “Little Girl,” and probably won’t happen again. “It was so intense, I could only do it once,” says Klipp. “The experience was so deep and wrenching but so emotionally resolving, too.”
Being a musician he had concerns about his voice change and after reading some additional info about him, he is pleased with how his voice sounds now but it was a struggle to get to where he is with it!
I also found this wonderful music video by Filmmaker Aarin Burch who directs Joshua Klipp and the Sarah Bush Dance Project in this beautiful tribute to those who have gone before us and how they impact our own lives in “L1FE” (one life).
There have been other changes I have experienced which i will share in another post but suffice it to say that for now the changes in my voice are working for me.
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On November 25, 2015
Today on the show we sat down with Jordan Delmundo, Executive Director of NAP, Nebraska AIDS Project in Omaha. He shares about how NAP started along with all the wonderful resources they provide in education and testing right here in the Omaha area.
Founded in 1984 as a compassionate response to the AIDS crisis, Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP) leads the community in the fight to overcome HIV/AIDS and its stigma through education, supportive services, and advocacy. As one of the few statewide AIDS service organizations in the country and the only community-based AIDS service organization in Nebraska, NAP provides HIV prevention education and case management services to the entire state of Nebraska, 11 counties in Southwest Iowa, and two counties in Eastern Wyoming.The employees of Nebraska AIDS Project come from diverse and wide ranging backgrounds and each person brings with them skills, education, and experience to best serve our community. NAP’s team includes a Board of Directors, administrative staff, client services staff, education/prevention staff and more often than not, a few interns and students.
If you can not see the player click HERE and listen to the podcast on Pod-O-Matic.
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On November 24, 2015
I am a HUGE fan of The Voice. I love it for so many reasons but the main reason is the blinds. To get on the show you audition with the judges only hearing you. They don’t see you until they push their buttons and they don’t push their buttons until they hear something so incredible they can not help but push the button.
This season, started the same as all the others but the main difference being one performer who even blew me away from the moment he first opened his mouth. His name is Jordan Smith. His blind audition song was “Chandelier” by Sia. Here is the performance if you missed it.
Jordan is not your typical pretty boy. Although I personally think he is incredibly handsome. He is a bigger guy and has more than likely been shamed more than once for his appearance. And not only is he a bigger guy, he can hit notes that many women couldn’t even hit if they tried. And again, something tells me he has felt the sting of his peers teasing him for having the voice he has.
What many of them may have missed is that Jordan has the voice of an angel. And he has the compassion, love, generosity, and humble nature to go with this angelic voice. He inspires me to love myself for me. Last night on the Voice he sang “Who You Are” by Jessie J. The lyrics to the song are so powerful. Here is his performance
The song is an anthem to loving yourself for exactly as you are, to follow your heart and be true to who you are. I am so very happy Jordan has made it as far as he has on The Voice and in my humble opinion I believe he will win this season! And if he doesn’t it will be a crying shame but he will have an amazing career in music and I will forever be a fan. I can’t wait to see him perform live! Good luck Jordan with all you do although I do not believe you will need luck with your Voice of an Angel.
Update December 10, 2015
Jordan AMAZED me once again! His semi-final performance of “Somebody To Love” was truly sublime. So heartfelt so real so passionate! Freddy Mercury was applauding from above no doubt! I must admit that every week I wonder if he can pull it off again and he just keeps getting bigger and bigger!!! Thank you Jordan for sharing your gift with us! VOTE JORDAN SMITH!!! Finals are next week and I can hardly wait for it. If you missed the performance here it is for you! ENJOY!!!
And just because I LOVE this song so very much I had to also post my other most fabulous performance of the song from Happy Feet performed by Brittany Murphy.
Update December 14, 2015
I keep thinking there is absolutely no way he can bring me to tears again and then he does this:
And needless to say I am swimming in a puddle of tears and so incredibly grateful that he found his way to The Voice tryouts and the judges recognized his incredible talent! In my mind he won this competition from the beginning! He is pure talent and he is humble and sweet and I believe he deserves to take this thing all the way! We will find out soon if he is going to be our next winner and regardless of what happens he will always be a winner to me and I will forever be a fan! Thank you Jordan Smith for sharing your gift.
Singing with Usher
Update December 16, 2015
Jordan Smith WINS The Voice!!! That is right my guy went all the way and pulled off the win of the year! I have been awed by him all season and apparently so have a huge number of other people! He did it and I couldn’t be more proud! Way to go Jordan!!! Congrats!!!
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On November 18, 2015
On a special episode of the podcast we sit down with Kate Parrish, President of the RCGA (River City Gender Alliance), and she shares about TDOR Omaha and what is happening along with how RCGA is supporting the play Mama’s Girls produced by SNAP! Productions and showing now at the Shelterbelt Theater. Click HERE to buy tickets to the show before they sell out!
Transgender Day of Remembrance is this Friday, November 20th.
TDoR Omaha presents the 4th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance at the beautiful First Unitarian Church of Omaha, 31st and Harney. TDoR is a day that we gather in community to remember those who have died in the name of transphobia, share the living history of the transgender community, and to celebrate the transgender community.
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On November 12, 2015
We couldn’t be happier to have today’s podcast go live! We sat down with Ferial Pearson who is an educator, activist, public speaker, human being extraordinaire and she shared how The Secret Kindness Agents became a reality!
Taken from their facebook page:
Moved by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Ferial Pearson wondered if a simple act of kindness could change a life. She thought of the school where she taught and the students she guided every day and wondered, what would happen if we started secretly carrying out small acts of kindness in school? Could a modest act of compassion really change the course of a life? She posed the question to her students. They didn’t have the answers but they were willing to find out. And so they became the Secret Kindness Agents. They not only changed the lives of those they met, they changed their own. Their hope, their hearts, and their hunger for happiness will inspire you to change your small corner of the world, in your own way, for the better. Let them show you how they did it, and how you can do the same.
Ferial Pearson, a native of Nairobi, Kenya, is a national award-winning high school teacher and college instructor. For her dedicated work in education and human rights, she has earned the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights in 2012, and the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network’s Educator of the Year Respect Award in 2011. She is an Instructor and Instructional Coach in the Teacher Education Department at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
If you don’t see the player you can click here and listen to the podcast on Pod-o-matic! Thank you for listening!
Posted by Eli Rigatuso On November 6, 2015
On todays show we are chatting with Jordan Brown, President of the Queer Nebraska Youth Network, QNYN, in Omaha. The Queer Nebraska Youth
Network is a grassroots organization that aims to create a healthy, empowered, and visible community of LGBTQ+ youth in Nebraska. composed of 3 subgroups: the Queer Women’s Subgroup, the Queer Men’s Subgroup, and the Trans*/Genderqueer Subgroup. Peer leaders known as “admins” lead each of these groups, which are made up of youth, age 15-24, across the state of Nebraska and parts of western Iowa.
The QNYN’s current membership exceeds 700 LGBTQ+ youth. Members’ hometowns stretch from Council Bluffs, IA to Alliance, NE. Our growing community represents a diversity of experiences in terms of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, ability, and sexual/gender identities. We learn from the experiences of one another every day and work to make the QNYNs as radically welcoming as we can!
If you don’t see the player you can click here and listen to the podcast on Pod-o-matic! Thank you for listening!