Back in March we did an interview with Eris Koleszar for Speaking Of Happy and little did we know how big she would become in less than a month! Eris is an outspoken advocate for the trangender community and recently took a powerful stand against anti-trans descrimination online via her selfie campaign! She has not only thrust herself into the public eye but she has also taken on activating allies in her quest to create safe bathroom spaces for Transgender people in Omaha! After an online dispute started by a post from a local bar owner Eris has been personally advocating on behalf of the trans community online and on television! We knew from the moment we met her last year that we had to have her on Speaking Of Happy and thank goodness we acted fast before her dance card filled up!
Eris is a amazing human being who is articulate and funny and just all around wonderful to spend time with. She is a force to be reconned with online as she takes on some of the most vile anti-trans people in Omaha but also is activitating local allies with her selfie campaign! She has been going to local venues and asking allies to take selfies with her and post them to their social media with the hashtags #shebelongs #shejustwantstopee #transwomenarewomen and educating people about the hateful anti-trans legislation showing up across the nation. She is defeating stereotypes one selfie at a time and doing it with great class!
This is our interview which was conducted last March and originally aired on RadiOmaha.
If you do not see the player then click HERE and listen on PodOmatic.
TDoV Omaha is Transgender Day of Visibility and it happens across the nation on March 31st. On the show today I sat down with Miles Cristiano Jordan who is one of the organizers. He shares with us what the event is all about, why it is important, and how you can get involved! I enjoyed chatting with Miles and I hope you enjoy the interview. Also, I will be at TDoV this year so come see me and learn how you can become an active ally!
If you can not see the player click HERE to listen to the podcast on PodOMatic.
Today on the show we sat down with Joshua Mullady, Director of COCK which is in it’s final weekend of performances! If you are looking for a thought provoking, prevocative, word fight and battle for love then this play is for you! Written by Mike Bartlett, COCK will challenge your views of love, sexual identity, to cheat or not to cheat, and you the notion if something is worth loving it is worth fighting for!
If you do not see the player above click HERE and listen to the episode on podomatic.
I personally saw the show and felt the acting was brilliant! The central character, who by the way is the only character with a name, is John and he is in love with M but they fight a lot and have a number of differences which don’t always leave John feeling like an equal. On a break John meets W and as they dance with their dialogue he begins to find himself falling for W! But, he can’t stop thinking about M. As the story unfolds it becomes a duel to the end. No death occurs, but perhaps the metaphorical death of outdated notions of sexual identity! So, challenge yourself! Listen to the interview as you run over and buy tickets for the show!
Or as you listen go check out SNAP! Productions website for more information about the diverse theater productions they bring to Omaha. And then after you are done listening to this show go and listen to our interview with Michal Simpson, Artistic Director of SNAP! by clicking here.
I first saw Jocelyn when a friend posted a video shot on her iPhone of Jocelyn singing at an open mic. I was blown away at her talent in a less than perfect cell phone video! She jumped off the screen and I knew I had to meet her. Well as fate would have it I messaged her a few times and asked if she would be willing to play at a fundraiser I was hosting and she AGREED! She blew the small crowd away and we all left that night feeling as though we witnessed something very special. So, it was a given I asked Jocelyn to come on the show and share her talent with Speaking Of Happy fans! So this is our wonderful conversation and also included as a bonus is her most recent single she released back in January and an acoustic version of another song she wrote! We hope you enjoy the show!
If you do not see the player click HERE and listen on podomatic.
Please visit Jocelyn’s website by clicking HERE after the interview!
On today’s episode of Speaking Of Happy we chat with Marilynn Barner Anselmi, a playwrite, who’s play Mama’s Girls, was just beautifully produced by SNAP! Productions here in Omaha. Marilynn came to see the play on the last day of the run and we sat down to chat with her about what the inspiration for the play was along with how she became a playwrite. Anselmi is a gifted writer and shares some very personal stories about her life. The episode originally aired on RadiOmaha earlier this year. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!
Anselmi and the cast of Mama’s Girls!
Anselmi gets interviewed by Chloe the young actress who played Sammy in Mama’s Girls
If you do not see the player click HERE and listen to the podcast on podomatic.
Our guest today is Andrew O’Donnell, they are a senior in high school, an author, Editor in Chief at The Progressive Teen, State Chair at High School Democrats of Nebraska, and an all around great young human! Andrew shares about the struggles they have had growing up with adversity and does so with great eloquence and clarity! They give me a great deal of HOPE for our future!
If you can’t see the player above click HERE and listen to the episode on pod-o-matic.
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!
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!
On the show today I sat down with Dr. Amanda Duffy Randall. Omaha Therapist, Associate Professor, and the Director of the Grace Abbott School of Social Work at UNO. She shares some insights into her personal journey into becoming a therapist and how she started working with the LGBTQ Community. Dr. Randall is an amazing compassionate no nonsense human being who has a refreshing matter of fact way of approaching things. My favorite quote from our conversation is:
“Reaction is often times not long term adjustment, especially for a trans person, this has been something they have struggled with for a very long time. And when they tell their families they have about 30 seconds of reaction time. And often those reactions aren’t elegant, and aren’t pretty. But long term adjustments a very different process for families.” Dr. Randall
I LOVED our chat and I hope you will enjoy it too! I also hope you might learn something useful you can pass on to others. Please feel free to share this post with anyone you feel might benefit from it.
If you do not see the player click HERE to listen to the show on our Pod-O-Matic channel. The link will open a new window so you can still enjoy looking at other posts on our site! Also be sure to listen to previous episodes of the show!
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out my video on transition and how it doesn’t just affect the person who is transitioning but everyone he or she knows.
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.
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!
Eli 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!