Tag: LGBTQIA

365

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 KindOneOfAKindShowPosterV3 comedy show and fundraiser that premiered my video 1976, my stand up comedyFirstSheet, plus I had more than 50 pieces of my photo art on display and for sale!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My good friends Brody Ray

and Jocelyn

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!

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I will be making my photo art available very soon so stay tuned!

Brody Ray

Detour EP

Detour EP

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.

RCGA – River City Gender Alliance

RCGAButterfly_83462254_scaled_174x174Today on the radio show we sat down with Kate Parrish. She is the president of the River City Gender Alliance, also known as RCGA. Since 1986 RCGA has been a support organization that provides peer support, friendship and understanding for crossdressers, transgenderists and transsexuals.

The mission of the RCGA is to provide support for all persons who experience any form of gender identity issues. We welcome all persons with gender identity issues and also their spouses, partners and family members.

To fulfill the mission of the RCGA the objectives will be:
Monthly support meetings
Provide educational assistance and resource referrals.
Develop self-confidence/self-esteem in all members.
Network with other support groups.
Provide outreach activities that positively reflect our lifestyle.
Provide outreach to helping professionals who are interested in our lifestyle.
Hold social gatherings.

Recently RCGA provided Talk Back Panels for the play “Mama’s Girls” produced/directed by SNAP! Productions. The panels ranged from youth members of the trans community sharing their experience to longtime members of RCGA sharing their knowledge and personal stories about being Transgender in the Midwest. Powerful conversations where conducted and we are sure many people left the theater with a greater understanding and compassion for the Transgender community. GREAT work by Kate Parrish and RCGA in provided this support.

On our show Kate shares her experience in discovering her own gender identity and becoming the woman she is today. We hope you enjoy the episode! Do you want to be on the show? Do you have a local organization that supports the LGBTQIA Community or a personal story that you feel is important for others to hear? Please send us an email elirigatuso@catchcreative.com to schedule a time to talk!

If you can’t see the player click HERE and listen to the podcast on PodOMatic.

Dr. Amanda Duffy Randall

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.

TDOR – Transgender Day of Remembrance

TDOR Flyer

Transgender Day of Remembrance

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’s in a Name?

What is in a name? From before we even take our first breathe, outside of our mothers womb, we are given a name. Something people can know us by, and can start to formulate opinions of before they can even see us. People will 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 transgender/nonbinary 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 is not typical in the transgender community for folks to comfortably share their former names, also referred to as a dead name, but I have never hated the name Beth. I do know, as a progress in my transition, I have moved further and further away from it as something that was a part of me.  Most transgender folks refer to their former name as a dead name because it is a part of their identity that is dead to them.

According to the Advocate, “dead-naming” is a term that involves “the practice of uttering or publishing the name that a transperson used prior to transition.” Most of the time, an individual will pick a new name as soon as they begin to identify as the gender they know they are on the inside. This new name, in a way, marks the “death” of their old identity and the person they once were. With a new name, they signify a new, more truthful, and more fully realized phase of their life.

Another thing that is true for me is 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 completely and authentically.

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 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!

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!

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).

UNO Gender/Sexuality Resource Center

On this episode of Speaking Of Happy Podcast Eli interviews Jessi Hitchins, Director of the UNO Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, and Jay Irwin, Associate Professor of Sociology at UNO and is a teacher and scholar of LGBTQ identities and health. We get to know more about what the center has to offer the students as well as the greater Omaha Community in helping to create safe spaces for the LGBTQIA Community.

Jessi loves Musical theatre, is a doctoral candidate, and scooter-riding nerd. Puggle/dog lover. Passionate feminist and polysexual wife/partner. Avid UNO Maverick fan!

And Jay loves live music and binge watching television shows, his favorite is Orphan Black.

UNO_GSRC_Jessi_Jay_Me

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

Speaking Of Happy Podcast by Eli Rigatuso

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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