Sunday, August 13, 2017

Inspirations: Ally Raymond

This is another in my occasional series on my "inspirations."

I met Ally on August 3, 2013.  I count that as one of the best days of my life, for several reasons.  It was the day of my dearest friend Lisa Empanada's Affirmation Party in Maryland.  I'd already been on the road for hours, first to Bethlehem PA (1 hour to get there 1 hour while there)to see Amanda Richards for a makeover, to Harrisburg (1.5 hours) to pick up David Denton, then to the motel in Maryland where we were all staying (1.5 hours.)

When I arrived, Lisa was in the lobby of the motel.  She was radiant in her white dress.  She introduced me to a couple who had also just arrived:  Jay and Ally.  Jay is a handsome man whose bearing commanded respect (I found out later that he was a Marine D.I.) and Ally.  Ally is a gorgeous, tall woman with an infectious smile and a laugh that reaches the heavens. I assumed that she was a Genetic girl (GG) and that Jay was the person Lisa knew.  We greeted each other.

Later, I met her again at the party.  We spoke a bit.  I determined that wherever she went, she would light up the room.  She was a walking party.  One of the pictures taken at the gathering has been my "wall" picture on Facialbook for years, and she is there, smiling.

Wall picture:  Me, Lisa, Ally

It was only later in the evening that I asked how Lisa how she knew Jay.  She laughed and said "I know him through Ally!  Isn't she amazing?"  That's when it dawned on me, as Lisa and I watched Ally hold court across the lawn- Ally is trans like us!  I looked at Lisa with a dumb look on my face, and Lisa just laughed.

The next day, after I was back in drab mode, I saw her loading luggage into their BMW.  I crossed the parking lot and, using my best "ignorant" voice, asked her if she was "one a them there transtesticles."  She turned and glared at me, then softened.  She saw David in the background laughing, and figured out who I was.  She then laughed and we talked for a bit.

The next time I saw her was at Lisa's funeral in September.  We didn't really talk.

Since then, we've become very close.  I try to visit her in Richmond for her birthday every year.  And seeing her at a conference is really one of the main reasons I attend.

So who is she?

Ally: Keystone 2017.  This picture captures her essence

Ally is a proud transwoman with strange roots.  She hails from Connecticut, one of eight children.

 In Ally's own words:

"My brother and I were proselytized into a very evangelical religion, very strict in rules and regulations…but full of life and spirit!  We made many friends in that selective sect, but it was the ‘family’ that I desperately craved for...  I loved ‘god’, and fell in love with the whole idea of a ‘family of god’, one eternal, loving presence…enveloping us all.  As my musical talents began to blossom, I quickly became the church pianist and organist.  I enjoyed working with the song leader, pastor, throughout our services, which would last for hours!  Everything from tongue talking, dancing in the spirit, prayer for healing, all night prayer meetings, foot washing’s, baptisms, and weekly door-to-door outreach.  It was a full, exhausting life…but with a feeling of reward.  It gave me a feeling of belonging that I had never experienced prior to that, but there is always a hitch to these illusions…you must remain and believe all the stories, revelations, and ramblings of a ‘man’ that is supposedly hearing from god.  A good thing I thought, but it was as a thief stealing you blind while the years passed you by." 

She attended Bible College in Mississippi, as a music major.

My quiet times were filled with the thoughts of times earlier in my life when I would sneak into my mother’s room and into her clothes, dressing as pretty as I could, sliding into heels and letting my emotions fly!  Those times were so real, so fulfilling, but oh so wrong, as I would be shamed beyond embarrassment.  My times then as an adult, would find me on off days, shopping in the stores to buy once again, those feminine garments that let my feminine mind go free.  I felt so beautiful, but had to hide it all.

She first embraced her "gay" side, breaking up her marriage.  Her church threw her out with extreme prejudice, and her wife and children refused to speak to her.  She spent 18 years out and proud before finally surrendering to the fact that she was actually Trans.  It was during that time (those 18 years) that she met Jay.

Jay is a true Southern gentleman.  He is thoughtful, articulate, impeccable manners, and a kind smile.

Ally's forceful ejection and subsequent feminization by her church led Ally to re-evaluate her entire life.  She is now a strident atheist.  I do not discuss religion with Ally, nor do I judge her beliefs.  That said, I get the giggles every time a fundamentalist tries to argue religion with her.  Her knowledge of the Bible is encyclopedic, and the fundie is often beaten badly in the logic and scripture debate.

She sings with the voice of an Angel, and it's always a treat to hear her sing at karaoke.

One of the reasons Ally is so special is that she is so unapologetically Ally.  She is who she is, and if anyone doesn't like it, she doesn't give a damn.  She went full time living her truth in 2012, and is absolutely at Peace with who and what she is.

Ally- last night at Barcode

And that is why she inspires me.  Her confidence, her poise, her contentment... She is the Woman I wish I could be.

Ally is a force of Nature, and I can't imagine life without her.

1 comment: