As a contributing writer to Out & About Newspaper for some time now, it has been my honor and privilege to bring news and interesting articles to the readers of this publication. I have had the pleasure of interviewing various people and organizations, and reporting back what they thought, said, and in a lot of cases, fought for. I have been inspired, amused and always interested in what others had to say — especially those people who are actively involved in the never-ending fight for equality.

What is not so widely known is my history with O&AN, and why I am so honored to be a writer for the paper.

I grew up in southern Mississippi, with a father who was a preacher in a cult-like religion. I knew I was different at an early age, of course. Shame quickly became the overriding influence as I grew up, resulting in my becoming a super-macho, slightly homophobic guy who followed all the rules.

Eventually, I achieved the “American Dream.” Beautiful wife, two amazing kids, beautiful historic house — and a pretty cool job as a firefighter. I’m sure you know how the story goes: I was — I am — transgender. And I couldn’t live the lie anymore.

Acknowledging that fact to the ones who loved me and thought they knew me was the hardest thing I have ever done. The second-hardest thing was dismantling the life and family I had.

Towards the middle of 2006, it was clear I would be moving to Nashville. My now former wife had transferred within her company to Nashville, and the need to be close to my children, along with a desire to transition in a new place, decided things.

But, I was going into a new place completely blind. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know who to turn to for support or help with transitioning. So I began to obsessively search for GLBT related content on Nashville.

That’s when I found O&AN.

To a person blindly trying to find her way in a completely new and topsy-turvy world, it was a beacon. Finally, I had found a map, a guide to help me find my way in a new place and a new life. I found support groups, read articles on what was happening in the GLBT community, and even devoured the ads. I learned who was GLBT friendly, as well as places to avoid and pitfalls to steer clear of. It was my trusted, go-to source before I arrived in Nashville, and ever since.

Some time has passed since those initial “Bambi-on-ice” moments, and I have settled enough into this gorgeous city to truly call it home. But I never forgot the help I got from O&AN. When I saw an ad asking for writers to help contribute content to the paper, I felt it was something I needed to do. A very small way to help repay the assistance I received in that dark and stormy time, I thought.

Instead, it has become an embarrassment of riches for me. To be given such interesting assignments to write about, to help tell your story, my story, our story ... well, it’s gotta be the most fun a girl can have with her clothes on!

To Jerry, Patrick and all the staff at O&AN: Thank you. For everything. Happy 10th anniversary!

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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