I don’t remember exactly when I heard the Andy Warhol quote “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”, but I was young. It seemed really nice to think that everyone would be included.
Another saying that has stuck with me is ‘I have nothing to hide’, but never knew where it originated.
In most lives there are times when you worry about what people think about you, or what knowledge of you they may gain. I would get through these moments by thinking ‘I have nothing to hide’. But for years that was not true. When these thoughts entered my mind, a black cloud would reach down and wrench my gut. I knew inside I was different, and was sure that it would be the death of me if discovered.
Last week, my 15 minute clock started ticking, and the most ironic thing about it is that what had tormented me before, became that thing that started it.
The world press jumped on my story, news sites and radio stations around the globe covered my coming out as transgender.
What is amazing about all this is not who talked about me, but what the people who heard the story said back.
“Hello Mayor Jess, I just wanted to add my voice to the thousands that are offering their gratitude and support for your coming out announcement and COURAGE.”
“Your decision to come out to your constituents was very brave and also validating to others in the LGBTQ community. My adolescent clients, in particular, were excited and inspired by your story. Hope is needed in these dark times.”
(sic)“I’m a Turkish man from Istanbul… I support you. Also I proud of your family. Thank you for explain your truths. We need people like you in the world.”
(sic)“Mayor Herbst, your willingness to be visible about her gender identity really will give hope to countless people, particularly young people, that you can be transgender and be yourself and have a successful and productive life.”
“I want to let you know, you have brought joy to the mother of a trans daughter in Collin county. Support and Love go out to you!”
“I only hope that your grandchildren grow up in a world where gender identity is a non-issue that requires no courage, that one can simply be. Diversity is what makes America the magnificent place it is!”
There have been thousands of these, from all over the world.
So all that time I feared the worst if people knew I was trans, that was just me underestimating the love, kindness and understanding of humanity.