Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Questions

During the Q&A section of the book release party I was asked about the questions I had sent to each of the participants. From the answers came the quotes that accompany each photo in the book. So, as promised, here are the questions:

What is your name?

How old are you?

In what city do you reside?

Are you single, dating, partnered or married?

What is your occupation and/or main activities in life?

How do you identify?

What is your personal definition of your identity?

When did you first identify as such?

Why did you identify as such?

Who were/are your role models?

Did you ever resist your identity? If so, why?

Have you ever been embarrassed or ashamed of your identity?

Have you ever been ridiculed, threatened or harmed because of your identity? If so, and if you're comfortable sharing, what happened?

What do you wish people knew about your identity?

Is there anything else you'd like to say?

What are the best days and times to meet with you for a photo shoot?

Book Release Party, Bookstore & Birthday


Today is my birthday. It's the best birthday ever. This week began with The Butch/Femme Photo Project book release party where somewhere around 60 people celebrated with me. It was an awesome night filled with great friends, great conversations, fantastic food and wonderful music. Each time someone came over to me and asked me to sign their book I thought to myself, “Who, me?” It was all very surreal. I've been floating on that cloud and filled with so much gratitude all week long. Here are a few photos from the evening. They were all taken by my friend, fur.



Last night I drove up to St. John's Booksellers to see the book in a bookstore for the first time. The owner was so excited to have them in that she set them front and center on a table so everyone can see them the moment they step into the shop. While I was there she asked me to sign the stock! Again, so very surreal. I stood in the store chatting with her, signing the copies that she had while she took photos of me to post on their Facebook page. Surreal.


This morning my publisher sent me the best birthday message, too. The book has, so far, sold 101 copies. I am amazed and delighted and so incredibly grateful.

What an incredible journey.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Butch/Femme Photo Project Book! It's Almost Here!

I feel like these past few weeks have been a bit surreal. This book, this project that I've been pouring my heart and soul into over the past couple of years is/has become a reality. I signed a publishing contract this past October and the release date for the book is December 15th.

I haven't held a copy of it in my hands yet but, somehow, a friend of mine who ordered it from Amazon has already received his copy. When I saw the photos he posted of him holding the book I started crying. Tears of joy. Tears of release. Tears of "holy shit, it's happening, it's really happening".

My publisher is working out the details of the release party and I am anticipating the first copies of the book to be delivered soon so I can finally hold a copy in my hands. The photographer in me will closely look at every photograph to be sure they all turned out the way I had envisioned them. The writer in me will carefully re-read every word (for the 20th time) to be sure all of the typos have been caught. Even though I know there's no fixing things at this point.

Most of all, I will look at that book in my hands and see my dream come to life. This book is my heart. Everyone who holds a copy of it in their hands will be holding my heart. If that's not vulnerability for you, then I don't know what is.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone who participated, stood in front of my camera, took the time to meet with me and answer all of the questions I sent to them, freely gave their hard earned money, and to those who supported me with encouragement, love and support. None of this could have happened without each and every one of you. Thank you.

As I sit here this morning reading through the blog posts from last year I can't help but feel blessed and amazed. We did it. We fucking did it.

So, here are a few ways to get a copy of this book:

Get a signed copy direct from the publisher, Blue Skirt Productions, through this sale that's happening until this Friday, December 5th: http://blueskirtproductions.com/2014/11/25/blue-skirt-book-sale-now-through-december-5th/

Pre-order an unsigned copy from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Butch-Femme-Photo-Project/dp/0990765423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416462622&sr=8-1&keywords=Butch+femme+photo+project

or Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-butch-femme-photo-project-wendi-kali/1120789139?ean=9780990765424

or Powell's Books right here in Portland: http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9780990765424-1

Also, come to the release party here in Portland, Oregon on Monday, December 15th at 7:30pm at the American Legion Hall at NE 21st & NE Alberta and get a copy. I'll sign it and give you a great big hug. Plus, there will be food! Here's the Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/399674273532075/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transgender Warrior

Self portrait of Leslie Feinberg.
As most everyone in the community knows by now, one of our elders has moved on from this plane of existence. This past Saturday, Leslie Feinberg passed away. The Advocate published the obituary that was written by Leslie's wife, Minnie Bruce Pratt, while at Leslie's bedside. (I will use the pronouns they used in the obituary.) Please take a moment to read it if you aren't familiar with Leslie and her work.

I'm a bit taken aback by just how much this loss has affected me and am still reeling from the news. In a state of denial, almost. Rationally, I know she has been battling Lyme disease and the co-infections that came with that battle, I know she's been suffering and that this would be the inevitable end but my brain is having such a difficult time wrapping itself around the news.

I hadn't ever met her, yet, I feel as though I've lost a family member. Yesterday morning, as I watched a video of her speaking at Sonoma State University (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaRF0Ohb1mg), the tears welled up and poured down my cheeks. As I let the grief out, my rational side was having a difficult time understanding why I felt so sad by this loss. I think I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it but I know it's partly about the passing of someone who paved the way for me to live in this world. To live in this world as my authentic, butch self.

Reading her book, Stone Butch Blues, for the first time in 2010 was the beginning of a turning point for me. It was then that I began to find where I fit in this community, in this world. It was the beginning of finding me, of launching a photo project and feeling less alone in the world. That book, her words, made a huge impact on my life.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

I will always remember how her words made me feel. Valid. Brave. Strong. Seen.

Rest in peace, Transgender Warrior.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Choosing Love & Authenticity


A few days ago I had a very surprising conversation with my step-Father. He was telling me about how little he hears from my son and how he'd like to hear more from him because he feels he doesn't really know him when suddenly he's telling me how he doesn't have a problem with the gay thing but that he had wished my son and I would have chosen to be straight.

I wish I could remember, word for word, some of the things he said so I could quote him here but I was too shocked and a bit stunned to be having that conversation with him. I get where he was going with it, or trying to at least. I believe he was trying to say, in a very awkward and uncomfortable way, that he does love us and wants to hear from us.

But, the way he was trying to explain it was hurtful. His perspective comes from a very conservative, right winged kind of life. According to him, my son and I and everyone else who is gay chose to be gay. According to him we could have chosen to live a straight life, which, also according to him, would have been an easier life to live.

The major problem with this “thinking” is that it isn't thinking at all. I didn't chose to be gay anymore than he chose to be straight. Being gay is who I am, it's my authentic self. Imagine if I chose to deny who I am and lived a straight life. It would not only affect me on a deep, soul scaring level but it would also affect the person I was living that straight life with, his family, my family and anyone who I may have created from that straight life. I would be living a lie every single moment of every single day and that lie would rip me to shreds on the inside, finding ugly ways to manifest on the outside and harming everyone around me in some way on a very deep psychological level.

The denial would turn into self hatred and that hatred would eventually kill me. I've seen it happen over and over again to those who chose to live a life that isn't authentic to their true selves.

This isn't a perspective he totally understands. I'm not even sure he hears me when I try to explain it to him and having this conversation with him makes me feel like he believes something is wrong with me and my son.

There is nothing wrong with me or my son. He is gay. I am gay. It's just a part of who we are. The rest of our lives are just like everyone else's. We get up, we go to work, we pay our bills and our taxes, we are contributing members of this society, we have dreams and goals, we love and we are loved. Our lives don't look any different then his. We don't live a secret life that heterosexual people don't know about. Our relationships have the same highs and lows.

Yes, there are lots of people in this world who hate us simply because we're gay. But, honestly, their hatred is not my problem. It's their problem and it's something they have to live with and carry around with them. I choose to live my life authentically, to be true to who I am and to love.

I choose love and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Butch/Femme Photo Project Book Is Coming!

The culmination of the last few years of my life is about to happen. Yesterday I signed a publishing contract with an indie publisher here in Portland, Oregon called Blue Skirt Productions. They are going to publish the Butch/Femme Photo Project book!

I can't even begin to explain how excited I am about this. I know that when I finally hold a copy of that book in my hands, I just might cry. I've put my heart and soul into this body of work and couldn't be more proud of the way it's turned out.

The publisher is shooting for a December 15th release date and a release party is in the works. I will post the info about all of that and let you know where you can get your copy just as soon as I have all of that information.

My sincere thanks and tremendous gratitude to all of those who have supported me through this journey. It's truly been an amazing experience.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

They Were Right About Me

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” ~ Tao Te Ching

"I'm always makin' the same mistakes. All this takin' is hard to take. When I think about bygone days, I was doin' everybody wrong. I was takin' the long way, endin' up where I don't belong. Now I pray it's not too late to change the path I'm runnin' on."  -lyrics from "Snake Road" by Ron Sexsmith

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." The hard part about finally being honest with myself is owning up to my mistakes and painful patterns. The sentence in the quotes can be interpreted in a few different ways that I can think of. The "what I am" can be the ideas of who I am or supposed to be in my mind or it could literally be "what I am". That "what I am" being exactly the person someone once warned a woman I dated a few years back about me being. A person who is easily distracted as soon as things get hard and someone pays attention to her.

Just typing out those words made my stomach turn. This is me owning up to how much of an asshole I was. I wanted desperately to be loved and in my mind a relationship should be easy because that's how you know it's right. As soon as there was a hurdle to jump or a mountain to climb within that relationship I shut down and ran. And ran. And ran. And ran.

Until one day I finally owned up to my shit and was able to see all of the wrong I had done. I was able to see how selfish I was and how much I was Godzilla-ing my way through life. "I was taking the long way, endin' up where I don't belong. Now I pray it's not too late to change the path I'm runnin' on." This path I'm on is very different.

Relationships aren't supposed to be anything. They are supposed to be relationships. Sometimes hard and sometimes easy. It doesn't make one more right than the other. What matters is the love, connection, honesty, and communication between the people in the relationship and whether they're either heading down the same path or reaching for the same end result.

I think. Fuck. Maybe I don't have a clue. 

I know how I feel. It's taken me a really long time to finally know how I really feel, but I finally do and these days I feel humbled. Humbled by the events and my decisions and actions over the past few years. I know I don't want to be that asshole anymore. I know that today I am a better person than I was yesterday and that's a great accomplishment. I also know that tomorrow I will be a better person than I am today because I will keep on working on this open and honest communication with the people I am in relationship with now. My family and closest friends.

I also know that I am grateful for those who call me out on my shit, even if indirectly. I'm finally in a space where I don't automatically go into a self defense mode and can honestly sit with it, take it in and consider whether or not something should change in me.

If a relationship does ever happens for me again, I know it'll look different than the idea that I've carried around in my head all these years about love. You might say that it'll look much more practical and realistic. I don't feel the need, although the want will always be there, for the forever ever after. I'll want space and time for myself within the relationship and I'll most likely want to sleep separately, although not every night but often. When my tiny house comes to fruition, maybe even have our own tiny houses on the same property. I guess what I'm explaining is more of an intimate companionship.

Even if that doesn't happen, I will still have my family and close friends to make those connections and have that companionship. Plus, there are always dogs. Dogs are the best companions.

I've let go of my attachment to my need to be loved. I've kicked the asshole out of my head and every day I'm becoming that person who I always thought I was. Honest. Loving. Open. Trustworthy. Loyal. Compassionate. Considerate. Someone that truly knows the meaning of family and being a good friend.