2017 is buried and dead and we spent last night dancing on its grave. But now I want to get past all the terrible bullshit and have a nice life maybe. I’ve got all kinds of resolutions, including getting more involved in the DSA and improv comedy, keeping my house clean and eating a fruit and/or vegetable. I’ve got a reading list and a writing list and oh boy wouldn’t you know it, this is item one - actually post three times a month on this blog.
For my first entry of 2018 I wanted to write about something that’s been on my mind a lot these past few months: role models. As a trans person I think I have a tendency to pull other people into my identity, especially when I was a kid. At age 3, I would tell people “I’m a boy and my name’s Hercules.” When I wanted to be like Roy Rogers, I got a guitar and a pony and a buckskin getup. I think there’s still that kernel of wanting to be someone rather than wanting to be like them (#transitiongoals) and putting together this list outlining the qualities that I admire rather than just aspiring to their identity as a whole is a helpful exercise for me.
Queer in the Wild: Role Models
So, the following are people who I want/have wanted to model my life after in some way or another. The list is vaguely chronological.
Hercules: If and when I ever come out to my parents, this is where we’re gonna start. Before I saw this movie, as a three year old mind you, I was identifying as a boy to my friends. This movie was more or less a “ring of keys” moment. Hercules has been criticized for its bad plot and lack of hero motivation, but honestly, as a trans kid looking at Hercules? Seeing someone who was out of place and misunderstood and who knew with certainty that they were supposed to be someone else was much more than I was getting anywhere else. And while I owe it a re-watch, I can definitely see it being read as a trans narrative. My guy literally transitions into a bulky god. This fictional character is my first role model because Hercules was the first person in fiction I felt represented me and my experience.
Roy Rogers: The first time I watched Die Hard and John McClane said “I was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually” I screamed and died and got his whole character immediately. I lived for Roy Rogers as a kid. For Christmas one year a lady at our church who also loved Roy gave us an enormous box full of Roy Rogers VHS tapes and I watched all of them on repeat. When I got a pony at age 7 I only didn’t name him Trigger because I thought it would be disrespectful to the OG. Roy Rogers was Fundamentals of Masculinity to me. If Hercules was “this is real, I’m a guy” Roy was “this is how to be one.” His movies showed me that being moral isn’t the same as being lawful, that if you can do it it’s your responsibility, that you can’t trust the rich to have anyone’s best intentions, that kindness isn’t weakness, and other things that probably unintentionally led me to socialism. Is cowboy socialism already a thing? Roy Rogers morality is a little basic but ultimately came down to good people do good to other people. The lack of moral grayness led to me being a bit of a playground vigilante, but I think my distrust of authority and belief that good wins when you fight for it had the best possible roots.
Danny DeVito: I love Danny DeVito and I want him to be my life coach. I think he’s a genuinely good guy who really and truly cares about people. The thing I really admire about him is he does the work. He went out to campaign for Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, he used his influence to try and get people into power who would actually help people. That’s really been my model for figuring out what actions I can do, where can I apply myself that will have the most impact. Honestly, I could have tacked Macklemore and Terry Crews onto this entry as people who are in the world using their influence to make it better, but Danny DeVito still my #1.
Daniel O’Brien: I started following Cracked when I was in junior high and he’s always been my favorite to read and watch, but only recently have I been like, I want to be like this. Daniel O’Brien is full of grace. His online presence is so kind and giving and it feels like he always, always has time for people. I’m not trying to be like “look at this flawless person! goals!” but he seems centered and peaceful and content and just not at all bitter in a way it’s hard to be, especially this past year. That’s the kind of person I want to be, someone who is working for a better world without bitterness or hatred, someone who can be graceful and giving when the world sucks ass.
A lot of work to do this year to try and be a better person and stay kind and hopeful, but having role models to work off of and people to be inspired by can only help. Who are your role models, now and as a kid, and how can you by inspired by them this year? Let me know in the comments! Increased engagement on my content is also a goal this year.