Hours before the West Coast premiere, I was inundated with reports and comments about the Jenner interview via email and social media. Apparently 30 seconds after the show aired on the East Coast GLAAD hit the ‘send’ button on an email heralding Jenner for helping people understand what it means to be transgender, suggesting I visit a link to GLAAD’s Tips for Allies of Transgender People. I saw a tweet from Perez Hilton claiming that two of Jenner’s previous wives made supportive comments but that Kris Jenner reportedly refused to comment. His tweet was promptly rebutted by Kris in a tweet telling Perez to “Fuck off,” no one asked her for a comment and to “keep it real” because she was sitting with Bruce watching the show.
On Facebook my dear friend Elaine Lancaster, Miami’s reigning queen, shared a personal story about spending a long weekend with Bruce, Kris, Kendall ad Kylie in Mexico at the home of Girls Gone Wild mogul Joe Francis. Elaine said in her post, “At the time I had no idea the way he looked at me and the questions he asked were much more than just simple inquiries, but it all makes so much sense now. He seemed to be a sweet and kind man and I’m sure he’ll be an even kinder woman.”
By the time 9 p.m. rolled around my anticipation and curiosity had reached a boiling point and I’m happy to say that, in the words of Oprah, the interview was “STUNNING.”
The cameras were barely rolling before an emotional Jenner tearfully came out as a trans woman, a moment that I’m sure brought many viewers to tears as well but not me. I didn’t cry until they showed the footage of 26-year-old Bruce Jenner during his triumphant victory at the 1976 Olympic Games. I remember those years, I remember that Jenner, and seeing it all again made me cry. But not because I was mourning the loss of an American hero (and teenage crush). I was crying because I was imagining the loneliness and shame that Jenner was feeling, struggling with gender identity and keeping those feelings secret for so many years. Even at a time of great victory, celebration and adoration, Jenner admits to “running away from who I was.”
I feel empathy for Jenner. Maybe it’s because I’m a big ‘mo and a drag queen. Maybe it’s because I sometimes feel like my brain is more female than male. Maybe it’s because I have several close personal friends who happen to be trans but I think it’s more than that. Jenner is charismatic, likable. Even when telling America “I’ve always been very confused with my gender identity. For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.” You have to kinda like the guy.
Jenner’s story is relatable on many different levels. In the interview Jenner expressed the same concerns we all have.
“I don’t want to disappoint people.”
No one does. We want to live up to other’s expectations we don’t want to let anyone down. We all want the people in our lives to be proud of us.
“I just can’t hold the curtain any longer. Bruce lives a lie. She is not a lie. I can’t do it anymore.”
While not all of us are struggling with gender, we all have aspects of our lives that we feel are inauthentic. We all find ourselves in situations or exhibiting behavior that are not true or real. Once you start hiding the truth and deceiving others it gets harder and harder to stop, and it’s exhausting.
“I was not fair [to my wives.]”
Many of us have been in relationships where we feel we treated our partners unfairly.
“I don’t socialize a lot, I’m not an outgoing person. I never fit in. When you deal with this issue, you don’t fit in. I like to play golf; 99 percent of the time I play by myself.”
Again, many of us feel isolated, lonely, and like we don’t fit in. And 99 percent of the time most of us play with ourselves too.
“[To] be able to have my nail polish on long enough that it actually chips off.”
So many of us are denied the little things that so many others take for granted.
We feel you Bruce… we feel you.
Of course not everything Jenner had to say sat exactly right with me. Honestly, I was shocked to learn that Jenner is REPUBLICAN. I realize that is one of my prejudices, and I’m working on it. Maybe in the next interview Jenner can help me understand Republicans.
I was also shocked that Kim wasn’t initially responsive to Jenner until Kanye turned her around. Could I have misjudged Kanye? Is he the moral compass and shining beacon of hope and acceptance in the family? Speaking of misjudged, what about Khloe? Apparently she’s not taking the news very well and that makes me sad. She was always my favorite.
Let’s face it — the interview was informative, passionate, brave, inspiring, and important. I’m so proud of Jenner who insisted “What I’m doing is going to do some good. We are going to change the world. We are going to make a difference in the world.”
To me, one of the most important moments of the interview came when Jenner confessed to thoughts of suicide. After more than a solid year of being harassed and ridiculed for his appearance, stalked by the paparazzi, and being the subject of much speculation and the butt of hateful jokes, he had had enough. One night he paced up and down the hall of his Malibu home and thought about the gun in the next room. He totally empathized with those who contemplate taking their own lives and wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to just end it, and move on to a better place. But he didn’t do it. Jenner sent a powerful message to trans people everywhere, and to everyone who struggles with thoughts of taking your own life: Don’t do it. Like a true Olympic champion Jenner asserts “If it is only this, I will be okay. I’ve got my health. I’ve got my children. I’ve got family, seven grandkids now. I’m actually really excited about the future.”
So are we Bruce. We’re all rooting for you!