I enjoyed my interview with Ryan Santanna so much (I hope you all did as well and that you learned a little something from it) that I decided to reach out to a friend of mine I have known through Instagram. Jordyn Pollack has shared his journey as a Trans man on the social media platform and on YouTube, much like Ryan has. Their stories are similar but I feel (and I’m sure you agree) that we need to hear all the stories because each of us, no matter how similar we are, are so unique. There is always more to learn from each other, more to experience through each other’s eyes, and more bridges to build.
I really love how brave Jordyn has been by sharing his top surgery photos, progress, his experience with testosterone, and most importantly his feelings throughout. I know he is helping so many others, he is inspiring me, and he is allowing people in similar circumstances to know they will be OK!
The power of social media has always been in the sharing, in being a voice for individuals who don’t feel they have one, and in showing them there are others who are experiencing the same things we are even if we feel alone.
Jordyn is someone you need to follow, someone you need to know, and I believe someone who is making the world a better place. Let me introduce you to Jordyn Pollack:
Q: When did you first realize you didn’t identify with the gender you were when you were born?
Jordyn Pollack: This is a difficult question because I truly believe since I was a young child I knew deep down I wasn’t comfortable with being categorized as a “female”. I truly have realized now that all of my actions back then relate 100% to me taking the step and transitioning. When I was a child I would dress all my “female” dolls as “males”, I would cut their hair, dress them in more masculine clothes. I also remember lying in my bed some nights and just wishing I could be a “boy” for one day, which is crazy to think now that my wish came true about 17 years later. Growing up I always played sports and tried to hang out with all the “boys”, even going into middle school I was very into skateboarding. I dressed in “boy” clothes, when I wasn’t at school, at the skatepark, or even hanging out with some of my friends. One year for Halloween, I believe I was 12, I dressed as a “boy” and went into the guys restroom at Disney Halloween, that is one of my favorite childhood memories, not going into the restroom of course, but having that feeling of passing as a “male”.
Q: What age did you start to become vocal about it? What was the reaction from your family and friends?
JP: I came out to my parents and partner about two years ago, I was 24. Then I came out to some of my close family members, and then I made a Facebook post. Everybody reacted as I expected, luckily I am blessed with a huge immediate and extended family that excepted my transition with open arms. From my Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents they all use the correct pronouns and still love me just as much or even more now. The person I am now is much more confident, outgoing and just loving to be around. My family is my everything. My fiancé told me she would always love me as long as the person I am inside never changes, which how could it, because that is who she fell in love with and wants to marry. Ziggy has never cared about gender, she just wants me to be happy and true to myself. I will always be Jordyn, that is my birth name and I chose to keep it my name. That is who I will always be and was, It just took me this long to get here.
Q: Did anyone surprise you in a positive or negative way as you became more open about it all?
JP: The people or should I say children who surprise me most are my cousins. I have a very big family as I said above, I would say about 10 cousins on my Moms side and even more on my Dads. From the ages of newborn to my age, they have all been amazing. Validating me every chance they get, reaching out after my surgery. I truly couldn’t feel more love and support.
Q: I’ve seen you posting about your journey on Instagram and it has inspired me so. Does that help you during this process?
JP: Instagram has been an amazing outlet for me during my transition and even before. Social media really helped me come out and realize that transitioning was what I truly wanted to do. Being able to see other people’s journeys, helped me a lot. That is why I post so frequently and try to connect with all of my followers. I truly think being a part of a community and knowing we can have each-others back when nobody else understands means so much.
Q: What are some misconceptions you would like to clear up about trans people?
JP: Honestly, the only thing I would like to clear up is that we are no different from any other human being. We are all equal, but different in so many ways and that is what makes the world truly a beautiful, magical place.
Q: Other than Instagram, where can we find you online? Have you documented your journey elsewhere?
JP: I have a YouTube account, it is just under my name Jordyn Pollack. I will say, I have not made any update videos recently, but I will make one soon on my Top Surgery experience.
Q: Do others reach out to you and what advice do you/would you give them if they were struggling with their own identities?
JP: Yes, others reach out to me daily through social media. Whether it be to tell me I inspired them, to ask for advice, or just to say hi. I like to connect with my followers as much as possible, as I said before to me having a safe community is so important. I would tell someone struggling with their identity, to for one second try not to worry about anything else in the world besides themselves and in that moment how do they want to look when they see themselves. How do they want to feel? How do they want to be treated? If you are struggling just give yourself time to find who you truly are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, YOU are the only person that knows how YOU feel inside and out.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
JP: The one thing I could not live without is Ziggy. She is truly my everything. I have never met a human being who is so kind-hearted. Ziggy makes me feel special every day. Yes, we have had our struggles, but who doesn’t. The best part about her is that we can communicate and at the end of the day we have each other no matter what. She is the first thing I see when I open my eyes and the last thing I see before I close them. I am more than excited to spend the rest of my life with her and marry her, that way I will never have to live without her.
The one thing I wish we could all live without is HATE. It is as simple as that. If all humans had more love, compassion and understanding in their hearts we would have a better world.
I’ve been waiting to do this for a while now, I want to introduce you to someone I watched grow up AND grow into themselves with such strength and conviction it makes me SO proud. I’ve wanted to talk to Ryan Santana about his journey so we could help/inspire/motivate any of you who are struggling with how to give yourself permission to be who you are or having difficulty talking to the people in your life.
Ryan is a trans man who has shared so much of his experience on social media by making videos of his progress with testosterone, posting pics of his daily shots and facial hair growth, voice change, etc. He has definitely inspired me to live more authentically and has reinforced my belief that I need to keep speaking up for myself and others. Back in 2009 when I marched with the NOH8 Campaign in Washington DC for marriage equality, I felt and spoke about knowing it was so much more than that. It was about all rights for all people. I just didn’t know then how BIG our community would become.
One of the most difficult things about coming out is the anticipation of the reaction from your friends and family. There is always a fear of losing some, of being hurt by some, and of being abandoned by others. I don’t think you can fully understand it unless you have been through it.
Let me let you learn more about Ryan and I encourage you to follow him on social media, check out his YouTube channel, and reach out to him or to me if you find yourself needing a little encouragement.
Q: How old were you when you first came out and did you always know?
Ryan Santana: I came out when I was 18 publicly on social media but I was slowly coming out to people close to me before hand. I feel like I just always knew ever since I was little I would always want to play the boy parts if we were playing a game. When I started going through puberty that was like the moment when I definitely knew something was “wrong” because the way I felt on the inside didn’t match what was happening on the outside.
Q: What was the reaction from your family and friends? Were you surprised about the reaction from anyone?
Ryan Santana: I was surprised how easily people accepted it and how quickly some people adjusted to the pronouns and new name. I remember my girlfriend and I were talking before I came out and I finally asked her how she would feel calling me Ryan and using male pronouns and literally the next day it was like my dead name never existed to her.When I came out to my mom her reaction was just like “ok” and just left it at that. I remember seeing her start sharing things about trans kids on Facebook. I’ve been very lucky throughout my transition that I have such supporting family and friends.
Q: You’ve been very open about your journey and have documented it on social media. Did that help you and have you gotten feedback from other people you are helping?
RS: At first I was skeptical about broadcasting my transition on social media because of trolls and backlash. I remember getting a DM from a trans guy in the U.K. and he was telling me how he’s pre T and hasn’t come out to anyone and he was nervous and we kind of just chatted for a bit and then a couple of weeks later he posted on his Instagram that he got his letter for T , that made me very happy. Also , I just really like having random people message me telling me that either I helped them out or that I’m just simply an inspiration to people because I’m really just living life as my true self just like everyone else should.
Q: What are some misconceptions you would like to clear up about trans people?
RS: A lot of people assume that because you a Cis gender people that they’re bisexual or something. I remember one time I was having a conversation with someone about a girl I was seeing and they replied “oh I didn’t know she swung that way” and that made me really upset.
Q: I know you are doing some fundraising to help you with your medical costs. Where can people go to contribute if they’d like?
RS: I set up a Go fund me account about two long years ago haha. The link is Www.gofundme.com/ryansantana
Q: Where can we find you online?
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
RS: As cliché as it sounds my cell phone is something I cannot live without. I feel connected to everything and everyone. In my own personal opinion I think the world would be better without Donald Trump.
As you can see, Ryan’s family (especially his amazing mom Jessica) were supportive and even unfazed by his coming out. For many of us, the fear of the reactions is so great that we put it off for a long time but when we do find ourselves at that moment where we know it’s time, so many of the people who really know us aren’t surprised at all. Another thing to note is that each of us know when we are ready, there is no set time or age that is right, no one should force anyone to come out, and no one should ever “out” another person. It’s a journey only you can go through and only you can know when the right moment is for you.
As great as it is to come out and have positive reactions or have people not be surprised at all, there are so many cases where that is not what happens. There is such a large population of homeless LGBTQ youth because their families do not accept them and refuse to support them. Even worse, many cases cause addiction and many end in tragedy. I think when someone shows such courage, they should be applauded. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one had to spend any part of their lives in fear, hiding, or made to feel ashamed? Wouldn’t it be awesome to celebrate people for who they are, being their authentic selves, and showing support for them in any way we can?
One thing I do encourage anyone who comes to me to do is to find out if there is a community center or organization in their area that is available for LGBTQ individuals who need assistance or someone to talk to. Or get on social media and search for people and groups who have things in common with you and are supportive. The down side to social media is the troll and the bullying that occurs but if you find your tribe in life and on social, you have to block out the others as much as you can.
Here are some resources you can use:
Trans Lifeline is a national trans-led organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of our community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education. Our vision is to fight the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid. US: 877-565-8860 Canada: 877-330-6366
The Trevor Project: Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25. 1-866-488-7386
I plan to see Afterglow a few more times before it ends its current run in NYC and I hope to bring you a few interviews as well. I wanted to share this press release with you to encourage you to get out and see it if you haven’t and if you have, head out to see it again! It’s a powerful play that leaves you feeling so much and wanting more. – Tommy
“This is a show not to be missed!” The Advocate
“It’s clear “Afterglow” will be a must-see among New York theatregoers” Huffington Post
“Frank, explicit, insightful, unflinching, vivid and honest” Towleroad
“Compelling” Gay City News
“Bold and Buzzworthy” NewNextNow
“Provocatively entertaining” Theatrescene.net
New York: NY’s hit, Off Broadway play, AFTERGLOW, written and directed by S. Asher Gelman, will have performed 467 performances to nearly 25,000 audience members when it ends its successful run on August 12, 2017. In an effort to make sure that everyone has a chance to see the “compelling and raw” drama, “that is not to be missed,” the show will offer ten (10) “Pay What You Wish” tickets at each performance, on a cash only, first come first serve basis through August 5, 2018, at The LOFT at The Davenport Theatre (354 West 45 Street, 3rd Floor). Tickets are normally $59.50 – $109.50 and available by visiting Telecharge.com.
“AFTERGLOW owes its success to the wonderful community that has supported us throughout our incredible 14-month run. In honor of that support, which allowed us to extend well past our initial eight-weeks, we wanted to make the play as accessible as possible. Effective immediately, we will be offering 10 “Pay What You Wish” tickets to each performance. As we enter our final weeks in New York City, we want to ensure that everyone who wants to experience the show can have that opportunity.” Playwright/Director, S. Asher Gelman
AFTERGLOW is a raw, one-act play exploring the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between three men and the broader implications within their relationships. Josh and Alex, a married couple in an open relationship, invite Darius to share their bed one night. When a new intimate connection begins to form, all three men must come to terms with their individual definitions of love, loyalty, and trust as futures are questioned, relationships are shaken, and commitments are challenged.
AFTERGLOW opened to strong audience and critical reviews who called the play “A must-see! Afterglow is necessary, honest and vulnerable.” Pride.com; “Compelling, raw, and sometimes uncomfortable (as any honest theater piece is), This is a show not to be missed!” Advocate; “Frank, explicit, insightful, unflinching, vivid and honest. Gelman’s characters grapple articulately with issues many gay men regularly face. Vivid and honest depictions like these that foster a greater understanding of the way we live now.” Towleroad; “Afterglow is inherently watchable, well-paced and a compelling introduction to Gelman’s theatrical voice.” Huffington Post; “Compelling. The trio is exceptionally easy on the eyes. It effectively adds to the authenticity of the story. Afterglow succeeds as it titillates.” Gay City News; “Raw and beautifully complicated, but above all, relatable. No gay New Yorker should miss this play.” Unicorn Booty; “Fresh and riveting. S. Asher Gelman has set the bar high with his first play, Afterglow. Gelman is nuanced as both a director and a writer. The nudity—and it is extensive—is presented with a charged eroticism rather than gratuitous titillation. There is no long-term afterglow for the characters in Gelman’s play. But for the audience there surely is. It comes from experiencing an impressive calling card from a gifted new playwright and director.” OffOffOnline; “Afterglow is a raw and real. Playwright S. Asher Gelman brings to the stage the very personal story of open relationships with heart, grit and a non-gratuitous exploration of the complex theme. This is not just another gay play or limited exclusively for the LGBT community but a play for everyone.” BeautyNewsNYC; “Compelling. Highly charged and extremely sexual. They certainly know how to grab our attention.” Times Square Chronicle; “There is amazing acting happening on stage. Afterglow is a bittersweet love story that will touch you.” ReviewsOffBroadway.com.
The cast of Afterglow includes Joe Chisholm (Regional: The Little Mermaid, My Fair Lady) and Brandon Haagenson (National Tour: Beauty and the Beast. NY: My Big Gay Italian Wedding) and David Merten (Regional Theatre: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, And Then There Were None (Judson Theatre Company). Creative team includes Ann Beyersdorfer (Scenic Designer), Fabian Aguilar (Costume Designer), Jamie Roderick (Lighting Designer), Alex Dietz-Kest (Sound Designer), Mike Ross (Dramaturg), Nina Kauffman (Assistant Director), Kate Lumpkin (Casting Director), Laura Malseed (Production Stage Manager), Will Chaloner (Assistant Stage Manager), Evan Bernardin Productions (General Manager), and Gwynne Richmond (Company Manager) AFTERGLOW is presented by Midnight Theatricals.
Written and Directed by S. Asher Gelman
The Loft at The Davenport Theatre is located at 354 West 45 Street, 3rd Floor
Performance Schedule through August 12, 2018
Monday & Wednesday at 7:30 pm; Thursday – Saturday at 8 pm
Saturday at 3 pm and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm and 7 pm
Running time 90 minutes NO intermission
Tickets can be purchased by visiting Telecharge.com.
Now Through August 5, 2018
10 Tickets Available – “Pay What You Wish”
Cash Only at the box office, based on availability
Tickets are $59.50 – $109.50
PLEASE NOTE: AFTERGLOW contains nudity.
18+, No Late Seating
For more information on AFTERGLOW, please visit www.afterglowtheplay.com
When I think of style, class, and high profile events, I have always thought of bow ties. For some reason, they just give me the feeling and look of sophistication, so I have always included one in my outfits for any major event I attend in the past few years. Recently I met Jorge Santana, President of Gay Pride Bow Ties, and he shared with me that he would like people to think of equality when they see, wear, or think of his ties. The mission of his company is to unify people and make a difference in the world.
Gay Pride Bow Ties were recently at Kansas City Pride, the PFLAG National Convention in Portland, and I’m sure quite a few same-sex weddings. I am so excited to wear mine this fall and winter for the formal events I know I’ll be attending.
John Raphael from the digital comedy series ‘A Brit and a Yank’
The neat thing about these ties is that five dollars from each tie sold is donated to various non profits, depending on the style you purchase. This means you look good and do good at the same time!
Gay Pride Bow Ties are made of fine silk and are high quality pieces to add to any dapper guys wardrobe. With the various styles, there is sure to be one that fits your personality perfectly and there are even pre-made ties for those of us who just can’t get the hang of tying a perfect looking bow tie.
How many of us like to wear something that stands out and makes a statement? I’m sure most of us would love to have a special piece in our collection that will make us look sharp and grab attention wherever we go. Plus in the age of selfies, I must say, Gay Pride Bow Ties make for quite a picture and post! And trust me, they aren’t just for same-sex weddings, you can rock these classy ties at any wedding or event!
James Stapleton from the digital comedy series ‘A Brit and a Yank’
When I asked Jorge about what he hopes for for the future of Gay Pride Bow Ties he responded, “The next step is to create the best bow tie for breast cancer and that for every $400 donated it will help 12 women battling breast cancer to get a wig. If people start purchasing the product and don’t care about the name Gay Pride Bow Ties, then we have done our part. We hope to create more bow ties like this in the future.“
How do you wear your pride? Pick one up for yourself and show the world.
Many of you may know Kit Williamson from Mad Men and his Emmy nominated and award winning show Eastsiders(Where you will also know his husband, John Halbachfrom). I am lucky to have become part of Eastsiders as an associate producer in season three and I am even luckier to be able to call them friends now as well. As a matter of fact, I just saw them in NYC when they were here to promote the third season of Eastsiders at New Fest last month.
If you followKit andJohnon social media you may have also noticed they have become quite the travel/luxury influencers these days and that is what I wanted to highlight them for here. Of course we must note that Kit is working on some amazing writing and directing projects like Girls Like Magic AND Eastsiders Season Three is available to pre-order at Amazon right now.
I have no idea how they find time to do all they do and take the fabulous trips they do BUT
I do know that they make the trips look as fabulous as you’d imagine, plus are able to bring us all along via social media. Earlier this year, they took a trip across Europe that included time in Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague. Then they returned to LA for the premiere of Eastsiders Season three at Outfest but soon after headed to Palm Springs for some more amazing views and Instagram photos!
Recently, they spent time in NYC, where I am from (after a brief stay in one of my favorite cities, Toronto), and introduced me to the Williamsburg Hotelin Brooklyn. I actually lived right there in Williamsburg for a but but never visited this truly luxurious hotel right in my home town.
During their time in Europe, Kit and John experienced some of the local culture, explored the usual tourist sites, and definitely enjoyed the local cuisine. I spoke to John about it at the Eastsiders premiere party after Outfest in Los Angeles and he expressed interest in doing it again as well as traveling to other places. At the after party for Eastsiders at NewFest in NYC, Kit expressed the same feelings to me about traveling and I expressed my interest in joining them on a few adventures (can you blame me for trying?).
There experiences traveling and influencing have led them to start their very own magazine called Where Gentlemen Go to showcase all the latest and hottest trends in travel, health, home, fashion, and more. As they say, “Go Out, Go Home, Go for It – A gay men’s travel/ lifestyle blog for modern gents.” I suggest you check it out, you will see a familiar face there from time to time. I am truly proud to be a part of Where Gentlemen Go because it’s a place for guys to go to share experiences, thoughts, tips, and their favorite things and places.
Please make sure you follow both Kit Williamson and John Halback on Twitter and Instagram for to view pictures of their trips and upcoming adventures and projects. Also follow Eastsiders and Girls Like Magic, you won’t be sorry.
Photo credit: Allan Naylor
James Bleyer is just like any other young man with a passion for acting. The o difference is, James came into this world as a baby girl but always felt he had been assigned the wrong body. He is most certainly not alone, some reports have found that about one in two hundred people worldwide identify as gender variant.
James describes it as his body and his true self living two lives next to each other. I think that is a great description of what it feels like and have found it to be similar for individuals I know who are experiencing or have experienced similar. I also understand that there are some people who believe it is more of a choice, just like some think being gay is a choice. I am so glad that men and women like James are wiling to speak out now and try to help everyone have a better understanding. There is so much going on in our world and so many lives have been lost, and are lost, due to differences that should not matter to anyone.
I’m going to let James tell you his story through our interview and hope it bridges some gaps, opens some minds, and shuts down some misconceptions:
Q: Can you explain what being transgender means to you in your own words and tell us a little about your own story?
James Blyer: For me it means, that I’ve been born into a wrong body, which I can’t feel good with and really live a happy life. I always explain it this way. My body and I are living two lives next to each other.
Q: What has the process been like for you physically and medically?
JB: Medicaly: One year ago, I started with the hormone treatment and the first things that started changing, where my voice and moods. They changed very quickly and sometimes I could not handle them very well, but they are good now.
On the physical level I started to gain more strength and have more power during the day.
Q: What was the hardest part about telling your family and friends? Were they able to fully understand?
JB: The hardest thing was, that I didn’t know how they would react. I always knew, that they always love me and there could be nothing wrong with telling them, but still I was afraid.
Some of my friends didn’t understand it and didn’t want to loose the person they liked so well. The thing is, they would not loose me, I would only change, and that is something lot’s of people don’t understand. They think the person will be gone, only because they start with the treatment, and that’s completely wrong. Only the look and some small things are changing, but the person will always be the same and be there.
Q: What are some of the misconceptions about being transgender and how do you deal with them when you are faced with people whojust don’t g
Photo Credit: @ChameleonEntertainmet
JB: Well there are people who think that I only do that transition, because I would have a bigger chance with the acting at some point, since men sometimes have a bigger chance. But
Q:What advice would you give to your younger self now that you have come as far as you have?can you imagine that? Doing that, making all those decisions, only because of an easier way of work? That’s rubbish. We are humans, and we are not supposed to be men and woman only, there are so many different genders and I don’t care about those thoughts. Of course they make me angry, but I don’t take them on me.
On the other hand, people in the art world like those new things, they like to work with those things and in my opinion there are more things, than being transgender. One always has more to tell, than only one story, wouldn’t you agree?
JB: I would have told my younger self, that I should have told my parents earlier and not waited so long. Maybe when I went to school or something like that. And I would have told myself, it’s right what I do and feel.
Q: What would you say to other people who are struggling with their own identities and may be afraid to speak about it?
JB:That’s not an easy question to answer, since you never know how your family and friends would react. I know why people are afraid to talk about those things. But I am always talking and not being silent on it. We only live one time and we should always try to live a happy life and that includes being true to ourselves.
Q: I know you are interested in acting. Do you plan to pursue an acting career?
JB: I went to drama school for three years now and still have half a year to go. In the beginning it was not easy at all, because I simply couldn’t fully let myself go and just play, because I had no hormones, it
Photo credit: @ChameleonEntertainmet
sounded wrong and weird with my voice, felt wrong with that body so all in all I could not really work. Nearly one and a half years ago, I started to understand something about acting and myself and I could work with it. I started working with my inner self and not look so much on my body and then it started to work more than before. I had to allow myself more and find the key to my work.
I plan to go on with acting and find a way for me that works.
Currently I play two roles in drama school, that are definitely male without a doubt and it’s not a problem, that my body is not biological male and to be honest…I don’t care about that.
Q: What other interests/hobbies keep you busy?
JB: I have a lot of interest. I like classical music very much I like reading theatre pieces and literature and enjoy going to exhibitions.
Watching other plays is also very important for me. And when there is some spare time I enjoy a good run or some fitness, but at the moment my drama school keeps me most busy.
Q: Where can people find you online to find out more about you and what you are up to?
JB: On Facebook and on Twitter: @James_Bleyer
Q: When did you first become interested in acting? Are you currently working on anything you can discuss?
JB: I’ve always been interested in acting and watched a lot of German literature films. I always wanted to discover history and different worlds. I want to understand people and life. There are so many wonders.
Q: Who would you like to work with? Actors, producers, directors?
JB: I am always interested in working with new people and certainly there are some big names I would like to work with. But it’s more a dreaming of working in different countries in the first place. I do drama school in Germany and would very much like to work in England, France, Italy, Germany (of course), United States and many many more.
One can only dream and work hard of course.