The project will explore, through poetry and watercolor, the journey of a Sexual Immigrant. She will share with you her transition from one country, one culture, one identity, one gender to another. Her words reflect the challenges she experienced as she stumbled along her path. The poetry is autobiographical; the images are Braden’s responses to the writing.
When she first realized she walked a different path, the Sexual Immigrant did not have the words to describe herself. She only knew that she was frighteningly different from her family and friends, and that she needed to keep that difference hidden. As a teen, she had learned from her church that such differences would lead her soul to hell. In a world without Google, she had to rely on library card catalogs and periodical indexes. The few books she found were dated psychology or psychiatry books that gave her disturbing labels: transvestite, transsexual, pervert, degenerate. The books discussed treatments – shock therapy, aversion therapy – anything that would knock the sense into the unfortunate individual.
When she served in the military, she began to see some of the legal implications of her secret journey: courts martial, imprisonment, dishonorable discharge.
Of course, all along the roadway, she heard the jeers, condemnations, and hatred for those of her kind. She saw no road to her destination, only the spiritual, social, and legal detours to destruction were illuminated on her rough, hand-drawn map.
The poetry in this project has been written over the course of more than thirty years and documents a six-decade journey.