I wasn’t the saint you think I was

I have had quite a few lows in my life. While I was relatively safe from life’s harshest cruelties, I am not without my own scars. I spent the first 39 years on this rock unsure of what love even was, now I am overflowing with it and I couldn’t be happier, or more afraid.

I won’t dig into the deepest recesses of my past, there’s some things I will take to my grave. What I can share is a lifetime of abuse, bullying, self loathing and no self esteem brought on by the people around me who were supposed to keep me safe from those things. I have been witness to sexual assaults of my sisters. I have been in fist fights where my very life was at stake knife in hand ready to die. I have been homeless more than once. I dropped out of high school, twice, kicked out of college, evicted and homeless days before Thanksgiving, on food stamps, unemployed much of my life and I have been involved in or with criminals for most of my youth.

When I was younger I practiced dark magic. A form of necromancy where I sought out evil spirits not for clairvoyance but to send demons to bring cruelty to those who tormented me. I let those demons consume me. I went into a dark place in my younger days. I was darker than the internet pirate who traded files illegally on the dark web. I was involved in a ring of criminal activity. I knew an individual caught up in an illegal child sex ring, a police officer who was father to a girl I dated once upon a time.

I have seen my share of dead bodies before entering the journalist field. Some were crimes I was witness to, others were on the side of the road or the one time I heard the gun shots of a man shot five times in the back of the head in the parking lot where I worked. Then I went into journalism and dead bodies became a regular sight I had to learn to work next to.

I have seen the worst humanity has to offer. I had a friend kill himself because he was sexually abused and couldn’t face it alone when his girlfriend dumped him. He was only 16. His abuser was my very uncle who tried to abuse me as well. I, don’t talk about that part of my life. It’s not something I share.

I was engaged to a woman who went insane, literally and was committed as a result. The first love of my life torn asunder and locked away, I was told to forget about her and move on. So I did. I have been beaten up for being gay, trans, too Christian, not Christian enough, and supposedly for being lazy more than once. I had to steal my dads car at 18 to get my driver license because we had been fighting and I refused to take lessons from him.

I have former friends rotting in prison as we speak. Others rotting in hell where they belong. Others who would gladly send me there if they were ever to find me. I made a lot of enemies in my youth. I had friends who dealt drugs, stolen merchandise, pirate dvds, child porn and every other vice you can think of. Some of those things I knew about, others I learnt when cops raided their homes. None of that absolves me of who I consorted with, whom I associated with and what I looked the other way to protect myself from. I was afraid for my life these were people who carried guns and not legally so.

The first time I fired a hand gun it was in training for a drug raid. We were preparing to go after a punk who owed us so little money it was not worth the armory we carried to scare him into paying. But I was present for the shake down, armed and ready to defend my “homies” to the death. Shit like that went down all to often. I avoided most of it by playing naïve but I knew what was going on. I was questioned by police more times than I’d ever care to remember.

I didn’t live as sheltered a life as my parents tried to provide. I stayed optimistic despite all the dark things I was around. I had friends who drank so much I thought they would die any day of alcohol poisoning, until the ones who did just that prompted the worst reaction from me, I became the very drunk I always hated I would become. My drinking days are far from over but it no longer rules my life.

Drugs. I never did but know many who bought, sold and carried guns to push theirs onto others. I knew one who killed three and is now out of prison having served his time. Don’t think for a second I was a saint. I was a monster. I lived a hellish life. I am tired, beat down and finally able to put some of my past where it belongs as I venture forth into my new life. I have lived the harsh life, seen cruelty, and come fact-to-face with death to the point we’re on a first name basis. Don’t ever doubt the shit I went through. I am not optimistic because I have faith in a fairy tale. I am optimistic because I survived all the shit this life has thrown at me, might as well keep fighting.

Unpacking a repressed traumatic experience I recently uncovered in my shadowy memories

I blocked out a certain traumatic experience from my childhood that apparently does fit the narrative I have been told. yet for some reason I keep forgetting about it until someone tasks me with digging deeper into the recesses of my mind to dig up the remaining trauma that they believe would explain my quirks. This happened to me last night. I nearly broke down into tears at the revelation but instead I found myself in a strange fog of self reflection.

I am not going to recount it here. It’s been unpacked according to the appropriate channels now I shall contemplate the ramifications of  said recollection internally. I do this as part of how I survive. Only a select few are privy to the worst parts of my past. Those details that cause me to cringe before breaking down into tears. I share them with only those I trust. This isn’t one of those. It’s different. Potentially life changing in it’s own way or nothing at all depending on your perspective. Either way it was a repressed memory and that’s the part I want to focus on rather than the event itself.

The first time I recalled this memory was when I was 11 years old. I remember lying in bed playing with one of my Transformers action figures and there it was out of the blue. A painful reminder of something I had apparently determined wasn’t worth keeping in my memory banks in an accessible form. I asked my mother about the incident and her reaction was odd. She told me it was nothing and to forget about it then promptly changed the subject.

I was fixated on a thought my psychologist told me. She indicated my PTSD might be cPTSD and wanted me to dig into my mind to find the hidden traumas I was tuning out. I told her I didn’t have any that I had forgotten only those I told her about or the ones I write about here from time to time. She insisted. I asked her if my quirks were trauma based, I said smugly with a hint of sarcasm and self confidence, then why was I in special ed in school starting in Kindergarten? She said there must have been something I was missing. She told me to find it and report back to her.

I was angrily relaying this conversation to my girlfriend with the intention of feeling belittled. I stated I was sure I didn’t have any further trauma to unpack. I insisted my bullying began at Kindergarten therefore it made no sense why the special education started then. Then like a ton of bricks falling on the head of Roger Rabbit, it came back to me mid sentence. There it was plain as day the thing I had forgotten, repressed even! She was right after all!

This reminded me of the exact same conversation I had with my previous therapist in college. Same deal my insisting I didn’t have any trauma, then bam mid sentence it rearing it’s ugly head out of the blue. It wasn’t the type of ordeal you’d expect a child to repress, at least not on the surface. However once I unpacked it I found the core issue buried deep under several layers of lies I had told myself to keep it buried. I had to confront the lies before I could dig any deeper.

I don’t want to hype my experience up it’s not the sort of deal  you take to the grave. Although I have those too. It’s more the type of thing I want to sort out in my own mind before I tackle it publicly for fear of the repercussions it might have on my image. That being said it could explain so much more of what I face than my other theories. In fact it might very well be the key to unlocking everything wrong with my broken psyche.

Today I sit here in denial yet again. Not that the experience happened not even that my mother trivialized it such, she tends to do that. But realizing how alone I was when I didn’t have to be. Here I had a perfectly good explanation all along yet they had to fabricate lies to “protect my feelings” when the truth would have likely been easier to swallow had I been given the choice. I have yet to bring it up to my mother out of fear it will further widen the rift growing between us. At least not until suck time I have confirmation from my therapist what she thinks my diagnosis should be. At that time I will consider whether or not it is worth asking my mom about. Considering how dismissive she was in the past I doubt she will consider being helpful this time either.

I am not sure if this qualifies as the life altering event I have been searching for in my memories but here it is, something unpleasant enough my brain thought it best to hide me from the knowledge of it in the first place. That alone tells me it was probably worse than my fuzzy memories let on.

2021 was boss, 2022 is going to be epic

I started 2021 one with a slump. I was fired from my dream job day 7 of the year. Barely a week into what would become one of my busiest years on record I found myself unemployed and facing homelessness. That would be a running theme throughout the year. I ended the year unemployed too.

I made up a small timeline of events I shared on social media. That was only half the story. Last year I spent the first half of the year getting my name legally changed along with my gender marker on my identifications. I got a brand new driver license, cell phone, birth certificate, social security card, credit card and all my bills in my new name. This took the better part of the first 5 months to accomplish. That in and of itself was a battle. I had to fight the forces at play trying to prevent me from being recognized every step of the way.

I also started the year off filing for unemployment. This immediately put me in a weird position where I had to rely on the broken system to prop me up. Later in the year I was reminded how incredibly broken that system is when they asked for most of that unemployment money back as they claimed I over paid. Then there was my epic battle to get SNAP benefits as I went to war with Health and Human Services over my name change situation yet again.

I faced discrimination. I was shoved out of the way called sir by rude people. I was stepped on walking down the stairs with my cane as I limped my way to safety. I had more than one employer tell me they legally didn’t have to hire me on religious grounds. I didn’t even bother fighting those instances I just walked away with a pit of anger in my stomach. That anger fueled me as my relationship with my parents went south.

During the year I lost nearly all of my family. I managed to find support in my grandmother of all people. I won’t get into why but our previous relationship had been fairly rocky. Turns out she was the first person in my extended family to not only offer me support but to tell me she was happy for me. She is also the only one who refers to me as Stephanie. Others still fixate on my deadname. Oh well. I lost enough sleep over that time to move on.

Mere weeks into the new year and it didn’t matter my family had rejected me. I found a new sister. Her name is Robin Alura and she has been my best friend and strongest supporter since I moved to Texas. By the end of the year I had more found family including a trans daughter I adopted through Twitter. By the end of the year I had a whole new family to love me.

By the middle part of the year I had already gone through so many changes. I changed my name, my location, career, family, and was in the process of changing my podcast too. I cancelled my web domain and created a brand new website. This was scary because it meant leaving behind a lot of work I had done on a website I ran for several years. I had an emotional leave of absence from the podcast I helped start, helped watch it grow and become something powerful for the trans community.

Towards the end of the year the most important event in my life had taken place. I met the love of my life. The woman who has taken ownership of my heart and very soul itself. I have grown closer to her as time has gone. I have given her more of my heart, more of my time and more of my love day by day.

If all of that wasn’t enough change I also went through a religious transformation. I ended up leaving Christianity behind as I turned to paganism. I ended the year having celebrated several pagan holidays. My witchcraft has increased as well. I have grown closer to my deities, those spirits I commune with on a more regular basis. I settled on a path that follows chaos and nature. I haven’t done a ton of spell work but I have gotten to know my deities quite well.

The final big change I made for the year was launching a brand new news talk show dedicated to trans culture. This was the culmination of my entire professional career mixed with everything I learned as a trans woman transitioning while living in one of the most hostile states for trans people, Texas. I wanted to end the year on a high note by producing something that would offer hope to trans men, women, and others all over the world.

Now that 2021 is behind me I can say I tackled it like a boss. As I look towards 2022 I can assure you it will be even more grand, dare I say epic!

I made a New Year’s resolution

I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. In fact last year, 2020, was the first time I ever made one and I actually kept it. My resolution was to eat new snack foods I had never tried before. I succeeded because that was an easy one. In fact I cheated. I picked an easy resolution I knew I could keep on purpose just so I could brag I kept mine.

Similar to the childhood memories of the holidays now tainted by my family’s rejection of who I am so too is New Year’s now filled with the sting of memories I’d rather forget. Traditions we held that I once looked forward to now bring me little joy. I want this year to be different though. I want to make a resolution I know will be hard to keep. I want to push myself to keep it so I can brag next year how I conquered my fears. That is my resolution.

This year I flew on a plane for the first time. It was a disaster as I was terrified of flying. I also ate lobster tail for the first time ever this year despite a pervasive critter phobia that renders me useless in the presence of certain crustaceans, insects, rodents or arachnids.. Another fear I over came was my fear of people. I have a hard time approaching new people which makes it difficult to make new friends. This year I went out on a limb and found the most wonderful woman I could ever meet to spend my days with.

My resolution for 2022 is to face my fears head on. I want to try all the things that give me anxiety and panic attacks. I want to look fear in the eye and spit on it’s face. I want to grow as a person. This is the year I laugh at rather than run from a clown. This is the year I pet a strangers dog instead of cower in fright. I will try more seafoods. I will spend more time in the wilderness with the bugs. I will sit in the rain during a thunderstorm and let those terrifying thunder claps sooth me rather than paralyze me. I will spend the entire year chasing down and defeating all of my phobias one by one. That is what I resolve to do this year. Mark my words I will not fail.

My thoughts on the passing of former U.S. Senator Harry Reid

When I was in the 10th grade I ran for student council president. I was living in Nevada at the time. I went to a high school in a small town called Jackpot. I didn’t win the election but I was given the role by default as nobody else ran against me.

This was my first taste of politics on a personal level. I have been politically involved in one form or another ever since. In some cases I am an activist pushing for changes to better our society. In other instances I am merely a voter exercising my right to vote. In yet a handful of cases I have been able to influence or inform public opinion through my work as a journalist. No matter what role I played there were a handful of political figures during my lifetime that stood out. U.S. Senator from Nevada Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader for a large portion of my early adult life, was one of those staples.

Despite the red/blue divide in our country Reid was quite popular in the very red state of Nevada. I call it a red state despite it having some blue leanings in regards to individual liberties but all in all Nevadans tend to vote overwhelmingly Republican, save in presidential elections where it’s a tried and true swing state.

I shant write an essay on the impact Reid had on my home state. I’d dare not attempt to butcher such a recollection of his trials and triumphs. Rather I’d mention that when I was a teenager I read a lot of newspapers. I watched a lot of C-Span, CNN and Bloomberg TV because I had a strong interest in the political affairs of this great nation of ours. Senator Reid was among those figures who’s name and words were a constant of those political endeavors at the time. As such he became a regular figure on my television set. More so to me than a Kardashian or Paris Hilton would for most others of my generation. To say I spent many of my evenings with Senator Reid would be an understatement. I had the pleasure of voting for him more than once in my lifetime.

Among his many political accomplishments was his ability to get the Affordable Care Act passed into law at a time doing so depleted all of his remaining political capital. As an under paid working class citizen who has depended upon the ACA healthcare exchange to provide me with health insurance since it’s inception I am eternally grateful of the sacrifices he made in order to see that legislation become the law of the land. I was even honored to vote for President Barack Obama in 2012 following the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the ACA as the law of the land.

While Harry Reid became the target of conservative commentators he remained a champion for Nevadans, red and blue alike, while he stood up to the GOP at nearly every turn. I can’t under state how important he was to my developing interest in the politics of the United States and her allies. If not for his constant television appearances I might not have understood the scope of our Federalist Republican Democracy as well as I currently do. It was a lesson in how deeply red Republicans who agree with the GOP on a national level would send a stanchly blue stalwart to represent our state in the Senate as a reminder of how federalism works in practice.

More than a hero of our democracy, more than a champion of our republic, more than a symbol of that federalism, he was above all a public servant. He shall be missed while his legacy lives on. Rest In Peace good sir.

Christmas, yuck; holidays humbug! Why this year fell flat for me

The holidays are  a joyous time full of wonder and awe. It’s a time when families get together to show their love for one another. It’s a time of spreading cheer and goodwill around the world. Except it’s not any of those things for many queer people.

This is the first “Christmas” day I will be spending separated from my kin. It’s a day I’ve long dreaded. I know all too many queer folks who will be alone this holiday. Too many who have already considered harming themselves.

There are so many holiday traditions from all over the world. A line from my favorite Christmas themed horror film reminds me all too well one tradition nobody likes to think about. The movie is Gremlins. The line is when the character Kate says “while some people are opening presents, others are opening their wrists.” This is a dangerous time for queer people. We’re often faced with rejection from our blood relatives. While many of us do find solace among our found families, or chosen families as we often refer to them, it doesn’t eliminate the sting of that rejection entirely, especially in the early instances.

This year has been tough for me. I know it has for others in my extended queer family as well. Too many of us will end up spending the day alone while our families go about their lives pretending their in the right, somehow allowing themselves to feel good and celebrate “peace on earth” despite the trauma they will put us through. It makes listening to holiday themed songs painful. The tainted memories of our families former gatherings from holiday’s past makes even our most cherished and beloved holiday films feel more like empty, shallow reminders of our current affairs rather than bringing back warm fuzzy memories of our childhoods we’d sooner forget than celebrate.

Many queer people turn to watching horror movies during this time of the year. For us it’s a way to watch a movie as dark as we feel. Why bother spreading cheer when our hearts are empty? I chose to go the opposite direction. Rather than horror films I spent the morning I would have been opening presents that never came from a family that’d rather I moved on, I watched some old sci-fi films instead. Even though they are color films from the 80s I watched them desaturated so they looked like old science fiction films from further back still.

I am not celebrating this year. I have nothing to celebrate. As a newly converted Pagan I put up a Yuletide tree and did some rituals related to the Winter Solstice but beyond that my holiday bucket is empty. I found myself desperate to stave off the loneliness by accepting an invitation to a gay couples house for Christmas Dinner from my church. I felt alone so figured sure why not. It was a disaster. I was under dressed, unemployed and too poor for their respect. I also heard snide comments and racist words including the dreaded N Word not once but TWICE during the meal!

Prior to that I attempted to enjoy a trans zoom call for people who are alone for the holiday. I invited my girlfriend along and the both of us ended up leaving as that, too, was kind of a disaster for us. In the end everything I tried to do yesterday to forget I was shunned by my family ended up only making it worse.

In the end this holiday season was no different than any other. A lot of phony smiles dressed up in nostalgia with a ton of sorrow underneath it all topped with major disappointment all around. That’s why I have said all alone Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love me some Gay Christmas on old October 31.

Why we need more trans content and what I am doing about it

Why do I produce so much trans content nobody is even going to bother to consume? I make a podcast only people who listens are my girlfriend and my adopted daughter. I produce YouTube videos only a handful of people watch despite being told it’s quality content. I even write three to five articles a week digging into the mind of a broken trans woman that barely get’s a dozen reads or so at a time. I have over 3,000 followers who like and retweet my stuff but apparently don’t bother consuming. What am I doing wrong?

This isn’t to say I am not eternally grateful for every read, listen or view I do get, as I am; it’s just more like I don’t get how so many people can follow me, root for my projects and claim they support what I do yet don’t even bother checking out what I produce, for their benefit.

I hate complaining. Maybe this is contemplative reflection. My way of deciding if I am even getting what I set to get out of these various projects. I never question am I spreading myself too thin. I know how desperately we need more quality trans content. I also know I am one person doing the work of three teams of people by myself for the most part. I get some help from a few people behind the scenes occasionally but for the most part I do all the heavy lifting on all of my content. Especially the blog.

The hardest thing for me is pouring all my energy into so many projects I don’t seem to get any reward for doing. I mean listen we need quality trans content. I can’t be the only one producing it and I certainly am not. But I am going out of my way to make sure I produce a wide variety of content. Why? Because we desperately need more positive visibility. It’s that simple.

Let me break down the content I produce for each audience. First up The Stephanie Bri Show. This is a podcast with video I produce FOR trans people but also for everyone else. Think Ellen, she’s gay but her show isn’t about being gay. Same here I am trans but my show has little to do with being trans. It’s just quality content that happens to be produced by a trans woman.

Next up is The Trans Station. This show is a news talk show FOR trans people but ALSO about trans people. It’s a unique show dedicated to providing a news talk show similar to Last Week Tonight or similar shows but entirely focused on trans people and issues. This is important because it isn’t just about visibility it’s about giving a voice to trans issues that might otherwise get swept under the rug.

Then we have Stephaniebri.com this here blog. This is a special type of content. It’s my reflections on what life is like, through the lens of being trans gender. It’s as simple as that. It’s a way for me to write down my experiences and feelings so other trans people and our allies can better understand our struggles. It’s also a fun place to write articles just for entertainment.

The point of everything I do is to normalize trans people. I want to demonstrate you can be trans but not make that your entire identity. All of the content I produce is important in its own right. That’s what makes it going unnoticed disheartening. I know if more people found it they’d enjoy it but how do I get it out there? Even if all I end up doing is inspiring someone else to do it better and more successful than I did my part. I am trying to change the world but I can’t do it alone.

Why I finally bought a cane after 6 years of enduring pain

I bought a walking cane today. It was an item that I had been told by literally every single person who meets me in person and sees my horrible limp. I have been putting it off for so long I just came to accept the constant throbbing pain in my foot as a part of life. Now I finally have some relief I am dumbfounded why I put it off so long.

It goes back to the day I broke my foot. It was 2 a.m. there was booze and weed involved. Let’s just say I was chasing a girl who was out of my league, I got high with her to impress her then broke my foot. The rest of the story is irrelevant. What is important is when I felt the snap I immediately crawled the 25 feet from the ditch I fell into to the house where I lived with my nephew at the time. Once inside I found some ice and went to bed.

I walked in excruciating pain on that broken foot for three days before I realize what had happened. I drove all the way from North Texas to Southern Nebraska to attend my uncle’s funeral. While sitting on the porch at my grandmothers nursing home I couldn’t stand the pain any longer so I took my shoes and socks off for some sweet relief. To my horror the foot was black and purple. My dad sprang into action driving me to the nearest ER and getting it x-rayed. It was put into a boot and I was prescribed pain meds.

I wish the saga ended there. I was still pre-cracked egg hiding so deep in the closet I was still pretending to be tough. It was only a week into the broken foot before I realize the very same girl had stolen my pain meds. I figured out it was her because she was my roommate at the time and had tried to sell them back to me one night after I complained about the pain in my foot. I didn’t report her to the police but I took joy in running her mug shot in the newspaper where I worked a few weeks later after she got caught selling drugs.

Long story short because I had inadequate insurance at the time I failed to get the surgery I needed to fix my broken bone. The doctor said it hadn’t healed correctly but it was safe to take the boot off if I wanted. I asked if the surgery was necessary and he said only if I don’t want to walk with a limp. He then told me it would require rebreaking the foot and inserting a metal pin to hold it in place. I decided it was too much trouble so I opted for the limp.

That was in October 2015. I have limped along ever since. I had gotten used to walking with the limp for so long I forgot what it felt like to not be in pain. Five minutes walking with the cane and the pain in my foot already began to subside. After a nice comforting hot bath soaking the foot I now feel pain free for the first time in six years.

If you want the truth at first I resisted buying a cane for vain reasons. As a male-presenting person I didn’t want to risk being clocked by doing something unmanly as admitting I was in pain. After transitioning I put it off due to dysphoria. I was afraid if I bought a cane it would look too manly. It took my girlfriend talking me into before I finally gave it a shot. Now that I’ve had a few hours pain free I really regret letting societal pressures push me into accepting pain as normal. It is also a sharp reminder how broken our healthcare system is. If I would have had proper insurance at the time I could have gotten it fixed 6 years ago.

Looking towards the next chapter of my life as I move across country for love

We all have our issues with our high school lives. I don’t like to rehash most of the memories I carry in the deep recesses of my mind. Occasionally one will trigger me into a state of mind I find deeply disturbing. It’s a mixture of guilt, shame, anger, frustration and regret mixed with a twinge of longing for the past. Blame it on nostalgia.

This isn’t a story from my past. This is my reflections on the trajectory my life is now on thanks to recent events. It started with me quitting my full time job to stay at home and fend off the depression I had sunken into. That was back in the early days of October just a few short weeks ago. At the time I was working two jobs with a third potentially on the way. I wasn’t able to juggle all of that so I quite the other part time job I picked up to make ends meet.

That downward spiral is what prompted me to call the crisis hotline and get scheduled to see a psychiatrist. I needed answers. I was given a diagnosis, some medication and regular therapy sessions. I began the healing process. Then I made the unfortunate decision to ask my mom if I could spend Christmas Day with her and the family. That turned into an ordeal that left me wanting to leave Texas behind for good. The state hasn’t been entirely great for me after all.

During that hurricane of emotions I ended up starting a new project, The Trans Station, a news-talk show dedicated to trans folks and trans issues. I have been working hard in my spare time to try and pull that together into something worthwhile. I have since found a host of support from other trans and LGBT+ individuals as I launch this latest venture.

As if that wasn’t enough I am now making plans to move to Buffalo, New York. The goal is to be closer to my girlfriend while also putting as much distance between myself and Texas as I can. Seeing an opportunity to coax some goodwill out of the folks responding to my tweet that had blown up overnight I launched a gofundme to raise the cash to move to New York. Needless to say my entire trip was funded in a few short hours.

Moving across the country to start the next chapter in my life. Launching a news talk show that will shine a light on trans issues. Continuing my job search in a state with a much better grasp of how serious COVID-19 is. These are all the major changes I am facing as I enter the next phase of my life. As 2021 draws to a close I look back at the year and say “is that all you got?” The year that tried it’s damndest to push me to give up. I laugh at you 2021 as I gleefully prepare to welcome a brand new year into my life.

I start to look back at my past and I smirk. I won. I survived. You tried and failed to end me so here I am on my way to the next level. Try as you might knock me down, kick me while there, spit on me if you must all it does is fuel me to rise above.  Every time I overcome an obstacle I turn it into a story to entertain others. A lesson learned. Then I move on to the next challenge. I want my life to be an inspiration to others. When life kicks you in the balls cut em off and put on a dress.

Discovering the metal music I was robbed of in my youth by neocons

I never gave goth metal much of a fair shake when I was growing up. As a teenager I was under the impression rock music, especially “heavy metal” and “punk rock” were devil music. I grew up in a Baptist house after all.

It’s not like I never dabbled. I got pretty deep into Marylin Manson for a while. Admittedly my musical tastes have fallen mostly well within the confines of pop. I sometimes stray into the weeds with some hip hop or some alternative rock but for the most part I stuck to the up tempo bubble gum of my youth. That’s not to say I didn’t explore other genres but you want a confession, I didn’t even let myself listen to Metallica, Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Aerosmith, KISS, Van Halen or heck even Nirvana until I was several years removed from living with my parents, well into my 30s!

My sisters and I snuck behind my parents backs and watched the R-rated teen road trip comedy “Detroit Rock City” because it centered on a group of kids going to a KISS concert. Thus we became obsessed with the rock band KISS. This was the “evil” music I let myself enjoy, the rare sin I could savor but confess later. I felt ashamed that I liked the band Garbage. I hid it from my parents and when they caught me I just made a joke my music was garbage and dad would agree with me. No joke when asked I would say my favorite band was Garbage and dad would laugh yes they are.

I feel robbed. Cheated out of an entire genre of musical experiences that would have touched my soul in very real ways. I did gradually dabble in Manson as stated above. Despite their best efforts they couldn’t purge me of listening to “The Beautiful People”, “Sweat Dreams” or even “The Dope Show.” Mom chalked it up to my rebellion teen years. I discovered it was me suppressing something deep inside that wouldn’t get out until recently.

As the 80’s grew distant I found myself willing to discover the hair bands of the decade. By that time they were considered classic rock, harmless in the grand scheme of things. No longer able to “open the door to hell” my parents and pastors warned me would happen, I was able to enjoy those old albums. Now I am seething.

I was robbed of a childhood, a teenagers angst. I was pressured to sit in my bedroom alone with my toys and my Bible. Part of my unwillingness to socialize was rooted in my own social anxiety, sure, but much of it was also in the limiting nature of activities my conservative parents would allow as they over saw the choke hold of my life.

They kept me on such a short leash I thought it was a tragedy when Mark turned “goth” on Home Improvement. It was a “travesty” when Roseanne let Darlene become an artist with angst. I spent my youth running from, hiding from rock music because it was the work of the devil. Sure I rebelled anyways but I listened to gangsta rap music, far worse than any metal music in terms of lyrical content, yet that was my way of pushing back not against my parents religious hang ups, I did so to resist their racist teachings I have since had to begin coming to terms with.

Apparently my mom recently confessed she never knew what music I was into just she thought it was all “Satanic” some how. Despite the obvious gay overtones they pushed me into liking Disco and pop because it was supposedly harmless. Some how listening to “It’s Raining Men” was more palatable than “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a song I discovered in my 20s despite being all of ten years old when it came out!

Whenever a  well meaning friend would recommend a rock or metal album to me I would cringe. That devil music I would often retort, no thanks not for my fragile “christian” mind. It was one of countless experiences I was denied because I grew up in a Midwestern Conservative home.

Here I sit 39 years old discovering an album, a band, an entire genre of music I would have very clearly enjoyed as a teenager, all for the first time! I am listening to an album from 1996. It’s soul wrenching harmonies touching my ears, piercing my soul for the very first time despite having been the right age to enjoy it brand new. In a way I should be grateful I get to discover music from my past, brand new for the first time! Long time fans lack that.

On the other hand, fuck Christianity and it’s persistent brainwashing of innocent youth!