Ray Long

Ray Long (they/them/theirs) is just your average, every day lesbian with a ton of ideas floating around in their head. They have done many interesting things in their life including, but not limited to, performed off-Broadway in #LifeLines: Queer Stories of Survival with The TMI Project and Trevor Project, spoken at Trevor Live in LA and NY, designed and ran lights for (Wo)men Rule Broadway, has their own YouTube channel and is the lesbian presence on Gayme On, a podcast about gaming and geek culture from a queer perspective. They are married and has 4 fur babies.

Dear Rachel,

Dear Rachel,

 

Oh love, if only you knew what you know now. If I could give you a glimpse into the future, I promise you life would be so much better. You would breathe easier. You would make smarter choices. You would know that everything, everything, is going to be okay. You would know that you would grow up to be a creative, talented, confident person and that you dream big and work hard to achieve all of your dreams. 

You would know that your parents never ever stop loving you and eventually, not only do they help pay for your wedding to the woman of your dreams, but they show up too. I know you still believe that if someone asked you right now if your parents would be at your wedding, your first answer would be no. I’m here to tell you that they are. I have pictures to prove it.

Right now, you’re still working towards achieving your dreams, but you’re working hard. If you have a chance to go to school, just do it. It sucks and it’s hard and your math classes won’t be easy, but one of the things you wish you had right now was a degree. Don’t worry though. You’re doing just fine without one.

And remember that woman of your dreams I was telling you about? She’s amazing. Her name is Britany and my god she checks every box off your list. Let me let you in on a little secret though. There’s one box she doesn’t check and it’s the reason you two work so well. I’ll give you a hint: she’s not younger than you. Trust me though. It’s a good thing. You two were made for each other. It’s not always perfect or pretty but the fact that you two have made it through what you have made it through is a huge thing.

And let me tell you something, my sweet Rachel. You will not love your name forever. And that is okay. You don’t like the nicknames everyone is giving you now because they are too girly, too feminine. And you know that your name isn’t the right one either, but it’s your name so you stick with it. But I promise you, someone finally gives you a nickname that sticks. You hold onto it and it becomes you. It makes you stand up a little straighter and lift your chin a little higher. Because the moment someone calls you Ray for the first time, something shifts in you and you allow yourself to sink into the person you are a little bit more and your happiness grows each and every time someone uses it.

But I want to talk to you today about that piece inside of you that you have buried away so deep that you don’t even realize it’s there. That little voice in the back of your head telling you that something is wrong. You know it. You know something isn’t right, but you don’t have the word yet. And when you hear it for the first time, you ignore it. I know. It isn’t the only time you ignore it. You ignore it the second time, and the third time and the hundredth time. You ignore it because gender is a scary thing for you.

I get it, dear Rachel. Gender is still a scary thing for you. Right now, as you write this to yourself, you think how confused you are. You don’t fully understand it. You don’t have all the answers to all your questions. You don’t have all the answers to everyone else’s questions. You are afraid to tell people because you’re now coming out again, all over again. Coming out as gay was one thing. Coming out as non-binary is completely different and even more terrifying.

Maybe it’s because you’ve been through this process. You’ve felt the backlash. You’ve lost people you loved. You’ve been hurt and you don’t want to be hurt again. But let me tell you something, Rachel. It’s going to be okay. The ones who love you? They don’t care. They support you 110%. They do their best to use the right pronouns. They go to the bathroom with you. They stand up for you when people make comments or give you weird looks. You’re not alone in this. You’re never alone in this.

Rachel, you were born in a female presenting body, but you have never fully felt female. You have felt your body betray you over and over and over. When your chest grew. When your period started. Each betrayal hurt more and more and yet here you are, standing strong and learning to love yourself again.

Rachel, you are non-binary. And that’s okay. You don’t fit into a box, you never have. You are still an amazing person, who loves with all their heart, who dreams big (and I mean big), who has the cutest dog in the world, and who is still learning to accept the skin that they’re in. You’re not a boy, you know that. You’ve never wanted to be a boy and you still don’t want to be one. But you’re not a girl either. And it’s okay. You are you. You are exactly who you are and no one can take that away from you. Your wife has been using they/them pronouns for a while now and every time you hear her use them, your heart swells.

Life may be more difficult now. You may get more weird looks. You may lose a few people in your life. You may have people question you with questions you don’t know the answer to. But this is who you are and you have finally accepted that as a fact. It is time to live your true and authentic self.

Rachel, life is going to be okay. Keep your head up and keep moving forward. You’re going to be okay. I promise you. How can I make that promise? Well, because I am you.

 

Love always,

Ray

Love. Or some shit.

Today is Valentines day. I figured I would write about love or some shit. I could talk about how much I love my wife and how amazing she is and how she deserves so much more than chocolate and flowers. I could write about how this year, gifts just isn’t really an option due to finances. I can talk about how I learned about the biggest way I could show her I love her is through all the little things in life. I could tell you all about my relationship and how it works and our love.


Have a cute photo of us anyway though

But I’m not going to. 

 

Instead, I’m going to talk about what I hope my relationship someday becomes. I’m going to talk about the GOAT of relationships in my life. I’m going to talk about my grandparents. My grandparents, who in our family were lovingly referred to as Ganny and Papa, had a relationship that I have always strived to obtain. They were old school. Papa was the provider. Ganny was the matriarch. Papa would fix things and build things and bbq. Ganny baked and sewed and knitted. But growing up, they were perfect. 


This was them. All the time.

I had them up on a high pedestal: they always held hands. They kissed just because. Papa gardened and he would always bring in a flower or two for Ganny. Ganny would always make sure Papa’s stains came out of his nice shirts. She would make him dinners she knew he would enjoy. She would patch up his clothes so it always seemed like he never needed new ones. 

 

But one of my favorite things about their relationship was their valentines day tradition. Every year, Papa would hand make Ganny a valentine. It would be heart shaped usually but sometimes it was out of paper. Or wood. Or felt. And he would always write some cheesy valentine line on it. 

 

“Now you have my heart. Happy Valentines Day.” 

“I wood be nothing without you. Happy Valentines Day.”

“My love grows for you each and every day. Happy Valentines Day”

 

I loved coming over around Valentines day because Ganny would display the valentine Papa made for her on their mantle and I loved seeing what Papa would come up with every year. Ganny would always tell the story of how he presented it with pride while Papa sat in his spot on the couch with a humble smile on his face. Every once in a while he’d pipe in with a detail Ganny may or may not have known. I lived for these stories from them. They always made me extremely happy. 

 

I lost Ganny in 2016. Papa passed away last year. I could tell how lonely Papa had gotten once Ganny had passed. My mom and I would go over once a week for dinner and I loved our dinners, but it never felt like enough. I always felt bad leaving at the end of the night. You could tell he missed his wife.


I hope my marriage lasts just like theirs. Strong and fully in love.

This year is the first year they will be back together again for Valentines day and I know Papa is making Ganny something amazing wherever they are. It will be handmade and cheesy and full of love and it will be wonderful.

 

They weren’t perfect people, but they loved with their entire hearts. They taught me that love is the greatest gift you have to give and when executed correctly, it is fun and silly and meaningful and isn’t something one overthinks and is never harmful and is always amazing. But most importantly, they taught me that sometimes, the best gifts are the simple ones made with love.

I’m growing old and I wanna go home

Trigger Warning: Depression, loss, loss of family

I went to a party last night. It was a Halloween party. Specifically, Halsey’s Almost Famous Halloween party. I went with someone who I consider a close friend. And I had a blast. I made new friends, I got to hang out with old friends. I allowed myself one drink (someone had to drive home). I played video games. I ate free grilled cheese. I danced like no one was watching. I smiled. I laughed. I took pictures. I stayed up way past my bedtime. I had fun.

My wife was Cyndi Lauper. I was Billie Joe Armstrong.

Today, I was exhausted. My body let me sleep a solid 6 hours before it woke me up. Every little thing I did today took more energy than I had. Getting up to pee. Brushing my teeth. Making my bed. All I wanted to do today was lay on my couch and watch Grey’s Anatomy. But Petsmart was having their puppy trick or treat event today and Stella’s best friend was going to be there. So I put clothes I could go out in public in on and went to Petsmart. Once we finished there, I dropped off my wife and my dog and went and got my haircut and put gas in my car. I then came home and threw some chips and cheese on a plate and called it lunch. For the next few hours we binged Grey’s but then Brit got an email about a candle sale going on at Bath and Body Works, so clothes went back on and we went to the mall. After that, we wanted to try a new place for dinner and drove 20 minutes out of our way to do so but the place didn’t exist. So we got Chipotle instead. We talked on the phone with a friend having problems with her relationship for 45 minutes. 3 hours later we made it back home.

My dog Stella is on the right. Her best friend Mia, a 2 pound yorkie is in the giant dogs arms.

We just watched Grey’s for the last 3 hours. I’m exhausted. I just want to sleep. We just got back from taking our pup for a walk and we’re in bed and my brain, my stupid brain, decided it wanted to think about all the things I’m angry at and upset about and sad about all at once and I haven’t stopped crying in half an hour.

I talked to Brit about it. I talked about how people keep talking about how they like it when I let my hair grow out but I hate when my hair is long because I feel like it makes me look fat and I don’t feel like I’m in control because it’s too long to do anything about. I talked about how I hate my body because ever since I got injured, I haven’t been as active as I was and I feel like I’m just getting fatter and fatter each and every day. I talked about how I feel like I’m in a creative funk and how I’ve wanted to film videos for my YouTube channel or go out and take pictures but every time I try even a little, I feel like nothings good enough so I stopped trying. I talked about how I don’t like talking about it but I have very little interest in anything right now because I kinda just feel like a failure.

I told her that last night, when we were driving home and we were talking about stuff and she said that she feels lucky that she got a good one, it made me feel good for the first time in a long time.

I didn’t talk about how I miss my grandparents more than ever right now. Not this time at least. I bring it up at least once a week. I feel like she knows. She doesn’t need me to remind her again. I didn’t talk about how I think about all the people I consider close friends, the people I love and care about deeply, the people who I feel know me better than i know myself sometimes and how a lot of them don’t even talk to me anymore. I didn’t talk about how many people I’ve texted and reached out to multiple times and still haven’t heard back. I didn’t talk about how I feel like a shitty friend because I don’t wanna leave my house after 8 because I’m a home body. I didn’t talk about how I feel like people don’t want to be my friend anymore because of it. I didn’t talk about how many times I’ve silently said goodbye to people and felt a broken heart over because I’m no longer important to them like I once was. I didn’t talk about how alone I feel.

My grandparents, thankfully, made it to my wedding. My grandmother, Ganny, had dementia. This was the last day I ever saw her as
the woman I grew up with. I lost my grandfather, Papa, in June of this year. I think that started everything for me.

I did say I wish I could afford to talk to someone. But I don’t even know if I’m gonna afford rent this month. I did apologize over and over and over for my stupid brain making me cry. She kept asking me why I was sorry. I kept telling her because my brain is stupid.

I’ve been battling with this depression since June. It’s been one of the longest bouts of real fucked up depression in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with my body and my brain and my value ever like this before. I don’t think I’ve ever avoided looking at myself in the mirror because I thought I was disgusting. I don’t think I’ve ever changed an outfit three, four, five times in one morning because everything I put on fits wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry at friends because they aren’t texting me, because they aren’t reaching out to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy and yet felt so sad and lonely at the same time.

Last night I went to a halloween party. For one night, I dressed up as someone else and I put on a mask and I allowed myself to have fun. This morning, my brain couldn’t handle it anymore and I’ve now been crying for the last hour. I’m tired. I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m lonely. I don’t feel creative. I don’t feel excited. I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel valued. I don’t feel important. I don’t feel motivated. I struggle each and every day just to get out of bed.

I took this picture a few weeks ago. I feel like I’ve perfected that smile.

We were playing Pokemon Go. I felt happy for a moment. It didn’t last long.

Let’s Talk Colors

Let’s talk about colors.

We’re in the best month of the year. June. Pride month. The month where rainbows are thrown up everywhere on everything from clothes to bags to shoes to all the gear you could possibly want. My go to pride shirt was purchased a few years ago at Target. It’s a tank top with a unicorn waving a rainbow flag around. It’s my favorite. I also own sunglasses that are full on rainbow, hats with a rainbow brim, you get the point.

I hate the word Lesbian

I learned this year that April 26th is Lesbian Visibility Day. And apparently I wasn’t the only one to learn that this year. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LGBT_awareness_periods) it came into existence in 2008. I personally was too busy on the front lines of trying to get everyone to vote No on Prop 8 in Orange County, California in 2008, so I guess I missed the memo. The problem is, when I found out that it was Lesbian Visibility Day, I shrugged my shoulders and continued scrolling through my Facebook feed. I didn’t share any articles I saw or mention it on any of my social media accounts. I may have mentioned it to my wife, but we didn’t talk about it much at all.

My Relationship With My Wife and Her Mental Health

We live in a world where mental health is talked about on a regular basis. There are so many people and articles online talking about how to take care of your own mental health. They talk about how talking to someone isn’t a bad thing. There are even articles about how to be there for your friends and family and loved ones who struggle with mental health. Some are more intense than others. There are apps and websites you can go to talk to someone anonymously or not. There are so many resources out there to help everyone deal with their inner demons. But today, I wanna talk about my own experiences with mental health. And those experiences involve my wife as well.

I spoke at Trevor Live LA

This past December I spoke at Trevor Live LA. This video gives you a glimpse inside my head during that incredible weekend.

See the full video here: https://youtu.be/gVOXRnRzQwc

So many thanks to The Trevor Project for inviting me out to speak at their event. trevorproject.org

A million thanks to Nicole for stepping in and being my plus one.

You can check out here channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5E0…

If you or someone you know is feeling helpless or lonely or like you can’t go on anymore, don’t be afraid to reach out. There are people available 24/7. They are there for you. 1-866-488-7386.

How New York Changed My Life

I went to New York at the beginning of November last year and it changed my life for the better.

Please enjoy all the links I have for you.
TMI Project: https://www.tmiproject.org/
Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Othered: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1943977550?…