Sophie at the GLAAD Media Awards

| Jul 10, 2017

A $500 entree.

Friday afternoon I was on break at work. May 5, 2017. And I’d received a message from a dear friend.

Jennifer Finney Boylan wanted to know if I wanted to attend the GLAAD Media Awards. The one that costs $500 to attend. Minimum. She had an extra ticket — free.

She asked ME?!

I had to work the next day, so I couldn’t make it. After a few minutes, the head manager walked through the break room and into her office. I went in and told her about the offer. She quickly made sure I could attend.

HUGE thanks to my manager: Lisa!

I sent Jenny my confirmation, and I asked a few questions. After all, I’d never been to a high powered celebrity studded gala before.

Then, I assessed my financial situation. Rent was paid. Still outstanding bills . . . however, one of the credit cards I’d been paying down had a little room — enough for a mani/pedi and the $40 for parking that I was quoted. (Turns out my assessment was wrong, but that’s another story.)

So at 10 a.m. on May 6, I got a mani/pedi. Went back to the apartment. My roomie and bestie, Linda, graciously consented to do my makeup. She is a Hollywood trained makeup artist of enormous talent.

Sophie’s GLAAD look.

I tried to put on my blue gown from the last Keystone, but the hook atop the zipper was missing. So no go there, as it’s strapless and I didn’t think a gala would be a good place for the Girls to come bouncing out to play. That said, Tinder WAS one of the sponsors. . . .

In any case, I went with a backup gown that I’m surprised wasn’t in storage. The strappy shoes I wanted to wear had heels that were too high for extended comfort, so I went with pumps. First pair of hose? Runner. In the end, I knew everyone would be in designer suits and gowns, it being a New York City LGBT Gala and all, and I’d be the Hick in the off-the-rack rag.

I actually was quite worried about this. But, in the end, I figured that these people didn’t know me, and I’d never see most of them again, so who cares?

I climbed into the car and drove through the rain over to New Jersey, and up the New Jersey Turnpike (I wasn’t counting the cars, though.)

I spotted New York City, and eventually went through the Lincoln Tunnel into the city. This was my first time in NYC as a Woman. And I didn’t think twice. I had to drive a tad . . . um . . . aggressively to get where I was going in any kind of time. I’m sure a cab driver or two probably used colorful metaphors directed at me.

I arrived at the Hilton Midtown, where the event was held, got my valet ticket, and went to find the room. I found it quickly enough, as there were TONS of volunteers to direct people to the event. I called Wife to let her know I arrived safely, and texted Linda the same. I then went upstairs and checked in at the gala, where I received my table assignment: Table 39.

One of the sponsors was Ketel One vodka. They had kiosk bars set up at strategic locations. Open bar. Each kiosk served only one type of drink. The first place served a mixture of Ketel One orange vodka, simple syrup, and champagne. It was VERY yummy — and, since champagne was involved, very intoxicating. There were cocktail tables scattered strategically about, and they all had a magazine called FourTwoNine on them. I stood at a table; people watching.

Occasionally, someone would stop by, and we would chat. The first one was a gorgeous slim African American woman who worked for one of the sponsors: Turner. She used to work for the Obama Administration. Degree from Howard — Masters from University of Chicago. We had a nice conversation regarding her feelings about the event, and what it was like to work for President Obama.

I bounced around a bit, and went into another room. As I stood at a table in this other room, a woman strode over. She was impeccably dressed, beautiful, and radiated confidence. Everything about her said “I am happy with my life, and I am in control.” She was everything I have always wanted to be.

She started flipping through one of the magazines on the table. She asked if I’d heard of this magazine. I said I hadn’t. She said that she thought it was an online only magazine. Maybe this was their first print issue, I said. She kept paging through and mentioned something about the layout.

I asked if she had magazine experience. She smiled and said she worked for Curve magazine. I’ve read Curve, and we sell it at the bookstore where I work. I’d had a few beverages at this point, and I asked if they were looking for writers. She smiled at me and said she was always looking for talented writers. I quickly gave my resume (New York Times, International magazines, blog…) and gave her my card. She gave me her card, which I put in my bag. I told her that I’m “one of those annoying people who follows up.” She smiled again and said she expected me to do so, and wanted me to  — if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have given me her card.

She was called away by someone, and we parted. The next day, I looked at that card. She is Merryn John  — Editor in Chief of Curve! I was stunned! Wow! And yes, I have followed up.

After she left, another beautiful person came striding up to the table. This one I knew — the Amazing Lana Moore from Ohio. She is on the board of GLAAD, a former captain of a fire department, and is one of my heroines. I’d met her once before, at Southern Comfort 2013. She greeted me and we hugged. She knew my name!

Lana and I spoke briefly when my dear friends Jone and Christina came over as well. Both wore gorgeous gowns. I knew they were in NYC, but didn’t realize that they were coming to the gala. I wasn’t surprised, though, as both are very generous to LGBT charities. We all spoke for a bit, then Jone and Christine left. I spoke a little more with Lana, and then she was called away.

I stood stunned. Lana Moore knew my name!

People started drifting toward the other side of the floor, as seating began for the dinner. I bumped in Jenny Boylan, who was surrounded by pretty men in impeccable tuxedos. It was almost like a musical. We spoke briefly, and she said she’d catch up with me later. I found my table, and chose a chair.

The dinner was wonderful. I was at a table with fantastic people. To my left was a beautiful trans woman from Detroit, and to my right was the amazing and beautiful Jenny Boylan.

The dinner was chicken, couscous, and some veggie. I’d never had a $500 dinner before, so I don’t know how it compares. The wine was good and the company even better.

Lana Moore with Louis Stephens (pic courtesy Lana Moore)

About half way through the dinner, a guy came over and started chatting with Jenny. He wore a suit over a t-shirt, had tousled hair and smelled of clove cigarettes. He was very outgoing and demonstrative. I thought he was from Europe. Nope — Hollywood. Jenny had him pull up a chair, so he was next to me.

His name is Louis Stephens, and he was very nice in a cheesy sort of way, despite the fact that he misgendered me several times. Apparently he’s a well-known musician in Hollywood — and a metal guitar player if my Google search is accurate. Everything about him was larger than life. I don’t know why, but I got the feeling that he was blustering because he was actually very scared and lonely inside.

The dinner was followed by an awards ceremony. Several celebrities presented awards and/or won them. There were some touching moments. There was also some music. The band was DNCE. I never heard of them, but apparently it’s the new band for one of the Jonas Brothers.

With Jenny Boylan.

Then there was one of the big awards — The Excellence in Media award, which went to Debra Messing. Her speech made headlines, as she called out Ivanka Trump on her hypocrisy.

After the awards, there was the after party. I took my leave from Jenny, as I had to drive all the way back to Philly. I said goodbye to a few others. On my way to the escalators, I met a couple of celebrities, very briefly. I met Trevor Noah of The Daily Show, as well as Whoopi Goldberg. I said “Hi! Love your work!” and they said “Hi! Thank you!”

I reached my car, found my way through the city, and made it to the New jersey turnpike. Then to the Pa. Turnpike. Then home. It was 1:30 a.m. I was exhausted. I was falling asleep at the wheel during the last ten minutes. I made it home, took off my gown, clothes, jewelry, and was asleep when my head hit the pillow.

What did this all mean to me?

Wow. It’s been over a week and I’m still processing. I mean, New York City. . .  celebrities.. . .  being invited at all. . .  meeting people who could shape my future. . . .

I came home exhausted. But, is the word “Empowered?” I was in a room full of the Movers and Shakers of LGBT America. These are people who fund the fight, and fight the fight. These are the professionals. Not some backwater amateur with a blog, like me. Their enthusiasm was contagious. It was almost like going to a Transgender conference, where everyone shares that ONE trait that makes us all Different, or Special. However, that one trait was many traits here. It made me feel, for one night, that maybe, just maybe, we, civilized rational people who happen to deviate from the norm, could actually survive what is happening today. That maybe one person can make a difference. Maybe the word is “strengthened.” I’m still not sure.

One thing I know for sure — the woman who drove up to New York City that afternoon was not the same woman who returned that night. We all learn and grow from experience. I learned. And perhaps even grew.

Thanks kid.

The day after the gala, I went to the movies with Wife, Daughter and Linda. I showed Wife and daughter the pictures. Daughter said “Your makeup really shows off your deep wrinkles.”

Thanks kid.

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Category: Body & Soul

Sophie Lynne

About Sophie Lynne: http://sophielynne1.blogspot.com/ : http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/storywall/transgender-today/stories/sophie-lynne : http://articles.philly.com/2016-06-29/news/74075409_1_transgender-students-gender-identity-transgender-people

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