“Nobody’s perfect. We’re all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels.”- Jeannette Walls
Years ago at one of the last adult shows I attended my Good Clean Love booth was next to the Angels, Buck the Transman porn star and his wife Elaine author of the Piercing Bible. At first glance, this couple who was literally covered from head to toe in tattoos and piercings selling huge glass pieces and giant posters of Buck: Man with a Pussy was as foreign to me as I could imagine. I was stunned. My judgments about who they were came upon me so fast that there was not enough time to recognize them as judgments, let alone question them. I was pretty certain that I would not have much in common to connect to my neighbors. That was the beginning of my summer of gratitude project when I was learning how to access gratitude and I was asking fellow vendors for prizes for the best gratitude entries. Asking Buck and Elaine about gratitude changed everything.
I was reminded of this remarkable and memorable turnaround moment last week when I interviewed Buck about the release of the recent documentary about his life journey as a trans-man and the activist/ educator he has become. The film has been winning awards all over the world, in part because both Elaine and Buck have the courage and conviction to be completely themselves, no truths left untold. Most people leave the film weepy because we so rarely get to glimpse the profound freedom that comes when we stop judging and accept ourselves completely. This vulnerability is especially keen when it comes to matters of gender identity and sexuality because it offers all of us a doorway to embrace our own differences when it comes to living our lives sexually awake.
This kind of living purely as you are is the deepest access we have for a life of gratitude. When we no longer need to defend or make excuses for our quirky mannerisms, our annoying habits or the sexual preferences that shape our lives, what is left is gratitude for the unique human experience we find ourselves in. Buck and Elaine were unlikely friends for me when looking on the outside, but the intimacy and love that connects you in this space of gratitude both dissolves judgment and offers the space of lasting friendship.
In the end, no matter how different we think we are from other people, we are more the same in the essential heart space of coming to terms with and giving ourselves the permission to live this one authentic life. Last week I was trading stories of menopausal hormone loss and the dealing with the cruelty of strangers with my friend, Buck, a Transman who at first glance seemed like someone I would not have much to say to. Instead, he is a good friend, wanting to use his influence to help me spread the word about hyperisomolar petrochemical lubes that are encouraging the spread of disease.
Whatever story we may be living in or if we have the courage, promoting, our truest friendships have must begin with the one real friendship with ourselves that precludes all others. That’s why Buck and Elaine are angels.