Nontraditional Fatherhood & Family | Trystan Reese

Good Life Project


That was a very strange child. I mean you know mom dad super supportive. Both my parents grew up extremely poor so my dad is the son of a coal miner. He's one of thirteen brothers and sisters. From how yeah. Which is a Appalachian Canadian Appalachian? Basically yeah and then. My mom is the daughter of a single mom. Who's a nurse? A Mum's dad died when she was very young. So now I'm curious. Has you go from Newfoundland to the desert in California? Yeah I mean. He decided as a kid looking around. You know in a very very podunk. Backwater place. Healthcare was a huge concern. And they just didn't have it and without many brothers and sisters you can imagine money was a huge issue. Healthcare was a huge issue in. My Dad actually had a very bad eyesight and no one really knew until he was a little bit older end. An aunt did like the whatever? The nineteen fifties version of crowdfunding. Is She like? Oh it's even nineteen forties on. Gosh where she like all the relatives to pitch in to to get my dad glasses and once he got glasses they realized he was extraordinarily bright and since he could see And he did some exercise in like fifth grade asked. What did you want to be when you grow up? And he wanted to be doctor and so he just decided that each tend to be a doctor and he put himself through medical school though. Koetter Yup and he met my mom. Undergrad and Montreal. He got into medical school in one day he was like well. Jan going to medical school. We show the break up or get married which we do and mom getting married so and so. That's very romantic. Way That my love story. I think my mother might have even had to break up with her her other boy time because I think in the fifties in sick a little bit like you just casually saw a couple of people and you know it wasn't a wasn't quite as official as it can be today but yeah so that's that's how they met and then medical school and then went to Vancouver. They had me and decided they were sick of the rain and moved to California. Not knowing that they're to a very conservative You know very sort of Military idea sort of area. Yeah was was that they`re. They're bent their belief system. They're not at all no no no. I mean they're very Canadian so like it's they're not like ridiculous. Not Hippies you know. They're not leftists. They're very pragmatic progressive like in Canada. It's like you just do your thing. You don't judge other people you don't stop them from doing it. And so they're very accepting in that sort of pragmatic way although they've taken in some extreme left turns Raising me and my sisters so sisters. How many to one younger one older. Yeah so you growing up in in this town in radically different value system and you're also starting to serve. I mean when you're really young do you have a sense of of gender at all or is it even anything you think about? I mean I don't remember feeling like there was something going on with my gender as a kid and I know that that's like It's like an inconvenient experience because we've sort of taught mainstream Americans that what is true about transgender people that were born in the wrong body. We knew it from the second we were sentient and our whole lives since then has been a fight to get our bodies rights and then we're cured and we can just keep moving on and I think that that narrative is true for some Trans People. Sure Service pretty well so far but I think now you know we're out of place where there's a little bit more room for different stories and my story is different like I. Just don't ever remember thinking about gender as a kid and because I had these you know pretty open parents. I was never forced into any particular box so there wasn't much to rebel against. Maybe if my mom had put me in the you know kids beauty pageants circuit at age five. Yeah maybe I would have had an early memory of being like. Oh this is terrible. I don't WanNa wear a Tiara but I don't you know I had. I had skinned knees. I was and I climb trees and chase chase my sisters around and this is normal childhood things I guess. Yeah I mean it's interesting that in the context of on one hand your parents like kind of like whatever and but then also living in a town which is sort of like a very socially conservative. And you didn't feel anything surly any any me to express it in the identities or anything youngest. It's just across the board even the town. I mean there were so many other ways in which I was different from my classmates you know I was an obsessive reader. I mean my mom still jokes that I would have a book in every room of the House of like the bathroom book the Kitchen Book. I mean we really my mom. I remember had to one day. Say Okay. I'm putting my foot down. You cannot be reading while we're having family dinner like put put the book down talk to us and then go back to your stories and so that was very strange in my school like it was very weird that I read in school. Those who burned up you know like word games and puzzles and then I was really into theater and plays and reading plays and learning musicals and I was just like so fucking weird in so many ways that it was like kind of my gender was the least of the worries. I was just of you know it was just a very different type of child than all the other children around me and so you know that really drove me to doing from a very young age doing theater. I mean when I was nine I knew that I loved musicals. Cut Bless my mother. She didn't know anything about music but watching me. Really start to like them age. Five six seven you know. I saw Annie the movie or something and from the eighties movie and I just loved it and so she would just go out of her way to you. Know drive US down to L. A. And the pantages theatre and cats. The musical. See you know Les Miz. He missed like she's just like worked so hard. She didn't have a parent really. Her mother worked so hard and and she idealized us her mother the single mom. Who is the nurse? Who was the only woman in their town who drove a car and would drive to work before the kids were up would come home after they were already in bed and then stay up late doing the laundry cooking the food. You know checking their homework only to get up and go to work the next day so she just thought she wanted to do the things that she know that her knew that her mother wished that she could have done and just go above and beyond to give us a childhood and to support all of our dreams and the ways that she just didn't really get not because her mom didn't water to But just because she couldn't practically swing it. Yeah so it sounds like feodor really became a place where you start to find a sense of acceptance and belonging just because that was a passion of yours. It's interesting to hear that I mean I'm thinking about to like my high school experience and they're always the groups you know like they're the distance that in this and that based largely on interest or or activities and stuff like that. I didn't see that maybe that maybe sort of like theater was a refuge for kids who felt like they didn't fit into sort of like other parts of the general community. Because that wasn't my group. I I don't really know but maybe is it has. Has it been your experience because I know you then went on like stayed really involvement in theory community that that is kind of a place that serves not just a sense of belonging but also refuse to a certain extent? I mean no question I think any any sort of misfit kid who had the least bit of creative talent and even if they didn't they did the lights you know it really did become the refuge and I think there is something really powerful about you know. Theater really means embodying different stories. In which means you're open a different stories and I think that does sort of set set set the stage so to speak for it being a community of of kids who just don't fit in other in other places so yeah it was really is really important to me both in school but especially outside of school doing community theatre and then going on to do professional theater. It was the place. Ri- was seen and accepted. I also got to play all these parts and I played the artful dodger got to do and as a kid in a small town. It's like there's already a shortage of male actors and so I just once I cut my hair just got to do all those parts which was another place where I could just sort of explorer masculinity and and have it be super-safe an accepted. I found an old review of me as artful dodger age like fourteen or fifteen and I think they even said like those who do not know. This actor is not male. You know we'll be. We'll we'll never. We'll those who do not know. This actor is not male will never be the wiser or something and so they basically complimented me on my passability at age fourteen. Which again is like major foreshadowing but Yeah

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