Recently Lou Cutler broke barriers and became the First Trans Man Crowned 'Mr. Gay Philadelphia.’ and now he’s letting us in on his back story and emotions! He took the time to for a quick Q and A with me last week, and let me tell you, His story is nothing short of AWESOME!
Chris Balbi: Alright, Pretend I've never met you, and fill me in on what the last six months has been like for you! Mr. Gay Philly? Plus the Advocate!? What was the time line like for these events?
Lou Cutler: The time period immediately following Mr Gay Philly felt like a whirlwind. I didn't anticipate winning, let alone anything about the competition leaving Philadelphia. It never occurred to me that IF I won I'd be making some sort of trans history. Retrospectively, I hope that doesn't sound stupid, but it literally never occurred to me that it would leave Philadelphia. It's possible that my nerves about the competition were taking up all my energy! Within a matter of days I was getting messages from people in other countries. People were sending me links to articles in magazines in whatever country they lived in with my story in it. I had never been in a spotlight like this before. I was having all sorts of feelings! After a while things naturally started to die down. Recently I was in another Advocate article and that sparked up a few things again; like this interview, ha!
CB: What does being recognized by The Advocate mean to you?
LC: I’m not exactly sure, but I think it means I've made a difference….and that makes me feel really really good. It honestly means a lot to me.
Chris Balbi: If it's not too personal, can you give us the "spark notes" version of your life's journey? What events stand out that have shaped who you are today?
LC: As I sit here trying to pinpoint the events that have shaped who I am its becoming more evident to me that everything has shaped who I am. I don't mean this as an evasion of your question. Everything I've been through, from relationships, to school/work, pain, joy, travels, music, friends, highs and lows…. they have all had some kind of impact on me. Once in a while I notice a short conversation with someone I hardly know giving me a wildly new or refreshed perspective on something and sometimes that thing is 'life'. When I was younger I think I assumed that really big 'events' were the life changers, but I realize now just how much I learn from my interactions and relationships with other people.
I grew up struggling to live in a body that didn't reflect or match who I was. It was everything from enraging to extremely painful; a betrayal. The older I got the worse it became. There were many times I didn't want to be alive anymore. I never knew how to tell people what was wrong. I didn't know female to male transsexuals existed. I thought I was the only person like this. A pivotal moment for me was in undergrad when one of my teachers brought in a guest speaker who was an FTM trans man (it was a gender class). When he first entered the room I was confused ( like I said, I didn't know we existed). I later found out my teacher specifically asked him to try and help me because she saw that I was in a lot of pain. He did. And just in time.
CB If you had to pick an inspiring person, who would it be and why?
LC: I don't want to pick a person. I can't. I honestly admire and am inspired by anyone who is unique and remains steadfast about staying true to themselves and following their dreams, especially when they face challenging circumstances and/or oppression in society . Many people in the LGBTQ+ community may be able to identify with this as well as people who experience forms of oppression in their life for other reasons. Its not that I think people should have to suffer to become who they are, but there's an indescribable element that often takes place when someone has to overcome significant struggles to get where they are, or become and embody who they want to be. It sets us apart. I believe it makes us stronger, more compassionate, more accepting, more open, and more tender.
CB What's been the reaction from the LGBT community on your win as Mr. Gay Philly (any back lash? Total support?)
LC: No, I would not say there has been total support, but I have gotten a great amount of praise. I don't typically read 'the comments' because some people can get nasty. Some folks simply aren't educated. What matters to me is that I've gotten messages from people from all over telling me that I inspired them. I've gotten messages from trans men who are questioning their own sexuality and they want to talk to me about it. I've gotten messages from people telling me I"m brave. I've been thanked for making myself visible and potentially vulnerable. It's taken me ten years to be ok with this kind of visibility, and I'm really glad I made this choice.
BONUS QUESTION BECUASE I’M HUNGRY! What’s your favorite food?
LC: I have so many favorite foods!! I eat really healthy these days (organics, grass-fed beef, raw and organic dairy, etc). Dark chocolate and raspberries are high up on the list. And I LOVE a rich spicy chicken tikka masala with basmati rice.