I am BeBe Sweetbriar and I am from San Francisco.
I was born Kevin Junious and I was born in Sacramento, California and grew up there. Went to college outside of Sacramento and Stockton. After college, I came back to Sacramento and started singing with a band. One of my bandmates happened to have a real good friend who would come to our shows regularly and one day she brought her sister and I kind of hit it off with her sister. A few months went by and we started dating and a little bit later we were engaged. So, a year after that we were married.
It all seemed to be wonderful and to be the life that I think most people would – would want to have: a loving wife and loving kids. But something was missing for me. And that was because I realized that I was actually gay.
Soon after my daughter was – my second daughter – was born, she was close to a year and my mom passed away. And my mom had been ill all my life, but my mom took the medication she needed to, what she told me, was to have the quality of life that she wanted versus the quantity of life that most people would probably want to have. And so I thought about that a lot after she passed, as far as, like, the quality versus the quantity and what did I want that quality to be. And that quality, for me, meant for me to be able to be happy and to be authentic.
I had a discussion with my wife – I remember this vidly, really, as if it happened yesterday. I was driving home at the time. I worked for a real estate management company and I was a marketing director and it took me to various locations in Northern California. And I do remember calling her and saying that when I got home, we had – that I had to talk to her. And things were being strained because I was very absent physically in our relationship at that point, working late hours. I don’t think it was a surprise as far as “we need to talk” type of thing, but I think the discussion, finally once we had it, was somewhat shocking.
My oldest daughter was 5 at the time, and I remember my ex-wife and I telling her that I was moving – “Daddy’s moving out of the house” – and how she took it. She blamed herself, like “I’ll be good!” She thought that she wasn’t behaving. I don’t remember how we responded other than “It’s not your fault.”
You know, one thing that my ex-wife and I did have in our conversation – it was, you know, a long week that I stayed in the house before I actually moved – is that, you know, I didn’t want, we don’t want anything to be really different for them. Literally nothing changed except for I didn’t live there and I had the kids every weekend.
I lived in Sacramento for about 6 months after we split and then a job opportunity with the current company, at the company I was working with, came up for me in San Francisco. We made it work. And I drove up every Friday to pick up the kids and then drove them back every Monday morning.
I knew there would probably be a time when I would have to talk to my kids about, you know, who their dad really is and who their dad chooses to love or, you know, wants to love. But I never did. A couple things that I think were important that happened that I figured that my kids probably knew. One of them was kind of early on when my oldest daughter is having discussion with my youngest daughter.
My youngest daughter said something like, “The boys in school say that Michael Jackson is gay.”
My oldest daughter says, “Well, do you still like his music?”
And my youngest daughter said, “Yeah.”
And she goes, “Well, are still gonna ask Mommy and Daddy to buy his music for you?”
And she’s like, “Yeah.”
And then she goes, “Well then what difference does that make?” You know? And I’m like, Okay! Well my work is done here, you know? It isn’t a big deal and and maybe I shouldn’t make it a big deal.
And then the other time that I’m sure they realized was when I developed BeBe Sweetbriar. I had started doing drag out of my church. BeBe was born in the church, everybody. And so I was doing little fundraising things. And one day I had them during the weekend and I was doing drag now. Mind you my oldest daughter had been doing pageants at this time for a while. So I’m in the bathroom getting ready for – to do this event later on that afternoon.
And I come out in all my regalia and my youngest Cydney, I remember her saying, “Oh, that’s so cool!” You know, she was all hyped over Dad, you know, looking like a female.
And then my oldest daughter says, “All I have to say is all this time you could’ve been doing my makeup.” I just thought, that’s kind of hilarious. True! Maybe I could have. Yeah, so that was kind of their response to me doing drag. And BeBe just flourished from there. I kinda had my kids’ approval, so I was like, okay, I can do this and that’s what I did.
I know I’m happy and I’m at my happy point now because I can look at myself in the mirror and say that I like this person. I’ve developed into this person that I’ve always wanted to be. I can leave today, this earth today, and I know that I’ve left something good, whether it be because of my children or that I’ve put some ground work down there. I’ve got some points in my life that I should be proud of that I did. And you can only do those things with commitment and integrity and happiness.