My name is Kay Holland. I’m from Lawrence, Kansas.
When I was 22 years old, over the course of the summer, I felt like – having moved to a new town for the first time in my life, I had moved to a rural area. I was disconnected from everyone that I knew, and I really felt lonely, afraid and lost.
One late summer night, I found myself across from the kitchen table. My mom was in tears because she had just been fired from her job. I asked her if she needed a distraction, I tried to say the words and I couldn’t. She hit the nail on the head.
“You want to be a girl.” All I could do was nod. The next morning, I found a big bag of Sephora makeup and cosmetics and applicators with my breakfast. And my mom told me to play around with them.
The summer progressed in a very similar way, albeit I had actually kind of begun my transition. Not everything was great. Other family members were a little bit hesitant to accept this part of me. And that hurt.
I one day found myself with my handful of my meds, all of the meds that I had, and I tossed them out into the rain because I knew that within seconds they would be dissolved and I wouldn’t have to continue asking myself the question of who I was going to be for the rest of my life.
My mom told me to go and try to get some help from people that were like me. I went to the only place on campus where I knew I could get help like that. It was the LGBT student resource center.
I stepped foot inside and I sat down next to this gorgeous woman. She told me her name was Madeline and it was like music to my ears. She asked me what my pronouns were. I didn’t know how to answer that question.
So I just said, “That’s a great question. I don’t know how to answer that.”
We exchanged phone numbers and met up later that weekend for a coffee date. I remember the day, like it was yesterday. It was snowing outside. It was bitterly cold. It was very quiet inside and it felt like our words were echoing across every single wall. So eventually we made the decision to take the conversation back to her place.
We had a really long night together. We hugged and cried, I’m sure. And it felt very strange getting so close to this person I had just met a few days ago so quickly. It showed me that truly, I am the most loved when I am the most authentic.
I went to leave thinking I had made a great friend and as I’m stepping my foot out the door, I get an inkling to ask, “What are you up to you tomorrow?” It just happened to be the night before her birthday. And I figured, Hey, that’s a great excuse to do this all again. And we did.
And it was thanks to that conversation, that thinking back to moments like throwing away my prescriptions and the meds made me realize that that’s not me living for myself. I began regularly taking my prescribed medications after that.
Eventually it was winter. The roads are icy and I hit the curb. Hard. My car is totaled, for the most part. We didn’t really know what “Uhauling” meant back then. Apparently it’s this trope that lesbian couples – it’s like, you know, what does a lesbian bring to the second date? And it’s a Uhaul van. That’s exactly what happened. We, yes, that’s – we moved in together because we wanted to.
The end of the semester rolls around. It flew by just like the first three months did. And we are involved in this award ceremony that they throw for the students every single year. It was the night of that ceremony. So things rolling along smoothly, I’m helping to manage stuff backstage. Madeline is actually hosting the event, doing a fantastic job and she looks so beautiful.
Things are starting to wrap up and I am looking at the script. I’m like, Cool. It’s a wrap. We’re done. It’s been a great night. This has been awesome. And she calls me out to the stage for some reason.
Madeline says some things and I get a little bit teary. I just thought it was, like, a beautiful little soliloquy or like a cute way to wrap up the nights. And then she takes a knee.
She asked me to marry her in front of the entire student class and faculty. It must have been 150, 200 people. And my best friends were in the audience to witness it. Things actually wrap up later that night and I meet up with my friends. All of us went to get coffee at that very same place that Madeline and I had our first date. We sat down to play board games. And that is a night I’m going to carry around with me for the rest of my life.
We spent a summer together and then the fall came around again, the season that we met. Although this time when I was sitting in the kitchen, away from my mom, it wasn’t in tears, it was in a wedding dress because my mom wanted to host it for us. And we had the whole family in attendance, including the people I was afraid about knowing who I actually was.
Where do I see ourselves in the future? I couldn’t tell you where I saw myself two years ago. But I’m very optimistic and I’m happy and I’m me and I’m spending it with the love of my life.
You can be you and be all the other parts of you too. There is no picking and choosing because this is a big wide world and you’ve got a whole life to live.