LGBT+ People of UT Tyler

Wyatt Kayden Almeida – Junior

Pronouns: He/him/his.

Hometown: Carthage. “High school was difficult. To be honest, the few students that I do know now, it’s just as difficult as it was. Some things don’t change. Some of our smaller towns are slow to progress. I don’t know. There are still a couple of schools in Tyler that we [in the Tyler Transgender Support Group] advise people, if you have the options, don’t put your trans students there because it’s pretty rough.”

Major: Nursing. “I actually came to UT Tyler as an undecided, and then for a semester, I was an engineering major and a biology major after that before finally settling on nursing.”

Hobbies: “I run the trans support group here in Tyler. I hang out at the game store and run a couple of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. You know, the nerdy games.”

What does your sexuality and/or gender mean to you? “I identify with my sexuality as a heterosexual man, but a transgender heterosexual male. It’s been a journey … Your sexuality and your gender are two very different categories. [My] personal opinion [is that] gender is fluid, just as sexuality is fluid. I know just as many non-binary people as I do trans people, [and] just as many gender queer people as I do straight people. So, it’s just two different things.”

“I came out as a lesbian in high school, because I didn’t know what ‘transgender’ was. I didn’t even know the word at the time. And then I started doing my online Googling [when I was] about 19 or 20, started playing with my gender identity from 20 to 23 and then came out as a trans man.”

When did you come out? “My school actually outed me to my parents when I was not ready for it … They called [my girlfriend’s] parents in and said, ‘This is what’s going on with your children’ … At fifteen, I was still trying to figure out what it was. I was not ready for it at all. Coming out for me has been like Band-Aid after Band-Aid after Band-Aid … When I came out as trans, there were no resources. I mean, I knew no one else in Tyler that was trans. We had no doctors, we had none of that. So, we steadily tried to build that up for other people.”

“My family was … not accepting at all until my parents divorced, and my dad married my stepmom, who is not much older than me, which is fine. But she helped change their perspective on youth, I guess, and how times change. They’ve slowly come around.”

How big is the transgender community in Tyler? “I would say about 50 plus members. That’s not including the people that come from Longview and from outside Tyler.”

“When we first started Tyler Transgender Support Group, there were three of us – me, my wife and one other person that was questioning their gender … We would just go to restaurants and grab a table and just talk for three hours. And then they introduced us to someone else and … it just snowballed. We have meetings twice a month and on Thursdays we probably have about 20 people that regularly show up. … We have quite a few working professionals in Tyler that are able to come as themselves, but … if it ever came out that they even attended the meetings, they would probably lose their jobs, their spouses would leave them or their kids would lose their minds. Like, it’s been rough.”

What is some advice you would give to other members of the LGBT+ community? “Honestly, the stereotype of just keep trying. Like, there’s somewhere that you can be safe. There’s somewhere where you can be yourself. You may be under rocks, but there is somewhere here.”

What are some recommendations or resources you would give to people to become more involved with or learn more about the LGBT+ community? “Find your local groups … As for Tyler Transgender Support Group, we meet the first Monday and third Thursday of each month at the Tyler Chamber of Commerce. It is our safe space to be who we are and be around people like us. We welcome parents, allies and friends of transgender people so it isn't just trans specific only. I want to encourage anyone interested in attending to find us on Facebook and to not be afraid to send us a message if they would like more information … We have plenty of social nights. Even if you’re not transgender or LGBT at all, we have plenty of allies that attend our groups and attend our meetings. Honestly, [people should] go out and speak to their families and friends and educate them. We’re all about sharing resources as wide as we can.”

Logan Longoria – Sophomore

Pronouns: He/him/his.

Hometown: Houston. “It’s a great place for all walks of life and all different interests. I went to high school in Sugar Land, TX at a private Christian school so that was interesting. But I made the most with what I had and I don’t really regret the time I spent there - even though I’m not religious.”

Major: Social Sciences. “I love sociology and everything that plays into just the intersectionality of life. I used to think about being an occupational therapist, but I really like social work and helping others. I’m still debating on what I want to do.”

Hobbies: “Nothing really too flashy. I just enjoy spending time with my fiancé and my dog. I like to read on occasion and watercolor or paint, but that’s really it.”

Where do you work? “I am a receptionist at a nail salon. I run the first desk. All the appointments, all the walk-ins, all that jazz. It has its good days and its terrible, long days, but I enjoy the people I work with. I’m out to a few of my coworkers … I’m glad I [came out] because they call me Logan and use my correct pronouns. I’m constantly called, ‘ma’am,’ or, ‘her,’ all day, so it’s like my little dose of happiness … to hear what I identify with from people who understand.”

What does your sexuality and/or gender mean to you? “My gender means a lot to me. I am finally able to explore a part of myself that I had been trying to figure out all along. I was always comfortable with my sexuality and no one could convince me otherwise once I knew whom I was attracted to. But my gender was something … I questioned for a long time. I really started being myself whenever I started dating [my fiancé.] From the get-go, I felt as though I could share this part of myself that I didn’t 100 percent understand myself. It took me a long time after discovering that I was trans to just physically say [it] out loud … So now that I can, I’m so much happier. And I’m especially happy that I got to share this experience with someone who genuinely cares for me and my well-being.”

What is some advice you would give to other members of the LGBT+ community? “I am not going through my experience alone, and I’m so thankful for that. If you’re struggling at all, please connect yourself with those who care about you … Not 100 percent of my family is supportive, and I know way too many LGBTQ+ people share that same experience of coming out … and that sucks. It’s terrible that for some reason this happens, but I’m still going through it, and I promise … if you are going through it too, find it in you to support yourself and let in only those who support you too.”

What are some recommendations or resources you would give to people to become more involved with or learn more about the LGBT+ community? “Google is everyone’s friend. Just really look up some organizations in your area or school campus. I know UT Tyler has one … I don’t remember the name, but I do know that those people are awesome. Watch some YouTube vlogs of other people’s lives … Seeing other people whom I identify with on a huge platform such as YouTube or Twitter or Instagram living their lives, having struggles and just being real helped me so much. And if you’re struggling with mental illnesses along with your identity or anything, tell someone you trust and seek answers to your questions.”

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