I consider myself both a migrant and a Queer. Like these titles the paths that I have traveled have shaped my cultural perception as well as the actual person I have become. At ten months I was adopted and began life in the suburbs of Wexford near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, in a good christian household. Marylee Haas, the very last non liberated woman after the sixties and also my mother. She held a desire to be middle class above all else. She was raised poor and she shared a room with three sisters in Hartford, Connecticut. Her father was a looming German disciplinarian and her mother an artist who gave up New York to raise a family. At 21 she married a middle of the road business forms salesman Weston Hyde, to provide for her and offer the normalcy she required. Weston had been raised by a father; also in the Hartford area; who always wore mustard yellow and was a widower. Thus Wes similarly wanted things just to be. Like the placid yellows of his father he to was content in the suburbs having a good life as promised by the American Dream.
Growing up I was a shy if not fearful boy. I have always been what society calls feminine. This was inexcusable to my parents and eventually estranged us, as they became more abusive and christian. After my second semester at the University of Pittsburgh I quit school and moved to Trafford Pa. to live with my first boyfriend. Trafford was an old mill town with woods and trains and very little else. Found just past the whistle-stop of Willmerding, another steel belt town, the nearest excitement was a mall. To find adventure we took a summer to live in Nags Head, North Carolina and make some money waiting tables. Summers end returned to Trafford and we took up residence in the comfortable attic of said boyfriends grandmother. Being so near my parents and in a small town were playing my youthful desires. I wanted to go where being gay was accepted and celebrated. Pittsburgh could be very hard in the late eighties for out gay people. I had always felt that what made me different would be the thing that was my salvation.
After the death of a close friend in spring 1990, with three hundred fifty dollars, I set out by train to conquer New York City. I managed never to settle into a place to stay, or held a day job long. I was instead busy becoming a star Drag Queen. I worked five to six nights in clubs in drag and began to really explore my unique voice. I began learning my gay history through the storytellers in the scene as well as being part of living history. Yet all that partying turned roommates into junkies and the schedule was rough to maintain, especially on the liver.
Living in clubs and hanging with the likes of Lauren Hutton and Debbie Harry for 8 years I was suddenly very burned out. I hopped onto a bus to Provinctown Mass., another gay mecca, to work another summer at the beach and give the city a break. I spent the summer waiting tables, working in a gallery, discussing art with artists, and being a handsome tan twenty seven year old that attended yoga, meditation, thai chi and even church. I tried to stay in this Ptown through a winter but the dark at 4pm; due to its very eastern location geographically; and no job or community in the winter months, sent me packing to San Francisco.
The last queer mecca, and still home, is San Francisco. I had found out I was HIV positive at age twenty two and was beyond surprised that I was not yet dead. I was actually very healthy but also not a youth. I also needed some where less expensive to live, which sixteen years ago SF was. The city is small enough and open enough for me to be different and succeed. I won the coveted title Miss Trannyshack 2004 two weeks after going All American as a swimmer. I*ve been Sainted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in *09, and in 2010; using both my boy and drag name Anna Conda; I ran for District 6 Supervisor. I now sit as Neighborhood Representative on the Entertainment Commission and serve this year as Vice Chair.
I have migrated from a small city known in days gone by as the gate way to the west. It has truly served as my gateway. Although I gained strength and purpose during my years in New York it has only been since being in San Francisco that I have truly blossomed and owned my power.