Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.
This week the focus is on Monica Roberts. Monica, aka the TransGriot, is a native Texan, and a trailblazing leader in the transgender community who now resides in Louisville, KY. Monica's an advocate with a special emphasis on getting African-American transpeople and other voices of color more involved in empowering themselves, educating the GLBT community about the issues people of color face, and shedding light about the struggles of GLBT people in Africa, Jamaica and across the Diaspora. Monica transitioned in 1994 and is a founding member of NTAC, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition.
I really enjoyed talking to Monica about her love of history and our shared appreciation for the WNBA. Follow me after the jump to find out which wimmin have inspired her the most, as well as her favorite way to pamper herself.
1. How'd you get involved with TBP?
I was invited to join by Bil and Becky Juro in January.
2. What was your coming out experience like?
Interesting to say the least. I transitioned during my airline days in 1994 in the middle of Houston Intercontinental Airport.
3. What book has had the most impact on your life?
Tough question, since I read constantly, my tastes are eclectic, and it's hard to say one influenced me. I've taken life lessons from many of Dr. King's essays on civil rights. As a Christian I read the Bible and try to live by its more enlightened principles. I've read 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' by Alex Haley. I love history. I loved Susan L. Taylor's ESSENCE magazine columns and her book 'In the Spirit.'
But if I had to choose one, I'd say 'A Testament of Hope,' which is a collection of Dr. King's speeches and essays edited by James Washington.
4. Who are some of your s/heroes, and why?
My mom is definitely one. She raised me and my brother as toddlers while graduating cum laude with a history degree. Ironically she was pregnant with my sister while earning her masters. She's also a fashionista. Mom's one reason I love history and shoes so much, along with my late godmother Pearl C. Suel, who wrote the African-American history curriculum for the Houston Independent School District.
My dad, who as a media professional, taught me to never accept anything that I read, see, or hear at first glance. I also got my love of R&B and jazz music from him.
Dr. King and Nelson Mandela for leading freedom movements here and in South Africa.
The late Rep. Barbara Jordan, for her championship debate skills and her reasoned, uncompromising ethical approach to politics. The ethical aspect is something I feel is sorely lacking in GLBT politics.
Gov. Ann Richards, for being the quintessential Texas woman. Tough, funny, eloquent, smart and surviving and thriving, despite all obstacles being placed in her path.
Illusionist Tommie Ross, who is smart, elegant, talented and shoots a mean game of pool. She was an early role model for me when I was honing my femme presentation.
Former ABC news anchor Carole Simpson, who tells it like it is and looked good doing it.
Tyra Banks, for evolving into the powerful sistah and role model she is today.
The talented women of the WNBA, who taught me that being over six feet tall is not a curse, but a blessing. They emphatically make the point that women come in all shapes and sizes.
5. If you could go anywhere in the world in any time period, where would it
Africa, during the height of the Mali and Songhay empires. These empires had great universities which taught math and science to the Egyptians and Greeks. It would be nice to actually see some of that history.
6. What's your favorite way to pamper yourself?
Head to my fave nail shop, novel in hand and get a maincure and pedicure.
Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors: