Groundbreaking Show With All Trans Male Cast To Be Screened In Detroit

By Jason A. Michael

Seven King grew up amid hip hop royalty. His father was Mr. Ness of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. But his early years were tumultuous. Born biologically female, King knew that gender identity didn't fit.

"I identified as being male at 4 years old," King, now 27, said. "I didn't want to play with Barbie dolls or be in the body I was born into. Mentally, emotionally and physically I yearned to be the opposite, which was male."

While King's mother had religious issues that made it difficult for her to accept her transgender child, King did find support from his famous father. "Growing up was not easy," said King. "There was a lot of dysfunction in the household between my parents. I was always creative, talented and had a lot of fire inside. But I felt like I was the black sheep of the family. I felt different, thought different and just knew from an early age that I was here for a greater purpose than I could think of at the time."

King moved out of his house when he was only 13.

"I left by choice," he recalled. "I left because I wanted to be grown before my time. I also left because I was turned off by certain things inside my household. I lived with my girlfriend and her family. They treated me like they were my own family. Eventually, I went back home. Life can test you, especially a young person with no stability or income. People ain't going to take care of you forever."

Amid the dysfunction in his house, King drew into himself and discovered a wealth of talent.

"I was always gifted," he said. "I knew how to write and express myself differently from a young age. I naturally knew how to draw and create. I was gifted in a lot of areas but wanted to find one thing I could put everything I was passionate about into. Filmmaking was that for me. Expressing myself through visual art, writing scripts and storytelling ... filmmaking was it for me."

One of King's first major projects was the documentary "The Rebirth of Paris," which was sort of a sequel to the classic "Paris is Burning," which examined life in New York's legendary ballroom scene. Now, King has moved on to developing a web series called "Eden's Garden" featuring an all trans male cast.

"I wrote an explicit, heartfelt and honest show regarding the trans-male experience," said King. "I hope this show opens a window for the world to understand the individual that happens to be the trans male. I hope this show connects people and brings respect to people who choose to transition and live their life as any other person. I hope it brings understanding and clarity to people who still have narrow views of the transgender experience."

King described "Garden" as a "dramedy" that tells the story of Eden, which King plays himself, and his four friends. In the show, King draws from personal experience to tell the myriad stories of the trans male experience, and the black trans male experience in particular.

"I put myself in the show to be an example and to lead by action, to show that I will out myself for the purpose and vision," King said. "That energy created a domino effect to everyone involved in the series. Everyone basically put their personal life aside and focused on the script, the message and the bigger picture." The show's first season can be found on YouTube. Production is currently underway for the second season, and King is trying to find a home for it on television.

"My goal is to have 'Eden's Garden' picked up by a major network," he said. "Right now, I'm working to increase the funding for this project. I have a gofundme page (www.gofundme.com/edensgarden), and I'm expanding the message and submitting the show to multiple film festivals."

King is being brought to town next week by the newly created Trans Sistas of Color Project to screen the show in Detroit for the first time. "I feel in the media there is a trans revolution going on, so the timing is perfect for a show like this," said King. "But even though the transgender story is being talked about a lot more now, the story of the trans-male is still invisible. America is a culture that has dynamic history when it comes to humans, race and politics, and transitioning as a man of color is just one story that needs to be told."

"Eden's Garden" will be screened in two parts, 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. The screenings will take place at the Wayne State University Prevention Team offices located at 60 W. Hancock in Midtown. The suggested donation for both days is $20, which is payable at the door. Due to limited space, an RSVP is required and can be made at http://edensgardenpremiere.eventbrite.com.


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