My purpose for writing the 3-part series of unsung heroines and heroes in our African American SGL and Transgender community was to honor and celebrate them. I knew that connecting with the Trans community would be a challenge, but I was determined. A friend of a friend referred Ms. Cole to me. The evening we met, I felt there was an immediate sense of respect for one another and an unspoken trust. The article that I submitted, originally titled, “Saving the best for last: Detroit’s own Natalie Cole”, was an attempt to impart this. When I read the article, I knew that this respect and trust was in possible jeopardy. I had to call Ms. Cole. I had to inform her that what I submitted was not what was printed. I, too was disappointed in this piece which had my name (and my reputation) attached to it. I suspected that she, too, must have also been disappointed. I was correct. I apologized to her. I informed Ms. Cole that I am on a continuous educational journey of my own on understanding the Trans community and pride myself in knowing the extreme importance of calling someone (anyone) by whom they are and what they choose to be called. I further informed her that I did not use the terms “drag queen” or “female impersonator” to describe her in the original piece that I submitted for print. I referred to Ms. Cole as Ms. Cole. We also shared stories of having to field telephone calls from others in the community who were also disappointed in the article. Thankfully, I believe that Ms. Cole has accepted my apology and knows my hearts’ intention behind the article. I have also had an educational conversation of my own with the publishers of BTL and now have an understanding of Associated Press writing standards, as well as some of the possible legal reasons for the revisions that were made to the original article that I submitted. Unfortunately, though, this article may have temporarily caused more pain than pride because the general readership of BTL (as was I until this morning) is unaware of these particulars. But, it is my hope that this pain will be soothed by accepting the hearts intentions of all parties involved and that this unfortunate experience will be used as another learning experience for us all: Continuous and open communication is important.
Kimya Afi Ayodele