The Hippo


May 26, 2020








 What are you really interested in right now?

My passion is music, so I’m a vocalist. … So if I find a karaoke bar somewhere, I’ll sit and listen, sometimes get up and sing.

Activist wants to launch a new hub space


 Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I like to refer to myself as a woman who is transgender, not a transgender woman. … I like to say that I am the voice for a lot of people who may not have the voice or knowledge, and I always tell people that I am woman first, transgender is just a label that comes after that. … Therefore, I have lived my life as a woman, and as a little girl since I was 6 years old. So even though that movement is happening now among a lot of young youth, I was fortunate to have a mother that didn’t really have — the term transgender did not exist when I was 6 — but she accepted that whatever I felt I was, then that’s who I was. So I have always been treated [with] respect by my mother, until she passed away when I was 12. Then, that’s when I had to live with unsupportive relatives. But it was OK because I already had my mother’s support and a foundation. So, I have always, since I can remember, thought and perceived myself as a girl and not as a boy.
When did you decide to take up the cause, if you will, of LGBTQ rights and advocacy?
Well, when I became older. So, I would say, in my early 20s, because I never really was around other LGBTQ people until my early 20s. Because before that, my friends were just cisgender men and women and I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an LGBTQ community. But when I was exposed to, first, a club — a friend of mine, who is actually a cisgender woman, one of my best friends, took me to a gay club, and I first saw drag queens, which I thought was weird. And then, I met some ladies who were more than drag queens, they were trans women. And that’s when I guess you could say I figured this is a category I guess that I’m in, per se. Then that progressed with me getting involved in activities, performances and stuff in the LGBT community. Then [I got involved in] justice issues, and then I got to see how really many people were mistreated when it comes to equality in our community. 
Are you encouraged by the some of the changes recently, when it comes to providing greater access to things like medical services for transgender people and the growing youth movement around that?
Yeah, it’s something that I already ... had access to living in California. So when I ventured off into the South and here as well and saw that there [were] people, still today even, fighting to get certain things passed … for the trans community, that is exciting. 
So, let’s talk about the Hub. When did you get the idea for it?
When I came here. Actually, the name came to me — Out of the Box — when I was in Arkansas, and I had already formulated the idea because the idea can expand. … When I ended up here and realized that the state of New Hampshire lacks a resource hub or a center altogether, in the whole state … then I knew that this vision was given to me for here. … [It] has been registered now, in the state of New Hampshire, as a nonprofit corporation.
So, you’re looking for an actual physical space for this?
Yes, and this space is not just for trans [people]. … This is an LGBTQ and allies community resource connective center and hub. And I chose the word hub because hub to me is more family oriented. I have done a lot of work in centers, and I don’t like the politics involved and the stigma that develops from the politics involved. … Concord is more family oriented and Concord is the capital on top of that, so I felt like the capital should be the example and the place where this hub should be located. Any other city, like Manchester and Nashua, can follow and have a sub-center, of course. But at first, I think the central location needs to be at the capital. … It will be a place, ultimately, where [you can go] if you’re looking for services, if you’re looking for support, if you need referrals to LGBTQ-friendly businesses, and activities could be held there. 
— Ryan Lessard 

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