Uncle Meg, Rapper
We met on a sidewalk in Williamsburg. I was talking to somebody we both knew, and Clara Rae came up, started flirting with me, and asked for my Instagram. I was clueless at the time and wasn't looking for anybody -- I was in a phase with my ex where we had broken up, but were still having sex. But I asked my friend if she thought Clara was flirting with me, and she said yeah, so I messaged her on Instagram.
Our first date was at this tea place, and we both were super nervous. It was around the time of her birthday, but I didn't want to get her a present because I wanted to play it cool. I have three cats, and I looked on the ground and saw a whisker and knew she liked dead things, so when she came up for the date, I pricked her with the cat whisker. She liked that.
For our second date, I drove her to Coney Island and she was venting to me about her apartment situation, and I was thinking, She's so intense, but I really like it. We rode on all the rides, and I was trying to kiss her and make a move on her the whole time, but she kept turning away from me. She was playing real hard to get, but I brought her back to my place after the date, so it worked out. I proposed to her on the Ferris wheel at Coney Island two years later.
The first time I told her I loved her, we were actually at a strip club and we got a lap dance from the same girl. That's how I told her I loved her.
At first, I was really nervous [to come out as trans], but she was the person I felt safest coming out to. We just practiced male pronouns and my name at home before I came out. She created a safe space for me to do that. There was really only one time, because we were a lesbian couple, where I had this glimpse of fear: What if she doesn't want to be with a man? She was like, "I'm scared I'm going to wake up to some huge, grizzly man and I'm not going to be attracted to you anymore." I think it's confusing for her, because she hasn't been with a male since she was like 16. But I think my transition actually made our relationship way better. Even sex wise.
Clara Rae, Model
I was walking by and thought he was cute, and I knew his friend. I was like, "Oh, what do you do?" And he said, "I'm a rapper." I started laughing, and that's kind of it. When we first met, my life was sort of chaotic, so I forgot about it for two weeks and he thought I was ignoring him. So he sent me this really ugly baby picture, like a really ugly school-portrait-style pic, and it said, "Yo girl text me."
In my mind, I wasn't looking to be with someone. I just wanted to have fun. But I couldn't look him in the eyes when we were riding the Ferris wheel because I felt like if I looked him in the eyes, he would see that I liked him. And then I would have to kiss him, and I was nervous because then it would be real. So, I ignored him throughout the Ferris wheel ride, and then he forced me to kiss him. It was really cute.
When we met, I didn't even really think about it -- like, I totally knew he was meant to be a boy. But I didn't say anything, you know? It's kind of a pattern for me. I think three of my exes have now transitioned. When I took him home from his surgery, I was bawling my eyes out because I had never felt empathy towards someone like that before. It's been a very intimate experience. I think our relationship is really deep because we both have been going through a lot of changes physically and emotionally. We kind of have to learn how we want to be in a relationship where he's a man and I'm a girl.
Photography: Menelik Puryear