In the eyes of sixteen-year-old Hunter McLaughlin*, “coming out” would be a gateway to a new life. It would give him the opportunity to live more honestly and with a renewed sense of authenticity to his true self. But when he told his parents that he was transgender, the “new life” that awaited him was one plagued by emotional abuse, threats of violence, and seemingly endless conflict.
The first thing I notice about Geno is his impeccable sense of style: standing by the tent encampment under I-580 at Magnolia and 35th, he’s wearing khakis and a fitted olive-green sweater, boot-laced sneakers as clean as they come, and a spiffy straw fedora. He sports a large stud in one ear, and his beard is pristinely groomed. He looks like a suave sentinel, a GQ model moonlighting as—in his words—“the tent city’s point person.”
On October 20, someone taped an invitation to a fence on Haste Street. Scrawled on a 6 by 4 foot piece of butcher paper, black writing publicized a ‘Save People’s Park Concert’. The accompanying arrow points east, up Haste Street, a one-way with cars flowing the other direction. Sproul Hall, a symbol of the University, is 500 yards up the street.