Devinity Interview, 25 July 2023

Devinity (b. 1979) grew up in Sandersville, Georgia, before moving to Cleveland in 1992. Devinity discusses coming out as a transgender woman in the 1990s, her career as a female illusionist/entertainer, and discrimination within the LGBTQ+ community. Devinity discusses working as former employee of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, including her involvement in the Center's Trans Wellness Program, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Transgender Day of Visibility, and Pride events. She discusses founding the Trans Wellness Resources and Support Network and her ongoing work as a LGBTQ+ community activist.

Participants: Devinity (interviewee) / Habyl, Riley (interviewer)
Collection: LGBTQ+ Cleveland
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Riley Habyl [00:00:00] Today's date is Tuesday, July 25th, 2023. This is Riley Habyl with LGBTQ+ Cleveland Voices Oral History Project. I'm interviewing Devinity at Trans Wellness [Center] in Cleveland, Ohio. So thank you for meeting with me today, Devinity.

Devinity [00:00:15] Oh, thanks for having me.

Riley Habyl [00:00:18] To begin, could you please state your name and spell it for the record?

Devinity [00:00:21] Ah, Devinity, D-e-v-i-n-i-t-y.

Riley Habyl [00:00:27] So where were you born?

Devinity [00:00:29] Oh, girl! I don't tell people those kind of questions. I was born in the cabbage patch field. (both laugh)

Riley Habyl [00:00:37] You don't have to say the month or the day. (crosstalk)

Devinity [00:00:39] Oh well, well, I wasn't going to do that part, you know. But I'm originally from Georgia. You know, Sandersville, Georgia. Hines Street, to be exact.

Riley Habyl [00:00:52] When did you come to Ohio?

Devinity [00:00:53] Well. (laughs) I came to Ohio, it was '92 when I came here, but it wasn't, Oh, let's go to Cleveland and just, you know, enjoy the weather in the summer, it's lovely. I was basically thrown out of the house and pretty much was left here. (laughs) Yeah. So I made do. Made it my home.

Riley Habyl [00:01:25] Why were you thrown out?

Devinity [00:01:26] Well. My at that time parents didn't understand—neither did I, but they didn't care if I knew or not—what trans was, what LGBT was, what gay was, any of that. They just, you know, being from a minister's kid, that just wasn't allowed and they just got rid of me versus not letting that bother them and love me or therapy (laughs) or something. They just threw me away like a piece of trash.

Riley Habyl [00:02:03] When did you first begin to understand your identity and to– Or I should say, when did you first start or first become aware that being trans was a thing, that there, becoming aware of your gender identity and the–? Sorry.

Devinity [00:02:25] No, you're fine. I–.

Riley Habyl [00:02:26] When did you first become aware of that?

Devinity [00:02:28] I look at it as my understanding of the word because I still struggle with that even to this day, That is, trans is just the word that we are more accustomed to. And now we can, like, try to put some formulations to it. But I feel that I'm actually bigger and grander than that, you know. But I think I was... Hmm. I want to say like maybe eight, nine years ago, honestly, you know, because when I first came here, you know, and I met other girls and things, we didn't really have a full understanding of of what we were. We just thought we were just living. We were just women that's just doing what we had to do, you know. And so that's why I say maybe eight, eight or nine, either eight or seven years ago when I basically came and started working at the LGBT Center because they had a little more information on pronouns, on gender, on identities, and the whole bit. So that was when I was able to just dive in. I'm like, Ooh, information! Let's see. (laughs) Where do I align at? You know. So you know, it's a couple of years ago.

Riley Habyl [00:03:50] So you mentioned that you were thrown out and that you met other girls. How did you meet them or how did you find this sense of community?

Devinity [00:03:59] Hmm. Well. Oh, that was another tricky part. I did have a great aunt that lived here. It was my grandma's sister. So she let me stay with her, and I stayed upstairs. She was downstairs. And then, of course, life happened, and she passed away. And when she passed away is when life really just said, Okay, you said you grown. You ready? Let's see what you get. (laughs) And so after she passed away, I–. Right before she passed away, that was when I wanted to go to work in my authentic self. And I was walked off the property. I was, like, dismissed as if I was some felon or somebody breaking into the place or whatever. And, you know, and I worked there for a long time. I'm the general manager and had a couple stores under me and all because I want to come into work as me? You know. And, and a lot of people feel when someone say that they're trans, once again this word that we are associating with, that's supposed to mean that you lost your autonomy over your person, over you, because you need to see a therapist. (laughs) How could anybody, a doctor or a therapist or a minister or a friend or anybody, tell you what's best for you than you? That's, that's the trick that, you know, we're trying to do in trying to let people understand that just because I say I'm trans or I can say I'm married, I can say I'm a doctor, I can say whatever it is you feel you want to be, that does not mean your autonomy is tooken away or subjected because of what you're saying. You know, just have an open mind that the possibilities of what you know could be wrong or have room for errors and could be [in]doctrinated or could be changed and could be mended or whatever the case may be. Let people just be, you know, and you'll find your way a lot better.

Riley Habyl [00:06:28] Absolutely.

Devinity [00:06:28] Mm hmm.

Riley Habyl [00:06:30] Do you know around what year it was that you were fired from your job? The one that you were just speaking about?

Devinity [00:06:38] Uh, I know it was in the '90s. I want to say at least maybe 1997, '98, somewhere around there. Somewhere around there. Because '99 is when I moved to the West Side, I had my own very first owned apartment using the money, and da-da-da-da. So, yeah. It had it been around there. '97, '98. Hopefully my memory, (laughs) 'cause it's so long ago.

Riley Habyl [00:07:15] No worries. When did you first become aware of or involved with the LGBTQ community in Cleveland?

Devinity [00:07:27] When did I first get involved?

Riley Habyl [00:07:28] Yeah. Or aware of it or involved–

Devinity [00:07:32] Oh!

Riley Habyl [00:07:33] with members–

Devinity [00:07:33] Now this story, mm hmm, the LGBT [Community] Center has always been like Narnia for me. Now I don't know about anybody else. It's like in a whole 'nother world and a whole 'nother area, but it's really like, right there. You just can't see it or whatever. And so I'm going back to when it was the [Living] Room on West 28th [correction: West 29th]. It was a storefront there, and one way in, and then you'd come out on the other side of the storefront. They didn't want me in there. They didn't like any girls, anybody that was kind of feminine or exude any kind of woman-y. They want you to get away. And so I was just like, Okay. And so years later, now that the [LGBT Community] Center done moved from West 28, they moved down into Detroit Shoreway and—on 65th, 65th and Detroit—and that, you will miss that as well, too, because it looked like it was a storefront and you don't know if you should go in, you don't know if it's open, you don't know what it is. You just, you know. But this particular time, there was someone else that knew about it. And I went in them and I went in just to charge my phone because, of course, life had happened and I was, you know, on the streets and all of that and I needed to charge my phone up, and (inaudible). Now, now, if you know your history of LGBT [laughs], this was at a time of two executive directors before Phyllis Seven Harris. Right. So two executives before her. And so that executive basically just was so rude and just told me to just leave and I couldn't be in there. I couldn't come in there. So I was like, What the hey? You know, so here's some more compilations had piled up of okay, I don't LGBT is for me when they say the T is me. (laughs) You see what I said? Because each time I go to places like that that's supposed to be marked safe for me, it never was. And so I left there, ended up getting involved into prostitution, and you know, meeting a bunch of other girls that let me sleep on the floor. And it was both of us sleeping on the floor were like, you know. And then we started to travel, going to different states to try to make money and live and survive. And we made it back. And this was after that executive was gone there was another one. She was more like a butch lebian like. She was actually kind of okay. She didn't like wasn't like, rude to me, you know, she just didn't speak to me. (laughs) So I don't know. Pick your battles. Either they coming out and telling you to get out or they just just act like you ain't even in existence. And so because of that, I was able to charge my phone. I was able to go there, charge my phone. Sometimes I would fall asleep on the couch or whatever, you know, 'cause they're opened up all night, you know. And so I would leave there and get myself on to the next task of the next day. And so this one time I came, I had a friend that worked there and they was the youth coordinator, and I had just graduated from culinary school, and I just went to go see them. Da-da-da-da-da. And they go, Can you go in and cook some food for the kids? I was, what really happened, they were supposed to've went to the store and got the food and/or ordered some food and they just forgot to do it. Mmm. We still friends to this day. [laughs] And so they was like, Can you go in there and cook something and da-da-da-da-da-da, I don't care what it is, it's you know, I'm just like, Uh-huh. So I go in there and I cook the food and I guess the food just permeated the whole basement because this was when it was in the basement. And this is when I first met Phyllis [Harris]. She turned the corner, came in that kitchen, and she was like, Is that you in here making this place smell like that? [laughs] I was like, Yeah. I said, You hungry? I'll fix you a plate. She was like, What you got over there? You know. So I told her everything that I had and everything. So she did end up getting the plate. And, uh, that was very much the welcome to the Center, because I guess, you know, they always say the best thing to get into someone is through their belly. And I gave her a plate. And I went to take her a napkin and a drink, and when I got to her office was her door you could see through it, she was about to lick the plate (laughs), so I was like, That plate was good! And so I gave her, her napkin and the drink that I had. And I said, If you want some more, I could get you some more. (laughs) But she was so sweet and everything. And then shortly after that. I was hired there as a POL [Public Opinion Leader]. And then I moved up the ranks of learning all of this stuff about HIV prevention. And next thing you know, I was hired as the actual coordinator over that position. And then after that, I ended up getting another raise as the case manager of the Center. Yeah! And but also during that time. I created a program for transgender people there. So it was like, Oh my God, you know. So I always tell people, you know, good or bad, I don't care how you feel or whatever happens in life, you always remember those who paid you attention and listened to you. And even if you don't like,, value their opinion or whatever may happen later in life, you still have to remember that that person, and I tell her this all the time, I'm like you are the first executive director of the LGBT, because you remember my story I was telling you?

Riley Habyl [00:14:24] Yeah.

Devinity [00:14:25] I said, you're the first one to even actually speak to me, and not only that, hire me. Mm hmm. And, um, and then on top of that, I just learned so much because I really when I came there, the time I came to, like, to cook for the kids, I came back a whole nother time. But this time I'm here for business. I came to pick her brain. I was on the East Side picking the brains of the other executive directors of nonprofits. And then I was picking the brain of her, obviously ended up getting stuck there for seven years. I tell you this, that I think she is smart. Yeah. I'm gonna let you pick my brain. Seven years ago, I was actually. In the process of starting my own organization, and at that time I even enrolled in CSU for business management. I was in college courses and different things like that, but I wanted to do it because I'm a lived experience kind of girl. And, you know, a lot of stuff that you read in the book is fun, you know, a nice little exercise in the reading and all that. But to be a part of the community and to help the community, I don't think you can read that in the book. I think you have to help this particular especially this marginalized community just, you know, trans. I don't think a book can help you identify, help you approach, help you be anything other than a barrier. You know, for this particular group of individuals like myself. And then you have to incorporate that into the bigger picture of the. Other letters. And just try to exist because there is diversity in what we consider like street life and there's diversity in LGBT life. You know, trans people are marginalized on all bases no matter what. You know, you think. Oh, they LGBT, they find a group. You still see a trans girls on t-shirts, you still see a trans group in mowed down and nobody even care, you know, especially this LGBT. You know, I spoken to a lot of people that is LGBT and, you know, later I'm secure now and I'm fine and well. But I wanted to just ask those questions. Why you? Say you love these people in your community. And you got like a whole basement in a garage that you don't even use. Why would you not let a trans girl spend a night do or stay there to get herself together and figure out what her next plans are because of the things that have happened to her, You know? And this supposed to be your friend like this? A friend, and you don't do that. And so. The the biggest thing. Is the perception that people have of trans people. Because we only have sex work. That is the only job. That didn't actually for a resume. It didn't actually for a history. It did actually for a cover letter. It's for nothing. And you make your own hours. But you do have to risk your life is the only thing that it actually for. You see what I'm saying? So, you know, trans people have to take a big bite of this world and it's bullshit, you know, to have to just suck it up and just do great yourself and have sex. And you're not even sure on what that is. That's let's be clear on that part. You're thrown out. And you starting to see other people. And that's the only way to make money. Because each time you try to go somewhere to get a job, they don't want to hire you over gadgetry of, Oh, my God, your mouth. Oh, my God, No, Get away from me. Oh, my God. And then they want to say he and all these other different things, and you know, just make you uncomfortable. Just make you just feel like you're not valid or you're not wanted. And then on top of that, you don't have nobody's house that you can go and just couch surf, you know, because I hear a lot of the gay men like, oh my God, I'm just couch surfing and I'm gonna be at this couch tomorrow. And I'm sitting here like, Child, I wish I had a couch to surf on. You know. I'm sleeping outside. Is you crazy? I'm sleeping in the hotel room that the trick had paid for, and he had to go back to his wife. So I'm telling the hotel, I need late checkout. (laughs) Just so you could get some sleep. And these people just not paying attention to their own community and everything and the intricate things that happens. They just thinking that, oh, we're gay, we're queer, we're fine. Everything is just rainbows and unicorns. So, you know, let me get back on track 'cause you know, I'm sure some more questions. I just get so passionate, you know.

Riley Habyl [00:20:04] Related to what you just said–.

Devinity [00:20:05] Mm hmm.

Riley Habyl [00:20:06] When you first got involved with the [LGBT Community] Center, were there any trans-specific programs or resources geared towards that sense of multiple marginalization, both outside of and within the community?

Devinity [00:20:18] No. There was nothing at that LGBT Center related to trans, regarding trans, working, seeing. I was like, when I go in there, I didn't see another trans person. I didn't see no one else that looked like me. You know. And even when I was hired, I wasn't even hired because I was trans. I wasn't hired because there was a need for trans. I was hired for the stigma. All trans people have HIV. Come to find out, I don't. Come to find out I ain't never have it and never had an STD or nothing. So that kind of baffled a lot of the LGBT people. But also it was my catapult (laughs) because that was when I got into Ending the AIDS Epidemic campaign and I ended up being the spokesperson for it because, in their knowledge, because I'm going to say this, there is other trans people, men and women, that do not have HIV, do not have STDs, sex worker or not. That is just a stigma that people have or the perception of trans people. So what–. I'm the spokesperson for that and I go around and I was just taking pictures and just lettin' people know about Truvada and Descovey and I had an influence in, on the injection that is now Cabenuva. It was just, oh my God. And then to hear people saying, Oh my God, I saw you on a bus, you on a billboard, I saw you on this. I was just like, Oh my God! So that was like my, my catapult. Because when that happened, everything else started to happen right after. So, yeah.

Riley Habyl [00:22:21] Do you know if the lack of trans-specific resources, programs, and anything related to the trans community at the [LGBT Community] Center was to do with a lack of–? I mean, I would assume that it wasn't because there wasn't a need; there was a clear need for it. Was it resistance from upper management or from the LGB community?

Devinity [00:22:42] Well, it's all of the above because when I pitched the idea, they said that they don't feel like it is a need. Why should they have it? What is the purpose of it? And I'm sitting here like, you got a "T" outside on this big ol' sign, and you sayin' what is the need? You know, I was kind of taken aback, but I also was prepared that this is the world. You know, you're going to get a lot of no's before you get a get a yes. Even if it pertains to something that could potentially save somebody's life. You know, someone would still say no. And of course, that's not my organization. I can't come up in there and tell them how to run their organization. That's you do what you what do. But I just was like, okay, to not see any kind of trans resources or representatives or anything of that nature, I just knew to just come in here, just charge my phone, maybe fall asleep if need be, and just be on my way. But when I was hired as the, uh, not the POL [Public Opinion Leader], because that wasn't enough like power or enough like, say, but when I was hired as the HIV prevention coordinator, that gave me what I needed. And so that was when I was like almost a year into that position. That's when I was like, you know what? Let we not forget what I was what I came up in here for. You know. This is Q. But, you know, what is there for trans people? Why am I just just giving 'em HIV tests and, you know, telling 'em what society's already perceiving them to be? So I pitched the idea of the Trans Wellness program there that has all of that, a community, of belonging, where you can just come there and just, you know, get the resources and just feel like you belong somewhere. You see somebody else that looks like you. You know. And also get a meal, which I had to hustle that up too 'cause you know, because also pitching that idea, they didn't feel like it was a need. Okay? I know it's a need because I've lived it. I'm still living it. So I'm just like, they don't see? Like, what do I got to do, jump in the middle of the road or jump on their car? Like, what, for them to see. And so I was like, I was like about three or four days pitching this idea to the [LGBT Community] Center. And I was like, Just give me a chance to show you that there is a need. And so Phyllis says, Well, we are a nonprofit. We don't have any money to pay you. Everything is grant funded or donation. And I was like, I am already getting paid for HIV prevention through the AIDS Funding Collaborative. That is enough. And please make sure I have enough to not become a prostitute while I work here. And she looked at me and that's when she, I felt like she kind of got it a little bit. And she said, I can do that. And so it wasn't like the accurate pay I should have been getting, but it was just enough to–. I was still happy. I didn't care. I just know that I didn't have to be on that hoe stroll or on somebody's line trying to find somebody to have sex with so I can put food on the table, clothes on my back and the whole bit. And so she did that, and I created the program and then I hustled my butt off to make sure that that was going to show not just her, but the community itself, that it is a need for this trans wellness program. And so I got with the youth coordinator, I got with the SAGE coordinator, and that's how I was able to get food to actually see the trans people. Because a lot of times you come in, some of them are from off the streets, they come in off of drugs, they come in off their high, and they're hungry, like your body is finally telling you, Okay, it's been seven days. You ain't drunk nothing, you ain't ate nothing. Okay, it's time to do something. And so they just ravage and just eat something. And so. I mean, some of the other people that [are] at the [LGBT Community] Center—I don't say all, that's why I said some—have some really good hearts. This one gave a couple of those particular individuals canned goods and (laughs), you know, made them a goodie little bag. And then they went outside to go move their car and they saw the bag, you know, in the garbage by the garbage can, and they was just like so tooken back like, I gave this person all this stuff and da-da-da-da-da. I just don't understand why they would just throw it in the trash. And so I was like, let me see what this bag. So I looked in it. I said, What is someone that is homeless—key word, homeless—is gonna do with some ravioli beans and some ravioli pizzas, and what are they gonna do with it? First of all, they don't have a can opener. Secondly, they don't have a stove or oven or microwave. They don't have a bowl (laughs), a fork or spoon. I said, Now, please don't take offense to this. This is why this bag was found in the garbage down the street, because if they were spiteful or vindictive, they would have just, just threw it at you or left it right there where you was at. And so they took it down the street, didn't think you was gonna come down here to see it. You know. But let's not dwell on that. Let me just show you and whoever else at the Center that is interested on what to do when these situations arise. And so I'm talking about I had a couple employees, and I'm just in that kitchen, I'm just showin' 'em. You know, someone comes in here and they're high or coming off that high or whatever. That's the only reason why they came here. They didn't come here because they need to use the computer. They didn't come here because they need to get a HIV test or whatever. They didn't come here to join any kind of programs or whatever. They came here because, like I said, that marquee outside says that I can come in here. Hopefully if I come in here, y'all got some food. I've seen the kitchen. They should have something. You know, don't care what it is. I just know you should have something. And so when you're comin' off these drugs, that something can actually save their life. You know, seven days, can you imagine seven days without eating or drinking anything? So that something can actually last to get to something else. And so they used to order like pantrylike stuff for some of the staff. And then of course, the kids get everything. (laughs) And so I was like, Okay, well, what don't we just order a couple of stuff so that the staff can have chips and crackers and cookies and different things like that. And get the little pouch juices 'cause those are good. And so, the coordinator that was in charge of that, I was like, just order a couple of 'em and we can put it right here and just put it for the staff. Child, that thing turned into a pantry for outreach. (laughs) And it was designated, so when people come in, they could come in there and get some quick food that they could just open it, eat, throw the container away versus having to getting the can and and all these different things. And so that has been going on since. The basement into the new [LGBT Community] Center, I don't, you know, it's been over a little almost, a little over 30 days. So I don't know what's going on now. But when I left there, that was still going on. People could come in there and just actually be a community. Do you see what I'm saying? Even though it was not–. It didn't seem like it was geared for that to happen. You know. Yeah. What's the next questions? (laughs)

Riley Habyl [00:32:13] I have one more question (crosstalk) about the LGBT Center.

Devinity [00:32:14] Oh, okay. Oh, I can answer whatever you want.

Riley Habyl [00:32:20] So, it was about, you say it was in the mid-2010s that you were able to get Trans Wellness off the ground? After that program was launched, would you say that there– Or how would you describe the reception of not just [LGBT Community] Center staff but Center participants towards the trans wellness program or towards the idea of actually having programs that represented, like you said, the T in the LGBT as part of the Center?

Devinity [00:32:55] Well, it was–. It was challenging even up until the day I left out of there. It was like the community that is LGBT—key word, LGBT, now they're upset that there's other letters now, but let's not forget the T. (laughs) It's like they act as if they don't understand or they are oblivious or they're not affected, or it don't pertain to me so it's not my issue, it's not my concern, it's not my whatever. And so me running around, of course, the supervisors and the powers that be just say, Here, just do you. So you're like, people gotta eat, people want to get their name changed, people want somewhere to live, people want a shelter, and people want like help. And so they just, like, ignore and say you're the coordinator. So I'm like, Okay, so I'm the coordinator and I'm sitting here running HIV prevention, still doing my trainings and tests and making sure that we have people at the [LGBT Community] Center doing tests, making sure I'm keeping up with the cities and counties and the CDC and everybody else. And then I'm also over here making sure that the trans people have everything that they need. So I've always told people, you know, a lot of people work at places that you wore several hats. I said, I did more than several hats. I actually provided. You know, to a point where I had to forget who I was to make sure that the people got the help that they need. I had to learn how to maintain the job, but also keep up with the community. You know, I didn't want the community to feel like I've changed. I'm bougie, Oh, I got a job, I got money, and da-da-da-da-da. And I'm sitting here like, Child, it ain't no money, first of all. I didn't even get full-time pay until last December. Mm hmm. And that came from a grant that I had ended up getting and so that's why I'm like, I'm telling people, I'm like, Don't think that it's all glitz and glamor. I'm only there to make sure you have somewhere to be and somewhere to just be catty or just act like you're better than somebody. You know. I'm making sure you're able to do that. (laughs) You know. And so when, 'cause when I did my outreaches and things like that, I would meet people out on the streets, out at the bars, and a lot of times I'm the only one from the LGBT Center that's out taking care of people, looking out for people's wellbeing and actually, like, loving on people. And then I had got a call that it was this trans girl was sexually assaulted and raped, and she was up at Metro and this was about maybe three, four in the morning. And I go, I didn't care. I needed to get a couple more hours of sleep to get up for work or whatever. I went because I remember when I was sexually assaulted and pistol-whipped and left in a field from being shot at, the whole bit. And I had to deal with that by myself. So I know. So this is why I just rushed out the house and I set up up there at Metro with this lady for at least a good five hours until it was, I had to say, okay, I had to go. But I had, only reason why I had to go is because I had to get to the LGBT Center because there was a meeting that day. All staff. Right. And so I never looked at anything that I'd done at the Center personally. I looked at it as I'm able to provide the care and resources and the love that this community so need, so deserve. And I will worry about me later. That's how I fueled myself to even stay there. That's how fueled myself to even go with the adversities that I even went through by even working there. And so I'm excited. I'm happy that I went to Metro and I spent this time with this lady and I wanted to tell everybody this. And so they pass it around at the meeting, and, Oh, what you do today? What was the best thing about, a highlight of your day? Or, and then there was a point they was stuck on rose and thorns. (laughs) So I'm just like, okay, so I'm like, okay, now I got something to interject in. I could use this for the rose. I could use this for the thorn. So I'm going in about it, and once again, the next day, I'm being wrote up in the executive office to be reprimanded [laughs], yeah, for putting the Center in jeopardy for going up to the Metro, yeah, at that time of day. That was like the second one at this time. Now I've had quite a few. That's the crazy part. You know, the other one, like I told you, it was the birth certificate that I purchased of my own money. And I had to sit there and tell them. I'm like, So you mean to tell me if I work here, you also have to tell me how to spend my money? The lack of it that you're giving me? So when I cashed my check and I want to throw it out here in the middle of the street, I'm going to get written up? And so I've come to find out that the supervisor had told the executive that I had... This is going to baffle you. And I always tell people this why I kept every last one of my write ups because it's far-fetched. You won't believe me unless you read it. She told the executive that I took the money and put it in the expense account to get the money back for me. So you mean to tell me that you literally is supposed to be paying for people's birth certificates, which is only $25, and you want to tell the executive that I put $25 in an expense account to get the money back? And the whole thing about it, I didn't know what expense account was. I'm the one that's always kept in the dark. I'm the last one to learn or know something. And they quick to say, Oh, you don't check your e-mails. You don't do this. And I'm sitting here looking at them like, I'm still learning how to do that, dodo! So I had to learn to just let them say what they want to say. Let them taunt me or let them do whatever it is they felt that they, felt that that was good for them to say or do, just so I could help the community. Mm hmm. Don't take nothing personal. Don't react to nothing and don't attach to nothing. Mm hmm. That's how I spent my seven years at the LGBT Center.

Riley Habyl [00:41:35] That's unbelievable.

Devinity [00:41:36] Exactly. And so. And it's more.

Riley Habyl [00:41:40] I mean, it's absolutely believable.

Devinity [00:41:41] You know. And this is why I kept every last one of those write ups, because it was just like, really? You're nitpicking on things like this? And first of. All, when you're getting a write up, you're tried, jurored, and convicted when they hand it to you. And you're like, Can I even tell my side? Can I even acknowledge that this happened? Could I, you know, have the opportunity to try to fix it if it was something bad? Nope. You're already convicted, tried and jurored. Soon as they hand it to you. And so you're like, Well, what's the protocol when you're gettin' a write up? Because, you know, I've got so many at this point, I just came out and said it because I got tired. You know. What is the point of coming here? You already got me wrote up and convicted or whatever. What is the point of having me sitting here when I could be out here helping somebody. Go on and file it, do what you got to do, or just say, Come in here and sign it or whatever, because me telling my side don't do nothing. Nothing! And then I'm not able to even say my side. So I go, at the last one I had I got, I go, What is the protocol on getting these write ups? Like what is the point? Because now I'm backed up against the wall now. So this is what made me really– Because they say I dig in. No, that's the time I really dug in. You know, what is the protocol? So they had to put, and Oh, we gonna put you on a probationary period. I said, Oh, for you to go find a protocol to go try to print one up and then tell me about it? Mm hmm. So I'm like, okay. So I was on this probationary period (laughs) and over another bogus thing. And then on top of that, I hand–. I'm not going to say handpicked, but I took it upon myself to reach out to those individuals that they had in that write up, which was only told to me and the executive director that it was one thing that had happened. I get the actual paper like almost three or four days after me and the executive had that meeting because she didn't have the paper, I didn't have a paper. Right. It wasn't ready. Just the supervisor done went and said something to this executive and then it done got her flustered. So we're in there talking, and we talked about three hours. Right. So when we finally get the write up, I'm thinking, just like she said, when when the paper come and it'll just be what we just talked about. Don't even worry about it, da-da-da-da-da. Now I'm reading this other stuff that didn't occur. So I'm like, okay, here we go. So I reach out to those individuals that was so-called I offended or got 'em mad or whatever the thing had said. One of the persons was sitting right outside the door. So I go, Hey. Now, mind you, me and this person is like, so child they want to separate us at work. You want to tell me that I sit here and I intimidated and offended this person? Really?

Riley Habyl [00:45:15] And you're the one getting reported?

Devinity [00:45:17] So I go, Did I intimidate you and make you feel some kind of way on this day and da-da-da-da-da, because that was the day that we was talking about this and that was the day that that person that's HR came out of their office and said A, B, C, and D. Yeah. I said, let's put it all out on the glass. Then they go–. Because they say, No! Girl, I love you. What the hell? We goin' to lunch after we leave here. What is she talking about? (laughs) Yeah. That was one of the people. Yeah. To confirm that it's bogus. And so after that, I sent the e-mail to the other person saying similar thing. Sent it to the real person. Same thing. But I'm on probation every year now. Now, mind you, I CC-ed every last one of them on it. Just to show now, this is what your protocol should be. If you have been alerted of any kind of miscommunication or an email that came in here or a phone call and it was of concern, you're supposed to address that coordinator and say, Hey, this came in. What can we do to resolve this? Is there an issue? Do you need my help to help you get this facilitated? That's what the protocol should be. Not you run directly to the CEO–the CEO–and say, Oh, this person got this thing. No, I got it. Next thing you know, you done typed up a whole thing, and I'm sitting here convicted, tried and jurored over a bogus email or phone call that done came in here, knowing I didn't get no since I first walked in the door because people don't want me there. I've been getting all kinds of things. Why you got that prostitute up in there? Why you got that black bitch? Just–.

Riley Habyl [00:47:27] From staff–

Devinity [00:47:29] No. From the–.

Riley Habyl [00:47:29] –or just the general public?

Devinity [00:47:30] From the community. But some of the stuff you don't know who is coming from because it'd be, what's the word, alias. It don't have a name. It don't have nothing on it. It'd just be like, you know, them saying whatever it is they're saying. And so I'm just sitting here like, I've been getting that since I first came up in here. Now all of a sudden, I'm being write up for it? It's my fault?

Riley Habyl [00:47:56] Because people were attacking you, you were getting in trouble for that?

Devinity [00:48:03] Uh huh. So, you know, I just try to just, once again, don't react (laughs) because the reaction I felt is what they was trying to get out of me. Because if I know this has happened, I know, you know, that these things is recurring, why would I react? Because now I'm feeling that's what you want. You're making up this stuff for me to react in whatever way you feel I should react. I'm not going to do that.

Riley Habyl [00:48:39] Did you feel like you were being– er– that there was an effort to push you out of your involvement with the [LGBT Community] Center?

Devinity [00:48:48] It was an effort to change me from who I was from–. Now, I was kinda tooken back a little bit, but I had to go home and get myself together. You know, yes, I was a ho, prostitute, whatever. And I dress provocative and da-da-da-da-da. We was like in the kitchen and it was like a group of us. I don't, I think it was a tour or something like that we was giving and I had a shirt on. I didn't feel that it was inappropriate. I didn't feel that it was too vulgar. You know, 'cause my mindset was always, This is LGBT. They say be your authentic self and this is the place to be you. So I'm like, okay, let me just be me. Now I know the difference between a miniskirt and one of the V-neck shirts saying, Hey baby, you wanna party? Versus this is our kitchen, this is our facility. Do you like it? This is our community, our computer center. Do you want to donate money to us? I know the difference. So we coming out, everybody was coming out of the kitchen. Now, this was the executive. (laughs) Because it's like, what do you do? You just don't say nothing. She then took a napkin and stuck it in my cleavage. Uh huh. Exactly that is how I was. I didn't know what to respond. I didn't know what to say. Because once again, this is the executive. So you like, okay. But when I got home, I was slightly offended, and then I was slightly confused. I was slightly hurt. I was slightly triggered. I was slightly a lot of things. And so I had to think like, okay. Only lesbians up in here have an issue whenever–. Like even what you got on. Nothing is wrong with that. But wear it there. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. You could go to the beach. You could go to the kid park. You could go to Chuck E. Cheese to pick up the kids. Whatever. Go to the [LGBT Community] Center with this on. Now they gonna come up and put a little–. And I was sitting there like, maybe they just want to touch me. You see what I'm saying? Because the only person that had the issues was lesbians. The gay men didn't say nothing or have issues. I'm the only trans person. (laughs) I'm not having any issues or nothing. And so I'm like, okay, I just looked at that. And so what I did, I just started changing everything once–. Now it was the first start of changing who I was because I thought the clothes that I had, hard earned, went out and picked to work there, was appropriate enough, and it was a lot of money, you know, to get those clothes. So now I have to like wear turtlenecks and, you know, suit jackets and just be dressed up 24-7, which ended up being good because I was always getting on the radio. I was always whenever the news people came, whenever there was a heritage day or something, I had to run down to City Hall to speak with the mayor and all these different things. So me dressing up really, that part paid off. And I looked at that like, okay. That was okay. But she still didn't have to put that napkin in there. (laughs) You see what I'm saying? And so I changed that. And then I guess that wasn't enough change. They wanted me to change the way I speak, the way I am. Like I am unfiltered person. Everybody knows that I have a hard time and struggle with trying to lie to somebody. You see what I'm saying? Because like, if you lie and then you come to me next week or next month, I'm not gonna be able to remember what lie I told you. You see what I'm saying? Because I have a hard time remembering stuff like that. So this is also why I'm unfiltered and I just say things, because it's like, why be in a world that done put you out for one as a kid and then you're forced to lay with these random people that you don't even know. You could be killed. They could be sex trafficked you or whatever the possibilities. So I was in the mindset of live in the moment, live in the day, live in when it is. I didn't have to worry about no 401K. I didn't have to worry about no reitrement. I didn't have to worry about Shady Pines. Because that was not promised to me. So this is why I always just say things as it was so at least somebody will get the real information from somebody without them having to feel, Oh my God, you're not my friend, you don't love me. You just lie to me. You see what I'm saying? And so because I didn't want anybody to do that to me because look at what happened to me in all my life. And so just being on the radio, being on the news, being all these things, I'm starting to turn into the face, you know. Next thing you know, I'm met with scripts. Yeah. So now they done changed the way I wear my clothes, and now they changing the way I talk. And so each time I had to do the radio, each time I had to do the news, each time I had to do a panel discussion or just a rally, I'm sitting there, the only person with a script. Reading it. And trying to read it off and still engage with the community, camera, whatever the case may be. And then they also scrutinizing that. Uh huh. Because now when I'm sitting here trying to read this script, I'm not approachable, I'm not friendly. It don't sound like a lived experience. It don't sound like it's, you know, second nature or anything. No, it's not because you just handed this to me. I didn't get a chance to read over this last night or even 10 minutes ago. You you handed it to me right now, and there's a bunch of people and I have to read everything word for word verbatim and also smile and try to–.

Riley Habyl [00:55:46] Present a false image almost?

Devinity [00:55:49] Because that was also what they said. Do not ever paint a picture, or let a picture be painted, that the [LGBT Community] Center is inadequate or not safe or not whatever.

Riley Habyl [00:56:08] For trans people?

Devinity [00:56:09] No, for the [LGBT Community] Center here as an employee. Mm hmm. So wherever I go, I go, The Center's amazing. You should come there, and they got everything, they're gonna do everything for you, they love you. They're gonna just do everything for you. Majority of that, I'm the one doing it. Uh huh. There's no other person there doing anything at all. There was a Trans Day of Visibility and it was me. It was Monika Baker [Veliz], and it was–. I mean, not Baker, that's her old name. [Monika] Veliz. And Zuggie [Tate.] Now, Monika's from Margie's Hope, Zuggie [Tate] was from Black Space [Productions], and I was supposed to represent the [LGBT Community] Center. But the Center looked at it as, I'm just being me as a trans person. Exactly. Any other time they saying, when I'm at the hospital, Oh, you up there the off hours that you're just not supposed to be there. Oh, you can't give people rides because you work at the Center. All these other times you are equating my time as I'm still on the clock. There was a phone call saying, Oh, Devinity is down here. She didn't, she's not being affirming, she didn't clap when the people got off the stage. We think she's a drug dealer. She selling coke and all these things. Uh huh. But when it's Trans Day of Visibility, I don't work at the Center on that day? Because us three ladies decided to do a three day because there is nothing for trans anything. People will come for Trans Day of Visibility on that one day and like march around the thing with these little signs of people that is not even in the city. The same trans girls that's been mowed down in your own city is not even on any of those signs. Mm hmm. And then you go and lay 'em down and they gettin' ready to say this little thing 'cause it's all politics to me. They only doing it because the camera crew is there. Channel 5, Channel 19, whatever. So that's, Okay, let's get up here. And then the whole thing is organized with people that has really no heart, no concern, no instances, no love, no nothing. They just–. My job told me I had to do it. Mm hmm. And so this last one was down at Tremont. I want to say that some kind of church, Pilgrimage [Pilgrim Congregational] Church. Some kind of church like that. Now, mind you, we had a march and rally across the street in the park [Lincoln Park]. Mm hmm. And none of them people came. Mm mhm. And so we closed up everything and we said, you know what, let's go on over to the church since that's where they're supposed to be. So we go over there. Now mind you, myself, Monika [Veliz], and Zuggie [Tate], we are Black women, okay? We go up in there, we are the only Black anything in the church. Mm hmm. So they're reading off, and you could see everything just looks so rehearsed. Everything just looked like it's politics, everything–. There was not an emotional person there at all. There was people falling asleep. It was just like, what did we walk in here to? It was like that. And so we sitting there, we went on and just try not to interrupt. You know, we sit on the side. And so they reading and they had the pictures of the people that was killed. It was only one Asian. The rest was all Black. Not a one Black person in the building. But the three Black trans girls, because mind you, Zuggie [Tate], Monika [Veliz], myself—trans. Only ones. I was just sitting there like, Oh my goodness. Now, a week prior, the same girl that I was telling you about the birth certificate situation, she's on that list now. She was the last one. Uh huh. So I'm about to get written up. This girl dead now. Uh huh. So, they wanted to close everything, you know, and I just, right at the end, I just got like, I don't know, some energy came from somewhere or some courage, something. I just was like, Is it okay if I say something? I said, I know I am living, and trans people only matters when they're dead. But I would like to have something to say. Like that. And I said that to the people at the front that was, that had put it together. I turn around to the camera people and I go, I know I'm not on the program, but is it okay for me to have at least two minutes to say something about my trans sisters that's up here dead, and that I am still living and also working? They was like, Yeah, the whole place was like, Yeah, like that. Now here's the kicker. So I get up, took my jacket off and everything, go up there and talk. They wouldn't move out the way.

Riley Habyl [01:02:03] Even after they said that–?

Devinity [01:02:04] Mm hmm. We move out of the way. So I'm just sitting here like, why do we have to keep going through this? So, you know my mouth, I don't need no microphone, I don't need no podium. (laughs) So I just turned around and just started speaking. I don't need no podium. And then that's when, you know, you've heard that. Oh! And slammed the microphone down and went to go, they went to go sit down. Mm hmm. You sittin' here reading the names off of all Black people, you ought [to] get it. And the one was supposed to be a trans man. That really hurt my feelings because you're not just the white person that maybe don't care or don't have feelings or whatever, caught up in whatever your ... I'm mean your morals, your value, whatever the case may be. You are actually trans, so you don't get a golden pass. You're reading the names of your brothers and sisters and you're also being combative with another trans person. In person in front of people. So that really hurt my feelings and that I had to sit there and like talk about these in front of these people. But what I did, I was so tasteful and so nice. I said, I just wish a lot of these organizations, when they plan things, you know, to talk to the people that are trans, you know. At that time, this is before this right here, I said, I am the coordinator of the only trans program in this city and state and also the country. I don't understand why I was not even alerted or aware or told that that event was even happening. If we wasn't across the street in the park, I wouldn't of knew that was even there. I didn't get an email, I didn't get a phone call. We saw. Mm hmm. And so I mentioned that, and then I went into everything else and when I was talking, those people were waking up. Do you remember I told you people sleeping and carrying on. And after I was done, they got clapping and carrying on and then the, the people started coming up wanting to talk to me and everything, and I was just like, Oh my God. The TV crew wanted to do an interview. (laughs) I was just like, I just wanted to say that, you know, and then I also emphasized on the last one, because I knew her. You know. She used to also work the hoe stroll. She also, the very first day that we started Trans Wellness, I'm talking about today was the first day that is happening, I finally got an approval. I'm going in, but I had to go to court that morning. I was locked up for being transgendered. Not because of my case or not paying a fine or whatever the case may be. The judge had an issue with trans people and blatantly called me out as a trans woman and disrespected me. I mean, and they locked me up for 60 days for contempt. How was that my contempt when you're the one going off? Come to find out something happened with her and her husband had did something. I'm like, I'm not her. Why are you taking it out on me? And so very first day of Trans Wellness I'm in jail for being trans. (laughs) So they had to get me out of the out of jail and everything, because I guess she didn't know I worked at the LGBT Center, and I had gotten hold to Carey [Gibbons], the bailiff came to that back and was like, I don't care who you got to call. But she gave me my purse back and she said, You get on that phone and you call whoever. But make sure you call somebody because I did not enjoy that. And I don't think that was right that this lady did that to you. Mm hmm. And so I called Carey [Gibbobs] and she ended up calling Maya Simek from Equality Ohio, and both of them at separate times had came down to visit me. But what really took the cake, Maya Simek came to the, to thing and opened the door and said my name! I was like, and so we hugged and cried and carried on. And then after we got through with this, she said, Okay. Now we got that out the way. You tell me everything that happened. And she had our little paper, and she was writing everything down. But come to find out the lady that be there typing, I didn't know this. That was public records. Mm hmm. And so Maya [Simek], being the attorney lady, boss lady she is for Equality Ohio, she pulled it, and they confirmed everything that I said. (laughs) And they got me out of jail. I was in there maybe five days, four or five days or something like that. And that lady that I was talking about that got shot and killed, when I got in there I had no–. Because when you go to jail, you don't have no hygiene, you have no food, you have nothing. And she gave me everything. She even fed me. She gave me everything. And she was like, No, Devinity. Because I was like at my wit's end. And it was just, everything just kept happening. And I'm just like, you know what? I'm like, giving up. I'm like about to throw in the towel. And she was like, Oh, no, you will not, not while I'm here. And so she was like pushing me, encouraging me to keep going and everything. And, and I was just like, blown away. And then afterwards I got out and, you know, I'm at the [LGBT Community] Center and everything. She gets out, she would come to the Center and she would come and sit at my desk at the Center. Then she'd be like doing her makeup and everything. And like the other coworkers, they wouldn't even say nothing, you know, because that's just what they do. They like you ain't even there. So the whole time it wasn't even me. They probably thought she was me, you know. And she's sitting at my desk, and I had some pictures when she took pictures like selfies to check her makeup. And that was the only pictures I had of her because she was shot and killed. And when I had got, it was her and three other trans girls. They was like sisters from off the hoe stroll, and they all wanted to go get their name changed and stuff at the same time so they could celebrate, you know, anniversaries or whatever. And so we get down to City Hall. I paid for an extra large Uber because they–. Them some hefty girls. (laughs) I love 'em to pieces, but them some big girls. And I'm like my car, my shocks ain't gonna handle all that. You know, too much beef. (laughs) So I called the extra large–. You know, I had to get one of them big ol' Excursion trucks to take us down to City Hall. And so we got down to City Hall. We in there to do the name change. Now my job, I had the papers and stuff for 'em already. Her name was Dee, so she went and sat down and she just started crying. And so I'm helping the other two and then I'm kind of drawn off seeing her crying. And I'm like, Girl, it's gonna be all right. You a woman now. You don't think that she crying 'cause, you know, she about to get her name changed. And she go, No. She said, I wasn't able to get my birth certificate. Her grandma, something happened with the grandma, and they couldn't get the birth certificate, da-da-da-da-da-da. So she was just, just going through it. And she said, I really wanted to get this done. And of course, me being a trans woman that know the severity about getting your name changed because that is the first thing people go at and they want to keep calling you that name until you beyond dead. Because it could be the funeral–they got it out there on the marquee. (laughs) And so I was like, where we was at, next door, literally next door is where you get your birth certificate sat. So I go, I just got my paycheck. I got 25 dollars. I said, Girl, come on. And I told the other girls, I said, Y'all can finish filling out your applications. We'll be right back. I'm just going to go over and get her birth certificates and we coming right back. And so we did that. And that girl cried some more. Oh, my God, I can't believe you did that for me. I love you so much, and da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da. And so that is my pay. That is my fuel. And that's how I'm able to go back into the LGBT Center and deal with the things that I had to deal with because that one person made it worth it. You see what I'm saying? If I could get–. And that was my fuel, starting this program. If I can get one trans girl to have it better than I did, I can go on and lay down and die. That would put me on the t-shirt. (laughs) March around with signs with my name on it or soemthing. You know. And so that done turned into over 400 name changes, over 700 housing applications, and food, groceries and things like that I did. Oh, my God. And so that was not my job description. My job description was not to sign people up for housing. It was not to sign people up for name changes and things like you would think it would be. But once again, Oh, we don't have the funds for that. We don't do that. No. And then the crazy part. I have it, actually. I know y'all can't hear. You just hear it. But I'll, you know, I'll fold the paper so you can know it's here. (Riley laughs) This here (rustles papers), and you hear that? That's what I'm talking about. (laughs) This here–. Now, mind you, the very first day of starting this–. Not the first day because I was in jail. A week later. First day for me. (laughs) This right here is what I had made to send people—businesses, organizations, personal people, the neighbor, the person that cut the dog's hair, whatever. If they would like to donate and give money to the [Trans Wellness] program, this is the way to do it. So, hmm! Guess what happened? I was the first Black trans woman to sit on the Pride board. It was separate from the LGBT Center at this time. This was part of my duties was getting the money. So they thinking that I'm just some trans person that just don't know nothing but having sex with people. But you should've first know, she is one of the top paid prostitutes in the city. So that means she know how to get her money. Let's use her. So I created this for the Pride board. Uh huh. I was the one who got Walgreens that sponsored Pride for years. You remember the Walgreen bags that–? Mm hmm. That was me. And so, and also the second stage. Here's some history. There was always the one stage at Pride. Okay? I was like, that is always so serious and so drawn out and it's just no fun. And you got everybody over here on the side somewhere ready to fall in thewater or whatever, because it was behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And so Todd [Simek] was the president. He go, Well, if we get some money, you know, we can figure out something else to do. So I reached out to all these people with this and got up enough. And actually Walgreens came and not only they sponsored the second stage. This is why now Pride has two stages. Because of me. Mm hmm. But, you know, the people, especially at the LGBT Center, said, Oh my God, you just being a diva, you just want to be seen. You just, just, I mean. No. History is history. My accolades is my accolades, regardless of how you feel about me or not. I should not have to do that. But sometimes I have to because I don't go around, Oh my God, Devinity did this. Oh my God, Devinity, speaking to myself as a third person. No, I don't do that. You crazy? But when you are sitting here denouncing me, when you are belittling me–. And I forgot that I'm not supposed to match that energy. That's when I get to talking about my accolades instead of just, just looking at you sideways like, okay, you're stupid. You know? And so guess what happened? You see this at the top? (indicating to Trans Wellness donation form)

Riley Habyl [01:16:06] LGBT Community Center?

Devinity [01:16:07] They now use this to get their money, but they will never tell you that it came from me. Mm hmm. I had at least 20 of these, and I had at least all of those $20,000 that those individuals gave me for trans world. And so the first one wasn't counted because it was more than $1,000. This was my best friend's husband. Of course I'm gonna reach out to him first. He's a millionaire. He's got money, all right. So I go, Well, you know, I'm starting this program for the trans people, can you give me some money? He go, Okay, I'll write you a check. How much you–. Well, I'll leave it blank. I said, Well, don't do that. Just write a number. Just write a number on it. You know. No no no, don't put a blank one now. Because, you know, the first person we hit up and we ain't got no money, We got no food, we got nothing. So don't–. Write a number. I don't care if you write $5. So he wrote, like–I want to say, like two or three thousand dollars. Mm hmm. That's the very first check. And then the 20 of these. Uh huh. And so I'm excited. When I got the check. So I'm coming in the [LGBT Community] Center, I saw the supervisor sitting there, and I saw the executives there. I'm like, Oh, my God. I got the first check and da-da-da-da-da-da-da. So they was just looking like in disbelief like, Oh, really? You know, I'm what the hell–(inaudible) The first thing that comes out your mouth is we don't have funding, we don't got this, we don't got that. So I went and got it. I have been going to get it all my life, so I know what to do. And so they go, Well, we gonna have to just put that check in the general funds. I said, What is general funds? Well, that is what we have just in case we have to pay the lights or somebody's grant like one of the coworkers' grants didn't go through that pay period. They take the money out of that and pay that person. I was like, Well, no, this money is for the trans people. Can we just open up a separate a bank account or something that we can just put it in there? Well, no, because we are a nonprofit and we are not supposed to have a bunch of bank accounts, and it could get us shut down. I said, So a bank account would get you shut down? I said, Okay. I said, Well, I'll just hold on to this check until we figure out what we're gonna do, because I'm not giving you this check and you put it in general funds, and then when I need something, you don't know where the money at. You know. And then on top of that, I was folding these up and I was sending out the next round because I told you I did 20 already. So I folded up the next round. The person comes out, I want to say that was the marketing or the director or somebody over there in marketing. They wanted to just I guess, look over and saw me. What's that? Now mind you, LGBT was not on here. Uh huh. Trans Wellness program was at the top. Yeah. Goes to show. Well, hello. And so I fold it up and I was like. Oh no, this is what I'm doing because, you know, they said, we don't have no money. And, you know, I just feel as though, as an employee we should be able to just hit up the people we know to get money to come to the Center. I think that actually should be a requirement. They ask the board people to do that, and they have to get like twenty-five thousand, twenty-five hundred dollars. Why can't the employees give them money? Like I've been giving you. Because I have a standing record. I always come up with money for Pride. You know. Last year I beat my last record. You know. And so he was like, Oh, that's nice, but what is that paper? Like, just oblivious what I just said. So he looked at the paper, and he go, That is good stuff. I think we should use that or have that or whatever. Me being me, sure. You could be able to do this for the everything here at the [LGBT Community] Center. Just change the top part. That's ended up what happened. Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [01:20:49] And then you didn't get any–.

Devinity [01:20:50] No.

Riley Habyl [01:20:50] Any credit for it?

Devinity [01:20:52] No. But I wasn't looking for it, you know? But just when you think about criticizing me, or act as if I'm inadequate or I can't do this or however way you feel, just, just remember half the stuff that you're doing came from me, the inadequate one. You know. And so I just wanted to just show you this because this is actually what I'm using for here. I'm just taking that part off, putting it back where it's supposed to go. You know, and using it for my organization [Trans Wellness Center]. And so to get us the money. Now, the point of me even bringing that up was that I kept that check for three thousand dollars for over two years. Okay? Because they had a situation because right after that conversation, I'm being written up again. Mm hmm. So you can't be asking people for money that we get our money from because it will mess up the organization. It will mess up our funding because people don't want to fund like that. When they fund, they fund like that one time and they don't want to do keep funding or whatever. So if by me sending this out, I'm taking the money that that particular person normally gives to the [LGBT Community] Center. I said, So I did all of that. I said, Well, let me tell you something. I don't think Sandy, the shift manager down at McDonald's, is anybody that you guys reach out to. (laughs) I'm sure you've been to the McDonald's on Detroit. You remember the one in the drive-thru that had the little Hello Kitty and all that?

Riley Habyl [01:22:52] Think so.

Devinity [01:22:53] She was always in that window. She's just happy and just, you know, colorful and all that kind of stuff. Kooky, all that. So that's who I sent my thing to because I knew her and built a rapport with her. She gave me a thousand dollars out of her check–not McDonald's, the organization. But they wasn't trying to hear that. Each one of my 20 letters was an individual that worked at, I guess the place, you know. And so they was like, You can't mail out those. You can't send them out. You got to get 'em all back and da-da-da-da-da-da-da. I said, Oh, for real? I said, Okay. And so it was like a week later I had got 'em all together and I was like, Well, I guess this, all this money that I had got, I have to just return it back to the people. Because you said that it was taken away from you. Uh huh. And I go, Since I have to give this money back, I need you to–. You better make sure that these trans people can get some food and be able to have a place to be. And I aint' tryin' to hear nothing else. Because you just told me that I can't get the money myself, and I just proven to you that I can do that. So, make it happen. And I walked out. You know. And they didn't.

Riley Habyl [01:24:33] What year was this around?

Devinity [01:24:34] This was the first year. Trans Wellness, this March that just passed, is four years of me creating and founding that program at that [LGBT Community] Center. They didn't care. No, no, no. They forgot how long it was. You know. And I'm just sitting there like, you know, I done got so numb to the situation because circle back to Trans Day of Visibility, those three days. Not a one person helped support it, came to any of the events that was schduled for those three days. Now, I normally have the recent people that was murdered, okay? Trans people. And I normally have them put up in the [LGBT Community] Center on that first wall when you first walk in. But every Trans Day of Visibility, I bring 'em out because why they got to be in the closet on a day marked for them? You see what I'm saying? So this Trans Day of Visibility last year that passed, the trans men picture was gone and another picture was just gone. And it was only had like two. And so I blew a gasket. I said, Where is my trans people? They don't bother nobody. You act like they don't even exist. So these pictures, I'm talking they are big picture frames, pictures. I said they should be still here. I said they was in that basement. That was not in the way of anything. Why was they even touched or moved? Nobody even want to move a muscle. Mm hmm. Didn't even care I was saying it, they didn't care I was mad, did care I was upset, and then had the nerve to say–. Now it was a coworker. Her name is Dawn. She was, at this point, was the only person there that had any kind of sympathy, remorse, or any kind of emotion towards a trans person. The only one. But she had broke her leg this time. It seems after recovery, they go, won't you ask Dawn? With a broken leg? And she's not even here? Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [01:27:07] Were you able to find out what had happened?

Devinity [01:27:08] No. No. Even to this day, I still don't know what happened to those pictures. Now, mind you, I was so heated, and because I told you those three days, the march and rally, I normally have them out on easels. Then the next day was a sit-down dinner at the LGBT Center where the people come and sit and then talk. If you're not trans, you talk about a trans person you know, or if you have a trans friend, you talk about that person. And so we passed the mike around, da-da-da-da-da-da. Food was sponsored and catered and we had a deejay and all this other stuff. Yeah. Nobody was there. I was the only employee, and it was the rule. It has to be two employees to close the building and also to open the building. So I'm sitting there like, Oh, my goodness, they knew this was happening. It's on the schedule. It's on the calendar. They had them people sitting outside for two hours in the cold until another coworker comes, and then that coworker comes angry, slamming doors, mad, just pissed off. I'm not too sure what they're pissed off at, but I'm just trying to stay clear. Just stay out of the way, you know, and let them gather themselves or figure out whatever is going on. And I didn't want to pry or anything of that nature because I'm upset too. Them people sit out there for two hours in the winter. The grief counselor had to leave because he was, I guess, got frozen and he was there just in case somebody get to crying and carrying on. So he's there to help them through the grief. And then it was another person that had left that was one of the speakers. And so I was just like, Oh my goodness. And then the food, people had to take the food back to, like, guess to heat it back up or whatever. It was just a mess. And so all that was happening. I'm still trying to set the place up, anything, because nobody did it the night before or earlier that day because the Center was open that Saturday. Mm hmm. So I'm just completely just over it. The very last day was we supposed to be releasing the lanterns and walk from 117[th Street] to Edgewater and then release the lanterns. Once again, nobody showed up again. Nobody. The whole weekend the LGBT Center was a desert. They didn't care about trans people. And then I was so mad I almost quit that day. And I go into the CEO's office because that's where the supervisor likes to sit to like, try to exude like she's in charge or whatever. And so I just go in there. Now, normally me and her don't even have a good rapport. I don't say nothing to her because every time I say something, I'm getting written up for it. Why? Why what'd I say? You know what I'm saying? So this time I'm just like, I don't understand what's going on. The people here just don't care about trans people, and I'm just at my wit's end. The trans people's pictures are gone and nobody even cared. I am about to quit. You know. And she just go, "Well, I'm sorry you feelin' that way. I hope it get better." You the fucking supervisor. I'm sorry, y'all. But you're the supervisor. You supposed to say, y'all get up and do this. This is what we're gonna do. The [LGBT Community] Center's mission and its values is this. You're supposed to reiterate that. You did not a such a thing. And just told me you hope it get better, and then you yourself don't show up or help or do nothing? I had to cart out easels and carts and wagons and things from the basement to take to the march and rally. Mm hmm. Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [01:31:33] Was it the experience of fighting an uphill battle, then, for the entire seven years that you–?

Devinity [01:31:38] Uh huh. Because you're fighting to exist. But then when there's an actual day that comes around, that is four screens, you're beyond alienated. So now you have to just try to like, I'm already trying to exist and trying to be. But now I just want to just be seen. I just want to just be heard, you know. And then, like, if somebody disrespects me, somebody do something negative about towards me like that. And also, there was other situations that happened. I'm not even allowed to say anything about it because, oh, I'm just looking for attention. I just want to be a diva. I'm just all these things. When your staff is blatantly disrespecting me in front of your coveted community partners, because they covet community partners over employees. Uh huh. So I was at the last point, I was like, Honey, you should've had your community partners coming here and work for you. See how that works out. Because, honey, I'm tired of y'all just don't give a damn about me, and I'm sitting here busting my ass making sure that this place look like something and then uphold to whatever you're mission and values that you're not even paying attention to. You're trying to turn this place into a medical facility or some kind of federal or something. You know. And so I'm just like, just, just was over it, over it. It was just so much going on and then, you know, I haven't really said this publicly to anybody, but, you know, I'm gonna say it 'cause this is history. Historical stuff going on right here. I was–. I didn't just walk out of the [LGBT Community] Center. I didn't just leave the Center. I was actually fired. Uh huh. The only person that is working there, not only one, but two positions in multiple intricate levels in both of them is fired. Because you come and tell me that I hostilely took over Pride and cost the Center money. It's very unprofessional of me. Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [01:34:14] What did they mean by that?

Devinity [01:34:19] Exactly. That's why I got my letter for that one, too. Because it just don't make no sense. To this day, I still have not reacted. And this is what I was telling you earlier. I didn't want people to perceive anything that is being said right now because I literally have not reacted to the fact that I was fired because this and everything else has been happening ever since I stepped my first toe out that building. The first day I was greeted with this laptop and an iPhone because my phone was stolen at Pride that I hostilely took over. But you don't even care about that. Another coworker's car was stolen. You don't care about that. Mm hmm. You only care that I hostilely took over and your community partners said that it was horrible. Uh huh. Two years in a row. This year and last year, I had to host Pride—keyword "had to." Uh huh. I was doing my thing. And this is what I've been trying to tell them for years because she was asking me, Oh, we have to make sure that we got everything set up for you because you are such a diva for Pride. Because if we don't, you gonna bitch a fit. I said, When was the last time I performed at Pride? Uh huh. I said, I'll wait. She had nothing to say because she was trying to think. I said, Exactly. So me being a diva, me being whatever it is you feel that you've got to do, I said, let me tell you something what I do. I say, I have to not perform at Pride so that you and my coworkers could keep y'all selves together. I have to then come to Pride at six in the morning, drag tents and drag all these chairs and drag portapotties and do all these things and set up and then disappear and paint and get all in character and just walk around in Pride and taking pictures with the community because Devinity very cannot not be at Pride. Yes, I can take off that stage for you, but the community still needs to see Devinity in any capacity. She don't have to be on no stage. So each year I'm walking around taking pictures with people in full regalia of just–not really getting no sleep, just got through draggin tents and tables and things around. And I'm sitting here smiling and holding babies and doing the whole bit. Each year I beat my record in pictures. I'm up to a thousand pictures. Could you imagine? And I'm talking about conversations in between those pictures. (laughs) And then on top of that, they just don't tell you like I'm telling you right now, this is history here. I am employed at the LGBT Center, which now puts on Pride. I never knew the lineup. I never knew who's performing. I never knew if I was even on it in any capacity at all. So I will come that day to drag tents and get myself together, and da-da-da-da-da. And then somebody, Oh, Devinity, you got to introduce this particular group of people. Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [01:38:10] So you had to work in–but you didn't have any control in any aspect of it?

Devinity [01:38:15] Nope. Nothing. Because I told her once again, I said, because if I did perform and I did all these things you said, you would've had to pay my booking fee. Because Devinity has a booking fee. Don't forget the pageant stuff. Don't forget the entertainment stuff. This is also why I know you a bald-faced liar because you never cut a check for my booking fee. You only tell us, as an employee we cannot take Pride off. If anybody take Pride off, we're fired. You could take any day off, any day of the year, but you just cannot take that day off. Exactly. So telling her that she doesn't just look, you know, and I'm just like, yeah, that's what I did. And then I say, I'm thrown up there. Because last year, the same thing happened. Oh, you got to know. I didn't even know the city officials even come to Pride. Now, mind you, I've been on the Pride board itself. They will have a grand marshal. Sometimes that be a political person to open up the whole thing, but not like a whole big group of senators, councilmen, and all. No. So they go, Oh, Devinity, can you–? That's who I got to introduce.

Riley Habyl [01:39:41] No warning?

Devinity [01:39:42] None.

Riley Habyl [01:39:43] Nothing?

Devinity [01:39:43] None. And so last year I just got through doing the news. They this interview me. I'm all in my regalia, ready to take pictures. Ready. By the second stage. Nowhere near the first stage. The main stage. I get the thing on the radio, the music. You can see the things we need you down here. So I go, That's exactly what it was. So I'm like, Okay, I mean I can introduce somebody, but then I'm going back to do what I gotta do, you know. What happened was the stage manager, I don't know if he had a complete meltdown or if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but he had the deejay petrified and facing the water, had the light person scared and petrified to even move or turn on any kind of light or a microphone. The actual host, which is taller than me, she was so petrified and scared to move. She was only communicating with her eyes. So I really wasn't looking at that because I'm just like, okay, let me just see the stage and just see if it's cute, da-da-da-da-da-da. I walk up on the stage. Of course I'm testing it out and (laughs) make sure I don't fall through because I'm a big girl. This was last year I–. I'm smaller now. Petite. And so, he saw me. "What the fuck?" I mean cussing me out. "What is you doing up on my stage? Get your–off my stage." And da-da-da-da-da-da-da.

Riley Habyl [01:41:28] Right after they told you to go there?

Devinity [01:41:31] To go there to emcee. Not emcee, introduce. Mm hmm. And the people I'm introducing are very important people.

Riley Habyl [01:41:41] Mm hmm.

Devinity [01:41:44] That you just told me. And so I'm like, Okay. And then I look at him. I said, Is everything okay, honey? Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Do you know who you're talking to? "I don't give a hell who you are!" Da-da-da-da-da-da. I'm just like, Okay, honey, let's not forget, my job is the one who pays your check. Let's try to reel it in now. Now, if I've hurt your feelings or stepped on your toe, we can talk about that. We actually have a camper. You can go over and get some air conditioning and some fan and pizza. They got some pizza over there. What is happening? "Well I don't care and..." da-da-da-da-da-da. I said, Let me talk–. I say, Hey, hey, hey, hold on one second. I get on the mic and–. Not on the mic, on the walkie-talkie. I tell the executive, the board president, and the actual person that we paid to put the thing on to build the stage is da-da-da-da-da. I said there's a situation at this main stage that calls for your attention, and you need to get here now. And I told him, after I said that, I go, I don't know what is going on with you. I don't care if you mad at me. We can address that tomorrow or later today. But you are not going to mess up these people's Pride. Whatever issue you got, we're gonna have to worry about that on another time. Like that. And just in time, the board president and then I saw Phyllis [Harris] coming through the back part. That's when he went off. And I didn't have to tell them nothing else. He pretty much hung hisself. The board president yoked him up, went that way. And he said, Devinity go on and welcome the people to the Pride. I'm like, Well, we still got, you know, we still got 15, 20 minutes. (laughs) And she's the host. I'm just here to do, you know. He said, "Just do it. And I trust you. Go ahead." So what I did. I told her, I said, "Go on and welcome the people." Because the parade had came, but they was just standing in the middle of the street and didn't know which way to go. I have over 30 years experience of entertaining, performing, hosting, the whole bit. So I'm like, I know it is scheduled for you to talk at this particular time, but look at what's happening. I need you to not look at that time and just welcome now and tell people this is where to go. You can, at the time it calls for, you can do it again. Okay? No one is counting. Like that. So she did it. She got on there and she got to do–. I let her do it, and so then it was my turn to introduce the people. Everything had got started and da-da-da. She left and everybody, some couple other people done left. Gone. So I ended up hosting last year. Uh huh. So, but I was doing that whenever I would see somebody that I knew in the entertainment business, I would, Hey, can you come say something, come talk to the people, da-da-da-da. You know, me, keeping the flow, also making it look affirming. Also not alerting the crowd and anybody else of the chaos that is going on behind stage. I'm thinking my 30-something years is really showing off, you know. So we come back this year. Worse than that has happened. Uh huh. Nobody has showed up that is scheduled to perform. Nobody is showed up that's scheduled to do whatever the case may be. Even the RuPaul's Drag Race people. Only one of 'em showed up. Uh huh. So the backstage manager that we got this time is new, and I think she was straight. Flustered, running around [like a chicken] with her head cut off. Not a one employee but myself is the only one that came to that stage because when I checked in at the volunteer tent, Denise [Astorino] had told me, "Devinity, you got to go down to the main stage. You're going to do the welcome." I'm like, Really? Well, I just want to take pictures with the people. I made this outfit," you know. And she was like, "Just go down and shake hands with them and, you know, you can go on after you do that." I said, "Why you couldn't tell me yesterday. Why y'all, why y'all wait until the day of to tell me things like this? Like I prepare myself, da-da-da-da-da," and so she comes over and she give me a little half hug and stuff, and say, Everything's gonna be okay, and all that. But it wasn't. I'm fired. (laughs) I'm fired for Pride.

Riley Habyl [01:46:46] Even after it–?

Devinity [01:46:47] This is this year.

Riley Habyl [01:46:48] It sounds like you're like the only one who made it actually happen?

Devinity [01:46:52] I'm glad you the only person that saw that. Uh huh. Mm hmm. And I had to use–. Now I have a daughter that I adopted, Erika, and she goes to like my off shows, like when I do my brunches and different things like that. She's my stage manager. She just picks up everything and da-da-da-da-da. So between me and her, we had a main stage Pride this year. Nobody shows up. The people that were supposed to be there for their segments didn't show up. The lady still running around. I mean, she is going through it. So I go up to the deejay. I said, Listen, how long is you here till? They was like, "Oh, no. They gave me the whole segment." I said, Now, listen, we're going to have to run this and we gonna have to keep it together because people ain't showing up. There is no lineup. I'm still waiting for one to show up now, but I hostilely take over. (laughs) And so I'm telling the deejay, Now whenever there is a down moment, just put you some music–. We gonna play you some music, like 5, 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes if we need. Just start putting you up some little segments and have them ready to roll, because I'm gonna just start ad libbing my ass off and we gonna see how much these 30 years' experience is again, like that. And so they gave me the little fist bump. You know what? We got this, Devinity. We gonna do this. Okay? And so we did it. We started everything and everything. The same councilmen people came again and they got to talking and carrying on. And some more people came. And I'm like, okay, everything to me is running good. Each time the stage manager comes flying across the back of this thing, (laughs) I mean she running. I knew it was something going on with the next person that's supposed to be coming on. Okay? She's trying to find them, so I'm like okay, here we go. And so she came back. And she always be down by the the floor part where the deejay at. And she'll be looking at me, I guess, waiting for me to look back at her. She'll do like this, like the person ain't here. Mm hmm! So I would sit here and like make up something. One time I had the people come up to do the contest. The person that won it last year–. Mm hmm! They were there, so I was like, I brung them up on the stage. And I was just talking to them. I didn't even have them like dance. I didn't have them do nothing. I was just doing a one on one. How do you feel for winning and doing the thing from last year? What last year from winning got you to this year and you're back this year? How has that been for you? I'm just doing something like that. And so they talking and carrying on and they said that their dad had just came out as bisexual and everybody got to clapping and carrying on . And then they was like, my mom is here. And some more stuff is here. And so as she's talking—well, I think it was she, could have been they/them, I'm not 100% sure at this moment so we'll just say they—was talking. So I turned to see this backstage manager to see if she still runnin' or what signals she's giving me. Now, mind you, she's been doing this the whole time. I'm thinking me and her and the deejay, between us three, and then Erika, we got it. And so she's looking at me like, stall, like telling me to keep going. I'm like, Oh my God, I'm already Arsenio Hall. And let me find some more questions. And so the deejay was like, Let's just do a contest. Let's just do a dance, a runway. I said, Okay, you got some runway music? You know. (laughs) And so I was like okay. So after they got to talking, I was like, okay, let's do a runway. You want to, you want to start off the runway? That's what I said to them because they was already there. And so they like, yeah. And then like another person had came up, so they doing a runway. But the deejay switched the music. The music went to this whatever kind of the hot music, whatever. I'm an R&B kind of person, so I'm not really up to the, to whatever's hot and new and all that kind of stuff. So whatever that music was that came on, next thing you know, not the one that was talking, the other person just started twerking. Where have you been and not seen nobody twerk, first of all, because this is gonna have to be–. This is gonna be something that we gonna circle back to. So she started twerking and carrying on. I run out on that stage. (laughs) I said, "Oh no. This ain't what we about to do. We not about to be twerking. Can't you see these good Christian and Baptist white people here? And we ain't about to do all of that." And so I had my big coat–. Not coat, my big outfit thing on. And so I like kind of like just shielded from everybody, and so I was like, What's going on? Your parents let you up here like that? And so she looked at me. She go, "Parents? That's my child. I'm the mamma." I said, "So you the parent." (laughs) So we goin' back and forth, just a little banter. Because I also remember, we got to stall. So now is the point and time where entertainers, especially a triple threat like myself—a triple threat is someone that can entertain, that can host, and also put on the show. So I'm like, okay, so I'm going back and forth with banter. It's all jokes. It's all comedy. None of it is real. If you decide to take it real, that's on you because it don't exist. Okay? Everybody that go to drag shows know that. Evidently, I guess they forgot. So we goin' on with our banter and everything, and she get to laughin' and, "No, I'm fully grown and da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da. I'm legal. And you and everybody be talkin' about the bisexual. I'm the one who made 'em bisexual." That that was the... Uh huh. So everybody clapping and carrying on. I mean, just having a good old time. So after that, I even had two people propose. Uh huh. One came up to me. Well, Devinity, what about da-da-da-da-da? I said, okay, just, just don't be far. Just when I call your name, just come on away. And so I queued it up and everything. And then Betty [Jacobs] was there. She's the Lakeland County [correction: Lake County] LGBT [director]–. She was an intern at the [LGBT] Center when it was in the basement. She left after her internship and started the LGBT [Center] out there. And so her lover had died. And me and Daniel and my vice president, we went to the service. So Pride just love her. And so I'm just happy because she was just so distraught. You know, if somebody died and that was your lover, da-da-da-da-da. And I was just like, so happy. And so she was talking and I was talking, and then this was when we queued up. Now, this is the stall because nobody ready, nobody there. So the person comes up to propose and so I'm on the side talking to Betty [Jacobs] and introducing to the new person. And so after they got through proposing though, I mean the audience is going berserk. And so I go, Well, that is so beautiful. But if y'all really want to get married, we can do it today! I said, I'm certified and also Betty. We can do a double duel. People is just screeaming and just having so much fun. And so they was like–. The woman, I don't think they liked the ring because when they pulled it out, they was like, looked at it, but they was happy that they said propose but the ring–. Because they took it, instead of put it on, they put it in their pocket. Why did you put it in your pocket? You know. So they was like, well, we gonna have to just plan it out and we'll get it later. I said, Okay, well, if you're in Lakeland [Lake County], Betty [Jacobs] can do it. And if you're here, I can do it too. Da-da-da-da-da. That's part of one of the things that I got all year, marriage. And so, they finally–. I said, Honey. She said, The RuPaul drag race girl is ready. I said, "DJ, you got her music.? We gonna put her on now." I'm actually, I'm running out of stuff and I need to go back and find some more. So we put that [RuPaul's] Drag Race [performer] on and so they come out and perform. Of course, they're doin' three songs. I'm so happy that they did three songs. And so I'm in the back with stage manager. "We can't find this person. The other [RuPaul's] Drag Race person ain't here. We just honest don't know what to do, Devinity," and da-da-da-da-da. And then now the marketing director and advertising director, then finally walks up. Mind you, this whole time, I'm the only employee. Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. But I'm hostilely taking over. So I'm thinking they're about to come. And I'm like, Honey, if you're here get this microphone, I'm about to–. I–.

Riley Habyl [01:56:53] Take a turn?

Devinity [01:56:55] Do you. Then they, No! Just make an announcement that if people screenshot the thing, their pictures will show up on the big thing. I'm sayin'–. Why can't you say it? Why can't y'all–? I'm like what is happening? Why (inaudible) to be with the people? You know. Each time I come off the stage and introduce 'em, I'm on the side. All these people's coming over taking pictures of me. The whole bit. So I'm just like, Come on, somebody. So they want to take–. Nobody want to take the microphone. Nobody. I didn't see–. Like last year I would see somebody that has like shows in different bars or different places and I'm like, here, here. (laughs) Nobody. So I'm just like, Oh my God, I got to do this whole thing. So what I did, I broke it up with the [RuPaul's] Drag Race. Sure did. She was also one of the winners. Uh huh. And people was even gagged that I knew her. I said, Baby, I've been doing this a long time. Only thing that keeps me from RuPaul's Drag Race is these bags [breasts] right here. RuPaul's Drag Race don't want that on their show. Only if you've been on the show, and then you get 'em later–then you come back. So I had them–. Here, girl. I'm gone. I'm telling you, I done left. I'm at the tent. I'm in the, in the AC. I'm tryin' to enjoy myself now, finally somebody on that microphone. And so I was like, Just bring on the next person. Just 'cause you know, you got it. (laughs) You professional. I got pictures of 'em. And so me, her, and Erika, we took pictures 'cause we was like, Girl, we did that! You know. And so the, finally the last [RuPaul's] Drag Race person had finally showed up. Mind you, they supposed to do two sets, and it was back to back. I was like, Okay, I will just perform so she had time to change. You see what I'm saying? She calls with her security. Now, mind you, I'm standing here with the winner. You didn't win. And you was put off the show. Why you got security and she don't? She got the hundreds of thousands and you didn't. (laughs) So what that got to–? So, I was like, What is happening? What's going on, girl? What's taking so long, girl? She said, Well, my luggage and everything was held up. I said, Okay, well, you here. You're next. (laughs)

Riley Habyl [01:59:33] Was she ready?

Devinity [01:59:33] Hurry up and do what you gonna do. So what she had on, she performed in, because come to find out, I'm like, Girl, what's in the suitcases? You talkin' about luggage. Oh, that's all I brung. I can't do my second number. I know y'all paid me, and in advance. This was also another situation was happening. We paid you to do two numbers. You didn't do it. Uh huh. But nobody cared about that because I hostilely took over. (laughs) So I'm like, Okay. Well, I said, Okay, well, thank you so much for coming out. You know, we appreciate on behalf of the [LGBT Community] Center, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to come here and entertain with us. We enjoyed the one number you did give. It was great. It was beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Just get back to the hotel, get you some water and just rest and we'll make sure we get you back to the airport to do whatever you got to do. Lying my ass off! We don't do that. We don't say that. We don't do none of that. The Center don't even care. But this is me trying to make sure the Center is shown in a good light constantly. Chaos is going on the stage. I'm the only person here. What I supposed to just say, No, I ain't got time for that. Drop the mike and just walk away? Would that be better than a hostile takeover? And I'm still getting emails and pictures and things from people from Pride saying this was one of the best years ever.

Riley Habyl [02:01:13] Does it not, not count that the community reception was positive?

Devinity [02:01:18] I guess not. Because the very next day she gave us off. And this is me. Whenever the [LGBT Community] Center is a holiday or whatever the case may be–the Center is closed, but Devinity has never had a holiday. I just recently had a vacation. Uh huh. Seven years been at the Center. Finally get a vacation. Uh huh. And they didn't–. The supervisor didn't even want to sign a PTO [paid time off] paper for it. I still got that paper. Sure do. And so I go back up to the Center Monday to get my computer because I know some people about to call me. I know about to have to help somebody. So I need my computer, you know. But it was Pride, so I didn't take it home. So I just went on Monday to get it. I go in there, of course, the door is locked, everything's closed. The CEO is in there and also another coworker's in there. I'm talking about, they high-fiving me. The CEO high-fiving me, saying how amazing it was. How people had sent them pictures and comments and things, and they just loved it. You did your thing, Devinity. You did that because I'm sitting here like I wasn't even tryin' to do none of that. You know. And then they go, Oh, my God, that hair was, that was bigger than that flat screen, and da-da-da-da-da-da-da. How you go from praising me Monday, and then Tuesday for the staff meeting? I'm fired.

Riley Habyl [02:02:58] The next day.

Devinity [02:02:59] The very next day. For the same thing you praising me for that Monday. Mm hmm. Saying I was unprofessional. Now, in the letter it says I was unprofessional and cost the [LGBT Community] Center money. But out of her mouth she said I hostilely took over Pride and I was very unprofessional, and that is not what an employee at the Center is supposed to do. And I was already on that probationary period. And that has made her decision to just go on and terminate me. And I said, Well, first thing came out of my mouth, I said, I have two clients today. Who is going to help them? That was the first thing I said. I still didn't say like, Oh my God, I can't believe I've been fired. I said, Who is going to help these two people? Because don't nobody care about the people that I have there. I'm the case manager there now. Case managers have about 60 people on their caseload. I'm at 55 and they are not even aware of any of 'em. Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [02:04:12] On top of everything else.

Devinity [02:04:15] Mm hmm. I'm at 55. Yeah. And so I'm just sitting there just like, Okay. And so she goes, Okay, well, we will get those situated. I said, Okay. I said, well can I get a copy of that. I'll read it later. You know, because she was like reading something and I guess it pertained to me being fired. So I was like, okay, I'll read it later. Can I have a copy of it? (laughs) And then I, after she gave me the copy, I took it, but I folded it and I looked back up and I said, You know what? I am the executive director of my own life. I really don't understand why I'm still been here this long. You know, I gotta go. What is it, well, what is it you needed from me before I go? Oh, well, you have to turn in your computer and your files, because if you don't, you're not going to get your money and you're not going to get this. I turned into a villain because I'm not reacting the way you want. I haven't even responded to what you said. So now you are turning the tables to now I am a villain now. I am going to steal your computer and I'm going to steal—here's the kicker—the files that you don't even know how many it is.

Riley Habyl [02:05:42] And that it sounds like you created.

Devinity [02:05:44] Mmm! Let's not forget that too. So I'm just like–. I looked at her. I go, Phyllis [Harris], I, I know things is happening. I'm going to focus on it later, but I'm still Devinity, Hon. I'm not gonna steal your stuff and people don't get the help that they need. That is the only reason why I'm here. Just give me two seconds because you just told me how do I want to handle this and how much time do I need? You're sitting here saying you need this stuff right away, but you still ain't letting me leave out the office. Let me–. It's in the other room. And then I go to get it, and then she was like, Oh, well, we're going to give you a severance pay or a lump sum or whatever for three years. I said, I've been here longer than three years. I said, The Trans Wellness program just celebrated four years. Where you getting–? I said, You know what? It's not even that big a deal. I said, You is not even Phyllis anymore. You done sold youself. You done did something because Phyllis has never reacted [ir]rational, like rash. She always think things out. She's known to be a thinker. That's what make her different than anybody else. And so for you to just make this up today right now further lets me know you're not who you are. I know who I am. And you could use me for resources or a referral if you need. But I got to go and I will bring you your stuff in just a second. She done had the HR give me my copy and also watch me gather my things out of this file cabinet that I'm carting around because they haven't even noticed that I'm not even in the office anymore. Uh huh. This how much they even care. No one haven't even noticed that I don't have a desk. I done cleared it off because I was tired of them coming in there stealing my files. Why are you taking my CMHA [Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority] applications? Nobody here does that, no one does CMHA applications. Why are you taking my files? Then I come in, some of my other files is missing. I can't say nothing to nobody because I'm just being a diva. I have to just–. Whenever people do something bad or disrespectful to me, I have to just bite the bullet, put my head down, and I can't wear colors. I have to wear black in the LGBT Center. That's a rainbow. Whenever I wear colors–. Now, mind you, that day I was fired, I had on my blue or purple because I was just tired of wearing black that day. That whole week, whenever I wore black, I'm able to just be in there and just be ignored. Whenever I come in there in yellow or purple or pink or whatever, that's just chaos. Everybody yelling at me, I'm getting written up that day, I'm just getting all kinds of stuff. Yeah. And then also being told that you need to see a therapist. Uh huh.

Riley Habyl [02:09:34] And this was part of all–

Devinity [02:09:35] Yes, this was the right before the–. What was that part I said I was on? I was on the probationary period. The probationary period, this was part of it. You have to see a therapy, because when we come back to evaluate, I'm gonna just need to see if you've seen a therapist because you need to see a therapist. I'm like, Why do you feel I need to see a therapist? Oh, because your energy is so great and this causing reactions to other people. So we need–. You need to get a therapist for it and some kind of intelligence, some kind of intelligence–. But when I looked up the word, that's what it was, too. So I'm like, if my energy and my vibrations is great, don't the people that's affected that's having bad reactions need to see the therapy?

Riley Habyl [02:10:25] You would think.

Devinity [02:10:26] Do they–? I think I'm fine. But that is more to that. I'm also a trans woman and you're telling me that I need to see a therapy. That I have–. All my life I have been told I need to see a therapy because I said that I'm trans, and I've been going my whole life to this day trying my best to prove people wrong. I've seen my sisters getting shot, killed, raped, drug off, the whole bit. My one sister, I make it back to hold her and she dies in my arms and the whole bit. I go with my best best girlfriend. The city finally said her name on the news because me, Monika [Veliz], Zuggie [Tate] was downstairs here, and the news people came and did an interview on us three for coming up with those three days. And they finally said her name on the news. Yes. And I had to go identify her body because she was shot in the face and shot in her groin area. I've never seen a therapy. Never seen a therapist. Never–. Because I feel the reason why I'm still here, why I didn't die, why I wasn't killed is because I feel–. Now, this is just what I came up with because it was hard for me at first. Each time a Thanksgiving come, each time a Christmas come, each time whatever come, I'm sitting here by myself and my thoughts always go back to the people that I was there sleeping on the floor when I first came here in my first (?) of the city, which was my.sisters. They're all gone, but one. And there's only me and her. She's a, I don't know where–. I hope she's still down there, but she don't talk to me like she–. She's just weird. She's, you know, trans girls when I came out, was very competition. There's still some today, but not as tough as it was when I came. And very–. Oh, if you don't have breasts, you're not a woman. If you not soft and dainty, you're a boy. And all these things. She do have the biggest titty in the city. I give her that. But I said, I'm not in that competition. (laughs) I know I may be built 'Ford Tough' and I could pull a wagon, but I'm not tryin' to pull those. You know. 'Cause I'm a product of black market, you know. That's all we did. That's all we had. No doctor, no therapy, no nobody wanted to talk to us. But the people with the black market did. (laughs) I told the person that I just want to just look like a woman walking down the street. I don't care less about who got the biggest this or the biggest butt or the biggest cheeks or the biggest pout lips. And I just want to just look like a real woman walking down the street and obody say that's a man. That's all I want. So I did, I guess I achieved it because (laughs) a couple of people that was coming to the Trans Wellness program was hesitant coming into the program because they thought I was a woman, and I had to like out myself several times just so they could like, Oh, okay. Oh. (laughs) So I'm just like, Oh, I cheated, whatever, you know. And so not having your sisters, and then take all of that one day, because there was one day I just got tired of crying. I got tired of sitting in the house in the dark and, you know, and I say, you know what? There's, there's a reason why I'm still here. And I know that each one of them is depending on me to make sure that they did not die in vain. So that is the reason why I started Trans Wellness program. This is why I, like, didn't care that there was no money to make sure that I was paid whole or whatever. Because I didn't know nothing about that. I didn't know if you worked somewhere you're supposed to be paid whatever that position to take care of you. Whatever the case. I just said, Just give me some money so I don't have to be a hoe. I didn't care about it. And then to just help people, even when my job says I'm not supposed to do that. Even when my job duties doesn't say that I can do it, I still did it. And I also told them, I'm going to help any and everybody that comes to me until the day I am drug out of here. And look what happened. The day that I was fired, three days after being fired I am officially a CEO of my own organization. Three days. I was just like, oh my goodness. The day I walked out of being fired, literally pushed the door open and stepped one toe—I didn't get all the way out—the lady almost bumped into me with this computer you're looking at. She had this computer and this phone. And she go, I saw that–. Because I had posted up on Facebook that my phone was stolen from Pride. But I still had a good time and da-da-da-da-da and posted the pictures and videos and da-da-da-da-da. So she said she saw that and she wanted to make sure I had a phone, and she had an extra computer in the box and it was rose gold—which is, my color is pink—and she go, You can start your business. Now, she was oblivious of what just happened. You see what I'm saying? So it has to be fate. And then so I'm looking at that like, I have to be valid. I have to be meant to be here. Because a lot of times when you're ridiculed and you're disrespected and you're put down so much, you start to believe it. You start to believe that you are a monster. You start to believe that you may not supposed to have been born here. You start to believe that you are a bad person of the world, until things like this happen and it makes you question your whole DNA, not just your validity as a trans person, your whole DNA. Because I'm like, If I am such a bad person, I'm manipulative, I'm hostily take over and I'm doing all these bad things, why is all this stuff aligning itself and presenting itself to me if I'm such a bad person? You see what I'm saying? So I go, well, evidently I'm not a bad person. I think you have some issues with you and you need to maybe want to talk to a therapist or you can even talk to me. (laughs) That's how you turn them tables! Because I'm like–. Because you are dealing with something that is real bad and is going on inside of you to make you exude and express this to someone else that they are bad, that they don't have a right to exist, that they don't need to be here because they're trans, you need to go something and just talk to somebody. So I'm just like, Oh my goodness. The very next day I'm at home trying to figure out, just thinking (laughs) because I had an Apple Mac, Pro Mac. You know, I didn't have no small thing, you know. This a big girl. An HP. And it's touchscreen. Mmm, she bougie. So I'm trying to figure all that out. The very next day this lady pulls up in my driveway. And I got the Ring camera, so I see her get out of the car. She put these flowers on my porch and she put like a card on top of the flowers. But the flowers that you hang up. Because she goes and gets in her car. And so I'm like, I think I know that person, so I hurry up and get to the door, 'cause you don't screen 'em. (laughs) I'll just see who it is. You know. And so I go back out, and so she pulls back in the driveway, and she had this box. And she say, Oh, I didn't know you were home. I came, I thought I'd bring you some flowers and a card and everything. She said she was a volunteer from the Center. And she said when she came in, she said that she felt something was wrong and something was different. She said it was so bad. She said the energy was bad. She said it just had like a darkness. And she said when the HR person finally came to the front desk—now she's a volunteer—finally told them that I was no longer there. But when she wanted to react, they had walked away like they are not even able to react or share, like, Oh my God, I can't believe, or I'm so sorry, or cry or say, Yay, the bitch is gone. Anything. They can't do nothing. The [LGBT Community] Center do not want you to react with any kind of remorse or emotion or heart or anything. And I am a person that wears her heart on her sleeve. Sometimes it's on my wrist. You know, and they don't like that. You know. But my thing is, this is LGBT. Who else is gonna do anything or love your community [other] than you? And that's part of my motto. Why wait for somebody to do something for your community when you could do it yourself? And so she said she had to come to my–. I'd didn't even know she knew where I live. (laughs) This a volunteer. So I was like, Okay. So she came and she's like–. I said, Well, come on in the house. And she brung her little box. This lady had these files, blue and pink files. She had office supplies, pink paper clips, pink staplers, the hole punchers. All this stuff. And she was like, I remember these conversations we used to have and that you said that you was gonna start your business, and I just wanted to make sure that you had everything that you need to get started because I knew something was going on there. I was just like, and now mind you, this is the second day. So this is the second day of still not able to process that I no longer work there. So I'm just sitting here giddy. You just, you know, hand me that paper. I was all excited. I'm now, Ooh, a pink stapler! You know, I'm just going in. This thing here–. What really did it for me was she gave me these boxes and each one has affirmations, and look what that one says.

Riley Habyl [02:22:18] (Riley reads words on pen) "Never give up."

Devinity [02:22:18] I just bawled. And I'm about get bawled now. Ooh! but it's–. Putting yourself in the right position to let the universe, your higher power, whatever it is that you believe in, or even have a feeling that could be there, and you just let it be. Things just happen. So I have a computer. I have my phone. I'm sitting here with these lovely pink pens. And I'm big on affirmations because, you know, I started my spiritual journey and all that kind of stuff. So I'm big on affirmations because this sets the tone, and da-da-da-da-da. So each time you grab a pen, look what this one say. "Dream big." You see what I'm saying? So you ain't got no choice but to succeed. Write with one of these pens and see what happens. You know, (laughs) you gonna create all kinds of stuff. So I'm like, Okay. I need business cards. (laughs) So, you know, with a computer and phone and with some files and other office stuff and now I am–. I need some business cards, quickly. You know, who can I get some–? Okay, Staples. Go up to Staples, get some business cards real quick. That's the third day. Mm hmm. This is where these office supplies, this computer, the phone, everything is about to look trivial on this third day. So I'm up at Staples and I told the man, I said, I have nothing but time and I don't need to go home and come back. I don't need to make an appointment to come pick up. Let's bust out these cards now. Cards was horrible. (laughs) Those cards came out like crap, but I still needed it. So I told the white guy, I said, I don't like them cards and I'm not–. I don't want to buy them. Can we make some more? He was like, For real? And I said, Yeah. I said, I'm not a lumberer. I'm not a work in the woods. I don't want our cards to look like that. And plus, I'm starting my own organization that has to–. Just give me some basic. Just make it white with the name on it. I can deal with that until I get to the real people. And so, so the white guy, he did it. He took those cards that the guy had. I mean, he had burgundy banners and big–. I'm like–. So he fixed 'em. Now while he was printing 'em, I get a phone call. Right. From Tony Carrera. He's the executive director of the B. Riley, hence downstairs. And so this–. I didn't even know he had this. I knew that he had the actual B. Riley House, the sober house. So he just called me, oblivious. Didn't know anything that happened. Mm hmm. He does called. Hi, Devinity, what you doing? I said, I'm, just nothing. I'm just hanging out, da-da-da-da. I don't ever tell people what I'm doing. So he go, Well, do you got any time today? Can you come by the office? I want to talk to you, da-da-da-da-da. So I'm like, Yeah, I'm at Staples. I'm actually across the street. I said, I'll come over when I get through with, you know, what I'm doing over here at Staples. He said, Okay, cool. I'll see in a bit. So I go over there. Now, Tony is extremely gay. (laughs) He put the gay in LGBT. (laughs) So Tony goes, Devinity, do you got an LLC? I'm like, Yeah, LLC. Why? What? I'm like, now my mind is perceiving him. Oh, you just want to be shady and see if I really do, and you know, da-da-da-da-da-da-da. And he was like, Okay, so I gave him the information. So he punches it up. Of course he punching it up because I knew that's what he'd do, to see if I'm lying. So he punched it up. And he go, Oh, bitch, you do? I'm like, Yeah. You thought I was just lying? I said, I've been had that. I just never done anything with it. You know, this was before COVID, and they were just giving them out. So I got one. Ain't did nothing with it. Just been just sitting there. So he goes, Do you mind if I tweak it a little bit? Okay. I'm thinking he gonna update it, make it up to 2023 or something like that, because like I said, I had it for a minute. So I'm like, I don't care. You know. Tony, you know I don't care about that. You know, he gay as hell, but I trust the shit out of him, you know, because he unfiltered like me. He's always kept it real like me. We also met on the hoe stroll. Mm hmm. A lot of people don't know that either. And so I said, Tony, I don't care about that. I'm just trying to, you know. Do you like these business cards? (laughs) You know, that came from Staples. I'm trying to alert him of what has happened. So he's still oblivious to or ain't looking at the business card nothing. So I'm just like okay so I just go on my phone plan like, Yo, look in the emails that I got to create a new email the whole bit. So Tony goes, okay, I'm a. Print this out and, and I want you to have this. And then, you know, we'll follow it tomorrow as a follow up. So, Tony, I am not being admitted here. I don't do drugs. I'm not trying to be on the silver roster. He was like, Oh, hold on. So Salter on down, got to the printer, got thing. He had printed out a check list. He done. Not only did he tweak my LLC, he patterned the name Trans Wellness and had it under my name. He also registered my LLC as a nonprofit organization, so it's no longer LLC. And then he went on and when he did that, he did it under the FBI, or I mean—FBI—IRS. And he did it on there to get the EIN number. So that had the confirmation of that, and then it had the state, the secretary of state, where you have to register it as a business and—to get the certificateand the check list was that. And he also had paid for everything. I looked at that thing. I said, Tony, I don't got no money like this. I don't know why y'all think I just make all this money. He said, Shut up. He said, That's my gift to you because you said you had an LLC and you still trust me. Like that. And so I was like, Oh my God, Tony. I said, Do you really understand what is going on right now? Because like, I started getting emotional You know, I was such a big, burly person back in the day and now I cry. Now I can't get me out of it. (laughs) I go, Do you understand what is going on? He said, What is the problem now? I go, You know, I'm not at the Center no more. "What?! What you mean?".

Riley Habyl [02:29:55] He did all that before knowing?

Devinity [02:29:58] He didn't know none of this, okay? And so he goes, "Well, what the fuck?" (laughs) I was like, I'm not there. And I said, The first day I left out of there—I didn't get into the details of what me and Phyllis talked about like, I still ain't. You're the first person I said that I was fired. Hello! And so. But look what keep happening. Now you see why. And so I told him that this computer, because I had it in the bag, I said this lady gave me this computer and this phone, and this lady gave me all the other stuff, and you come calling me up here. You done sit here, took my LLC and actually made my organization that these people was giving me stuff for. I didn't have none of that when I got this computer. I didn't have none of that when I got the office supplies. You get what I'm saying?

Riley Habyl [02:30:57] Everything really fell in line in a–.

Devinity [02:30:59] I got those business cards from Staples before that. Mm hmm! Now you're getting it. And so I'm leaving. I said, Tony, I got to go. (laughs) Because I'm like, welling up and, you know, and really the tears and everything about to come. I was like, I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go. So I'm trying to hurry up and leave out. And so I turned around to turn the corner but, you know, I always look behind me, make sure ain't no guy to come to get me. (laughs) I seen him get emotional. Mm hmm. We've been in there cryin' this, and so I go out, but by his car was a picnic table and it was like these two trans girls were sitting on top of the table. And they was, when I was walking out, I guess they was talking about their struggles and they don't understand what's happening and what they're gonna do next. What is happening, what's going on for them. And I had overheard the last bit of it and I go, If you can't think to do anything else, just think of me and my life. And when I said that, they started crying and I started crying. And I ran to my car. (laughs) It was like, mmm, It was sort of like, Oh my God, what's going on? And so as I'm going to my car, that's when I was like, telling them what Tony did. I said, Tony just gave me my own business to have and I don't have to pay him back. You know. And so I go home, I'm in my closet back there—I was fortunate enough to purchase a house with two walk-in closets, mm hmm—so I'm in my walk-in closet and I was that my little makeups thing, and so I just got on the floor and I'm on the floor and I just started just thought the computer was there. I had like, everything was like around me in the paper that Tony gave me. And you don't have like this. And I'm just crying my ass off. Just I'm crying so much I don't, I didn't even know what to sleep and cried myself to sleep. And so I don't know how long I slept. I don't know none of that. I was woke up to Alexa. "You have something at the front door." (laughs) And then you hear the doorbell. And so I go to the thing. I was just like, What is going on? It was a box and I'm talking about not a brown box, not a Amazon box, not a U-Haul, whatever. It was the box of the actual thing. It was a printer and fax/scan, in a box on my porch. Still, to this day, I don't know who it came from. Four days later. Mm hmm. They just fixed the printer downstairs because I was gonna bring it here. (laughs) Because, you know, I needed to be printing stuff. And so but they got that one fixed. And so I'm just like, Oh, my goodness. Now, mind you, that printer and fax and scan match this HP. I did not have to do nothing when it–. I plugged it up, connected to the Internet, they started talking to each other. I'm just sitting there like–. Because they came with little CD to put into to this or whatever you need to connect it. I didn't need it. So I'm just sitting there like, oh my goodness. So I started like printing out my stuff. I did the breakdown of this. Started getting my little stuff together and the same person that gave me this laptop and phone comes over. We done sit here and turned my dining room into an office. Mm hmm. We switched everything around because she heard me talking, like I always say. Why would you live by yourself? Why you got to have a dining room? Why you got to have a, you know, living room, and then you got to have a six tables. And I said, What am I gonna sit in each chair a day? Like, I've had a dining room table with six seats. Ain't never sat at it to eat, not even a bowl of cereal or a bag of chips. (laughts) But I gotta it. Well, and it's got the plate settings. All of that, you know, because I'm like, Oh my God, it's my house and I just wanted to do, you know. And so she was like, it's just you. This look like an office space to me until you get your building. I said, You know what? So me and her, she done–. I got a pink and black rug that my table's on. This heifer reached down and took the rug and like, pulled–. Didn't even move the table. She picked up the rug. The table went with it. Turned it around, set it up close to the wall, put the printer over there on a TV tray. Do you know them TV trays that you–?

Riley Habyl [02:36:27] Yeah.

Devinity [02:36:29] Mmm! Put the printer up on that. Took the chairs, put, like, How's this like this? She put two chairs there and put a chair on this side, and she took the computer, set it up. She had everything just set up. She said, There's your office. She said, You start work and do what you gotta do until you know we get your building. Soon as she did that, I did have–. My first client had came and I had my first client at my house. And so the next day, which is day five, Tony calls me back. Don't forget your checklist Oh. Matter of fact, you can have the office space on the second floor. Don't even worry about it. You don't have to pay no rent, nothing. So he done paid for everything and then gave me this whole second floor. I don't even have to pay no rent, no nothing. He said, No, that's yours until you move. That's when I'll put something else up there. If you have to stay here forever, then that's what it's gonna be. (laughs) So I'm just like, Oh, my God. Plexus, Amanda [Cole] from Plexus gave me a membership. Free membership to put my business on there. I'm going this Friday because they're having a big event. I'm like, Oh my God, my first event as, you know, as CEO. It's just like, Oh my God. And then every day it's been something. I got a pink file cabinet that had came that came from my sister that was in a brown box. I was like, Wait a minute, now I got to watch what's coming to this house now. And so that was in a box. It was my sister. It had the key to lock it and everything, so I got my printer on top of that, and... I am just floored, you know. Really, I don't know, because it's been less than 30 days of being fired from the [LGBT Community] Center and I'm talking about fully up running, handling clients like, as if I have never stopped working. You see what I'm saying? Because you know, when you get fired, you're supposed to, you know, have a week or so and just be sitting there moping. What I'm a do next? You know, I've been working since I walked out the door. You know, still have not reacted that I'm not there. I did get a text from Phyllis. I felt that it was very disrespectful to get a text from a CEO to a CEO at one o'clock in the morning, asking me is my services here here? Yeah. Is it free or do we have to pay?

Riley Habyl [02:39:23] Mmm.

Devinity [02:39:24] Why are you asking me that at one in the morning? Not noon, not P.M. So the next day I just sent her e-mail. How you're supposed to do it. Oh, I got–. My logo came too.

Riley Habyl [02:39:41] I'm so sorry to interrupt you.

Devinity [02:39:43] Oh yeah, I told you, you gotta reel me in.

Riley Habyl [02:39:45] There's only a minute and 30-something seconds I think left on the recorder.

Devinity [02:39:49] Okay, so let's do... After all of that. But what kept me focused was the pageants and shows. (laughs) So I got involved in that. And that helped me to travel, helped me to get out of the country, helped me to achieve six national titles. But my biggest one outside of those six national titles was Miss Ohio All Star, 'cause I held that title throughout the whole COVID. So three whole years. And it was so heartfelt when I finally was able to step down and it was just like, Oh my goodness, so a little of that. So other than that–. And then my family, House of the De'Vil is like pretty much like mentorship. The next generation. You remember I told you I slept on the floor, you know, been kicked out. Similar, but I love on them individuals as if I pushed them out. These are my babies and I will jump in front of traffic for any one of 'em. You know. (laughs) And so, and then just continuing on Trans Wellness Resource Support Network where I'm CEO/Founder of resources without barriers for trans individuals.

Riley Habyl [02:41:06] Thank you so much for speaking with me Devinity.

Devinity [02:41:08] Did I make it? Did I make it? (laughs).

Riley Habyl [02:41:11] Yes. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.

Devinity [02:41:12] Yeah. Yeah.

LGBTQ+ Cleveland

This collection features oral history interviews with LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Same-Gender Loving) community members, leaders, and activists in the greater Cleveland area. Interviews explore the history of Cleveland’s LGBTQ+ communities, groups, organizations, places, and spaces both past and present. Interviews in this collection were conducted by Riley Habyl, a graduate student at Cleveland State University Department of History, beginning in the summer of 2023.…