Life in Transition on Staten Island
Staten Island is the first borough to kick off the citywide celebration of the LGBTQ community, with a week full of activities. However, the island still struggles with inclusion. This year, the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade upset many by continuing to ban LGBTQ residents from marching openly as a community.
One island resident who will be celebrating this week is 22 year-old Dominic Anderson. He grew up in a middle-class, Irish Catholic family, on a classic little street on Staten Island. He had a golden retriever named Chance and his family regularly hosted board game nights. But growing up, he always felt different from everyone around him.
“I had high hopes as a kid and very unrealistic high hopes as I think about it,” he said. “I remember when I was a kid I used to always want to be the first female president, and that’s really different from now….I don’t even want to be female anymore.”
Dominic grew up on the North Shore, an area on the tip of Staten Island just a short distance from Manhattan, and yet culturally, much further away. That reality would be the first in a series of challenges Dominic would have to overcome to fully embrace his transgender identity. “The North Shore is in limbo between wanting to be really open — wanting to be like New York City — but also still being part of Staten Island, a conservative place,” he said.
[Click on LISTEN to hear Dominic’s story.]
Dominic is currently the program coordinator for senior services at the Staten Island Pride Center. His story comes to us from photographer Gareth Smit, a South African photographer, who has spent the last two years documenting life on Staten Island in a project called North Shore.
Part of The Affordability Project. It’s a struggle to afford living in New York City, and the cost keeps rising. WNYC looks at what it takes to continue making this place home, one neighborhood at a time.
Co-published with WNYC Studios.