Interview with out pianist Sara D.Buechner

By Helen Polychronakos


Sara Davis Buechner

3. Family acceptance

--What about your family? Were they supportive of your transition?

No, I wouldn't say that. My family was really difficult about the change. They are very supportive now, and I feel one of the best things about my transition was helping educate them and watching them change into more understanding and accepting people.

There was a story about me in 1998, around the time of transition, in the New York Times. One of [my mother's] co-workers came into work and walked right up to her and put her hand on her back and said, "Oh, Elizabeth, you poor dear. If that were my son I’d be ashamed too."

--What did your mom say?

Well, she was shocked! She was appalled. I mean, I'm sure she's felt many things, but I don't think she ever felt ashamed of me. I think she felt worried and concerned.

-- What was your childhood like?

Since age two, three, four, I just felt like that was who I was. This was 1960's Baltimore. I look back and I think of it in black and white images. Sort of like a "Leave It to Beaver" sitcom era. Gender roles were extremely circumscribed. You didn’t cross those lines.

One of my worst, most awful memories as a child was being infatuated with the music of Mozart. I saw lots of pictures of him. He wore a nice wig, and these beautiful ruffles, and a beautiful coat, and I remember thinking, that's what I want to be. I want to be Mozart. And my grandmother made me a purple velvet jacket and a blouse, a beautiful blouse with fabulous frilly lace. And I wore it on Sunday to church [LAUGHS] and I wore it to school and I got beaten senseless. I was beaten within an inch of my life. It certainly wasn't the only time. I blocked out a lot of that.


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