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Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace Explains Why She Came Out Via a Magazine Story

Laura Jane Grace / Photo by Ryan Russell

Frank Ocean gave his first official coming out interview to the Guardian this weekend, and the U.K. paper also featured a fresh story on Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, formerly known as Tom Gabel, who spoke about how she used to deal with her gender dysphoria while touring as an “angry white male” in a punk band. Some of the highlights are below, but the most intriguing detail came when Grace revealed why she chose to announce her news via a magazine story rather than a more personal method:

“There’s a certain amount of normalizing that happens when you do it in a fashion like that. I felt like the first time we played on a late-night TV show in the States — for my parents that was a moment when they were like, ‘Oh, that’s what you do.’ It legitimized what you did. So when you have something like Rolling Stone that you can hand to someone and be like, ‘If you have a question after you read this, feel free to ask me,’ was a great thing to have. As opposed to having a million and a half conversations.”

Other interesting details:

  • Grace has already shared that her identification with Madonna was her first confrontation with gender dysphoria, but she tells the Guardian that that encounter came when she was just five years old. “The first time I had that moment, when I knew, was seeing Madonna on a televised concert. And I thought: ‘Why not me?'” She spent the rest of her childhood and adolescence as a military brat, moving from base to base with her family, getting bullied and using “recreational drugs” — key elements in what would eventually equal her “angry white male” image as Tom Gabel, 18-year-old frontman of Against Me!
  • In the band’s early days, she would “sneak off” to her hotel room while on tour to don women’s clothing. “In a way, I’m thankful for the secrecy now, because it helped to develop an imagination,” she says. She attempted to quit doing it when the quartet signed to Warner Bros., but what she had tried to write off as a bad habit soon became an ultimate truth she had to confront. “You pile everything up into a trash bag, and go behind a store and chuck everything into a dumpster. You just get rid of everything, and you’re like: ‘That’s it.’ Because you feel like you’re a deviant, and there is this danger of being caught, and you’re terrified…You believe you have a choice in the matter. But it becomes apparent to you, after a while, that you really don’t have a choice in the matter…And that’s the feeling of guilt that comes with all this.”
  • As she’s said in previous interviews, her decision to come out to her wife Heather came both when she ran out of things to write about beyond her true feelings, and with the arrival of her daughter, who has already started using female pronouns and “morphing ‘Daddy’ into like a ‘Dadda,’ ‘Daddo,’ like she’s searching in the way she’s saying it for some kind of twist.”
  • Despite Heather’s decision to stay married to her, Grace still worries that she may feel differently further down the road. “I’m very early on in my transition — I still blur a line — but I know the changes are going to be coming, and I fear how she’s going to interpret them and whether that will affect if she’s physically attracted to me is terrifying,” she says. “But ideally you marry someone because you hope that they’re your soulmate, and that’s something that’s beyond gender.”
  • And her ideal appearance? “I’m big on hair. I love Julianne Moore’s hair. That’s all I’d like: Julianne Moore hair.”

Read the full interview over at the Guardian, and watch Grace perform “Harsh Realms” in an acoustic session with SPIN, four years before coming out, below: