Is it Zak-a-ree or Zak-a-rye? This all started this last weekend when I was texting my mom and she asked, “So, you know how you came up with Zak Awry (Zachary) and it’s a play on words?” I couldn’t help but smile at my mother’s naiveté and quickly corrected, “No, no, no, it’s Zak-a-rye, not a-ree.” I thought it was just my ex that misunderstood and pronounced it Zak Awww-ree but as it turns out many more people don’t understand the symbolism or the pronunciation behind my name.
So in the famous lyrics of Britney Spears: “it’s Britney…erm… Zak Awry, bitch.”
Believe it or not, and some people actually do, but Awry is not my real last name. You see, it was January 2nd, 2015 and I posted pictures of me in makeup and a dress because some friends and I got bored and drunk New Year’s Eve. I let the girls we were hanging out with do my makeup and gush about how skinny I was in comparison to them and find me a dress. May I just say how flattering that dress looked on me? LEGS FOR DAYS!
My famous side glance
I posted the pictures on Facebook so that I could share it with some of my friends, in Spokane, who do drag, because my boyfriend and I were going to be visiting there at the end of the month. It ended up being a popular post and I had significantly fewer friends, only like 350 maybe, and it was one of my top liked posts at the time. I seemed to be getting a lot of good feedback from it, people seemed to mostly understand that 1. Alcohol was involved and 2. That it was all in good fun.
The next day, my uncle posted this as his status,
“Why would the gay, lesbian, transgender society primp like they do. You want equality then quit wearing high heels put some work boots on and man or woman up. Men dressing like women, and vice versa keep it to yourselves. Do what you want on your own time. I don’t plaster pics of myself so in good taste and equality keep them to yourself.”
It was clearly directed at me, so I simply posted a picture of me in the dress saying, “Love you too, Uncle.” To let him know I received his message loud and clear and I wasn’t going to go back into the closet quietly. I fought too fucking hard for 22 long years against my inner demons to get out of that fucking closet and I sure as hell was not going to go back in for the sake of my uncle’s view of “equality”. I didn’t even bother calling my mom or aunts to tattle on him, his ignorance was proudly displayed on his Facebook for all to see. Besides, I had better things to do than to worry about what my small town uncle thinks.
Unfortunately, I was the first comment on it, so MOST of my aunts and cousins had already seen it and connected the dots between the timing of my posts and his and who his was directed at. One of my aunts called him out on his shit for his post and mentioned me and I realized I shouldn’t air my dirty laundry on Facebook, so I removed my comment after about an hour. It was too late though, as my family all talked and my uncle kept his post up out of stubbornness the family quickly picked sides, which was mostly my side. I received more and more messages from family members telling me not to listen to what my uncle said and my mom was even pissed at her own brother. I didn’t really care what my uncle thought or said I just wanted to basically say, “Fuck you, tag me the next time you want to subtweet to me.”
At some point, my dad found out, through either myself or my sister, and instead of trying to diffuse my anger he actually only escalated the situation. Although I know my dad loves me and will always have my back no matter what, and will punch a mother fucker in the mouth for talking shit about me, our conversation felt like he was agreeing more with my uncle than with me. I don’t remember the exact conversation but I remember it ended with him scornfully asking me,
“What am I supposed to tell your grandmother when she asks why you were in a dress? Do I tell her you want to be a woman now? Huh? I don’t know what to tell her, know your audience!”
I calmly through gritted teeth told him to tell her the truth; that I was drunk and broke on New Year’s and some girls asked to put makeup and a dress on me and that it was all a farce. I was seething because of what drama some fun pictures were causing me, and although I wanted to rebel and shove my gayness down everyone’s throat, I couldn’t ignore the last thing my dad had said, know your audience. I couldn’t get these words out of my head while I silently scrolled through my newsfeed realizing just how many people I forgot I was friends with: neighbors, friends parents, previous employers, current employer (although they loved me and my gayness), and heaps of family. I had more than a few people I would be ok with seeing a little bit less of my true personality.
That was when I remembered what a kid from high school did with his Myspace (back when that was a thing). He had two accounts labeled (John Smith, John Smith for family.) and his normal one was set to private so his family members couldn’t see anything he was posting or saying. I thought; BRILLIANT! I’ll just make a second Facebook, but since I couldn’t create my own headliner like Myspace, I would just create a persona for the select group of people.
Now, I just had to come up with my name. I knew I didn’t want to change my first name because when I was younger I hated my name (Zach). I kept begging my parents to let me change my first name for the longest time, to which they’d always said no and guilt me for not appreciating the name I was given. However, one day in middle school, I realized Zach wasn’t my legal name, that it was just a short-hand for my full name and that I could spell that version of my name any. Way. I. Wanted.
To be rebellious I left the H off my name for a few months and spelled it Zac. That was fine for a while until one day before high school I was in the grocery store with my dad while he wrote an order for work, and I asked if he would buy me a travel mug for school. He said: “sure.” After looking through some of the different brands I found kid’s dinnerware in that section from a ‘Zak! Designs’, and after seeing it spelled that way I instantly fell in love with my name and decided that was how I wanted it for the rest of my life. If I couldn’t choose my name, I was going to choose how my name was spelled.
I tried a couple different name variations for an alias: Zakary Divine, Zakary Diamond, Zakari Divine, Zak Aroo. However, nothing seemed to fit or flow so I tried to narrow it down to which version of my first name I would use and decide from there. I thought back to my first serving job where everyone had nicknames for me like Zaktastic, Zak-a-roo, Zakattack, etc., and I remember one of my managers used to say, “Aye Zak-A-Rye?” and I always liked it when he called me Zak-a-rye.
So, I knew I really wanted my first name to be Zak-a-rye but I didn’t know how to spell it. I thought Zakari was close but thought too many people would think I was trying to do a version of Zachary, which I wasn’t. As I tried to think over the next few days and did some light research online I gave up trying because I couldn’t find a spelling and nothing flowed with Zak-a-rye either. I wished I just had one name to worry about like Cher or Madonna. That was when it donned on me, who says I needed to follow social customs and have two names? I mean, fuck social norms, am I right? What if I did just my first name but split into two?
I toyed with the idea and I thought how do I split Zak-a-rye up and thought Zak Arye would be a good alternative, and then I could explain the origin if anyone asked how I came up with my name, kind of like Phil Maccock (get it? Like feel my cock).
I sat staring at Arye saying it over and over in my head and finally after a dozen times or so it occurred to me that awry was an actual word. I looked up the definition, “away from the appropriate, planned, or expected course; amiss.” And it was like the clouds parted and the sunshine came blazing through my haze as angels sang. It was everything I wanted: Only my first name, a play on words, and because my second profile was going to be my party, gay, drag, bar, and drunk Facebook, what happens when you combine all those things? Yes, things go..AWRY. Boom.
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