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Commentary: My life as an intersex comedian living every letter in the queer alphabet

A comedian performs wearing a camouflage jacket.
Comedian 7G performs at a Chain of Fools backyard show in Van Nuys.
(Asher Phoenix)

Never in my wildest dreams did I, an upstanding Brit, a former mental health advisor to the U.K. government — with security clearance and excellent manners — imagine I’d find myself onstage performing as a comedian in Los Angeles under the moniker 7G.

This year, one of my best gigs during Pride Month included ringing in Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee by singing “God Save the Queen” whilst pulling Brit flags, on a string, out of a bag to reveal the end is tied to a huge rainbow dildo. Then swinging the 8-inch “Pride Edition” phallus around my head — a little too enthusiastically — to the audience’s delight. I chose a very cute straight man named Drew from the crowd to be knighted with my rainbow sexy silicon sword, imbuing the lucky chap with “a little bit of queer.”

Onstage, 7G is the alter ego of my daytime self — Seven Graham — a multilayered creative/channeler, writer, producer, actor, creativity coach. I’m also the first intersex comedian to perform in our beloved local queer comedy scene. The mission for visibility onstage came with a lifestyle change in more ways than one. I left a sweet life in a 19th century cottage house in England to sleep in a closet in WeHo.

Before I became known as Seven, I was a pretty blond woman called Sarah, a lesbian once hailed on the Independent’s Rainbow List as the No. 2 “most influential” LGBT+ person in the U.K. in 2015. I did not plan to move to L.A. to become 7G, the world’s first intersex stand-up comic, or even a man — far from it. I fought against both!

7G celebrates Pride with British flags and a rainbow dildo onstage at Chain of Fools.
7G celebrates Pride with British flags and a rainbow dildo onstage at Chain of Fools.
(Asher Phoenix)

And yet, this Pride, 2022, I realized that I’ve now lived as all the letters in LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual). How did this happen? The whole alphabet? That’s just greedy. Which one’s best? What are you now? A man with big breasts. That’s not even possible? Well my 38DDs and penis say it is, and would you say that to Jack Nicholson? He’s got a lovely pair and, one presumes, a very nice penis.

For years, I loved drinking with the wild, witchy lesbian gang, which I joined as a baby dyke, in my teens, and stayed in through my 20s and 30s. The downside of Isle of Lesbos life was I did experience the frustration of Lesbian Bed Death in many of these relationships; no time to answer all your questions, Google it, moving on.

Some of you are probably thinking, “This poor Brit is mentally ill and has surely lost the plot. It’s the DRUGS in L.A. Crystal meth is awful.”

Nope, not drugs.

My Transformation is the very opposite of drugs. Last December, I celebrated 20 years of sobriety. They say that recovery is “peeling back the layers on the onion.” Well, turns out, I was a bloody big British organic onion. And I won’t claim to be the sanest, most stable person in L.A., but I was definitely my most insane and mentally ill in 2001, when I was a location director and producer at the BBC. Insanity, addiction and “creative genius” have a lot of crossover.

This was no Master Plan to go from big lesbian at BBC Entertainment to a transmasc, nonbinary, intersex in West Hollywood. Well, not mine.

Every year in sobriety, I have challenged myself to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, and this started very small in 2001. I took a “tea commitment” at a recovery meeting — my social anxiety, after detox and during nine months of residential rehab, was so severe I couldn’t make eye contact. By 2014 I was up to the dizzy heights of skydiving as my annual challenge. I despise small planes, and being attached to Bernie, a very large man who looks just like Shrek, and thrown out of said plane, was ... A LOT. During the “free fall,” I did a very-not-me, mini fist bump to the cameraman and then nearly puked when the parachute opened.

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So what to do in 2015 that was more challenging than jumping from a plane? The only thing I could think of was stand-up comedy. A six-week course with Logan Murray, the U.K.’s top stand-up teacher. I hadn’t done anything onstage since age 14, when I was #MeToo’d by the director of a play.

Despite the equation Trauma + Time = Funny, I showed no discernible talent for telling jokes or being at all funny. To graduate from the comedy course, one has to go up in a real stand-up show with a paying audience. On the night, to my utter amazement, I killed. Murray told me, “You must do stand-up because you have The Thing that can’t be taught.”

My response to Logan was, “That’s very kind of you to say, however, I am a highly paid and respected addictions therapist. I will not be hanging out in pubs doing open mics for the next five years to become a [said rather sniffily] comic.”

God loves a good laugh, and I married an American in 2013 I’d met sober clubbing in Ibiza. She came to live with me in the U.K. so I could continue helping the Winehouse family set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation, and she really hated the weather. We fought like cats and dogs, and I learned so much about how Americans and Brits actually don’t speak the same language, at all.

To try and save the marriage, I agreed to move to L.A. We got divorced, which was awful, but I fell in love with L.A., and my share of the settlement was a 10-year green card and Scotty the beagle. Now single, I promptly entered a mental and physical healing crisis/opportunity. One that was caused by my body rejecting estrogen and how doctors had treated me as a child.

7G performs this weekend as part of the Comedy Chateau's International Comedy Festival.
7G performs this weekend as part of the Comedy Chateau’s International Comedy Festival.
(7G)

When I was born, I came into this world with a very large clitoris — yes, I did just write that, and I have a very funny Clit Bit in my act and adore how just saying “clitoris” in a posh British accent makes some of you squirm. I was AFAB — assigned female at birth — but I discovered in my 20s, I am actually ... intersex. Old word: hermaphrodite. Born a unique mixture of both the common sexes. I was born with a vagina I now call “boipussy” and testes, or bollocks as we Brits say. Internal balls. Doctors cut them out, they castrated me, at age 8 without my (or my parents’) informed consent. They told us I had “cancerous ovaries,” a horrible lie. I had healthy testes that I was not allowed to keep, because we all live according to the Adam and Eve fairy story of humanity — not science and the truth of complex biology.

This kind of surgery, often cosmetic and damaging to sexual functioning or fertility, is to “fix” children as one of the two approved, by Christianity, genders, and it’s still happening to children all around the world — including America — every day.

Here in the U.S. before the Christian missionaries, Native Americans valued intersex and trans people as “Two Spirits” and see them as the best warriors and healers. This truth was deliberately erased, and many of the current Culture Wars can be soothed and answered more intelligently if we turn back to and respect this ancient wisdom.

7G performing at the Comedy Chateau in North Hollywood.
(Steve Escarcega)

Having my “ovaries”/ testes removed was a very scary operation. I was operated on by my doctor, Professor Sir John Dewhurst, a world-renowned gynecologist — imagine God in a white coat. After this traumatic op (genital surgery is akin to rape trauma in kids), I had to see my doctor and his army of students for very embarrassing examinations every six months for years. I was being used to train the world’s now-leading surgeons in diagnosing and operating on intersex variations like mine — to “fix us.”

These surgeries were pioneered by the Nazis, and this “torture” (as described in a United Nations Special Report) of babies and children is still happening routinely around the world. The shame of being a “freak” almost killed me but is now the fuel behind my mission to educate and liberate intersex children from the knife around the world, blow up those pink and blue binary boxes we are all forced to squeeze into and let our children be free to be themselves.

It was the doctors and therapists at the L.A. LGBT Center who restored my faith in medicine and saved my life. They gave me so much healing acceptance, love, kindness and weekly testosterone shots. These turned everything around for me.

I am now healthy, virile — cycling and skateboarding everywhere — and I’m able to give back to the California queer community, working with these wonderful doctors and mental health team to open an intersex-specific psychological and physical health service in L.A. this coming Intersex Awareness Day, Oct. 26.

My formerly “big clitoris” — Moby Clit, as I used to call it — responded magnificently to “T” and sprung like Jack’s Beanstalk and is now a penis. I grew a dick as an adult. How amazing and cool is that? And I have to say, having one is a lot of fun. Do I wish it was 2 inches bigger? Of course, I’m a normal guy.

A few days after starting testosterone, I wrote a mission statement about sex, gender and identity and drew up a huge F— It List. It’s hard work, but being a Vers Top gay/queer/bi more masculine person on the dating apps is a lot of fun.

There is a downside since acquiring this wonderful white male privilege that allows me to sit on the bus with my legs open and eat a banana in public. I’ve discovered how much more aggression there is on the streets if you are read as male. I have been homophobically verbally abused twice in West Hollywood — the gayest city on Earth. Turns out being seen as a gay man, with a pink Brompton bike, makes me a target for randos on the street to call me a “f—.”

To conclude, I’m planning to tour the USA in an eco-bus with my dog and cat. Yes, I’m developing a TV comedy format around this, with a woman I like to call George Carlin’s illegitimate love child, a.k.a. comedian Alyssa Poteet.

Is straight America ready for this new 7G enhanced reality? Definitely not. But whether the Bible Belt is ready, I’m coming — emerging strong as an X-Men — from the shadowlands of performing in parks, rooftops and yards, through the last Stranger Things years.

7G looking very GQ.
7G looking very GQ.
(Asher Phoenix)

I’m not going to stop until we have changed the world and spearhead a whole new generation of LGBTQIA+ comics and creatives who are igniting a much-needed diversity and inclusion revolution — that finally includes INTERSEX — along with all the other letters in the queer alphabet into the world of American comedy and entertainment.

Comedy

7G performs at the VarieTy Show

June 18, 7 p.m.
Renberg Theatre, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, L.A. LGBT Center
1125 N. McCadden Place
For tickets and information, visit
transpride.lalgbtcenter.org/variety-show-2022.


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