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The Best Little Place in Oregon Part Three

The Best Little Place in Oregon Part Three

Openly trans Mayor Stu Rasmussen tell us why Silverton is the best small town in Oregon, and what's afoot with his possible reality TV show!

You recently finished doing some filming for a potential reality TV show. Besides that we all secretly want to be on reality TV, what was the reasoning behind doing this project?
I guess I am a rather unique individual being the first openly transgendered elected mayor in the United States. I'm not the first openly transgendered mayor in the world -- New Zealand and Italy and, I believe, England have surpassed us in that. But it attracted a lot of attention. My face is not the greatest, but I'm fairly quick-witted and relatively entertaining so a couple production companies thought it might be reality or "unscripted documentary" material.

Those talks are ongoing, we're not sure what's going to happen or even if it's going to happen. Honestly, I figure my life is maybe five minutes and we're done, so unless we can wrap some additional stuff around it?. There are some concepts that I can't talk about because we're negotiating. So there's a possibility, probably a 1 in 50 chance that my life will turn into a reality show of some kind. They were out shooting the first of April. It's not even a pilot, it's more like a trailer or a teaser reel that's currently being put together for consideration by different networks. We're cautiously optimistic. But I'm not buying anything new yet.

If it does get picked up, what kinds of drama can we expect to see?
It's life in a small town. They were sort of disappointed that there wasn't as much controversy as they hoped there would be because you would think. Well, here's a town that has just elected a transgender, and there ought to be all kinds of weird stuff going on. But our lives here are rather boring, because this is such and open and accepting community. I couldn't have done what I did without the support of the community. It goes beyond tolerance to acceptance.

If the show goes together and gives that message to the rest of the country -- that a small town in a rural area that is supposed by the rest of the world to be somewhat redneck can do what Silverton, Oregon has done -- it can happen anywhere. And this gives closeted people of all persuasions -- whether they're LGBTQ or XYZ -- some hope in saying, "If I'm a good person, people will accept me for who I am. I don't have to hide. I don't have to stay in the closet."

Why do you think Silverton is different from your average small town, which might be intolerant of people who don't fit into the status quo?
I think intolerance is just a disguise for ignorance. Silverton had a chance to get used to me over the years because I was born here, raised here, grew up here, had businesses here. I was a pillar of the community before it became known that I was transgendered. And that was a major step in the acceptance -- I was a known quantity, I just turned out to be different. It's not like this is false advertising. It was an evolutionary thing for me, coming to terms with myself, and then coming to terms with the community over it.

I think there are a lot of other people who are in the same position I was years ago, that just need to figure out that most of their problems are between their ears and that if you accept yourself for what you are and project that acceptance to others, they will pick up on it. Trans people are probably where gay people were 30 years ago, just hiding and poking out, saying "I'm here," checking the waters, and then popping back down into the hole. It could happen a lot faster. And now we're seeing a lot of media on trans issues. That can only help because, as I said, our worst problem, as T people, is what's between our own ears. Everybody else has their own things they're worried about.

We can't discount the fact that because you're different you may be singled out for adverse comment or adverse activity. But you get that for anything, whether you're black, gay, short, tall, Filipino, whatever. There are people who will take a dislike to you and you have to look them in the eye -- and they tend to whither away.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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