"Tall drink of [insert your beverage of choice here]" might be one of my favorite expressions that strangers (especially men in NYC) frequently use to describe me. You see, strangers feel the need to give me a description of myself all the time, and that's probably the biggest difference between my life and that of a person of average height. You don't see a stranger telling a redhead "Wow, your hair is really red," or saying to someone with acne "Damn, you have bad skin." It doesn't happen. Just like the follow up questions such as "Do your parents have red hair" or "Have you seen a dermatologist?" don't happen. But "Wow, you're tall. Do you play basketball? Are your parents tall? What shoe size do you wear? Where do you buy clothes? Is your boyfriend taller than you? Are you on stilts?" happens ALL THE TIME when you're exceptionally tall like me. And because this happens all the time, my life has always felt very public, so when the producers of My Giant Life asked me to appear on season 2 it was almost as simple as "Why not, might as well have some fun with it." My wife Julie was on board as well and shortly after we got over the fact that we may or may not look like fools on national TV, the cameras started rolling.
Besides wanting to have a unique and fun experience, we also felt that sharing our story (that of a married lesbian couple who want to be parents one day) provided us with an opportunity to represent the LGBT community and to play a small part in continuing to educate people that love is love and that LGBT people are exactly that -- people. While New York City in this decade is a great place to be gay and be who you want to be, I know that not all of America is like that. And although we will likely never even come close to the significance of someone like Edie Windsor, it's very important to us to pay it forward to her and to everyone else who has shaped this world of increasingly equal rights. If we can just open one person's mind, then it will be worth all the internet trolls who disapprove of "people like us."
In addition to comments on how appalling we are for being gay, I also fully expect the trolls to have a thing or two to say about our height difference -- this might be a good time to mention that I'm 6'8"and Julie is 5'2". The producers are also very well aware of this fact and boy, did they love us standing next to each other. Another thing they also enjoyed was asking me questions about how my height affects my life (in negative or positive ways). I struggled a bit with those questions because other than the aforementioned frequent inquiries and comments from strangers, nothing else felt really noteworthy to me. Sure, airplanes and buses are very tight, and tables and chairs are too low. I have to duck to get through most doors and buying pants is a nightmare, but those to me are just trivial things I deal with on a daily basis, just like everyone else deals with their little struggles.
My height and everything that comes with it never made me feel like an outsider and while I experienced a little bit of bullying as a kid, I think it had more to do with the fact that it was easy to make me cry than the fact that I was taller than my peers. During my teenage years was probably the only time when I wanted to be shorter, but which teenager doesn't find something wrong with the way they look? I have always been very aware of the fact that I cannot hide my unique physical characteristic so I've never tried to. The fact that making out with a shorter guy in a bar would award me plenty of extra attention didn't deter me from doing exactly that. While I don't seek attention, I'm okay with it because it's part of me and I'm okay with who I am, including my sexual orientation.
Moving to New York for college from a small town in Germany allowed me to fully explore my sexuality, and here I am: a few girlfriends and male hook ups later (no I'm not the tallest lesbian gold star in the world), and married to a beautiful person whose smile I can't get enough of. We met online and after it was established that (1) the height in my profile was not a typo, (2) I had no problem dating short people, and (3) Julie was used to looking up to taller partners anyway, we were off to the races. Our relationship so far has been full of adventures and although we've never made an official bucket list, we can now a check off "be on reality TV."