I know you’ve been waiting… Yeah, I’ve been watching you…
Well here we are: another week, another day and another blog. But this is not just any ordinary day. Today is a Holiday for lack of a better term…. It’s Madonna’s birthday. As a Gay man and child of the 80’s, I have followed and idolized Madonna for over 30 years, and on so many levels… as an entertainer, a fashion icon, a button pusher, a philanthropist and nowadays, as an entrepreneur. She is the mother of reinvention, and is at the forefront of what’s next. Say what you want about her, but at the end of the day, she has stayed in the game, changed the pop world forever, and opened the door for others in the industry to Express Themselves. There’s not really much I can say about her Madgesty that hasn’t already been said, so I will leave you with a very simple HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADONNA!
One thing Madonna is known for is her ability to change it up and “reinvent” herself. This is definitely something I have come to relate to. Over the last 40 years of my life, I’ve been a son, brother, uncle, boyfriend, fiancé, husband, father, ex-husband, soul mate, ex-boyfriend, gay, Real Housewife, arm-candy, co-worker, best friend, acquaintance, dog owner, Thyroid Thriver, rape victim, etc. Some titles have lasted longer than others, but they all are a part of me and my past, and have led me to where I am today… Sebastian.
It’s never been a big secret, but here’s something some of you may not know: Sebastian is only 4 years old. For those who think I’ve completely lost it, and wondering what the hell I’m talking about… I was not born Sebastian. My given name was Jack Gindi, and I lived almost 37 years of my life with that name. As of August 21, it will be 4 years since I had my name changed.
I know what you’re probably wondering: That sounds pretty extreme, so why did you change your name? This actually has been a hot topic within my family for quite a while, and I’m sure everyone has their own opinions. But here’s the real story… straight from the horses mouth.
I’ve wanted to change my name for the longest time. While I was married, I had planned on, and was very vocal about, changing my last name to my then husband’s name. At the time, I was in the process of adopting his daughter, and I wanted us to have the same last name. Sadly, the marriage ended, and he put a stop to the adoption. Ironically, in our divorce papers, it states I have the right to retain the name “Jack Gindi” (I said as a joke to his lawyer that if Tina Turner got to keep her name, then so should I), and my name was legally changed to Sebastian before the paperwork was signed off on.
In the midst of the divorce and adoption ending, I was sexually assaulted while leaving a bar one night with a friend. If you read my blog Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You), you know all about it. It is definitely a moment that will haunt me forever. It also didn’t help that, at that time, I had a major falling out with my family, and we weren’t speaking. Needless to say, I was in a very bad place mentally and emotionally.
There’s an old Jewish superstition that when a person is really sick, they change their Hebrew name to “Chaim,” which means life, and in essence change their luck so death passes over them. Well I decided that I would take the concept of that superstition and apply it to me, and my life. I wanted to change my luck.
I had already decided to change my last name to my mother’s maiden name of Kern. I have always looked up to my maternal grandfather, and I wanted to honor him by taking his last name. He also only had daughters, so the Kern dynasty ended with him, and by changing my name, I would be able to carry the name on, should children be in my future.
But the idea of changing my name to Jack Kern didn’t sit well with me. Every time I thought about it (and still do), I got that stupid song Jimmy crack corn, and I don’t care stuck in my head. So I needed a new first name as well. I have always loved the name Caleb, and was all gung ho with using it, but I realized that in Hebrew, Caleb means dog. So I decided against Caleb. Ironically, I changed my dog’s name to Jack… but that’s another blog, for another time.
In the end, it was actually my now ex-boyfriend who picked the name Sebastian. People told me I looked like I was a Sebastian (although I always think of an East Side Prep School snob when I think of the name), and it worked well with Kern. So it worked for me in the end.
And the rest was just a matter of timing. Much like now, I was on summer break, and had the time to run around and go through the name change process. I went to the courthouse to fill out all the paperwork. There are actually rules to changing your name: you can’t change your name to get out of financial or legal trouble, and there are certain words they will not allow people to change their name to. Once the paperwork was in, I then had to put an ad in the local paper (in case anyone wanted to contest the name change), and send documents to Social Security so that they can get the ball rolling and change my information on their end. The overall process took about a month and cost a pretty penny, but in the end, Jack Gindi became Sebastian Kern.
So here I am, four years later, but has my luck changed? Well, my boyfriend broke up with me, and I’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that I will have for the rest of my life. At the same time, I have a job and a roof over my head, a cray-cray dog I absolutely adore, a support team surrounding me while I deal with my autoimmune disease, a website that has taken off and a published article that is being seen around the world. I have a voice and an opinion that people are actually interested in, and want to hear. And the sky really is the limit. People have said that Jack and Sebastian are totally different, personality-wise, but I’m beginning to realize that that had more to do with a Thyroid issue than a name change. Once I was put on the right medication, and my levels evened out, Sebastian’s personality fell back in line with Jack’s, and people are seeing me now as most people have seen me my entire life.
For me, the bottom line is this, and I think Madonna would agree: Life is life, and it’s going to go on. There will be a million ups and million downs. What you wear, or even what you change your name to, is not going to change things. It’s what you have to back up the name and the looks that will really take you far, and decides your luck. If you sit back and let people, or critiques, or events define you and take you down, you won’t get anywhere. Your luck will never change. You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back out there… essentially reinvent yourself.
And in the end, that’s really the big secret to Madonna’s success. And in the end, that’s what I admire in her, and strive to do as well. And in the end, that’s what being a Baztard is all about.