The Gwen Araujo Story

Even two years after I read the story about Gwen the first time it still makes me sad everytime I think about it.
You don't need to be ladyboy to have the same feelings. The loss of Gwen was a loss of an beautiful and very special person.
We decided to tell her story by posting her story during the next days and we think the story will make you see. Also we hope for some comments to find out how our readers react to the Gwen Araulo Story.


Part I:

The Murder of a Boy Named Gwen

She looked like the perfect complement to another night of getting wasted. Model-thin, with sultry eyes and pouty lips, Gwen Araujo carried herself a lot like her idol, Gwen Stefani. Plus, she wanted it. Jay Cazares and Mike Magidson could tell that in a second.
It was nearing the end of summer in Newark, California, an old salt-mining town thirty-five miles southeast of San Francisco that has sprawled into a Silicon Valley suburb. The two friends, dropouts from Newark Memorial High, had interrupted their twice-weekly game of dominoes to make a beer run. And there she was, all alone.
"Need a ride?" they hollered out the window of Mike's truck.
"I want to party," she told them.
She lied about her age, saying she was nineteen. She lied about her name, calling herself Lida. But as soon as they got back to the party house -- a cramped, dingy tract home that their friend Jose Merel shared with his two brothers -- everybody knew she meant it about wanting to party. Humble as the house was, with its dorm-room atmosphere and stale-beer stench, the place was famous for its blowouts. Lida spent the rest of the night flirting with the guys, brushing up against them, firing them up. When they went out to the garage to smoke some weed, she gave them power hits. Lips on lips, lungs to lungs. Oh, yeah -- she definitely wanted it.
The only question was who would do her first. Jay, Mike and Jose had been tight for years. Girls came and went, babies were born, jobs were lost, but nothing came between "the Three Stooges," as Jay called them. They took genuine pride in being drunk, stoned and stupid. On April 20th, the Stooges joined the rest of America's most dedicated potheads in a national daylong weedathon. Thursdays were always bar nights, when they would drop $100 apiece on long-neck Coronas and shots of Patron. "We got a high tolerance," Jay boasted.
Jay thought Lida was hot, but he wasn't going to have sex with her. The quietest and steadiest of the Stooges at twenty-two, he was already juggling two sideline squeezes while working construction jobs to support his girlfriend, Lisa, the mother of his two kids. That left Mike and Jose -- "Dumb and Dumber," Jay called them. Mike was a hyperactive white kid who got busted for public drunkenness and meandered from one lousy job to the next: a classic gangsta wanna-be, always listening to rap and talking a mile a minute. Jose - like Mike an ex-jock from Newark High -- was training as an electrician to support his own out-of-wedlock baby.
That night, after fooling around with Lida, the Stooges went outside to smoke and take stock. There was no question she was hot -- almost too hot, the way she was hanging on to everybody, talking at the top of her lungs. "I've never met a girl like that," Jay said.
Jaron Nabors, a sweet-faced, foul-mouthed college student who'd been hanging out at the Merel house, took a drag on his cigarette and considered what Jay had said. Suddenly, a weird thought popped into his mind.
"Could this be a dude?" he asked.
He said it like a joke, but it got Jay going. "Hey, Mike," he hollered. "Come over here, dude -- you know about this kind of stuff." Seems there'd been this story going around about Mike getting tricked by a girl in San Francisco. Said she was a girl but turned out to be a guy. So now they were all laughing at Mike. And the next minute, they were all laughing over what Jaron had said about Lida, because -- nah, no way. A dude could never look that hot, right?
* * * *
Three years before, at age fourteen, she had chosen Thanksgiving dinner to make an announcement to her family: From now on, the boy they knew as Edward Araujo Jr. would be living as a girl named Gwen. There were forty-some cousins to come out to, not to mention aunts and uncles and elderly relatives who believed in rosaries and mortal sin. Sure, they all knew Eddie had grown up playing dolls with his sister Pearl and getting chased home from school by kids hurling rocks and slurs. But here was Gwen, ta-dum, hair growing out, eyebrows in a perfect arch like her mom's, lipstick parting into the kind of smile that was often missing from Eddie's repertoire.
"It turned out to be a beautiful moment," recalls David Guerrero, an uncle who helped his sister Sylvia raise her four children after she divorced Edward Araujo Sr. "Everybody was hugging. Even older members of the family were OK with it." Gwen's mom was especially cool about it: She and her new daughter went shopping for clothes, did their hair and makeup together, even talked about how big Gwen's new breasts should be.
But kids and teachers at school were not OK with it. Gwen spent the next two years getting taunted and bullied and punished for using the girls' bathroom before she finally dropped out. If school didn't want her, fine. The hell with Newark, where people were always staring, whispering, calling her a freak. She'd get a job, save up for beauty school and have surgery to complete her transformation. Then she'd head for Hollywood, where nobody would bat an eye at her -- not unless they wanted her. "I'm going to do makeup for movie stars," she told her mother. "I don't know if I'm even going to have time for you -- you're going to have to call my secretary."
Gwen applied for a couple of jobs, one at Starbucks and the other at a grocery store, but both times her applications were mysteriously "lost." "She knew why it was happening," her mother says. "She knew." So Gwen threw her energy into what was left: parties, boys and makeup. She tried new looks, new personalities. Magenta hair, green hair, spiked hair, flowing hair. Her head swam with the Gwen Stefani lyrics she was addicted to:
Magic's in the makeup. But I want to be the real thing.

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