an evening of inclusion photography show wheeling west virginia kelci crawford

On February 2, the photography show “An Evening of Inclusion” went up at the Artisan Center in Wheeling, WV, and will stay on display until February 16. The photography show (done in collaboration with the local YWCA) is a showcase of out-and-proud LGBTQ citizens who live and work in the Wheeling area. Next to each photo is a biography of the person written by a friend or loved one.

And I’m one of the models for the show.

It was awesome to be at the opening reception, which was PACKED from 5 pm until about 7:30. I was amazed at the positive reception the show got, and for all the folks who said such great things about the models. I’ll admit that I was nervous as to how the show would go (to say I expected protesters is an understatement). But there were no protesters, no people passing fliers to talk about “sinfulness” (another thing I expected but did not see).

The evening was a rare one of pure, unfiltered acceptance from the community, and I’m so proud of Wheeling as a city for actually living up to its monicker of “the friendly city.” You might not always live up to it, but this time you did, for which I’m grateful.

In case you’re curious, or you can’t physically make it to the show, my big sister Kristen wrote my biography. It goes like this:

Kelci Crawford is my middle sister and she was pretty weird, even as sisters go. She’s always been different, but in a world of sameness, different can be really lovely.

When we were kids, Kelci was the one that always got the notes home. Usually they had to do with her telling jokes or playing games at inopportune times, and my favorite note was sent home when she stood on a chair in the middle of class and began to sing.

That exuberance and individuality are my favorite parts of Kelci.

She has never been quiet. She can be rather soft spoken, and sometimes she’s deep in work and doesn’t talk for a few days, but she’s never been truly quiet. Kelci cannot be ignored. She is a character in a world that sorely needs more of them.

She’s a natural performer, even though her job is one of passive performance. Her art speaks the volumes that she used to speak with her mimicry of films or recitation of jokes pulled from a thousand sources. She doesn’t sing on chairs anymore, but she hasn’t lost her spark.

She’s had her hiccups, of course. She is her own person and people who are truly individuals rarely take the easy road. She’s faltered in her path. She didn’t get the best start. She’s got her own issues that make simple things a bit harder.

Yet, she keeps on. When she stumbles, she falls back on that exuberance. She turns on Youtube and does a little dance. She sings (poorly) and acts out a scene she may be struggling to convey in her art. She comes out of the art cave and shifts back to her older skills of comedy and story-telling.

It may sound like persistence, but persistence is useless if one doesn’t have the proper character and individuality. If Kelci waited for the world to come to her or if she tried to follow the same paths as her peers, she could still be persistent and remain stationary.

Kelci’s fire, excitement, and passion for the things she loves is not only paramount to her personality and success, but it is infectious. She has taught me so much about things that I didn’t know interested me. She has expanded my knowledge of topics in which I considered myself well-versed.

She and I have both done work in the LGBTQ community (with her contribution being significantly larger than mine), but she has shown me portions of that community that I never knew existed. She has broadened my horizons and taught me about even more varieties of human.

If she was not the little ball of energy that she is, she would never have experienced the levels of success that she enjoys in her career, her personal life, and in her community work. Kelci Crawford is my little sister, but she is bigger than I am in spirit, and we love her for it.

Holy dang was that way nicer than I expected. It’s almost like we love each other or something.

Thank you for the lovely biography, Kristen. Thank you, Wheeling, for being so accepting. And thank you, dear reader, for your support.

You. Are. Awesome.

P.S. The Case of the Wendigo is still on KickStarter – but only for two more days. So be sure to back the campaign and/or share the link with your friends. Every little bit helps. We’re almost done!