‘Genderfluid’ Singer Finds Identity in Music (Best Overall Project 2016)

Lee McCombs

For 15-year-old Lee McCombs, sexuality and gender identity have always been complications.

“Ever since a young age I knew that I liked girls,” McCombs said. “I was so scared that my parents wouldn’t accept me, because I’ve heard all these stories about people being sent off to camps or thrown out and that terrified me.”

McCombs identifies as “genderfluid” and prefers the singular “they” and “them” pronouns.

Photo by Andrew Patra

Since middle school, they have suffered from bullying and depression. Music was crucial in their road to recovery and acceptance.

“I was in a very dark place, but music was there for me and it still is,” McCombs said. “I still deal with anxiety and depression, but music makes it easier.”

McCombs primarily sings and plays the guitar as well as ukulele and bass. They also write their own songs. Music has given them courage in times of worry and doubt.

“I did end up coming out to my family and they are totally fine with it, although, my aunt wasn’t fine with it, she told me I needed to repress my feelings,” McCombs said.

They were surrounded by friends who supported their gender identity and sexuality. The obstacles that McCombs had to face provided inspiration for the songs that they’re writing at the 2016 Otis Music Camp.

Photo by Andrew Patra

“Me and my friends Chance and Sam are currently writing a song. It talks about trying to get out of your mind and find a happy place, it’s kind of deep,” McCombs said.

Despite their love for music and its helpfulness in their road to recovery, McCombs doesn’t hope to pursue a career in the music industry.

“I would be eaten alive in the music industry,” they said.

McCombs instead hopes to become a counselor to support others on their own roads to recovery.