The artist Gloria Gray left her home town of Zwiesel in the Bavarian Forest as a boy. 30 years later she returned as a woman. Now she wants to be mayor in Zwiesel. A story with a "happy ending" - even if it is not chosen.
Zwiesel (dpa / lby) - entertainer Gloria Gray is under stress. Her appointment calendar is meticulously clocked through, because on Sunday there is a runoff election in the race for the mayoral office of Zwiesel. Almost two weeks ago, the non-party 56-year-old had won almost 32 percent of the votes in the local elections, more than her opponents. Now is the final sprint in the election campaign. She herself describes the fact that Gray could become mayor of all places in her hometown as a "happy ending". After all, she once fled Zwiesel, where she was born as a boy.
Gloria Gray has an hour for the interview, she is sitting relaxed with tea in a café. She set the alarm on her cell phone so she wouldn't miss the next appointment. She said she didn't expect the election result. It is the third time she is competing after 2011 and 2016. She sees the encouragement of the citizens as an order: "They want me to lead Zwiesel into a new era." She feels called to the post. "I trust myself that I can do it."
She has gained her first experience in local politics, as Gloria Gray has been a member of the district council since 2020. Still, the mayor's office would be a jump in at the deep end. "You can't learn to be a mayor, you can't study it." She would be doing seminars on local government and besides, she wouldn't be alone, she would have many people at City Hall by her side.
Your destination for Zwiesel? Revive the city culturally, economically and touristically. That doesn't happen overnight. "I can't do magic and I haven't made any campaign promises." The entertainer thinks what Zwiesel needs most is a spirit of optimism anyway, and that's where she's in her element. "I have strength and energy, I can inspire people and take them with me. You can't buy that on eBay." If elected, that alone could make a big difference.
Gray did not put up election posters in the city of 10,000. That is neither sustainable nor contemporary. In addition, everyone in Zwiesel knows everyone anyway. She's been back since 2010, ran a café for three years, organized carnival celebrations, concerts and "puff parties". There were also those who were skeptical and those who said she should stay "up in Minga" (for non-Bavarians: in Munich). But that was a long time ago. Gloria Gray has made her peace with Zwiesel, and with herself.
She was scolded at school. Even as a child, she felt like a girl and wore wigs. However, she did not confide in anyone, but waited until she was of legal age. Then she set off: she found her way in Munich and the USA. Since she was in her mid-20s, Gloria Gray has also been physically a woman. She hadn't had any contact with her parents for a long time. However, their reaction when they told them their story on the phone one day from the United States was "wonderful" and better than they would have liked. "No matter what, you are our child," said Mom.
In 2010, when her parents got worse in old age, she returned to Zwiesel - and stayed. "Here are my roots, that's my language, and Zwiesel has a great quality of life."
She can understand that she is repeatedly asked about her personal story. And yet it annoys her. When she is referred to as perhaps the first trans mayor or as a trans woman, she finds it offensive. "I'm a woman. And I have a trans-identitarian past." It's part of her life, she stands by it and can live with it. "But you're also happy when it's behind you." It's been more than 30 years for her. She does not want to be reduced to her sexuality. "Or does it say 'hetero chancellor' somewhere?" she asks.
When she was young, there were no terms like outing or transgender. The subject was taboo. To reveal herself would have felt like a death sentence for herself. She would also have been worried that her mother could take her own life out of shame and disgrace. She is all the more happy about the "happy ending". "I fled when I was 18 and came back 30 years later. We've come full circle here," she says, and hurries to the next appointment.