Putting the pieces together

“I want a house.”
Keegan Holmes grew up in a small travel trailer, and while he was trying to grow as a person himself, he was helping raise his family.

“I made sure my sister was fed,” Holmes said. “I used to beg neighbors for food or steal from the market down the street.”

Holmes grew up with the struggles of poverty, watching the effects of addiction unfold in front of him and finding a sense of security within himself. Keegan Holmes, formerly known as Kyra Holmes, questioned his existence growing up, knowing something was different about him.

“My childhood was not the best,” Holmes said. “After I came out as a transgender male, I was kicked out. It wasn’t the first time.”

Holmes spent his childhood helping raise his sister and being taught at home until middle school.

“My parents were too drunk to do schooling. I learned how to read at a young age and just read a lot during night,” Holmes said. “I would take care of my sister during the day.”

Asperger’s Syndrome is a type of autism that affects one’s ability to communicate and socialize. Holmes was diagnosed early enough to get help and still function in school.

“I didn’t have a formal education till 7th grade when I was actually put in school.” Holmes said.

Holmes said he learned to raise himself and his siblings,  resulting in a very distant relationship with his mother. Holmes currently does not interact with his mom.

“My mother and I’s relationship is complicated. The way we interact is like peers,” Holmes said. “I’ve never made that mother and kid bond with her.”

Holmes now lives with his grandmother, Regina Petucci, who has supported him throughout his upbringing.

“He did live with his mom but wanted to live with me, and he’s always welcome here,” Petucci said.

Holmes said he has struggled with being confident in himself without a parental figure to offer that kind of support. He also struggled with depression and dysphoria growing up. Being a transgender male and having been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome has led to an inner turmoil.

“Just by identifying myself, I feel more comfortable,” Holmes said. “It’s been hard to exist in the school system since I was put in it.”

Petucci has seen Holmes through the troubles he has endured and said she only hopes for a better outcome given the events that have transpired.

“There have been addictions in the family and that has been a problem for generations,” Petucci said. “I hate to see the struggle that Keegan and his mom have, but I believe that time heals.”

Holmes’ best friend, junior Michaela Barnes, has helped support Holmes through his struggles and everyday life. She sees how the important things in life have helped Holmes outweigh the bad.

“Nothing impairs him, it prepares him for whatever else may come along in life,” Barnes said. “He focuses on the more important things to him.”

Choir has helped Holmes find a place in life, because of how positive the atmosphere is for him, helping him be successful personally and academically.

“Before he was in public school he was bullied in all forms,” Barnes said. “And when he was finally accepted by a mass amount of people to support him, it really helped.”

Holmes said he sees college as his way of escaping the things he has had to endure growing up.

“I’m finally going to put this town behind me and not be plagued by the memories,” Holmes said. “I know at this point I have to be prepared for the rest of my life.”

Holmes is on track to graduate early with the class of 2016 and he plans on going to a university to pursue a career in music.

“I want to get my doctorate and become a choral music director,” Holmes said. “A university choral director makes $78,000 a year. I could buy a house.”