Christopher Hale woke up a year ago to find that he couldn't see fully out of his left eye. He was told he'd had a stroke, three quarters of his vision gone. Hale was over 300 pounds, depressed, and was told by doctors that he was lucky to have survived the blockage with only vision loss to show.
During the decade leading up to the stroke, Hale had gained more than a hundred pounds. The additional weight coincided with the death of Hale's father, a retired Chicago Police Officer, a man Hale says was emotionally and physically abusive during his childhood. Hale believes his father's temperament was due in part to the stress of the job and because he had never been shown any other way by his own parents. Not that Hale made things easy.
When he was younger, Hale would spend hours at gay nightclubs, dancing and indulging in his new found sexuality, often times coming home at 3 or 4 in the morning.
Hale eventually left home. He performed as a female impersonator, went on a three-day bender at Gianni Versace's house, modeled and worked at high end fashion boutiques. He was independent and successful.
Despite this, the legacy of his father's abuse remained. Always at an emotional distance from one another, Hale says he loved his father but never liked him, the abuse and neglect of his youth too strong to ignore. That is until Hale's sister's wedding when his father walked up to him, put his arm around his shoulder and said something that Hale would never forget.
Hale is now 100 pounds lighter and is part-owner and operator of The Mistress, an adult boutique in Chicago.
Photos by Martine Granby.