Raphael Larrinaga – Raphael Larrinaga "didn't realize the enormous impact my Hispanic name would have on my life until I started job hunting in the '80s." Larrinaga thinks he got much further in job interviews when he started going by the nickname "Ray." He was once even told by an interviewer that he didn't "look like a Raphael." "I think things have changed quite a bit for the better, but can't help but wonder how many people still judge someone they've never met simply by what kind of name they have," Larrinaga says.
Ryan Babarsky – Ryan Babarsky is used to it by now -- all the letters and phone calls for "Mr. Babarsky." She says it was hard as a kid, with people asking if her parents wished she was a boy, but now she really likes her name. "I've developed a thicker skin than I probably would have otherwise, and gosh darnit, people almost always remember my name," says Babarsky.
Kim Manlove – "I am a 60-year-old male who is decidedly heterosexual," says Kim Manlove. Nevertheless, he has experienced others' confusion and teasing about his gender and sexual orientation all his life. Wondering about the origin of such a name? "'Manlove' is an ancient Anglo Saxon name from the Middle Ages which means philanthropist," he says.
Michael Howell – Michael Howell once asked her mother why she chose a traditionally male name for her daughter. The answer was simple: Her mom just liked it. But still, Howell says, "It's hard for me to figure out [why] a parent does this; are they looking for attention? Because the only attention the child's going to get is going to be negative attention." At 67, Howell says she has made peace with her name -- though she made sure to give her children "very common, normal names."
Allana Mathews – Allana James Mathews -- pronounced "AL-anna" -- was named after her grandfather, James Allan. "When I was a child, I hated my 'made up' name," she says. "But now that I have grown up, it means something special to me since I never had the chance to get to know my grandpa."