Additions to the Queer Lexicography: You’ve Got Toptions

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Toptions. This is the idea that you have a lot of different Tops to choose from. And yes, I’m talking about Tops in a sexual way not a sartorial way, but feel free to use it that way too, especially when talking about fat friendly crop tops! Being open to Toptions means being in a mindset of abundance. I think a lot of people out there lament that they do not have a lot of Tops to choose from. Believe me, as a Femme who is Top leaning, especially when it comes to public play, I know that there are lots of Tops out there. I feel like going into any situation where you may want to play, you’ve got to be open to possibilities, talk to lots of folks, explore your Toptions (or bottom possibilities) and have a mindset that there are lots of people out there waiting to be explored!

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An Open Letter to Oprah about Crop Tops and Body Positivity

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This is a letter I wrote to Oprah Magazine in response to a call for reader input in the August 2015 issue. It is in response to the totally banal and fatphobic response to a reader question in O Magazine that folks should wear crop tops “If (and only if) they have flat stomachs.” I generally skim or skip the style and beauty content in O Magazine every month because it’s written towards folks who are seeking a more neutral style than I am looking for. But given the deep internet controversy I thought this was a great time to offer Oprah some unsolicited advice about how she could be doing better.

Since posts are better with photos of lots of folks with different bodies, I have asked my friends to be part of a crop top army, their photos and links are throughout this post.

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How Getting Neutral About Food Helped Dara Drop Sugar

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When I posted my thoughts about being a good ally to fat folks by getting neutral about food, Dara and I have had a lot of conversations about it, including a pretty startling revelation that I wasn’t aware of. It turns out that Dara, working to get neutral about her food self-talk in order to be a better ally to me as a fat person, was able to transition to a low-sugar anti-cancer lifestyle a lot easier with food neutrality than if she had kept up agonizing about food being “bad” or “good.” Her words on this are below.

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Be a Great Ally to Fat Folks by Getting Neutral about Food

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Nothing bums me out faster when I’m about to eat some food than someone commenting about food. Like this, “Oh I’m being SO BAD! I NEVER eat cupcakes!” Or “I really SHOULDN’T EAT THIS!” Or “I wish I could eat THAT but it would make me SO FAT!” Or “You’re lucky you can eat whatever you WANT I will blow up like a BALOON!!!”

So what do you do when you’re surrounded by the I’M SO BADs of the world?

When I’m in situations like that with people judging food I have a variety of responses. I’m pretty secure in my body and have a pretty deep analysis of the fatphobia in our culture so I’m pretty resilient to the commentary. I’m also a fat person whose reputation and activism often precedes her so I feel pretty confident piping up with something educational in the moment.

Here are some scripts that I employ…

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Rebel Cupcake Dance Party and Cabaret Returns One Night Only June 19th

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Hello beloved readers from all over and NYC friends! After a lengthy hiatus, Rebel Cupcake returns one night only for a special engagement at a huge venue with a lot of intention! This is a great event to come to town for in June! The night before the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island!

Rebel Cupcake is not just a queer dance party, it is an intentionally body positive space where all bodies are good bodies and everyone’s flamboyance is encouraged and supported. It’s incredible dance jams with lots of room to move. It’s in an accessible space with gender neutral restrooms, a rarity in NYC nightlife venues. It has a 30 minute cabaret with three show stopping acts by diverse artists.

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On Activism, Capacity and Seeing Yourself as “Enough”

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Activist movements, as in almost all things, can suck you dry—there is always more to be done, more people to reach out to, more actions to plan, more art to make, more reaching out. But at a certain point you have to be able to say, this is my limit. But we’re not socialized in a way to know what our limits are, to think thoughtfully about our capacity, and how to use self care in order to build our capacity. We’re not socialized to be able to say, “Enough, I can’t do this any longer.” I’ve seen it wear down on people until disease forces them to make big life changes.

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How Castro Valley is Not the Castro

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When we were driving to Northern CA for my partner to have a work meeting in San Francisco during our post-chemo road trip last Fall, she made the mistake of confusing my hometown of Castro Valley, CA with the famous district of The Castro in San Francisco. The two places are only a 30 minute drive apart, but could not be further from one another in many ways.

I wasn’t so excited to show Dara my hometown, but it was very important for me to dispel any confusing thoughts she had about the two places. I share below some of the highlights.

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The Power of Authenticity: Bruce Jenner, Kanye West and My Lesbian Sorority Ice Cream Wrestling Party

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My favorite takeaway was the authenticity quote by Kanye West. He had told Kim Kardashian West, his wife and Bruce Jenner’s step-daughter, this anecdote.

Look, I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I have that. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything.

Kanye is exactly right. When you aren’t authentic to yourself, it is nearly impossible to enjoy your life. I spent a long time being depressed, suicidal, self-hating and body hating. It robbed me of the pleasures of the everyday. Making choices and taking risks to be my authentic self has saved my life.

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You Should Read Michelle Tea’s Book How To Grow Up

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I love Michelle Tea. I can’t say much more than at 22 years old I read Valencia and finally found a literary voice that sounded like my own. Kind of breathless excitement about life, stories and a fascination with other people and my feelings and how they affected one another. Reading Michelle Tea told me I could be a published writer, too. It also told me I could maybe one day be an artist and have an amazing group of inspirational kind of reckless friends and all of those things came to pass.

How to Grow Up is her latest memoir. I have read much of her work over the years and I think it is my favorite. Her writing has evolved a bit, it’s still chatty like a friend telling you a story over coffee rather than writing a story and letting you read it. But the sentences are tighter, shorter and the sentiments are clearer. Also, she has a lot of really deep self-reflection and self-compassion that sharpens what she says through lessons learned.

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I’m Back on Facebook after they De-Activated My Account Asking for my Government ID

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I wanted to tie up the loose ends about this because I don’t like leaving a story hanging and also I want folks who are not using their government name on Facebook to know my story and get prepared.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to engage with Facebook ever again. On principle, I don’t like that they require legal names or name authentication like this. But I have several friends who pointed out I’ve worked hard to get where I am and the body liberation work I do is best served by connecting with folks who I already know.

What I ended up submitting to Facebook on Monday night was a picture of my Driver’s License, which has my government name, birthdate and photo like Facebook asked for. I submitted two supporting documents showing my name as Bevin Branlandingham.

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