Coming out is such an intensely personal decision, since being queer is somewhat of a seemingly mutable way of being different. ("Passing" as straight is easier for some than others, and it is often tied to gender presentation.) I thought in honor of the occasion, and the fact that I told this story to my friends Jenna and Rick at my Epic High Holiday Shabbat dinner on Friday, I would share it here!
We’re rounding the last and biggest stretch of Gay Stamina Month and I’m sitting at home on a Friday night instead of going out. Of course I’m pondering in the back of my mind what I might be missing out on but I like to think that if I’m not there they aren’t experiences I was meant to have. I’m also thinking about how there’s a theory in yoga about Shavasana–corpse pose/rest period–that when you do it between poses it actually heightens the poses’ affects on your body. That maybe instead of trying to cram in all of the big Pride activities into my schedule I’ll instead focus on just a few and savor the delights of each of them. My Pride Agenda was only a tiny handful of the hundreds of events happening this weekend. It’s nice to think I’m savoring this Pride weekend instead of marching everywhere and alternately downing gatorade and alcohol.
Last Friday I published a long post about the efforts of Trans Womyn Belong Here and wanted to follow that up with a post about what else happened last year. Like Pride, Michfest is a huge undertaking, with hundreds of workshops, concerts, informal meetings, parties, performances, meals and catching-up with old friends (not to mention that I work eight hour days thirty minutes outside of downtown Festival) I could do the same running ragged thing I used to be inclined toward.
Instead, this year, I focused on letting go of my high expectations for doing things and let the Goddess be my scheduler. It made things really beautiful with a lot of opportunity for quiet Shavasana. The glory of a digital camera and my relentless documentation of my queer life has helped these past few years for me to record precious memories, and 2011 Fest for me was not spectacular or earth shattering. It was better than that, a lot of joy in the everydayness of two weeks in a wym-created wilderness civilization. I barely make any of my photos public but I wanted to share a little of what makes this place so special to me.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE FIRST: SPA TREATMENTS IN THE WOODS
I took Glamping to a new level last year. Being fairly broke when I got to the Land, I sold some merch during the worker craft fair, a two hour affair where folks browse one another’s wares and buy much coveted wooden labri or show off some great art. It’s really one of my favorite events.
I did well enough to afford a facial from In The Bush Spa. ($50 or so.)
It’s pretty incredible what you can do in the woods that isn’t at all like camping. Sam is an aesthetician by trade and brought an entire facial experience into a screen tent she shares with the hair stylist Adriana. Sam does everything except extractions. The experience of getting a facial was totally decadent. It was only the second one I’ve ever had! My skin felt like a baby afterward.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE SECOND: HAPPY HOURS
My friends Suzanne and Jen regularly have happy hours in the woods. This involves coolers, camp chairs and beer. They’re super welcoming. I’m the kind of person who camps alone and doesn’t bring living room stuff, and the money it would require to supply ice for a cooler for my like one daily Diet Coke isn’t worth it. But the collective magic of Suzanne and Jen’s place makes it possible to enjoy an icy brew when happy hour strikes and I’m passing by. The generosity in the form of cold beer and beverages on the Land is pretty incredible.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE THIRD: CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS
Without fail, every single time I tried to set-up a time to hang out with a friend one or both of us had to cancel. Which is difficult to do in a land with no text messaging. I was amazed to find out when I didn’t try to plan it I had quality time with every friend I intended to as well as more new ones. Sometimes I ended up skipping a concert or whatever it was I was heading towards but it was good, regardless.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE FOURTH: THE CALM BEFORE THE PARTY
I have a really hard time with missing out on parties. I love going to the Twilight Zone Party Pit at night (the “loud and rowdy” camping area, neighbors to to S&M Cul-de-Sac) but ever since I started working the Festival I can barely make it out there at night. I am usually totally beat. So on Saturday night, intent on making it to a lesbian kegger in the woods at least once that week, I got off work at 10:30PM and walked over to the firepit. My pals who camp there and didn’t go to night stage were stoking the flames building a bonfire and setting up for chocolate pudding wrestling. (I like to call it yeast infection wrestling, but there is a shower really nearby.)
I had a great time sitting in someone’s loaned camp chair and sharing some kind of intense alcohol combination in a bottle with my friend Jess. I’m sure there was something bad decision making in that bottle but it was fine with me. I was excited to just get to hang with pals and not be worried about being too “on” for the party. As folks started coming back to the Party Pit I enjoyed the energy but was actually pretty grateful to have experienced the low-key part, before the drumming and yelling started for pudding wrestling, while it was just a few folks and a fire pit and the promise of a night. Something about the woods making noises more subtle when you’re mellow and then a cacophony when they get crazy.
I left to go to the bathroom at some point and then just started on the half hour midnight trek to my tent on the other side of the Land, satisfied I had the exact kind of night I hadn’t intended but enjoyed very much.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE FIFTH: BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE
About four days into the Festival I realized I had hardly seen any half-naked or scantily clad fat Femmes roaming the Land. There had been plenty of thinner Femmes wearing just bras and panties or whatever lingerie but hardly any fats. I wanted it to change and I realized I needed to be the change I wanted to see. As scandalous as some of my outfits can be I actually rarely go out even on stage in anything resembling just a bra and panties. But I decided to revise my Femme Parade outfit to reflect my new intention.
It’s not that big of a deal in the scheme of things, in an environment as supportive and full of body diversity as Michfest, but it’s still a big deal to do something outside of your comfort zone for the first time. And it was for me. And I was glad I did it.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE SIXTH: NAPS
I took a lot more naps this year than ever before. I found it soothing. Sleep is my party drug.
There’s never enough time or capacity to get it all down after it happens. Years ago I used to bring a journal to Fest thinking I would sit under a tree and record things and I would get around to that maybe once and abandon it. I’m an extrovert and always want to get into stuff so I keep myself pretty busy.
I made time last year to sit and write in my tent and in the woods (I camp in a pretty quiet neighborhood) and then I would fall asleep for a half an hour and wake up to sun-dappled woods and the far-off sounds of rehearsing and get myself up to go back out to the Fest.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE SEVENTH: JAMMING IN FRONT OF THE JANES
So one day I was walking nowhere in particular and ended up seeing Gretchen Phillips playing a tiny keyboard with a microphone in front of the Janes. I rolled up and she handed the microphone to someone else who started singing or scatting, making up some song. My friend Gilly joined us and we stood there dancing to this impromptu jam session. It was really fun and probably the best my heart has felt in a long time.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE EIGHTH: PICK-UP SHOWERS
One of the best, probably not intentional, aspects of Festival is that the rehearsal tent for artists is across from where the Workerville showers are. I love to time my showers when my favorite bands are rehearsing. This is not something you can really plan, but you can let it happen.
One day I was laying around with this puppy pile:
And then I heard the beginning of MEN rehearsing. So I hopped up and made my way to the showers. Live music and showering are a special only at Fest kind of thing.
Also MEN’s show was really great. During their encore for “Who Am I to Feel So Free” they all took their clothes off and performed it naked. Such a special, intimate moment, if it can be intimate with a thousand people. I think at Michfest it can.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE EIGHTH: TREATS
Treats are something you have to bring as part of your glamping entourage but you can buy ice cream during the week of Festival.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE NINTH: THAT TIME I USED A SLEDGEHAMMER
People love cleavage and a sledge.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE TENTH: THE SKY
Nature puts on quite a show on the Land. I really did do a lot of looking up/tripping over things last summer.
EVERYDAY GLITTER THE ELEVENTH: THE RUNNING OF THE TARPS
I forget which concert I really wanted to be close to, but I participated in the ritual I hadn’t done since I was 23 and really needed to see [insert band or spoken word poet] up close. The line opens at 6PM (6:05 for workers) to go put down your tarps to get prime concert seat space for the night stage shows. I used to wait in line forever and ever for that prime seating. This time I brought my little beach chair and waited ten minutes or so for the workers’ run. It was actually really fun, and sort of nostalgic to do something that I used to be so fervent about when I was in my early 20s. It’s awesome to go back to a place for so long that I have nostalgia.
I’m publishing this post two days later–it takes a long time to go through the photos from Fest! Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Gay Stamina Month and for those of you I’ll see in the woods in 6 weeks I can’t wait! xoxo