Something that unifies skirt and dress-loving people this time of year is how to stay warm as well as stylish. As a native Californian who moved to the East Coast ten years ago I have developed some coping mechanisms to maintain my stylish exterior as much as possible while still being a total cry baby about how cold it is outside.
In the spirit of authenticity, I think it is important to dress in a way that expresses who I am. But, of course, there is that fine line between “darling of the paparazzi” Bevin and “dinner date” Bevin. Just like there is a fine line between “coffee date with an old internet friend I have a crush on” and “dinner date with an old internet friend I have auditioned and want to have grown-up time with.”
I believe the idea of “getting closure” is a myth. I think we idealize “getting closure” where you meet your ex at a neutral coffee shop and share lattes like you’re in an early 90s episode of Friends and you talk about your relationship and get all of those answers you are really missing that will help you tidy everything up like you fold your sweaters and put them away for the summer. Emotions are messy and crazy. You have no control over the other person and what they’re going to say to you. Sometimes they won’t “give” you anything (as I’m experiencing now) or they’ll just do or say the same dissatisfying shit that lead to your break-up in the first place. Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide says (the gist of) “Try not to worry about how or why, try accepting that it is.” Learn your new normal. But, I think, unless you’re in the best possible break-up working in out in couples therapy or something, you won’t be able to just walk away and say “that was all neatly packaged, it feels closed.”
A Festie Virgin friend of mine told me “I was lead to believe this was going to be some sort of non-stop sexy romp in the woods” and I responded “Nothing deters my sexual appetite like the taste of DEET.” Not that sex doesn't happen in the woods, but when I removed getting laid from whether or not I felt my Festival was fun or a success I had a much better time. This theory is also true for conferences and other high-pressure hook-up queer social gatherings.***
I think it can be really hard to understand that what makes something a good time for one person doesn't necessarily mean it's true for other people. This took me so long to internalize. Some people have to get laid to have a good time or do [x,y,z] to have a good time. I would always beat myself up for not enjoying things in a similar way because I absorbed what other people were saying should be my goals for what is a good time.
The Festival is a great space for me to remember this lesson. Some people go to the Festival for the sole purpose of just drinking with their friends all week, some go for the nature, some book up every moment of their day with workshops, concerts and activities. I sometimes get so wrapped up in the idea of the time I think I should be having I become really checked out from the joys and pleasures of the time I am actually having.
At the Femme Family meeting on Tuesday, in the middle of a terrible heat wave hitting NYC, our go-around topic was "Describe your inner body temperature." Mine was the rage of a Disney villain. A fat one. (In the words of Dave End*, "Never fuck with a witch who puts on lipstick with a shrimp.") I get heat sick pretty easily and almost fainted during yoga on Monday, so by day 3 of the heat storm I was so grumpy. So grumpy that I barely put on clothes. I picked out the thing that felt the least like wearing clothes that I could.
How can a meeting with such empowering Femmes not raise my spirits? On my way home I realized how grateful I was to have done so much work over the last 11 years to unlearn the body shame that would have, otherwise, kept me hot and miserable and covered up in layers upon layers of clothes trying to hide my body. Feeling good about my body and sexuality is so much more comfortable, both literally and figuratively.
So this goes out to all of the amazing people in my life, who taught me early on the joy and value of loving yourself and moving in your body in ways that make you feel good.
Purse Anchor: I recently went out with three very foxy masculine-of-center gentlemen to a small town gay bar.* It had been awhile since I'd been out in a crew that wasn't made up of many Femmes and in a venue with a delineated dance floor (let alone room to move around easily). Noticing how they moved around the dance floor versus how I moved around the dance floor was really interesting. I was anchored to the ground with my purse and everyone else had way more locomotion. It's a matter of street smarts, I don't leave my purse anywhere out of arm's reach and when I'm on the dance floor I dance next to it. Generally I carry a clutch so that I can dance with it, but when there is a drink in hand I find that just spoils my groove. So the clutch has to get set down.
With well over a decade of nightlife behind me, I've tried many purse permutations for going out. Here's the thing--I don't have pockets nor do I trust pockets with the things I need. And some of those things I need are my camera because I obsessively document my queer fat femme life, my wallet, keys and many different kinds of lipsticks. I used to try the bra pocket with just an id and cash and my housekey but I have bigger needs these days.
Regardless, part of being Femme is not having to make excuses for the girl shit I do. Mama needs a purse anchor.
As much as I laud the benefits of intimacies long distance--I love to travel, laycations are decadent adventures and can be cheap, not as much chance of ex/friend overlap makes it cleaner--the truth is I really haven't given dating in New York the same kind of dedication and ardor I do my other pursuits. I am always so skittish about friend overlap and just busy with my three careers and friends that finding time to go on blind dates with people seems daunting.
In the interest of truly dedicating myself to the pursuit of a casual local sweetheart or two to give me an occasional distraction without requiring a plane trip and a dog sitter,* I have decided to create a blog series out of going on cruising escapades. I am also really interested in broadening my horizons--I think that is the best way to see what the New York queer scene has to offer. Plus, constantly stepping outside of your comfort zone is one of The Success Principles and I have recently begun following the advice of the tall tan man.**
My first step out into Bevin's Untapped Cruising Territory was the Go Magazine Nightlife Awards.
In May 2008 I discovered the queer hipster party circuit in Brooklyn and it revolutionized my New York nightlife experience.
I came of age shaking my ass at gay boy bars with my fag friends, one of the only dyke fag hags in the joint. Let's face it, a Femme loves a Fag.* And once I stopped trying to fit in at lesbian bars, because it never worked, I was generally annoyed at the bad music or lack of people dancing.
During its four year stint, Panty Ho's was an institution in queer nightlife. Located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, a hive for hipsters, it definitely had the crowd of big plastic 80s eye glasses and ironic/unironic neon fashion. I walked in and was so excited to see a bunch of hot queers I didn't know, hear incredible dance music, and drink cheap booze. And while I felt excited about the social possibilities, I was also a little freaked out at the lack of body size diversity. It was clear to me that I was the fattest girl there by a long shot and one of only a smattering of Femmes.**
Let's be real--winter is just plain stylephobic. It's a lot harder to be cute in the cold, what with all of the layering and the arduous task of putting on coats, gloves, hats, and special shoes just to leave your house. I grew up in California and didn't experience my first real winter until I was 21. A decade later I'm still not over the novelty and annoyance.
I have come up with some ideas as to how to inject style and sass into your winter blah blah blahs for not a lot of money.
Liz was fat, too. Not just sort of in between fat, either, like my mom and other female relatives were at the time (though now, of course, most of them are around my size). She was short and round, with a round face, black curly hair and a mouth that was always smiling. She was half Italian half Mexican and very girly.
The first time we met, Liz was ready to be a huge part of my life. I was mistrustful and didn't understand why she loved me so much already. I was used to adults liking me, since as an only child I learned to socialize well with grown-ups and I was very bright. But the way she just immediately loved me, in that I-loved-you-before-I-knew-you way that parents talk about felt so weird. As I continued into adolescence and hated myself more and more, the more suspicious I was of her unconditional love.