Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2010-12-24

Hard Candy Christmas

This Fall I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself and my art and doing a lot of growing. I have also been spending a lot of time video chatting with one of my BFFs, Spunky, who lives in California. I took time off from my retail job (Re/Dress, one of the three prongs of my current career spiral path) thinking I would somehow by the grace of the universe be able to afford to go out there for Christmas. See my mom, see my friends and heart family and mellow out in some warmer weather.

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World Famous *BOB*, me, Glenn Marla at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

Things have been tight financially for the last couple of months. My main source of my three-pronged career path income has been really slow for lots of reasons, mostly the market and climate. Thus, around Thanksgiving I realized it was going to be toast to any plans to vacation for the holidays. Self-employment/entrepreneurial realness.

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I got written up as one of the 45 Hot Entrepreneurs in Go Magazine in November, though. I think it’s an awesome stamp in my celesbian passport. I have yet to get laid from it. I like to call this photo a Clark Kent/Superman juxtaposition. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

But then I realized that I was having trouble digging into my memoir, my friend Damien has been having great luck working during DIY artist retreats. I could afford to drive to Philly, I have heart family that lives there and needed a cat sitter. It worked out very serendipitously. So, I’ll be going away, doing no work other than art and self-care for several days.

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Damien, watching art. She’s doing so well on her push-up-a-thon! Photo by Quito Ziegler.

And, yeah, it’s sort of sad and isolating sometimes to be single at the holidays and not with your family or whatever. But then I remember my very saddest Christmas ever, when my ex-fiance and I had just broken up the month before, I was going to California to see my family without him on a trip we had booked together. I remember waking up on Christmas day with this ache in my chest, knowing he was with his new girlfriend and her family I couldn’t even begin to think about what to think about through all of that sad. It was so crushing.

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World Famous *BOB* has a tissue for you and for me. November Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

What really got me through that time was Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” I had just bought her autobiography on cassette tape and was really digging into my passion for her. It’s such a good song from one of my favorite movies (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas).

This year I’ve been hearing about everyone’s hard candy. Having a family or not having a family is hard. Both are hard. There’s either the pain and isolation/liberation and joy of not having obligations on the holidays. Or there’s the expectations upon expectations upon performance upon pleasing everyone upon love upon celebration of being with family. I think hard candy is part of life and it can bring you sweetness or toothaches. It’s just how you saddle up for the ride.

I have had a lot of blessings and amazing things going on in my life this year. I’m so grateful for this magical unicorn life I get to lead, the costumes I get to wear without even thinking about it, the lives I get to change just by making the art I feel compelled to make. Just this year I can count on both hands all of the new incredible artists and friends who have come into my life and are changing it. I have so much. And even as my birthday and Christmas plans have fallen through because I got the flu for Christmas I feel really lucky I didn’t make elaborate travel plans so it was easy to just sit here under the covers and rest. And now I have some presents to open up while I try not to move too far from the couch.

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Also grateful to have reached a doctor so soon before Christmas. She said “Have you been taking it easy?” I said I’ve been “taking it normal.” Photo by Quito Ziegler from a lesbolesque performance I did before I got the flu.

I got woken up from a nap today by the UPS man delivering a package for my birthday from my far away BFF in California, who I’ll luckily get to see at the end of January. I’ve been able to book a trip to get Rebel Cupcake on the road to Oakland (more info on that soon). So it all works out!!

As a Happy Holidays from me to you, I present this touching video from Rebel Cupcake 7: We <3 Dolly, burlesque legend of our time World Famous *BOB* performing Hard Candy Christmas.

I hope wherever you are you are safe, happy and full of love.

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Me and Sophie at Rebel Cupcake 8: Holidays on Fire. Sophie stopped by my sick bed today to bring me a care package of birthday candles, mac n cheese and feminist literature. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

2010-12-03

Guest Post: Damien Luxe and Why She Loves the Gym

Damien Luxe is one of my favorite people and often mentioned here at Queer Fat Femme. She is an incredible femmespiration and she wrote this great piece about how she was able to reclaim her body by going to the gym. I think this is super relevant to anyone of any body type and definitely articulates a lot of what I feel about my relationship to exercise as a fat person.

xoxo,

Bevin

This fall I am celebrating an awesome anniversary: ten years of Going To The Gym. That’s 10 years of learning how to be in my body after 21 years of life kicking me out; 10 years of keeping calm and carrying on; 10 years of getting to be strong and flexible when I thought that experience was only for rich folks.

When I was 21 I went off to the University of Toronto and met another rad weirdo punk girl. We hung out tons and were super similar — except she Went To The Gym and I’d roam off reading Valencia et al. When she asked me to go with her, I scoffed, “um isn’t going to the gym for leisurely rich white people? that’s not me, babe.”

One day after much nuanced discussion regarding how non-owning-class people also benefitted by working out, and appealing to the protestant in me by pointing out that I was paying for it anyway, she convinced me to go with her into our school’s massive gym complex and join her in the pool. I made it fourish laps and then headily woozed my way to the dressing room and thought I might have a heart attack.
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2010-11-19

Secret Agent Femme: Bringing Your Authentic Self on Dates

Long time readers will recall that I have a penchant for dating out of towners. I’m trying to go localvore for awhile, but there is something uniquely thrilling about traveling for a long-anticipated date.

I had such a date earlier this year. It was in a colder climate. I was staying with a good friend of mine and going to go on a coffee date with an internet friend I had never met in real life. We agreed to coffee ahead of time, to ease the pressure, and then a check in about whether we wanted to be on a “date-date.” If we did, we would proceed to dinner or something, if not I would go back to my friend’s house.

This brought about a significant fashion dilemma for me. I like to know what activity is in store for me on a date so that I can dress appropriately. There is nuance in what kind of garment I wear for different occasions and I certainly see a vast distinction between what I would wear on a coffee date and a dinner date.

Typically, I like to wear one of two dresses on a first date. I am very consistent about this because dating is enough of a hassle that I don’t want to stress out about what to wear. 9 out of 10 of my first dinner dates involve one of these dresses. They travel easily (again, see above regarding long distance), they are flattering and appropriate for evening wear.

Hosting a Date Auction for the Lesbian Love Octagon
The blue and brown dress, often paired with boots when it is cold or blue patent leather heels. I am pictured here femmeceeing the date auction fundraiser for the Lesbian Love Octagon.

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The red dress. Here I am photographed with my friend Regan who is a chef. I know my readers enjoy the butches. She is wearing gingham on gingham because she knows I like someone with the fashion huevos to pair pattern on pattern. And I enjoy gingham. Typically I pair this dress with red or black (or red and black) heels or boots in the winter. It also makes for a great post-performance dress. Also on a date I would not be wearing teal sparkly hair bling or (as much) glittery make-up.

The red dress is so ubiquitous I couldn’t even find a photo of it and needed to stage this shoot the other night after a lesbolesque performance. It is Torrid, I bought it at least six years ago. It has aged very well. The blue and brown dress I bought on ebay three years ago from a seller whose inventory exclusively consists of a plus size mannequin so I can only guess they are out of business.

My friend Elisabeth said in shock “You give them that much cleavage on a first date?” And I replied that yes, I believe my cleavage to be a gift from the goddess so I like to share.

I think it’s really important to be as authentic as possible on a first date. Also on any subsequent date. Don’t pretend to like sports if you don’t to impress someone. This is basic but it is amazing how many people I’ve dated who aren’t real with me and really amazing friends of mine who have fallen into the same “I want you to like me” impulse. I just heard a story about a professor getting her research assistants to burn her the latest hits so she wouldn’t have to admit to my friend that her favorite music was easy listening!

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 told this dilemma to my friend and guru Damien Luxe and her answer was so simple it was genius. “Put a change of clothes in your purse and, after the coffee date, change.”

At first I hesitated. It felt sort of high maintenance to change in the middle of a date. But then I thought about my post about redefining high maintenance and reminded myself that I am a professional Femmecee and burlesque performer. I can change clothes in about 2 minutes flat (and do make-up and hair in 10) if I want to. Plus, changing during a date is a very authentic Bevin thing to do. Something I wouldn’t think twice about doing if I was out with friends.

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This is what I wore on the coffee date. It is eShakti. Here I am pictured with Deb, the owner of Re/Dress and Nicolette Mason at Monif C.’s 5th anniversary party.

I had to re imagine my purse for the afternoon/evening and opted for the travel-friendly leopard tote bag that has been serving me since I studied for the bar exam. It artfully hid my dress. I chose the red dress as I thought it packed a little more “wow” factor. And if I was going to secret change, I thought I should bring as much wow as possible.

The coffee date went very well and just before we left for dinner, I pardoned myself to go to the restroom. As it was winter, my shoes stayed the same (tights and black snow boots), and I changed into the dress. I put my coat on and my date had no idea until we arrived at the restaurant that I had changed. She was stunned and commented on it profusely.

That remains one of my favorite fashion moments of any date I’ve ever been on. The reception the gesture got only further reinforced how important it is to bring my real self on dates and never hesitate to express myself.

2010-10-28

I’ll Just Say Fare Thee Well: The Myth of “Getting Closure”

I was at the Miss LEZ pageant, at the last intermission prior to the winner being announced, passing out fliers for Rebel Cupcake and generally being proud of how well Miss Rebel Cupcake was doing in the pageant. In this euphoric, flask of bourbon in my handbag sort of state, I ran into a couple of friends. One of them said, “Last week you wrote on your twitter ‘I’m going to need to create my own closure.’ I have a friend who has been struggling with a break-up for over a year and I repeated that to her and it really helped.” That comment made me so happy I almost cried.

Me at Rebel Cupcake: Halloween Heartbreak with the winner of Miss LEZ, repping Rebel Cupcake, Drae Campbell and Becca Blackwell who was a contestant with me in Miss LEZ last year. Dress: Re/Dress. Shoes, 3 1/2″ leather peep toes by Fitzwell via Zappos. Necklace & earring set: gift from a dear friend.

You might have noticed a little blog silence going on for a while. I find it really hard to write sometimes when I’m going through a lot of emotional upheaval. I like to write from a place of having a grasp on things and there’s nothing like having the rug pulled out from under you to make you feel like you don’t have a grasp on anything. That’s what happened five weeks ago, the details of which are still a little too fresh and muddled to explain. So, you know, I throw myself into my other work that doesn’t require me to feel like I have a grasp or whatever.

If there’s anything to come out of this pain I’m glad it’s helping people. I like living out loud in that way and my art is often my expression of the experience of living and loving as a queer fat femme/party promoter/shop girl/lawyer/performer/aspiring talk show host in this world. Lately expressing in soundbites like twitter and tumblr is what I’ve been able to do.

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 unsatisfying 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.”

I mean, maybe there are couples out there who communicate SO WELL that they’re able to actually have closure and a satisfying break-up and to them I say kudos. But my twitter comment about creating my own closure had as much to do with what I’m going through now as it is poring over my previous break-ups (as I tend to do while heartbroken).

I had an ex-lover pass away this summer–there is no further closure I’m ever going to get from her. I really had always fantasized that at some point we’d be across the aisle from each other at our best friends’ wedding and we’d salvage a tender friendship out of our brief courtship. Any closure I get from my relationship with Luscious is going to be from working through my process, as it actually cannot come from her.

I think there are certain aspects of relationships that can see some tangible closure. One time I had an ex who owed me a bunch of money and I didn’t let it go. For years I watched friends walk away from top surgery loans and laptop loans of thousands of dollars to scoundrel exes or just plain sad exes. They did this because they just wanted a clean break and to not worry about it. For me it was important to close that element of my relationship. Plus, my electricity got shut off because he left this huge debt on our electric bill and the company rolled it over onto my new account and I had to come up with the money on my own, which was really hard at the time.

Self-advocacy is really difficult to do for yourself, especially when emotions are involved. But I kept at it, with letters and copies of joint bills and the bitter recollection of that week of living with candles for lights and no internet. And then I finally got checks every other week until it was paid off. I settled for slightly less than what I thought his debt was, but it was worth it to get it all done.

So I had financial closure but it still took months and even years to work through the emotions of our break-up and the closure I needed. I’ve got three years of perspective now and I still can only guess why or how. The damage of being cheated on, being broken up with in an email with no face to face conversation and all of that took a lot of work on my own terms.

Some closure won’t come until you start dating again. I wondered if I could ever love again as hard as I loved him. And it turns out I did and I can.


Me & my friend Berlin saying hi to his GF/my friend Ally who was in Portland. Berlin is the Ethical Butcher. Go to his classes & dinners!

Sometimes it helps me to write letters. I don’t like cutting people out of my life who did something horrible to me without explaining in plain language just exactly why I won’t ever speak to them again. Once someone lied to me so much I wrote her a letter detailing the 21 lies I had caught her in. I gave it to her and I’m certain that she managed to distort her reality around the contents to make it feel okay for her. But that letter helped me to create the peace I needed in order for me to walk away. The key is in sending it with no expectation as to the response.

One time I actually received great closure from an ex. A year after we broke up we ran into each other on campus and I smiled at her. She sent me an email with great accountability and apologies. At the time I couldn’t see it as the great closure it was, but three years later I re-read it and I was like “Wow, that was really great accountability.” But it wasn’t closure for me at the time because I wasn’t in a place to see it as closure.

Wanting closure is really hard. But the thing is, you have the power to make it happen for yourself in the way that works best for you. Break-ups are a selfish time period, where you stop looking at the us, mourn the pretty picture of the us you were creating and work on yourself. There’s so much possibility in your own closure.

Sometimes you’re not going to “get” closure at all because parts of our emotional histories are sagas and can’t be wrapped up like winter sweaters. My heartbreak feels like part of a bigger saga right now, so I’m not even working on closure. What I’m trying to do instead is turn my pain into the opportunity to create the solid base inside myself where an emotional event as jarring as what I just went through doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have a grasp on anything. I’m developing the tools to stay peaceful and strong as other things blow around me.


Like one of those inflatable bop bags from the 80s that you punch and they float right back up to upright.

Things are going to get better and most of the time I believe it. And those times I don’t believe it I have the tools to call a BFF and ask them to tell me everything is going to get better. And I have art to express what I’m going through. And I have you, my sweet and wonderful readers, reminding me that expressing my pain is helping you, too. And 2,000 hits a week reminding me you’re still out there wanting to know what I’ve got going on!


9021-homo from Rebel Cupcake! All photos from RC by Nogga Schwartz.

2010-09-20

Heartbreak MFA: Additions to the Break Up Survival Guide

One of the most amazing things about being an artist is that people tell me all the time how art I’ve created or produced has been really important to them in times of trouble and strife. Many times I hear “I have been going through a really terrible break-up and Episode 2 of your podcast really helped me out.” I’ve also heard more than a few times about how Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide has been passed around like a water cooler article to friends in need.

I’m so glad these resources exist, especially in light of the huge break-up they came out of for me.

Having (yet another) friend need this list this weekend prompted me to add a few updates. I share them with you below.

1. You already have all the tools you need to get through this.

It’s true, Dorothy.

Dorothy

Remind yourself of this every moment you feel desperate. Nowadays I can use the benchmark of “my fiance cheated on me for 8 months” or “I got laid off after 5 years with the same firm” as a way in which to gain the perspective I need to keep moving. I survived those things, I know I can survive whatever else comes my way.

As queers, fat people, people of color, women, gender non-conforming folks, etc… we have been put through the paces so much by society, our familes and ourselves, we are already survivors. Hell, the fact that I made it through my teens without succeeding at suicide is a testament to an inherent survival instinct that I attribute to being very blessed and watched over.

I will say that knowing that I have the tools to deal with heartbreak is sometimes cold comfort. At this point, almost three years since my ended engagement and having dated some women who have fucked with my heart big time, I feel like I have a Master’s Degree in Heartbreak. I’ve been through this, I know I’ll get through this again and live to love again. My heart doesn’t always know that, though. Having the gentle reminder from my brain is helpful.

2. Get co-defriendant with someone.

In the first few weeks of my big break-up I really needed help knowing what to do because the terrible echo of pain so consumed me. It was nice having a friend I could call on a moment’s notice and bring my shih tzu and an overnight bag and have somewhere to be that wasn’t my empty house, or have plans to go out or whatever I felt up to at the moment. When you designate a Captain Distraction, it’s especially nice because you will likely feel so different from moment to moment it’s hard to keep yourself abreast with your feelings, let alone your myriad friends. So if you have someone who has a lot of emotional and time availability see if they’re up to be your life raft for a little while.

3. Create community around your break-up.

When I was going through my big break-up I made a special filter on the blog community I was in of other people who were dealing with big break-ups around the same time. It was really comforting to know I wasn’t alone in the pain, to hear their process and to exchange mix cds. It was also interesting to notice our different benchmarks, how rebounding affected people and how their recovery was so varied. Maybe now you might do a twitter feed or facebook filter or just have a group email list.

I also threw a big New Year’s Eve party/ritual that year for me and 10 friends where we burned letters to our exes. It was nice to get to do that as a community.

4. Take lots of hot pictures of yourself.

If you have the cash, I suggest seeking out a queer photographer home girl like Molly at Fat Bottom Boudoir or Sophie of Shameless Photography. They know how to shoot you looking your best (in any body) and will help you reclaim your body and sexuality.

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If you don’t have the cash, get a bestie, go to the MAC counter, get a free makeover. Then go to the Torrid dressing rooms or some other place full of hot fat girl clothes and try things on that are impossibly sexy with shoes that are ridiculously tall and take photos of each other.*

Use these hot pictures as new profile photos on Facebook. Looking hot is great revenge. It’s like a photo affirmation.

Advice Column

5. Throw yourself into a big art project.

My mom gave me this advice when I was crying on the phone to her during Thanksgiving. Thus, FemmeCast was born. It was a huge project (and continues to be, anyone know a good audio editor?) but being able to do something productive with my pain was totally helpful. It gave me something else to talk about and something else to think about during my worst moments.

Do you have something percolating you’ve always wanted to do? Just start.

6. Rebounding is a terrible idea.

Zoe told me when I was having my rebound that you end up having to “deal with that shit PLUS interest.” She’s totally right, too. Rebounding feels great. Why feel the heartbreak when you can focus on the joy of new love and not see any of the other red flags about how bad of an idea it is to date that person? I used to be queen rebound and I can attest it just makes things harder in the long run. Your gunk gets all jammed up and it takes a lot longer to sort through it. It also puts a lot more pressure on the new relationship to be the big savior for the heartbreak that came before.

There is no ibuprophin for heartache. It’s just through it. Rebounding is like creating a migraine out of a bad headache.

7. QVC.

I used to turn on QVC in the background whenever I was home alone to make me feel less lonely. A few months later I got a roommate, which definitely helped more. But if you’re walking around a newly empty house, QVC is nonstop enthusiastic chatter and it helps to drown out the terribles.

8. Heartbreak is an opportunity to learn about yourself.

I got a great email from my friend Genne after the disastrous rebound from my big break-up ended that began with the sentence “I don’t want to say that your picker is broken but…” and included some really great thoughtful questions to ask myself and work through in my recovery. Now, at the time I was a little taken aback at the idea that I was responsible for bringing in the inappropriate people in my life but I did see what she was saying.

My artist’s life coach Lynnee Breedlove said something similar to me during our last session. There is a reason you bring the people into your life when you do. If you can work through the reasons they’re in your life and what you can learn from the experience, it only makes you a more attuned to how to pick the next time around. And just like taking a hot photo for your facebook or creating some amazing art, it’s all about taking the time you need to create something beautiful out of your pain.

***

I hope these nuggets are helpful to some of y’all out there. Comment with your favorite heartbreak tip below and one random commenter will get a copy of a break-up cd mixed by me. I’ll pick at midnight EST on September 27, 2010.

And while we’re on theme, the next Rebel Cupcake is heartbreak themed. Lots of danceable heartbreak songs and halloween costumes!

*Always be kind to your shop girls and if they ask you to stop taking pictures be nice about it. For $10 an hour no one wants to have to tell you about store policies, so they’re doing it because they have to. Also always hang up your clothes neatly and right side out on the hangers.

2010-07-21

Radical ConSCENT

A few months ago I was at a Femme Heartshare Brunch in Minneapolis with the Twin Cities Femme Mafia and friends. Becky, Katie, Jessica and myself came up with a funny video about how to ask for consent about two scent issues–body odor and perfume.

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I turned the video into a video podcast. Enjoy!!

If anyone out there is skilled at video or audio editing and wants to help me out, I have a huge pipeline of projects I need to work on and would love motivated technical collaborators to work with!

2010-04-22

Allergies!

I have said before that vulnerability is a sign of strength. Through my sneezy haze this morning after a fitfull night unable to breathe, I asked the twitterverse for everyone’s favorite allergy tips.* Tonight’s trip to the coffee shop for the third cup of the day (so tired and woozy from congestion and meds) confirmed that I am not the only sneezy, sniffly mess in Brooklyn.

I am still fairly new to seasonal allergies. They started a three years ago for me and for awhile I thought I was just allergic to my office in North Jersey because I would drive out there and develop a bad sinus headache. It occurred to me it had more to do with the time of year and the density of flowering trees than a dislike for office parks and fluorescent lighting.

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Suggestions from the twitterverse:

1. Zyrtec-D: Jessie Dress suggested that it takes about three days for it to really work. I am trying this now, the 12 hour kind, first thing in the morning. Sarah Biz thinks that Zyrtec with no D at night is perfect for her. She finds the D drying. I know I need some preventative sudafed to keep me from getting a sinus headache.

2. Alavert D 12 and Claritin work for other twitter followers. I couldn’t find the former at CVS today.

3. Taking lots of Vitamin C is the suggestion from Golda at Body Love Wellness. She says inundating herself with C is better than anti-histamines. I am still on my grapefruit a day kick and now adding emergen-c early in the day to supplement my nighttime multi-vitamin.

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Cherry trees along the esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

4. Tylenol Sinus. My mom taught me this for sinus headaches when I started getting them. My mom is extremely scent sensitive and has had terrible allergies for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t even start wearing perfume until I moved out of the house, and forget about incense. Tylenol Sinus is pretty much the only medicine that works for my sinus headaches.

5. Jacq from Sugar recommends acupuncture. I know a lot of folks who swear by it though I have never tried it. I am likely to start soon if these allergies stay crazy. I’ll go see Geleni at The People’s Acupuncture of Brooklyn. Everyone I know is going to her and she is reportedly quite good.

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6. My friend Sophie swears by Counter Attack. You can get it in the Whole Body section at Whole Foods or from Amazon. It has worked for me to stave off colds, so I am hoping it can work for allergies. I’m using it as part of the Vitamin C assault.

7. My mom also told me about this sinus rinse thing she and her wife are huge fans of for preventing allergies. I did it tonight for the first time and it feels hella weird but my sinuses felt so much better afterward. Right now I am so hell-bent on feeling better I’ll try anything.

8. Local honey. My yoga teacher, Jyll, tipped me off to this for preventing winter colds, but apparently it also works for allergies. You can get it at the farmer’s market.

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Sam, my big sis from my sorority, enjoys Lebanese desserts in Astoria, Queens. There is a lot of honey in those desserts, though usually I just have a tablespoon of local honey on my oatmeal.

I am trying to be the kind of person who takes action instead of complaining, so I feel my multi-pronged somewhat scattershot attack on allergies at least makes me feel like I am doing something instead of just suffering.

My humidifier is set up and ready to go to help me sleep a little better tonight. If you’re out there suffering from allergies, consider me your sister in the struggle. Let me know what helps!

*Last year I did a terrible job of keeping track of what medicine worked, so I have all of these half empty boxes I am dabbling from. This past week has proven that Claritin with no sudafed does not work for me. Now I am going to just put that box in the giveaway pile.

2010-04-14

Exquisite Camaraderie: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Queer Brooklyn Nightlife

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.

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A night out in Philly a couple of years ago illustrates my early frustration with lesbian dance clubs.

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.**

Once I found out about Panty Ho’s I learned about all of the other parties going on and I was determined to get into a regular dancing rotation. Fresh from a break-up I was ready for something new. I loved the energy buzz of going out until 4 AM and meeting new people.

So I did what I do when I feel excluded—I try to include myself. I would send an email to all of my fatty and fatty ally friends before the weekend and tell them what parties and events I was going to go to in order to rally support. Even having one person on my arm was enough to get me confident enough to be out on the dance floor, making an appearance, and being part of the change I wanted to see in the scene. Sometimes I was lucky enough to roll up to 10 deep.

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At February’s Hey Queen with Taueret and Jesse.

Over the past two years I’ve gotten very entrenched in Brooklyn queer nightlife. I love this scene because it is super gender diverse—queer and gay cis and trans boys join andro queers, hipsters and Femmes of all stripes. I have learned the DJs who play music I like*** and I feel pretty confident that I can walk into one or all of the parties dressed as wild as I want to–whether or not I “fit in” I will be accepted. I’m in a great feedback loop of flamboyance.

I also rarely drink much out in Brooklyn as it is expensive and I am broke, but I have so much fun dancing and socializing I don’t really care. New York is fortunate enough to have Right Rides for those that need a safe ride home.

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Photo by Maro.

In a turn of total magic and gratitude, I am the Queen of Honor at this month’s Hey Queen party. The theme of the party is Size Queen—in celebration of body diversity and all of the ways in which you can be a size queen. A big shift from going into the queer nightlife feeling like one of the only fatties!! Size Queen is on Friday night and I am planning hourly outfit changes as I have the benefit of a backstage.

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The one thing that always bothered me about the fact that it is more of a party “circuit” than just one club, is that it is hard to know what is going on unless you get on everyone’s email list/facebook group. I have found the trick is to check TheQueerist.com (if you are an event promoter anywhere in North America PLEASE put your events on that listing service—it is fabulous and free and Lissa the webmaster is a treasure) and also the “friends events” tab on FaceBook.

Panty Ho’s is over, but there are a lot of other monthly or occasional parties that pop up.

*Sweat!, run by Khane Kutzwell, is an all queer, all gender expressions, all dance, all night sort of gig. Held at a lot of different venues, the crowd really gets rolling by midnight and is very diverse.
*Hey Queen! as previously mentioned, is on the third Friday of the month at Sugarland in Williamsburg. The promoters, Amy Agony, Scout, Kitty La Kitty & Sarah Jenny are very diligent about the inclusion of a lot of different parts of the queer community.
*That’s My Jam is the biggest queer dance party in town. Run by DJ Tikka Masala and Bad Boy Trent (both really amazing folks), it’s a really fabulous place to just go and dance. The performances, when they happen, are always top notch–they had MEN in February and introduced me to SheDick. It’s generally on a Saturday night.
*DJ Tikka also throws a few other nights around town so it is worth getting on her email list.
*He’s a Rebel is a queer soul night at Nowhere Bar. Not in Brooklyn (the East Village) but still fun to get dressed up in vintage duds and dance. Zan is an incredible DJ.
*Original Plumbing Release Parties! Both have been absolutely amazing and packed in NYC. They have them in other cities as well! (Related–Murray Hill’s Mr. Transman 2010 Pageant is on April 25th!)
*GayFace mysteriously pops up now and then with dance parties.
*Banned! was going on regularly last summer and hopefully will return again this year. Always a lot of fun.
*Muff Muff Give. I don’t know if it is actually on the third Friday, but people can always party hop to Hey Queen.
*Rumours. In a little room above Public Assembly. It has the air of a speakeasy.
*Rebel Cupcake. Me, living the dream, with a flamboyance & body positive queer dance party for folks of all shapes & flavors. It’s going to be Thursdays, monthly. The first one is May 6, International No Diet Day!

There are a few others, you should pop over to OutAboutBrooklyn blog for more regular listings.

What I love about this roll of parties and events is that they are events BY queers FOR queers. Each party promoter saw a need and decided to do the work to fulfill it. As a producer of shows and events for over 10 years, I know finding a good, consistent venue, booking it and promoting is no small feat. It truly comes out of a love for community and making a safe space for good times. Exquisite camaraderie.

In sum, I want to say that it is super worth it to create a niche in a scene if you feel like it needs body and gender diversity. Oftentimes when I was coming out as fat and femme, I felt really ostracized in nightlife because I just didn’t fit in. But rallying my friends and doing what I needed to feel comfortable really helped me create what is now a really amazing nightlife for myself. Also, my fashion motto for going out in Brooklyn is to wear whatever I will feel most fabulous in, and not worry about whether or not people are going to get dressed up. I’ve gotten opportunities simply because someone knew me as the “fat femme in the french maid’s outfit”. Imagine if I’d let my insecurities keep it at home?

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Check out this video in honor of the last Panty Ho’s made by the gorgeous Sarah Jenny (above with Ice Queen hair bling). It shows the magic of the queer nightlife. I’m in it wearing an outfit inspired by Heather #1 from Heathers.

Ally moved away and broke our hearts—I sang Acapella versions of “End of the Road” to her for an entire week

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*Tip of the tiara to Damien Luxe for “A Femme Loves a Fag / A Fag Loves a Femme.” I’ve used this turn of phrase constantly and even applied it to specific sex acts.
**Though, ironically, the promoter of the party would end up being Ally, who has the best manicures ever.
***My top local DJs, in no particular order, are DJ Shomi Noise, DJ Sirlinda, DJ Tikka Masala, DJ Amber Valentine, DJ Designer Imposter, DJ Lil’ Rae, DJ As If. Almost all of these DJs have played Pointer Sisters at my request.

2010-03-14

Get Some South in Yo’ Mouth!: Lola Dean’s Time-Tested Tips for the Ultimate Blow Job Performance

Happy Steak & Blow Job Day! Here at Queer Fat Femme I decided to delay my celebration until Steak & Blow Job Day (Observed) and in the meantime I have made today an academic study brushing up on blow job skills and steak preparation.

This is a good steak primer, from Jen, a friend on Facebook.

Good steak is pan-seared. The trick is to pat it off with paper towel, etc., to get it as dry as possible before it hits the pan. That way, it will crust nicely on the outside and retain the juices inside. And don’t overcook it – steak MUST BE medium rare.

Also, let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Check out the reluctant gourmet website, for interesting tips.

I asked my friend Lola Dean, who won an audience favorite award in a recent blow job competition in a certain legendary Park Slope basement, to provide her tips for S & BJ Day.

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Photo by Shameless Photography.

From the flat lands of the Southern Delta, Lola Dean comes to NYC with sassy, white-trashy spirit. Typically found around the queer performance spaces of New York as a burlesque artist with a sultry stage repertoire, she now steps offstage and into the bedroom to provide these erotic tips on giving your sweetie a sensual and special blow job performance.

If you’re thinking of giving your lover(s) the royal treatment on “Steak and Blow Job Day,” I would encourage you to brush up on your oral service skills to make the holiday special and unforgettable. A full belly can only be complemented by a great blow job, so take your task seriously, and your sweetheart(s) will sing your praises…quite literally. Many of us (but certainly not all) queer femmes service our lover(s)’ not-so-permanent cocks (i.e. dildos and toys), and while this is my specialty, I think these tips can be applied across the board for all body types and genders. First, remember this is a performance, so show us what you got! You are front and center, so pull all the stops, and dazzle your sweetheart by following these three tips:

1. Take it slow. Unless of course, your sweetie likes it quick and dirty! But generally speaking, you want to take your time and make a show for your sweetie. Prolonging the act builds excitement, which will intensify the orgasm. Jumping the gun by putting the entire cock in your mouth too soon can spoil the build up. If it helps, sing a song in your head and set “benchmarks” for the verses and choruses. For example, you can sing through Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and promise to only make it halfway down the shaft by the time she leaves her heart and hand on the dance floor. Just don’t get too caught up in the song that you forget to focus on your lover’s pleasure!

2. Spice it up. This is perhaps, my favorite cock-sucking tip, because it leaves room for creativity, fantasy, and personal preference. The key to spicing up a blow job is being adventurous. For all you femmes and fags, swipe on your favorite shade of lipstick and open wide. The smeared lipstick on both your sweetie’s cock and your lips makes for great visuals and an erotic opportunity for gender expression. I encourage you to also consider role-plays and how a blow job scene can be used to enhance the play. Does your lover have a penchant for boss-secretary fantasies? Set up an “executive chair” and get on those knees! The possibilities are limitless, so let your imagination run wild, and your sweetie will be grateful.

3. Take special care. The third tip is quite possibly, the hardest to master, as it takes attention to detail and more than a little imagination. Taking special care of your lover during a blow job involves performing the service as if every inch of the cock has special and sensitive nerve endings, and every motion and touch can be felt by your lover. Ok, I know I know… you’re eyeing your silicone cock with suspicion right about now. After all, it’s not real, right? Nonsense! Reality lives inside our own erotic imaginations. Flick your tongue on the sensitive soft “skin” underneath the head. Kiss the tip with slow passion and care. If you want to test your gag reflexes, hold the base and slide the entire shaft in until your throat muscles inevitably protest. And I promise your sweetie’s toes will curl. Taking special care lets your lover(s) know you are thinking of their pleasure both physically and emotionally.

And, lastly, there’s nothing hotter than showing your lover(s) that you care about their sexual health and safety, so adorn the cock with a condom and/or play with toys that can be sterilized. And just like your favorite Babeland-bought, mint-flavored condoms, one size does not fit all in the blow job tip department. Experiment with these suggestions, talk to your lover(s) about their bodies and desires, and above all have fun! Share your thoughts and additional tips in the comments, and let the sexy blow job knowledge spread far and wide!

Catch Lola Dean with Bevin & The Baconettes at this month’s That’s My Jam Party! Sure to be magical!

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2010-01-25

I Try To Love Myself As Much As She Loved Me

I met Liz when I was 11 years old, when she decided to marry my absentee father.

Dad and Liz got engaged 9 days after they met as adults. They both grew up in the same mid-size city in California’s Central Valley and were high school classmates. An accident at the factory Dad worked at brought him to the emergency room where Liz was an intake clerk.

Once they were engaged, Dad called me to tell me about it. I remember speaking to Liz on the phone, she was so excited to finally “have a daughter”. She said it over and over again, that she’d always wanted a daughter.

Liz had two sons, 19 year old Richard Luke was living in Germany with the army. (I could never wrap my head around why that kid had two first names.) The youngest, Shawn, was almost 14 still lived at home. My Dad moved in with them right away.

At this point in my life my dad was intermittently in the picture. My parents separated by the time I was 15 months old and my mom worked really hard to make sure he had a presence in my upbringing, even though we lived two hours away in the Bay Area. My mom ran out of steam covering for my dad’s lazy parenting by the time I was 6 or so, and I hadn’t really seen him more than a couple times a year. The logistics of getting a kid for a weekend when you live two hours away is a little complicated for someone who doesn’t make a lot of money and barely pays his child support as it is.

By the time I was 11 I was horribly shy. I was always a fat kid and being a fat kid turns from cute to, well, graceless around the Tween years. Of course they didn’t have that cutesy word “Tween” in the 80s, back then it was just fat and awkward.

I was well-aware of my fat by then, everyone in my life teachers, peers, relatives and my beloved television wanted to remind me of the fact that I was fat. I was a total bookworm. In books I didn’t have to see the differences so starkly between me and the main characters. I could easily blend into the Baby Sitters Club. I always identified with cosmopolitan native New Yorker Stacy. She had fluffy blond hair and good fashion sense.

In real life I had fluffy golden brown hair with streaks I got in the summertime at camp. I longed to be normal and thin.

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.

My mom wasn’t what I would call emotionally nurturing. She was a stressed out single mom putting herself through undergrad. There was always a contingency and a reward to meet. Usually it was “get good grades and you’ll get this” and “lose weight and you’ll get that”. I was exceptionally good at the former. The fact that Liz was so proud of me regardless of my latest accomplishment felt bizarre. My weight was never an issue.

She had lived in the same town almost all of her 40 years. Everywhere we went when I visited she either already knew someone or got to know someone new. She would always introduce me as her daughter. I would blush when she said this because I thought it wasn’t true and it never made sense to me. I also felt a little weird because she was so open and friendly with strangers. She had a huge heart and was extremely welcoming to strangers. She was proud of being friends with all sort of people, including a big biker crowd from her younger days. I was jealous of her self-confidence.

I didn’t get to go to Dad and Liz’s wedding because of some last minute drama having to do with some friend of the family who was supposed to be my chaperone on greyhound that didn’t work out. I went for Thanksgiving a few weeks later and watched the wedding video so many times over the next few years each frame feels like my own memory.

Her family was huge. Five girls, all fat, most of them had five kids of their own. Everyone would gather at Liz’s mom’s house the day after Thanksgiving to make tamales. It was a huge ordeal, making hundreds of them, with many different stations going at once and different groups responsible for different parts of the assembly.

The house was cozy and humid, smelled sweet with a tang of chili and meat and filled with talking and laughing. I was placed in the masa station, spreading a white dough made from cornmeal dough, lard and salt on the insides of damp corn husks. Liz and one of her sisters or her mom would put meat and an olive inside each one. One of the kids would fold them into little pockets. They would then go into a steamer for awhile and then placed into freezer bags by the dozen.

I remember my step brother Shawn complaining that the other kids in the family had to be teenagers before they got to spread the masa, but somehow I was the exception. Liz ignored his complaint, and I kept assembling tamales.

They treated me like one of their own, and I came back year after year with Liz to spread the masa.

My visits to my Dad increased exponentially once Liz was there to motivate them.

Liz loved to go garage saling, where she taught me to haggle and bought me lots of stuffed animals I didn’t need but I certainly wanted. We would pile into her car with her friend Terry, who was a little fatter than Liz. I remember one time Terry pulled out a seat belt extender so that she could use the seatbelt in the car, they were both very excited that their older cars with seat belts made for very small people were just a little bit safer for them.

We spent a lot of time crafting. She would set me up with a cross stitch or a beading project and we would sit at TV trays side by side watching TV and laughing. When I let my guard down around Liz I felt very comfortable. She talked about what it would be like when I had babies and how she couldn’t wait for me to have a daughter. I was just being adolescent and contrary when I claimed I would refuse to let her put my babies in ruffle butt tights.

She loved clothes. I remember when she got approved for a Lane Bryant credit card she was ecstatic and immediately maxed it out on new things from the catalog.

She loved the color pink. She collected elephant everything. Whenever I was at a loss for what to get her for Christmas I would get her a blinged out elephant knick knack and she would love it.

Richard Luke got married in Germany. Liz was devastated that she couldn’t go to the wedding, but a transcontinental trip was entirely out of the question financially. I promised she would have a lot of fun at my wedding and was already working out in my head how I would handle the mom/step-mom dynamics.

Liz told me about her ex husband a few times. Richard Luke was born out of wedlock and later she married Shawn’s dad. He was abusive. Her struggle to leave him was epic and she had to work her way off welfare.

Liz and Dad loved each other a lot, that was clear. My dad hit my mom, which was why she left. I am unsure whether or not Dad was ever violent with Liz, though I remember a screaming fight I witnessed when I was 16 or so that drove Shawn out of the house with me in hot pursuit. From what I could tell they mostly fought about money and Dad’s drinking. They also expressed their love pretty regularly, too. She saved one dried flower from every bouquet Dad ever gave her in a jar under the TV.

While Liz was outgoing and confident, and dressed as well as she could manage with not a lot of money or access to cute plus size clothes, she did talk about losing weight. Not as regularly as my mom, but of course I didn’t live with her so I’ll never know for sure. She had a lot of chronic health problems that her doctors always blamed on weight. She was regularly dealing with asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, among other things. She also complained of aches and pains and trouble walking.

Being fat was hard for her, too. She didn’t always fit in seats. Had she ever made that transcontinental flight she would have been in a lot of pain from the armrests.

I remember one time we were in our pajamas and I saw her belly peak out from under her loungerie. It had a dimple in it, below the belly button. I thought it was so odd and was slightly horrified. I developed the same dimple myself by the time I was 20. I hadn’t been exposed to naked fat women before, I didn’t know what that kind of flesh was supposed to look like.

She dealt with being fat very differently from my mother. Mom switched us to nonfat milk really early in my childhood, I don’t remember ever having butter instead of margarine. We stocked our pantry with diet food. Things could have tasted so much better if we focused on moderation, vegetables and using real ingredients.

Liz would cook full force with fat. One time when I saw the giant bucket of lard from the tamales I was shocked. But she never really stopped, and her cooking was incredible. I think she would occasionally diet.

Around 1996 the drug Fen-Phen started making its rounds. It was a weight-loss drug made from fenfluramine and phentermine. It was heavily marketed and people were seeing pretty immediate results. I was about to graduate from high school and my mom suggested I start taking it. I blew her off, as I often did, especially about weight loss stuff.

A year or so later Liz told me over the phone that she had been taking Fen-Phen to help with her medical issues and was losing weight pretty quickly. She was excited about that.

In early 1997 valvular heart disease and pulmonary hypertension started showing up, mostly in women who took the drug. It was taken off the market in September of that year. While I was in college I saw Liz and Dad less because I was busy with school and my social life. She stopped taking Fen-Phen and I never did notice any difference in her weight.

In mid-1998, toward the end of my Sophomore year of college, I went to visit Dad and Liz for Dad’s graduation from Community College and his 50th birthday. It was really important to Liz that I be there. We did all of our regular stuff, crafting, hanging out. She told me that weekend she was trying to get in touch with the child my Dad fathered in high school but was put up for adoption, and that Dad was putting up resistance.

Just three months later I was coordinating move-in at my dorm. That morning I had been getting ready and looked outside my window at the sky and felt really peaceful and happy, which was unusual for me at the time—I was starting to come out of a several year long depression and was taking steps to stop hating myself. I got a message from my mom to call home right away. When I talked to my mom that night she told me that Liz had died.

Liz woke up, kissed Dad and went out to the living room. About and hour later he got up to join her. She was on the couch, dead from a heart attack. She was 48 years old. That week she had been complaining that her asthma was acting up. Her heart was weakened. Probably from the Fen-Phen.

I was devastated and in shock. Mom offered to come with me to the funeral but I said no. I didn’t want to add to the confusion and weirdness with the ex-wife dynamic. The weekend was bizarre and hard. I had never been to a funeral before. My dad was drinking again. He had me sleep on Liz’s side of the bed, and I didn’t know how to say no, that that was weird and bad boundaries and I didn’t want to sleep on my dead step-mom’s side of the bed.

We’re all Catholic, at least mostly. The Rosary was the night before the funeral and it was open casket. I walked up the aisle and burst into hysterics that I didn’t want to see her like that. My Dad’s mom, who had been really cruel to me as a child, was the nicest and most nurturing I’d ever known her to be that night. She brought me into the pew and told me I didn’t have to see her like that if I didn’t want to.

The mass was big and weird and there were hundreds of people there. I felt this obligation to stay with my dad, even though I probably should have just gone with my grandparents. His house became this huge party with all of this drinking and pot smoking and at 19 years old I was still pretty square and still wasn’t drinking a lot in college. I felt uncomfortable, unsafe, and scared. I didn’t know how to articulate what I needed because I didn’t know how to advocate for myself.

I went back to school. I tried not to deal with it. I did pretty well.

I am angry that I only knew Liz when I was an adolescent and didn’t appreciate her the way I wish I had. I am angry that her physical heart was affected because her doctors treated her weight and not her symptoms. I am angry that Liz never got to go to any of her children’s weddings. I am angry that Dad never joined the class action suits against the makers of Fen-Phen. They paid out over $14 billion in settlements. But at the same time I certainly didn’t want to have to think about it or interact with him that much to do the work of making it happen.

Over the years little things occur to me. The way Liz always wanted to make people feel special and at ease, the way she was welcoming. I get that from her. I loved that about her. Her huge metaphorical heart cannot be weakened by a pharmaceutical company’s greed and exploitation.

I think about the plus size resale store I work in now and how much she would have loved it. I work hard at body liberation activism because I want to make it easier for people to live in this world and I don’t want Fen-Phen to ever happen again. I think about Liz every time I see an elephant tchotchke. I can’t wait to have a daughter.

*I feel compelled to share this story now, as an initial draft, as a way of honoring Liz and bringing her into my adult life. Especially in light of the perpetual crop of weight-loss drugs on the market, the fact that I keep hearing ads for them on the radio and in side-bars on websites, and the fact that on Friday the LA Times and New York Times reported that the FDA in America chose to recommend “stronger warnings” on the sides of Meridia bottles while the European Union recommended a ban of the product. I guess posting this story is my way of turning my rage over that news into productivity.

2009-12-01

World AIDS Day & More on Medical Self-Advocacy

You know how weird it is to think that I have never known a world without AIDS? I remember growing up and it was new and scary, and with family friends in the LGBT community* I always knew about it in some way or another. It is weird to think about it now as having been around for almost three decades, which is actually a really long time.

When I was about five my single mom and I lived with two gay guy roommates. One of them was the only person I would let brush my hair because I had such a tender scalp. I was completely unaware of it at the time, but they both tested positive. I remember one of them moved away to live with his mom in Texas. I didn’t know at the time it was to be in hospice.

Bevin age 6
Me, age 6, in front of that house not long after Rob moved away. I need to get my mom to scan me some photos from that era.

Not everyone is touched by HIV or AIDS directly, but I think everyone can do their part to create awareness, know their HIV status and practice safe sex.

You know sometimes STD screenings don’t automatically include every STD? It’s frustrating because I go to a sort of run of the mill not homo GYN and I am sure I am one of the only unmarried and queer patients. I always have to give them a laundry list of what I want to be tested for.

Sometimes it is weird to put words to asking for an HIV test, but it’s really important! I know WAY too many people (myself included) who have been cheated on in the most heinous and unsafe of ways. It’s really important to trust no one but yourself when it comes to getting tested.

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Here’s a picture of me in an actual moment where I was unaware of the cheatin’ going on! Accompanied by Zoe, who had that fateful come to Jesus moment with me in a car on the way to the Paramus mall about confronting things.

I don’t ever want to think when I’m monogamous or whatever that there’s even a possibility my partner could have given me an STD but it’s real. Get tested, for everything, once a year. Think of how nice it will be to KNOW that your partner didn’t give you an STD that calendar year!**

Also I know way too many people who have died from ovarian cancer and other lady parts cancers. Get screened for cancer (as much as they can), too. The earlier HIV, cancers and other diseases are found, the easier they are to get treated.

This is also especially important for people who are not of normative bodies and genders. It’s really vulnerable to go to a doctor when you’re fat and are going to get the fat talk or when you are transgender and are going to get the [insert laundry list of fears, here]. Bring a friend who can be your advocate and hold your hand. It’s really important to get your bits checked no matter what kind of bits you have and how they line up with the outside.

Take it from someone whose routine trip to the GYN turned into a kerfuffle of mis[fat]diagnosiswhen a doctor is supposed to be treating you for something and launches into the fat talk you can politely tell them “I am not here to discuss my weight with you. I am here to discuss my bits, my HIV status and whether I am at risk for cancers.” I like to have a mantra to prepare ahead of time.

And, luckily, since that terrible trip to the GYN, I haven’t had a fat hating doctor. I am about to get health insurance again and the first thing I plan to do is get my bits checked, my blood drawn and my HIV status confirmed.

If you’re uninsured and lucky enough to be in a town with an LGBT clinic, you can sometimes get low or no cost HIV tests and other exams. Use the resources available to you to keep you safe and up to date about your status. Those resources weren’t there when our loved ones started getting sick, but they are there now.

Do something to revere their memories.

*My mom, who is now Lesbian identified and gay married, was in and out of the closet a couple of times while I was growing up.
**I can imagine the girl talk emails that ensue. “OMG y’all, I didn’t get an STD from my monogamous partner! Woo hoo!” Considering the amount of girl talk emails I have gotten that had a different result.

2009-11-25

Single in Sharp Relief

Thanksgiving is a really hard time of year for me. It is one of those holidays that puts into sharp relief how very single I am. I am happy with my life, I am making my life into the kind of life I want to be living and am extremely grateful that I’m not in an unhappy, unsatisfying and sad lesbian foot warming* kind of relationship.

However, when you were in a relationship (or 2 back to back relationships, in my case) where you were creating a family… Thanksgiving is just one of those family holidays where you feel extra weird when your day to day family doesn’t involve other people.

Just like Bad Fat Days, which happen to all fat activists and body loving fat people, being Single in Sharp Relief can be jarring even for the most ardently happy single person. But we already have all the coping mechanisms we need to get through it, just like Bad Fat Days.

The first thing I like to do is to be really grateful for the opportunities I have because I’m single. Thanksgiving is obviously an appropriate time of year for that, though I do a gratitude practice year round. Historically troublesome as it is, it is nice that Thanksgiving is a time when all the folks in the US are reminded to be grateful for what we have.**

*Holidays can be really stressful for couples and I get to enjoy the holidays in whatever way I decide to do them.
*I have a lot of self-reflection time.
*I get to think more critically about what I want out of my life and where I am going without worrying about compromise.
*I get to decide where I go on a Friday night without worrying about compromise.
*I get to flirt with any other single folks wherever I go.
*I get to save money or spend it on myself when I have it, rather than lots of money spent on couple gifts/activities.
*I don’t have to worry about the stresses of dealing with my partner’s people or family.
*I get to focus 100% on my family of choice and origin.
*I can have the high priority of travel without worrying about my partner not being able to come along or making those compromises.

Of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to have a special someone in my life–I am a serious nester and do enjoy making the magic of a relationship. But I think the more you get involved in creating the magic of your single life you take a more critical eye to constructing a relationship that brings out the best in both of you, instead of defaulting to compulsory couplehood. Believe me, I was in two back to back partnerships for 5 years and both were big giant lesbian plunge situations. Nothing carefully constructed.

My BFF Rachael actually pointed out to me recently when I was talking about bad dates making you jaded that being jaded can be a good thing. “It makes your expectations for people’s behavior higher, which is good because you want to have a critical eye towards giving away your affections.”

So, in the meantime, it is nice to be in a place where I am excited about singlehood and focusing on the positive, even in the face of the Thanksgiving single stress.

As far as holiday plans I am in a unique place because my immediate family is very small (just my mom) and my extended family is scattered and only about medium size. I have spent my fair share of Thanksgivings and other holidays being another family’s 5th wheel or sidecar with my mom. Now I am a total free agent when it comes to compulsory holidays. Because it costs so much to travel and I always have had some sort of employment that requires my attention around the holidays, I’ve only been back home to the Bay Area for Christmas once in the last 7 years.

Being a free agent for the holidays is really exciting because I can figure out what I want to do and have creative community gatherings. This year I am really excited to share a Thanksgiving table with some of my favorite Brooklyn artists and have a turkey served from the glorious hands of Sarah Jenny wearing a vintage apron.

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L-R: Damien, Bryn, me and Sarah Jenny at the Original Plumbing release party in Brooklyn about a month ago. I should finish my review of the magazine.

*See Episode 6 of FemmeCast to learn about that phenomenon.

**Sometimes when you’re so stuck in your personal pity party, you need to reach out to your friends to help out. Big love to Kentucky Fried Woman and Ally for their help with this entry and reminding me why I am glad to be single even during Thanksgiving!

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