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

2015-09-18

I’m Moving to LA and Here’s My Process

I’m really getting right to business in the title of this post. Yup, I’m moving. From Brooklyn to LA. I’m a queer, let’s process about how I got to that decision!

Two years ago, if you had told me I would be moving to LA at 36 years old I would laugh in your face. I grew up in Northern California. I have lots of complex feelings about my hometown and the East Bay surrounding it. I love to visit SF and Oakland and especially the Northern California coastal lands (e.g. Marin and Half Moon Bay). But I wouldn’t want to live there. Dot com stuff really changed how expensive it is there and most of the Bay feels pretty suburban and not appealing to me.

bevininbigbearMe visiting Big Bear, CA, which I LOVED and is only 2 hours from LA.

When you grow up in Northern CA you are taught a kind of regional disdain for Southern CA. I think Northern Californians buy into stereotypes that LA is all airy fairy and image-obsessed. Whenever I’d flip through LA Weekly and see nothing but ads for plastic surgeons I would allow that to be my perception of the entire region. (Not to mention the fact that I’ve become pretty airy fairy as I’ve become spiritual in my 30s.)

Much of my extended family is in Southern California and I thought that because I’d visited it twice a year most of my life that I had an understanding of the area. But mostly I know their suburbs (Ventura County, which is actually phenomenal and beautiful, and Palm Springs, which I adore) but not LA proper. I literally only stepped foot in LA for family events or the airport.

I moved to Camden, NJ for law school in August, 2000, from my cozy college town in Davis, CA. I didn’t expect to stay on the East Coast. I thought that I’d go to school and come back to settle in the Bay Area because that’s what I knew and my friends from college were mostly concentrated there. But things changed. One of my favorite people from college moved to Jersey City and I spent a lot of time visiting John in Jersey City. John’s couch generosity for those two years really changed my life. I got to experience NYC the best way you can as a broke law student, with close friends and a lot of alcohol.

MeJohnGroveStPath2002Me and John at the Grove Street PATH station.

I was drawn to NYC by magic—I genuinely felt a creative life force energy in me whenever I would come up to NYC and frolic in the East and West Village. It was a different place back then, Meow Mix was still open, and The Cock was somewhere by 9th Street and the Lower East Side was really queer whereas now it’s covered with hoardes of drunk straight folks on weekend nights.

JohnNicoleTheCock2002John and Nicole in front of the Cock in about 2001 or 2002.

That creative life force energy when you visit NYC and it is calling to you is pretty different once you get here and have to hustle hard to make rent. Midtown during the day has a really different energy than nightlife in the Village. But still, NYC kept her promises and I got really creative here. It’s always been a struggle for me managing the practicalities of feeling “safe” with the call to produce and create cultural events, community organizing, performing and writing. Surrounded by the artists and activists I know here I was given so many great examples of creating art while holding down a hustle.

I always knew that I wasn’t a lifer in New York City. I don’t know if I’ll have kids, but if I do I would love to do it somewhere with a driveway. I really enjoy parking in a parking lot that is attached to Target. I love going out into nature, I find it really soothing and centering. One of my favorite most spiritual things I can do is be somewhere where I can look in one direction and only see what the Goddess has made. (The beach is great for that.) I guess I always thought that I’d eventually move to Atlanta or Austin or another medium sized city.

Enter Dara, my wonderful and supportive partner. The first time we dated, she brought up that she was thinking about moving to LA. Having lived there just after college for two years she loved it and always wanted to go back. She pulled the trigger, deciding to become a “single nomad” and broke up with me. (OMG if this was the Mindy Project I could make a funny joke right now but mostly I’m just happy for the messy beginning so we can have a stronger now.) She traveled the country, ending up in LA and just after she landed was diagnosed with breast cancer. She wanted to be treated in NYC, so back she came, her attempt to move thwarted. When she got back here and I reunited we talked about her desire to move to LA and I laughed because I didn’t want to go, but that we would figure out our departure from NYC when the time came.

grillinginbigbearWhen we move to LA my intention is to get one of those adorable 2 bedroom bungalows with a backyard and a detached garage. You can rent them for about what each of us pay in NYC for apartments. Macy is going to love a backyard.

I could feel my swan song with NYC beginning last Fall. Coming off the most chaotic and difficult year of my life (but still really great in complex ways) I started doing some heavy reflecting on my values and priorities. I realized that my seasonal depression (which can be as long as six months) was grinding me to a halt creatively. As I work on developing my psychic gifts, I realize how draining it is for me to be around a lot of people all at once. For me, even going to the gym can be draining because there’s at least 100 people on the trip from my house. And self care is one of my top priorities. I realized I was living in a place with an expiration date. Here I hustle hard for the money to live here, as well as hustle hard to maintain the self care that helps me feel good and that doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy to do the work that I am passionate about.

On our post chemo road trip through CA last October we stopped in LA for a day. Dara really wanted to show me what she loved about it. We just went to Echo Park to meet my friend Taylor Black for lunch and a wander, but it surprised me. The energy was different than I thought. It was a mellow city hustle bustle, but with nature right in there, with big, undeveloped hills and regional parks throughout the East LA area. I started opening up to the idea of moving there.

As a spiritual person, I understand the decision making process to be self-correcting. If I’m following my inner guidance from the Goddess, I’m going to be on the path I’m meant to be. So if I were to decide to move to LA and it wasn’t right, I’d get signs. Doing self care is really important for me so that I can be calm enough to notice the signs and feelings directing me.

I think sometimes the Goddess guides me nicely in a whisper, the stern voice is somewhere in the middle and then I get the hollering through pain. A lot of my biggest turning points in life happened after really painful endings before I had the chance to act on that gut instinct about how that day job really didn’t suit me and I wanted more flexibility to work on my art or how my fiance and I really wanted different things in life… Things like that. I was worried that I would stay in NYC until it got painful.

bevinwatchingeclipseWe visited LA last October during a solar eclipse, and this juice bar just gave out glasses to go watch it. So magical.

So, when I’m making a big decision, I start out by just acting as though I’ve decided. What does that look like, how does that feel? I spent about 4 months considering the move to LA, and then a friend of mine passed away. We weren’t close, but I took it as the sign I’d been praying for. (The thing I knew about her most was that she had moved cross country from a comfortable existence and a job she liked and then moved on faith and it was a great choice for her. Laura Mulley’s blog is here, I recommend starting fro the beginning it’s amazing.) I’ve had lots of friends pass under the age of 40. It has really sucked to get this practiced at grief. But I also know there is usually a learning in my grief and it was that week that I decided moving cross country was the right choice. This was March, so I gave myself 9 months, human gestation period, to get my ducks in a row and ready to go.

My Grandmother is another big factor in my move. She lives in Palm Springs, she’s still very independent and we have a lot in common, being Capricorn glamour babes who love woo. I have always hoped that my money situation would pop off and I would get to go visit Grandmother every couple of months from NYC but that hasn’t happened. I would love to get to spend more time with her.

Also, my Aunt and her progeny all live in Southern California and I love them a lot. I don’t know them very well, since I was raised 8 hours away and we saw one another twice a year. But whenever I do get to see them as an adult I enjoy them and I think it would be rad to see them more often.

I genuinely never thought that I would be one of those queers who moves to be closer to family. But I guess I am? I watched a lot of 19 Kids and Counting over the Winter (I have a LOT I can say about the Duggar scandals) and one of the things I loved most about the show is seeing what it is like to be intimate with your family. As the only child of a single mom, I did not have an experience of unconditional love and support and family intimacy growing up. I’d love to know what it’s like to have someplace to go every holiday, even the little ones I don’t super acknowledge in my hustle bustle NYC life.

So, all of this came down to feeling pulled to LA. I visited in May to get to know all the various areas of LA and finalize what neighborhood we’re looking to move to (more on that in another post).

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It was important to me to have my own independent reasons to move rather than just going with a partner. A friend of mine pointed out it’s totally okay to move for and with a partner and she was right. I am really excited to do this with Dara because doing things together is fun as we love an adventure. We haven’t lived together formally (though she stayed in my apartment with me during the last two months of chemo) and we are fatigued with the schlep inherent in not living together.

I’m really looking forward to the changes from this move. God is change and I want to be open to the next big things happening in my life by opening up all this energy!

I’m also kind of scared. I don’t know what my day job is going to look like. I promised myself when I took the Bar exam that I would never do it again, and I am going to keep that promise. (When I looked into the CA requirements the yearly bar fees are double the ones I pay in the two states I’m licensed in and I got that feeling in my stomach I had when looking into a law career 12 years ago when I graduated law school.) Also, as a real estate closing attorney out here, my skills translate to either a real estate agent or a title company attorney and I’d 100% rather be a Realtor. My Grandmother was a big deal real estate agent in Beverly Hills in the 80s & 90s so it’s kind of a family thing. And, with any luck, my line of Reiki infused teas will pop off and I won’t need a day job and can just focus on stuff I’m passionate about! (I enjoy real estate but it’s not like my life blood energy the way doing work in the world to help people feel at home in their bodies is.)

I’m also presently planning the logistics of the move (just to get a quote from PODS I was on the phone for 40 minutes… $5,000) and starting a project management plan for getting everything done. I have no idea how and when to get rid of stuff, so I’m going to do some interviews of folks I know who did a cross country move before.

Me, Macy and Dara leave NYC on December 20th, and arrive in LA around March 1st. We’re taking a month for a DIY artist residency so I can finish my book finally, and then taking a lingering trip through the Southern route to see lots of friends/family and for me to do readings and parties. Currently we’re planning stops at Dollywood, Atlanta, Key West, Ft Lauderdale, New Orleans, Austin, Albuquerque, Tucson and Las Vegas.

2014-10-10

Nine Steps to Be Ready to Wear Sleeveless Shirts or Shorts Next Summer

If you spent this summer consistently covering up your arms because you were ashamed to show that part of your body, now is a great time to start working on being ready for next year. You can unlearn the lies that people tell you about how you have to cover up in order to be socially acceptable.

I remember very distinctly an episode of the Oprah show I watched when I was a teenager where she waved her upper arm in the air and spoke derisively about the skin and fat “waddle” dangling there. I turned crimson with the recognition that I already had that “waddle” and that because Oprah was opposed to it then I should be ashamed of it.
2957045493_cb41415748_zI thought I’d do a little flashback Friday with photos of me sleeveless through the last decade. Here is a photo of me showing my arm waddle during a performance at the International Drag King Extravaganza in Columbus circa 2010. This is the dapper and amazing Heywood Wakefield.

Oprah is in a unique position—she’s so influential in US culture that many people listen to what she says with the same kind of attention that we might give to a parent or relative. My parents and relatives were also fatphobic and ashamed of their bodies and it was easy to internalize that the fat body I had all my life was wrong, with a hearty reiteration from Oprah.

We’re all human, though, and I recognize everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. My mom is now super supportive of my work with body liberation and Oprah is definitely much more body accepting in the twenty teens than she was in the nineties.

I don’t understand why our culture is so opposed to fat people’s arms. What is it about the arms specifically that makes us need to cover them up most of all? No fat person’s arm has caused more harm than a thin person’s.

I was on the phone with a body liberation coaching client and told her the story of how I got through my own shame about sleeveless shirts, and I wanted to share that with my readers. This is the same time of year I began that journey, so I thought it would be great to encourage others who are ready to take these steps to begin now for next summer.

I’m outlining here a process of self-acceptance and learning to be comfortable in the body you have right now. All bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are AND they deserve to be comfortable.

14558700107_5d7497a1ae_oThese are my stickers! Aren’t they cute? If anyone wants some, make a donation via paypal of any amount to queerfatfemme at gmail and include your address.

1. Get ready to do things differently

I was 19 when I embarked on the journey to start wearing sleeveless shirts. I was at an interesting turning point in my life. After a many years long, often suicidal depression, I had decided to stop hating myself. I didn’t know what that meant and I had no identifiable role models for fat people who didn’t hate themselves, but I knew I needed to do something different. That summer, I met someone who basically made me promise to stop putting myself down and work on loving myself. Grant was a lifeguard at the Girl Scout camp I worked at and he wrote me the sweetest note in my camp yearbook. It meant so much to me. It was the first time I was ever able to hear that I was worthy of not hating myself.

I knew instinctively that I was wrong for hiding my arms. It was uncomfortable and annoying and I wanted to feel the freedom of my skinny counterparts. I had a couple of tank tops as layering pieces and I started to open myself up to the idea of wearing them, and set a goal to be wearing them outside by the next year. I wasn’t sure exactly how, but I was going to do it.

If you want to do things differently, you need only set your mind to it. If you’ve been spending your summers all bottled up under hoodies or wearing pants even though you would be way more comfortable in shorts, you can move past your fear and shame and start being more confident.

You just need to want it. It’s also okay to not want it and spend the next year or however long getting to a point to want to go sleeveless or wear shorts. That’s okay, too!

2. Go shopping

If you already have tank tops or shorts you want to wear, great, skip this step. If you’ve avoided them forever, this is a great time of year to get low stakes clothing that you’re not that attached to.

Now that I’m comfortable with my body I don’t have a problem investing in pieces that are armless and short legged (herstorically I’ve spent a pretty penny on vintage lingerie pieces). But if I wasn’t comfortable in a short sleeved shirt, I wouldn’t want to spend a bunch of cash on them just to see if I could learn to love myself in spite of all the lies people tell me about my body.

Right now Target has summer clearance hanging around—I got two really great sleeveless dresses for $12 recently. And a quick search online yields promising results (like this long tank top, I love a long tank top). I also totally adore Target’s Liz Lange maternity clothes–this sleeveless V neck cami marketed for “sleep” but totally not just for sleep is a great plus size sleeveless first step shirt.

Layering pieces are super helpful for this process, too, if you need some guidance for what to buy. The tank tops I started trying out when I was 19 were meant to go under overshirts. One of my favorite looks when I was in college in the late nineties were men’s dress shirts worn open over a frilly tank top. When I was ready to wear tank tops out of the house it helped to have the layers ready to go whenever I felt shy.

If you’re wanting to try shorts out, there’s a little less layering wiggle room, but it’s a great time of year to get clearance shorts, too.

15498653845_ffa838faff_zThis is a layering look I adored in 2011, a sleeveless dress with a cardigan on top.

3. Identify confidence anchors on your body

I didn’t do this when I transitioned to tank tops, but when I came out as Femme I used this a whole bunch. I found the part of my body I felt the most confident about (my cleavage) and I dressed around it. I could try pretty much anything if my cleavage was bangin’. The Lane Bryant Plunge bra was great for this. If your anchor is your cleavage, make sure you have a great bra for stepping your way into wearing tank tops next summer.

For some tips on bra shopping check out this article I wrote about getting a custom bra fitting.

So maybe your favorite part of your body is your calves or your forearms or something. Find a way to highlight it and use it as an anchor.

647924376_8cb8653c4f_o2002, at the IDKE showcase. Corsets were really good to me in the focus on the cleavage not the arms department.

4. Practice at home

Once you have the will to try something new and the new garments you want to try, start practicing at home. At 19 I was a Resident Advisor in the dorms, so this was an experiment just in my room at Thoreau Hall at UC Davis. I would just use tank tops as my around the house wear. Previous to this I was so ashamed of my arms that I wasn’t even wearing tank tops in the privacy of my own home, not even as loungewear.

What made the tank tops different than loungewear was that I would be all dressed for outside, but in a tank top. This is where layering pieces helped—I was able to just throw on an overshirt and go about my day. But in the house, I was wearing the tank top that I wished I had the confidence to wear outside.

If you’re trying on shorts, wear them around the house and get used to what your body looks like in shorts. I know a lot of folks who are super insecure about hairy legs, cellulite, weird skin stuff and leg size or shape.

5. Identify your body positive allies

This is a really great exercise whether or not you are already a sleeveless shirt and shorts wearer. Who in your life is a body positive ally? Your best friend? A certain group of friends? I sure hope you have some folks in your life who affirm the body that you’re in right now and don’t think you need to change.

If not, start making a list of the attributes of friends who will be body positive allies to you, and open yourself up to finding those friends.

9304102569_cdb266b898_oThis was the first time I ever wore a bikini, with my friend Jacqueline.

6. Identifiy your “safer” spaces

Once you’ve identified body positive allies, come up with a list of safe(r) spaces to try out wearing new clothes. This is a great technique for any kind of fashion risk. Places I like to try things out:

*Casual hang out with your allies.
*A body positive ally comes over and you just don’t cover up your arms.
*Brunch—this is my favorite petri dish for new fashion. Low stakes and early in the day.
*Going out in public with a body positive ally who can compliment you when you’re feeling nervous.
*Going out in public with a layering piece so you can quickly cover up if you need to. Challenge yourself to go without the layer longer and longer each time.

2504463608_9827babbb3_zA little chicken satay and body positivity with Rachael, one of my oldest friends, in 2008.

7. Fake it till you make it and act “as if” you’re already comfortable in sleeveless shirts

When I was trying out tank tops I remember the first time someone came over by surprise and I just didn’t cover up my arms. It was my not-yet first girlfriend and I remember feeling embarrassed about my arms showing but also really wanted to try to be okay with it. I was so crushed out on her that it was easy to forget to be insecure because my mind was absolutely full, and that’s exactly why I forgot to put on an overshirt in the first place!

What I did was I just faked it. I pretended to be okay with my arms showing. The more it happened with folks coming over the more I realized it wasn’t a big deal. No one was going to think differently of me with my arms showing.

3683063609_4ce737edc2_zPride parade 2009 with the Femme Family NYC.

8. Instagram or tumblr body positive images

I really like to reinforce positive body image for all bodies. I love Instagram and Tumblr for this. To consistently surround myself with people who believe all bodies are good bodies and who exude self-confidence is a really great antidote for our fat shaming society. Get used to seeing bodies like yours in sleeveless tops or shorts!

By the way—never read the comments. People are gross on the internet.

Remember throughout this process—so many of us have been there. The people you see in Instagram and Tumblr feeds are people who have survived the same body policing and fat hating society. Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides. Just because someone seems confident doesn’t mean they are not vulnerable, human and insecure just like you.

9. Do what you need to do about beauty rituals to feel comfortable in sleeveless shirts

Again, this is a process of self-acceptance and learning to be comfortable in the body you have right now. However, if you need to do things to feel good in them that are achievable, maybe you try that. Maybe it’s a spray tan. Maybe it’s an arm tattoo. Maybe it’s shaving your legs every single day to wear shorts until you can get comfortable enough to go hairy legged one summer. Maybe it’s addressing a skin thing keeping you from showing your arms. I’m not saying modification of your body is necessary to body acceptance, but sometimes it’s helpful to baby step your way.

1393354441_e2bef3304b_zFound this photo of my friend Zoe’s leg tattoo–a great reason to wear shorts!

Dolly Parton’s character Truvy in Steel Magnolias says there’s no such thing as natural beauty, and I do believe that everyone should get to do exactly as much “work” as they want to on their appearance. For me, when I’m feeling nervous about something, I throw on a full face of make-up including fake eyelashes and big hair and it definitely ups my confidence.

When I was about 9 years old I started developing bumps on my arms. It looked kind of like chicken skin after feathers were plucked from them. I was super insecure about it, and my paternal Grammy told me it was genetic. Eventually I learned that this is a really typical skin condition and I could just exfoliate three times a week and it would go away. I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable trying tank tops if I hadn’t already addressed this skin issue I was having, but I’d like to think I would have still tried. (Right now I use Lush’s sandstone soap to exfoliate, and also a scrubby washcloth.)

Oh, and once I started exposing my skin to the sun more often, the bumps were way less prevalent.

Being self confident is a baby stepping process. I was 19 when I started trying to wear tank tops and it took me until I was 22 to start to embrace my fat body and fat as an identity. You can get there. Every single day is a great day to start.

7310063030_3093c1724a_zRebel Cupcake second anniversary party, 2012.

2013-11-22

Thanksgiving Day Body Support

I have a few big triggers in my life and one of them is holiday events as a single person. (In fact, I realized when writing this post I’ve written about being single and child-free at the holidays several times, here, here and here.) Holidays are so loaded! It’s like here’s another time of year where you’re supposed to have a partner and that triggers all my feelings of not having this relationship I want. Plus all of the seeing family of origin stuff or not seeing family of origin and how isolating and hard it can feel at either end.

It’s hard to have a body at any old time of the year but especially given the trigger fest of eating and family and large meals and seeing people for the first time in a long time.

I was asked by Melissa A. Fabello of Everyday Feminism to be part of a Body Activist conglomerate on Twitter to provide support through a hash tag all day and evening on Thanksgiving!

I’ll be posting from the intersectionality of my work–about learning to love your body, being queer in the world, gender, and developing authenticity around family of origin.

All the information is below! Please signal boost!

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From the release:

#THX4SUPPORT: A Twitter-Based Recovery Support Event

Thanksgiving is coming. And while for many of us, that means the excitement of friends, family, and food, for many others, Thanksgiving comes with it a lot of stress, fear, and anxiety.

But you’re not alone.

And this Thanksgiving, we want to make sure that you get the support, resources, and community that you need.

This Thanksgiving, use the hash tag #thx4support on Twitter to:

Reach our team of eating disorder, recovery, and body image activists for one-on-one support or inspiration

Find awesome articles, videos, and resources being tweeted out by organizations and activists

Make new friends by finding people across the country struggling with the same issues. Start a support network!

The following people will be on hand to talk you through any feelings of negativity that you experience:

Melissa A Fabello, Body Image Activist: @fyeahmfabello
Wagatwe Wanjuki, Writer and Activist: @wagatewe
Arielle Lee Bair, Recovery Blogger: @arielleleebair
Kat Lazo, Media Literacy Advocate: @theekatsmeoww
Matt Wetsel, Survivor Turned Activist: @tiledsarenomore
Bevin Branlandingham, Body Liberation Activist: @queerfatfemme
Use the hash tag #thx4support or tweet us directly.

Are you an organization who wants in on the action?
Use #thx4support to tweet out related articles and resources!
Let your followers know that this support is available. Share this graphic!
If you have capacity, join in on giving support to people using the hash tag.

And what can individuals do?
Follow #thx4support and send inspiration to those in need!
Tweet out your favorite resources using #thx4support.
Let us know what kinds of ideas and questions you have by tweeting us!
Because we believe that recovery is possible. And we know that support can help.

—-

Struggling? The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) can help. Call toll-free 1.800.931.2237.

2012-12-12

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket–High Tea at the Palace Hotel

When I was out in San Francisco my mom thought it would be awesome to take me, my Grandmother, her BFF and my BFF out to High Tea at the Palace Hotel. It was really fun and I did my best to record it with the video feature of my camera so maybe the sound quality isn’t great but my hair is awesome.

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You should know I call her Spunky and she calls me Groovy and that’s because we met as Girl Scout camp counselors when we were 19.

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Me, my mom and Grandmother.

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Mom and Linda.

In sum, the Palace Hotel High Tea relies heavily on ambience and bells and whistles and their tea is good but it isn’t all that. Their teas could be better served and blended, but the whole menu and concept is pretty great. They should hire a tea snob like me to come in and shape them up. It’s not cheap at $45 a pop, but it was a really great experience and I say if you’re visiting from out of town or you have a crowd of family in from out of town it would be really worth it.

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The menu. I agonized over what to choose and ultimately went with things I knew I wouldn’t be able to get other places, because the blends seemed vague enough to be proprietary or at least specific to the Palace Hotel. I had the Palace Blend (a black tea blend]* and the Equilibrium tea (a chamomile and “magical herbs” blend]. Both were okay but could have been better.

The video includes lots of great shots of the Palace Hotel atrium. It also inspired me to invest in a good vintage tea pot and start collecting vintage tea cups and saucers. I’d love to have a set that’s very hodge podge and beautiful. My roommate has a bunch but it makes me nervous to use her tea stuff because it’s all vintage and I don’t want to break it.

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It was really special to get to do this with my mom and that she was able to do this for us. Growing up poor and working class you don’t really think you’re going to get to be fancy or affluent enough to do something like high tea at the Palace Hotel. And it’s not something I take for granted now, getting to get dressed up and do high tea. I also had to do a lot of work on myself to feel worthy of opportunities like this, but that’s like a whole book topic and not for a tiny post introducing tiny sandwiches.

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Tiny sandwiches!

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THANKS MOM!

*Please excuse the weird close parenthesis. My Macbook key board is starting to fail and the shift key is being wonky and some keys just don’t work. Getting a new usb keyboard soon.

2011-12-13

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 3: Cleveland, Chicago

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.

My friend Rachel Cupcake (designer of Sweetooth Couture and Cupcake and Cuddlebunny) lives in Cleveland. Since she was in town for the final blow-out weekend at Re/Dress, we negotiated a fatty friendly way of passing off the key and I was able to feed her cats for her.

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This is from Rachel’s recent collection, I think of it fondly as a labia coat, but she calls it Candy Ribbons.

To Cleveland from Brooklyn via Interstate 80–through NYC, NJ, PA, and OH

I spent way longer packing than I intended and had breakfast with my friend and revelator Taylor Black. I didn’t get on the road until 5:30 and I met much Holland Tunnel traffic on the way out of town. It was 7 hours to Cleveland once I got through the tunnel, much of which was the desolate wilderness of Pennsylvania along Interstate 80. I love to stop at the Panera bread near Dover, NJ and used that as my first stop, stashing half of my sandwich for later in the journey.

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I took this photo of the Alexis Bittar store while in traffic at the Holland Tunnel. Have you seen the Chloe video on Accessories?

I took turns surfing for pop stations looking for the new Rihanna song and listening to Just Kids by Patti Smith
on audio book.

I experimented with gas station rooibus tea (sub par), making a mental note to pick up a box of something good, and had a glorious moment during a dreary wet stretch of 80 around 11 PM.

A flashing road sign told me to tune to an AM station for road warnings and when I did it was playing a staticky version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” the song I had been spending the first part of my trip surfing pop stations to locate. Suddenly there was a glow from the other side of the mountains―probably from a tiny town’s streetlights, but in the darkened wet road and at the beginning of this epic journey I took it as a sign of hope and joy ahead.


We found love in a hopeless place.

*SAFETY TIP* I needed to pee around 1 AM in Youngstown, Ohio. Everyone keeps telling me to “be safe” and one of those ways is not being on the road that late, but this was an exception. I rely on my instincts for safety and pulled off in what looked like a populated area. I found a new, brightly lit 24 hour dunkin donuts not far off the freeway where I knew I could pee safely. There was a woman working behind the counter and a man using their free wifi super late at night. I bought a decaf coffee and continued on. If I hadn’t found something close to the freeway and well-lit I would have continued until I did.

My directions had me take several small Ohio highways to Cleveland, I drove through a bunch of farmland and woods and popped on the brights scanning for deer. (I hit a deer once in New Jersey on the road home from work and am now super paranoid about it.)

I arrived around 3AM and met Rachel and Michele’s cats. Snacks the Kitten was a highlight, since he is pretty much an internet celebrity. Macy was very Snacks curious, but they didn’t really interact much.


To Chicago from Cleveland via Interstate 80–through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois

Because of my late night I decided to have a mellow morning. I also needed to revamp my ipod and download that Rihanna song from itunes. Rachel and Michele have a gorgeous house with incredible details. I loved that there is a xylophone in the dining room, a sewing machine and a copy of a bell hooks book on the table in the kitchen. I enjoyed a cup of coffee with truvia and almond milk (luxuries not found on the road).

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I hit the road and got on the Ohio Turnpike. As a woman who does a lot of road tripping, I have a favorite rest stop system and Ohio’s is the best. They are like airport terminals, huge, clean bathrooms, well-lit all night long, and they usually have a sandwich shop. I got Einstein’s for lunch (turkey sandwich) and they all have good pet areas.

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It costs $10 to cross Ohio and the bathroom facilities alone are fairly worth it.

I was delighted by Indiana–their rest stop had a huge selection of fresh fruit in to-go containers and I got some red grapes. Sometimes being on the road for long stretches your highlights involve pre-school snack options.

My Prius turned into a time machine and I turned back the clock an hour. I was heading to the Western side of Chicago to stay with my friends Suzanne and Jen.

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Genuine Chicago traffic and that’s the tower formerly known as the Sears tower in the distance.

They live in a beautiful house with hardwood floors and the entire second floor is their bedroom and private living area. It was super cozy and full of great photos of them from their youth. I know Suzanne and Jen from Michfest and I really enjoy the opportunity to see my worker pals outside of the woods. I think we get a better chance to connect than we do during the Festival when we’re constantly on the path heading someplace else.

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Me and Suzanne at Festival.

We went to dinner at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe. It was beyond delicious. We chatted about a lot of things, especially their upcoming trip to Tanzania. They are going over winter break to visit friends who are doing volunteer teaching work. (They’re bringing supplies and collecting donations for supplies if you have the ability to give $5 or $10.)

I was really touched by Jen’s story about how her parents reacted to her coming out. Jen’s folks don’t welcome Suzanne in their lives and their religious fundamentalism sees lesbianism as a choice. It was really sad to hear about that, harsh words from her parents’ pastor, and reminded me very clearly the need for the families we create. There is so much love we have for each other in our communities and it is so important that we hold each other in our hearts and homes. It is really a wonderful feeling to find family in our identities and our communities.

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On the steps of the El train. It was mostly like I didn’t visit “Chicago” and just visited Suzanne and Jen–too hard to fit in anything else in a 10 hour stop. I learned that quickly on the pace I needed this road trip to take, that I had to make choices about where I actually lingered.

I have had to work to be queer and visible but it didn’t cause problems in my family or cause employment discrimination, but these are things that happen to queer folks every day. My family situation isn’t particularly easy, and I am actively doing work to heal it, but I am at least accepted for being my whole authentic self and haven’t encountered much homophobia from my extended family.

During the holiday season it can feel especially isolating to be excluded from our families of origin for lots of reasons–geography, family trauma, and belief systems that excommunicate queer kids.

Getting to visit Suzanne and Jen, experience their hospitality and love in their home, was so heartwarming. Not just as a wonderful love oasis on a solo road trip, but also as a reminder of how important family of choice is for queers.

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Their house, before dawn.

Macy loved the visit and meeting Sylly, their old black and white cat who was very curious about Macy’s dog food. Rocket, the other cat, wanted nothing to do with Macy.

The next installment on the road trip is Longmont, CO! Stay tuned!

***********
I’ve welcomed a new blog benefactor! Elisha Lim’s Sissy Calendar is available NOW and can still ship to you in time for the New Year. It’s really gorgeous and celebratory of femininity. It is also universal, so usable year after year. If you spend $30 in Elisha’s Etsy store (that’s a calendar and a couple of greeting cards, or two calendars) and mention “Bevin” in the notes section you get a free greeting card with your order!

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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.

2010-06-01

California Tour 20FEMME Starts Thursday: Fat Activist Panel, Flabulous 2, Re/Dress Shopportunity in Oakland!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Bevin @ 5:12 pm

You may or may not know that I am a native Californian, from the East Bay, specifically. Rachel Maddow and I share a hometown and high school, but I’m only 31 so we didn’t hang out or anything. It feels really weird to be going “home” to do mostly performing and being at a conference and being a shop girl. I won’t even see my family until I go to LA the following week. I think everyone has some complicated feelings when they travel home. Mine are all aflutter, but nevertheless I am focusing on all of the amazing shows/documentaries/shopportunities I get to be part of in the next week.

My subsequent LA trip is a family event but I’ve decided to focus on beach, bourbon and burgers as much as possible around it.

If you can make it to any of the following events, I’d love to meet you!! Especially at the shopportunity, that’s going to be really fun. I hope people bring champagne.

Thursday, June 3, 20FEMME * San Francisco, CA
Queer Fat’titude: an evening of irreverence.
6PM -8PM * Free
LGBT Historical Society
657 Mission Street (at 2nd St), Suite 300

Bevin is on the panel! We’ll be celebrating the history of fat activism in the Bay Area (and beyond)! Come out to the San Francisco LGBT Historical Society! There will be a fierce panel of queer fat activists, a photo exhibit, and yummy treats! Virgie Tovar will be moderating the panel.
www.glbthistory.org
www.virgietovar.weebly.com
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Saturday, June 5, 20FEMME * Oakland, CA
Bevin Branlandingham FemmeCees & Curates
Saturday Night Cabaret at NOLOSE
9PM Show / Dancing 11:00ish * Open to Conference Attendees Only


Information at this link!

Sunday, June 6, 20FEMME * San Francisco, CA
Kentucky Fried Woman & Jay Walker, in conjunction with the National Queer Arts Festival present
Flabulous! 2: Fatter Than Ever!
7PM show * Tickets: $12-$20
African-American Art and Culture Complex

Bevin performs in a very exciting show for fat queers and their allies. Flabulous! 2: Fatter Than Ever! is the second live performance production by Kentucky Fried Woman and Jay Walker featuring fat queers and their allies, highlighting the lived experiences of fat queers and envisioning revolutionary possibilities for fighting body fascism and embracing all bodies as beautiful. More information & tickets at the event website!

Flabulous 2

Monday, June 7, 20FEMME * Oakland, CA
Bevin Branlandingham is a Shopgirl at
SHOPPORTUNITY 20FEMME: Re/Dress NYC & Size Queen Clothing in Oakland
5PM-9PM * Econo Lodge, 10 Hegenberger Rd.

bayareaflier

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.

2009-01-10

Brian says this man was sent to me by Jesus

My roommate and I are having major apartment drama that involves a lot of work being done and the living of our lives out of bags and in a maze of our stuff. The second of the service technicians came to visit yesterday to help rectify the problem (fingers crossed).

He was a sweet man from Mexico, named Luis. He was flirtatious and asked me about my tattoo and said he wanted one. Asked me if I had a boyfriend. I replied in my way, Oh, no, I don’t. and followed up with my fictional girlfriend. I find having a fictional girlfriend lets people know you’re not interested without making them feel bad.

He chatted me up about my fictional girlfriend and we talked about a couple I know of who do the international distance from Mexico City to Brooklyn. He commented, “There must be a lot of love there!” And he flirted with me some more (apparently I look about 23 years old–no kidding he says) and I responded, “Oh Luis, if I weren’t a lesbian I’d have such a crush on you.” He then told me about his daughter who is a lesbian.

She’s in her mid-twenties and he said, “I just love her so much but I feel like I failed as a father.”

I talked to him about a lot of stuff. About how it’s a testament to how good of a father he was that she loved him enough to be honest and not hide from him. About how she probably wants all the same stuff he wants for herself (to be happy, to have a family, to be proud of who she is). And about how the best thing he can do as a father is to love her unconditionally and be open to changing his mind about things in order to love her.

He said, “I don’t know why I feel like I can tell you all this stuff–I’ve never told anyone about her, not even my brothers.” I said I’m just the kind of person people trust.

He said a couple of funny things, which was that now he can’t watch his favorite kind of porn because it’s lesbians and he thinks of his daughter and he doesn’t want to be reminded of her during those moments. I said, Luis, you have to know lesbian sex is nothing like in those movies. They are nothing at all like the sex your daughter has. It’s seriously so much different.

When prodded as to how, I said, Well, first, take a look at those nails and think of how sensitive your backdoor area [here I make a sweeping gesture to my bottom] is. Imagine how it would feel to have those nails anywhere near your parts. And also, Luis, I bet you are really good in bed–nothing that those girls do would please each other. You know that.

And he said, “Yeah. You know, I always think girls who have sex with girls probably are better with each other in bed. Because they understand each others’ bodies.”

That’s true. But what’s more true is that when people are really honest with themselves and their partners about who they are and who they love, that’s getting you so much closer to being true to yourself. The kind of lover who knows themselves, knows their body and knows what to ask for is a good lover. So gays and lesbians have an advantage in that they already had to be honest enough with themselves to say who they love, so they are already have the skill set to be better in bed.

“So how did you know that you were gay?”

Oh, well, I never even knew that there were gay people until I was 14. And then when I knew that they existed it made so much sense how I was feeling.

He also asked if I’d ever done it to a man, to which I said no because I wasn’t going to get into gender. I also sidestepped his comment about him being glad his daughters didn’t dress like a man. It’s about baby steps in intervention.

He was so sweet and talked about his daughter and how she gave him a plasma screen tv and a surround sound system for his basement theater (his dream) this Christmas. I told him to go home and call her and tell her how much he loves her. And to never be ashamed of her because him showing other people how much he loves her because she is being honest about who she is will help other people whose daughters are also lesbian.

I signed his form and he thanked me and I have to say this has been my absolute favorite moment in this hellacious apartment debacle. I hope that I helped him understand a little bit more about gays and lesbians and I hope that he’s still able to watch porn that he enjoys. It’s all about good boundaries. I reminded him. I don’t think about my mom* when I watch the Crash Pad series! ::Shudder::

*My mom is actually a lesbian but I didn’t tell Luis that.

2008-12-21

New Episode of FemmeCast! Homo for the Holidays!

Filed under: Events and Announcements,FemmeCast — Tags: , , , , , , — Bevin @ 7:51 pm

“My mom gets offended by me cooking broccoli. It’s deep, dude.”–Grover, Epsiode 6.5 of FemmeCast

Don’t forget to bring FemmeCast with you home for winter break. A little queer fat femme love on your computer or portable music device will give you an extra dose of glitter and identity politics while taking a break from family excitement!

Episode 6.5: Homo for the Holidays. Running time: 58 minutes.

In this special minisode host Bevin Branlandingham and FemmeCast contributors discuss their strategies for loving themselves and their families during the holidays and throughout the year.
www.Femme-Cast.com

Her cohost for this episode is Big Gay Agenda Correspondent Brian, whose family is Fundamentalist Christian and Southern.

“I am never afraid to say ‘I don’t think I’m going to answer that question.'”–Rachael, FemmeCast Sexpert

“I mostly spend a lot of time online when I go home for the holidays so I blog about the fatphobic things that they say and get support that way.”–Social Justice Correspondent Zoe

“If I can do something that doesn’t hurt me and gives my mother a tremendous amount of comfort, I’ll do it.”–Tranny Superstar Glenn Marla

We read from Self Help Correspondent Genne’s parents’ Holiday Wish Lists!
“Photograph of you in a place that you love” / “A collection of well-written picture books whose themes reflect a commitment to consciously avoiding gender-typing.”

FemmeCast: The Queer Fat Femme Podcast Guide to Life is a FREE audio newsmagazine for Queer Fat Femmes, Fatshionistas of all sexualities and Queers of all genders. Hosted by Bevin Branlandingham with a cadre of regular contributors, we’re discussing dating, fat fashion, social justice, friendships, sex, gender, tranny talk, culture, travel, community and feature new music by Queer artists. A whimsical This American Life meets a radical queer how-to novel with MTV generation timing, FemmeCast will keep listeners laughing, connected and inspired.

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Happy Holidays from FemmeCast!!

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