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

2015-02-13

Half the Self Hate: Kate Bornstein Wriggling Towards Fun

For years I’ve been noticing the People Magazine annual “Half Their Size” issue. It comes out around New Year’s Eve and the cover is always the same: before and after photos with big graphics about how much each person has lost. People Magazine devotes pages and pages of a feature story to readers who have lost over half their body weight. They ask them how they did it, what motivated them, what their “rock bottom” was as a fat person.

I kept thinking, What if we talked to people about how they lost more than half of their self-hatred? What would it look like? I find it so inspirational to hear how people have risen out of oppression and cultures that don’t value their bodies/identities and have learned to love themselves in spite of that.

I reached out to several artists and activists whose work and self love I admire to ask what practices they employ to love themselves and how they defy a culture that commodifies self hatred. I wanted to know what inspired them to work to reduce or eliminate their self hate.

This is a series about self love triumphing over self hate, and valuing yourself as a radical act of resistance.

The Half the Self Hate series continues Monday with my interview with Be Beautiful Project founder and poet, Denise Jolly.

kateauthorphotoKate with her pug, Mollyanna.

I discovered Kate Bornstein when I was 17 years old and taking my first Women’s Studies class (this was 1996, before it was renamed Women and Gender Studies). How lucky I feel to have known Kate’s work for almost half my life! Her book Gender Outlaw radically shifted how I saw gender, people and identity and I have continued to learn so much from her work ever since. Kate works to make the world a better place, whether that’s through her engaging keynote speeches on achieving world peace through gender anarchy and sex positivity, her numerous books, social media work preventing suicide with #stayalive, or just one on one over fried chicken and good conversation.

I knew I wanted to include Kate in this blog series about battling self hate because her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today, is an incredible book that delves deep into how Kate’s mind works. She writes very candidly about working through feelings of strong self-hate and how she wiggles through that to become both profoundly accomplished and self-actualized. On top of all of that, Kate is also one of the kindest people I have ever met. I’m so thrilled to bring her words to you as part of Half the Self Hate.

How do you identify?

Currently, that’s in flux. It’s something like genderqueer BDSM asexual transsexual diesel femme dyke crone.

What does that identity mean to you? How do the intersections of it help you bloom? What are your struggles?

It means I don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules about gender and sexuality—rather, I can explore the non-binaries of me. The struggle? I’m a double Pisces. I don’t struggle so much as I wriggle. I’m wriggling toward being the most fun me I can be. The challenges all seem to come down to someone else’s respectable rules, regulations, standards, and values. I’m wriggling away from all that, as best I can.

Do you identify as someone who loves themselves or something else? Maybe just working on not hating yourself?

Love myself? Oh goodness, no. Well, rarely. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally come to a place of having compassion for myself.

kate_bornstein santiago felipePhoto by Santiago Felipe.

Do you remember when it became obvious to you that you had a self-hating internal monologue? Was there ever a time before that you loved yourself?

Ummmm. Since the moment I was self-aware, I’ve always felt that I’m less-than. Less than a real boy was the start of it all. My life from that point on has been all about how I don’t measure up, how I get it all wrong, how I never get enough done. And that’s been the state of me until quite recently—say a couple of years ago—when, in one of the very early crowdsourcing campaigns, thousands of people raised over $100,000 so that I could pay for two years of wriggling through lung cancer to the point where I’ve now been in remission for over nine months.. That many people helping me stay alive, well, that marked the end of my low self-esteem and self hatred.

Can you create work as an artist when you are having a bad self esteem day? If so, what is your process of working through it? If not are you able to let yourself off the hook about it?

Oh yes! Art got me through a LOT of suicidal periods of my life. A lot of art gets made that way. There’s a wonderful collection of essays by me and others who do exactly that: “Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction,” edited by Sabrina Chap. Now, doing art hasn’t always made me love myself, but it almost always has gotten me through periods of my life when I just might have acted on that self-loathing.

What practices do you employ now to be more self loving and less self hating?

Over the past four years, I’ve been doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy. When I’m lost or losing my way, that’s a huge help to returning to a place of compassion. DBT is a therapy developed by Marsha M. Linehan. As I understand it, it’s part Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and part Zen Buddhism. I love Zen. Along with Sufism, Zen is one of the world’s last remaining slapstick spiritual paths.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?

Cuddling with Maui, the Siberian cat I live with.

IMG_20150212_183722Kate and Maui. Photo from Kate’s Instagram.

You do so much work helping others Stay Alive. Your #stayalive hashtag on social media, your book Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, and virtually all of your other work helping people feel at home in their gender(s). How has doing that work influenced your self love journey?

In addition to Zen, I’m also a follower of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. Love him. Studying his take on Buddhism, I’ve become familiar with the spiritual path of bodhisattva. Google it. It gives me a lifetime to lifetime goal and focus of ending suffering for all sentient beings, by means of becoming as wise as I can possibly be. During the moments that I’m aware of that goal and life focus, yeah… I love myself.

Kate-infront-of-books1byDavidHarrisonPhoto by David Harrison.

You can find Kate Bornstein touring on the lecture/workshop/performance circuit (her schedule is here and you can also book her for your college/conference/retreat/etc…) as well as touring with Sam Feder and the film he made about her, Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger. I was so surprised, thrilled and honored to have my femmeceeing included from Rebel Cupcake in May, 2012 in the film about Kate. I’m wearing a cute dress.

I also want to second Kate’s book recommendation for the anthology “Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction,”, it has helped me come to a lot of understanding of how my depression (I get seasonal as well as just regular depression) affects me as an artist, and helped me not feel so alone in my struggle.

You can follow Kate on social media, her Instagram and Twitter are fantastic, and sometimes she tucks you in bed with a sweet benevolent message. If you haven’t read her books, start with her riveting memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today, then explore My New Gender Workbook, Gender Outlaw, and Hello Cruel World.

If you or a friend are in need of alternatives to suicide, there’s the free Hello Cruel World lite and if cost is an issue, you or your friend can reach out to Kate directly to get a full copy of Hello Cruel World.

Thank you so much Kate for your insights!! I love you!!

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Half the Self Hate Instagram and Twitter contest:
**Contest extended!!**
I want to know how you’ve lost half your self hate! Write a tweet or an Instagram post about one practice you have employed to lose half your self hate. Or commit to employing one practice to lose half your self hate! (You can borrow a practice you learned about in this blog series!)

Hashtag your post with #halftheselfhate and make the post by February 20th at midnight Eastern time. Two winners will be chosen by a random draw.

One winner will receive a $50 gift certificate from Self Serve Toys a queer-owned feminist sex toy shop in Albuquerque, NM with a great online store!

A second winner will receive a Vesper vibrator worth $79 from Sugar, a queer-owned feminist sex toy shop in Baltimore, MD which also has an online store!

Self Serve Toys and Sugar believe, as I do, that all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are.

*To qualify to win your Instagram or Twitter needs to be public! The winner will be selected by random number generated by random.org of all entries to the contest between February 11th and February 20th February 24th Midnight Eastern time.

2013-06-18

Plus Size Pageant Documentary–There She Is and some questions for my readership about being fat and expressing gender

I was asked by the filmmakers of a new documentary released yesterday to watch a sneak preview. I was cuddled up in a cabin in the woods with a bunch of my queer besties and it seemed like the perfect activity for a rainy day. Now that it’s released world-wide for free on the internet, I want to share it with my readership.

From the press kit: “There She Is follows two plus size pageant queens as they prepare for an upcoming pageant. They discuss their lives as plus size women, including how they feel when others’ perceptions of their appearance clash with their own. The film challenges the viewer to examine his/her own definition of beauty and the ways in which it affects our everyday lives.”

It’s very fat acceptance 101 but also very human. It’s full of pretty dresses and watching girls do make-up (one of my favorite things to watch).

I have some thoughts about the film, so read on for my feelings or you can watch the movie and then read what I have to say. I’d love to hear your reactions, too.

Planning the next trip to the house.
I accidentally bought an evangelical christian guide to retreat planning when at the used book sale.

Here is the full film (about 20 minutes long)–the link to the website is here.

Or just watch the trailer:

I feel strongly that pageants can be a great thing for people. I think beauty, make-up, hair and clothes are art forms that are derided by mainstream culture as “frivolous” but can be very empowering. I think aesthetic arts are actually really helpful ways of reclaiming your body from what society expects from you. This is assuming that one understands that make-up/hair/etc are optional parts of aesthetic life and not compulsory. So I went into this documentary on the side of the contestants because I know beauty pageants are actually really fun hobbies/pursuits for folks.

I competed for the title of Miss LEZ and talk more about my pageant thoughts in this post.

A couple of things struck me about this movie. The first was that the blonde subject spoke about not wanting to run out to the grocery store without doing her hair, make-up and wearing cute clothes because she felt an unspoken expectation not to appear like a “fat slob.” I actually struggle with this myself. I challenge myself all the time to appear outside (and sometimes in photos on this blog) without wearing make-up. Sometimes I just physically don’t feel comfortable not wearing make-up and I am not sure if that’s because I just like to present a version of myself that is more in line with my vision or if it because I feel pressure to make myself more palatable for the outside world as a fat, queer person. I think it’s likely a bit of both, though I do work really hard to not let other people’s perceptions of me affect what and how I do things. I also never truly feel “in my gender” if I’m not wearing false eyelashes, red lipstick and some killer outfit.

I also was curious about the subject who talked about her weight loss at the end. It was actually kind of a bummer because as a fat loving person who is self loving I secretly want a fat acceptance narrative to not involve weight loss goals, but at the same time it’s unrealistic to expect fat people to not participate in ways of bodily self-determination. I rarely pursue weight loss goals myself but certainly make choices with regards to food and exercise that sometimes have a by product of weight loss.

I was curious and confused about the brunette’s reaction to her weight loss. In some ways I felt like her engagement was a byproduct of it from a man who wouldn’t otherwise accept her. (I.e. “It’s okay if you’re fat as long as you’re trying to lose weight.”) But I had a hard time understanding whether I was perceiving that correctly.

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Cuddled up watching the documentary.

For me, I try to make weight loss value-neutral and not focus on the scale about success. I focus on how my body is feeling. I don’t think losing weight will change who I am inside and suddenly make myself love me more. I’ve known enough formerly fat but still self-loathing people to know that’s not a narrative that works, you have to love yourself from the inside first regardless of how big your body is. As a body liberation activist, I also work really hard to not mind other people’s weight loss positively or negatively. I won’t judge them for it and I won’t celebrate it. I want to know if the person is feeling good in their body.

I’m wondering from readers what they feel like about wearing make-up, whether they find it compulsory, if they feel comfortable in public spaces or specifically queer spaces without it (if they are a make-up identified person)?

In what ways do you feel “in your gender,” and how does that present? How does that differ from day to day, moment to moment?

How do you respond to weight loss in your life? Are there ways that you make it value-neutral?

2013-05-20

The Forest of the Future: A Sanctuary at the Edge of the World

Back in March, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in an amazing sanctuary space amidst a temporary art installation in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s hard to explain what the Forest of the Future was, but for some background you can read the curator/producer Quito’s statement about it here. It really gives a good background of how they just wanted to make a magical space to bring together a bunch of the visionaries they’ve met in their world travels, see what connections and catalyzing could happen, and that space was a forest.

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Me, Quito, Sparkles and Dusty.

The Forest had a team of amazing artists who worked endlessly to make it happen. I first arrived on opening night to volunteer and everyone had clearly been missing sleep for days. No wonder, once you stepped inside the space was truly otherworldly. That doesn’t come without an intense about of labor, love and vision.

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This video by Ricardo Nelson is a treasure and gives an overview of what the Forest looked like that still photos can’t quite capture (I’m in the first few frames, fisting a tree).

Forest of the Future : A Sanctuary at the Edge of the World .. from Ricardo Nelson on Vimeo.

There were lots of events that happened at the Forest during its two-week run, but it was also open daily for hang outs pretty much whenever you knew someone was going to be there (or 3p-late if you didn’t know someone). Quito did a lot of sleeping at the Forest, so I did a lot of solo time because I could get in.

Here is a list of amazing things I did while in the womb of the Forest of the Future:

I slow danced to “The Golden Age of Hustlers” as recorded by Justin Vivian Bond, with my then sweetheart. It’s a song I love deeply and never hear, so it was serendipitous that it played at that right moment and filled me with such sweetness and connection, not just to my sweetheart but to the universe.*

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I made out in the button bog.

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I had a couple of deep fights in the button bog that have left buttons in so many surprising places in my room.

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I read my tarot cards in the tree house when no one was in the Forest but me and some girl sleeping on the mushroom pillows in the field below.

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I did queer punk yoga twice, lead by Lizxnn Disaster.

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I cried my eyes out as LeRoi Prince read an amazing piece invoking the struggles of our queer ancestors. It’s the kind of thing that I try to invoke appreciation for before every Rebel Cupcake, but in long form.

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I had a flirtation/romance/make-out with a hot foreigner.

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I sang sea shanties along with a crowd, lead by a performance artist.

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I sat in on a discussion about queer communities, discussed what we owe communities as leaders and “who are your people.”

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I had a long conversation with a different foreigner about love and relationship permutations, polyamory, nonmonogamy and why we have such limited words for all the different types of romantic relationships we can have in the English language.

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I brewed and served tea in great cauldrons as a volunteer shift.

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I ate melty rose butter on fresh bread baked as an art installation.

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I made some amazing connections with people I already knew. I met a lot of new people. I developed a better understanding of radical faeries.

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I went to a sexy party that was dedicated to giving healing energy to Kate Bornstein. We all signed a card before people went off to their various corners/trees/button bogs/home to have some privacy.

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After a performance, during a dance party, I literally lost three hours. I thought it was 11PM and it was 2AM. All concept of time was erased that night.

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I cuddled on mushroom pillows.

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I did yoga in a field of soft fake grass and confetti. I never thought I would be able to say that. It was messy and liberating.

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I knitted. A lot. Many times during those two weeks I just packed up my knitting and hopped the train to the Forest. Quito brought a chair up from the green room just for me knitting. One time I wore fairy wings while I knitted.

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I watched Quito read from their upcoming book about Brooklyn nightlife and saw a lot of amazing photos of me and my friens from 2009-2011.

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I laughed hysterically as a bunch of buttons clattered out of my bra on the floor of the bathroom.

I saw people get rope suspension in the trees. It was so beautiful.

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I got yelled at by security for loitering in the wrong part of the building but my companion sweet talked them into letting us look at the view of Manhattan at night anyway.

And so much more. The Forest of the Future was an extraordinary thing in which linear time didn’t exist and reminded me how all amazing things don’t have to exist forever to change you forever.

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*My friend Silas Howard and Justin Vivian Bond and others are fundraising to make a video of the “Golden Age of Hustlers.” The video is going to be an homage to queers, transfolks, sex workers and will be really beautiful. They need to meet their fundraising goal really soon and can use any help you can donate!

2013-04-15

Cupcake Cabaret, a Performance Celebrating Self Love at Stonewall, 7PM on Thursday, April 18th

My mission in life is to make the world safe for people to love themselves. One of the ongoing projects I keep is very dear to my heart, which is a performance art series celebrating the radical act of self love. It is definitely very radical to love yourself in a society that tells you that you aren’t worthy of any love or appreciation, or conditional love and appreciation (like, if you lose 20 pounds, etc…). One of the things I love most is to hear how artists have used their differences to become empowered. That’s what I curate in this series.

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Photo by Laura Sawchuck.

I’m super excited to have Ivan Coyote, the dreamy professional storyteller, author and multi-award winning bad ass, in NYC from Canada and featured performer at the upcoming Cupcake Cabaret.

First, here’s all the information on the show:

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 * New York, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Cupcake Cabaret Featuring Ivan E. Coyote
Doors 7:15p, Show 7:45 * $7-$15 sliding scale
53 Christopher St, NY, NY
W 4th St. / Christopher St. Stations

Cupcake Cabaret is a performance celebrating the strength we get from what marks us different in this world. Size, gender, sexuality, class, race, dis/ability, age, religion and all numbers of identities bring the artists in the series a sense of power and esteem.

Featuring Ivan E. Coyote, storyteller, author of many incredible books, and heartstring puller all the way from Vancouver, Canada!
[http://www.ivanecoyote.com/]

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Ivan is an incredible storyteller. If you aren’t familiar with their work, you need to dip into the treasure trove of youtube.

From Dear Younger Self (the video above):

“Do not cave into the pressure from mainstream society to fit in. You do not and will not ever fit in. And one day you will realize you don’t even want to anymore. And that your difference is inherently tied to your beauty and your bravery. And your giant, mystical, invisible brass balls. You will grow to love these balls, younger self, and they will swing majestically between your ears inside the head you will hold up proudly.”

I basically can’t hear anything Ivan reads without crying a little (or, sometimes, a lot).

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Photo by Jah Grey.

Another out of town miracle visiting NYC and performing Thursday night is my friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha! A queer, Sri Lankan, disabled writer, performer and cultural creator, Leah inspires me to no end. Her poetry is incredible.

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Felice Shays, living in Brooklyn, NY, is a Femme feminist performance artist and author of Brutal Affection, her forthcoming book about the magic of rough sex (among other things). She radiates strength, sweetness and glamour and not just in a rhinestone cowboy boot kind of way but in an I want to do whatever she wants me to do kind of way. Her performance work is personal, empowering and delightful. She once fisted a watermelon at Rebel Cupcake wearing a bridal gown.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

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Photo credit Stacie Joy.

LeRoi Prince is one of my favorite gender performers in NYC right now. Their butchlesque acts are charming, their Prince numbers are dead-on (read: sexy, sultry, entertaining), and political work is heartfelt and incisive. They read a piece at the Forest of the Future calling forth the importance of our queer ancestors and what they fought in order for us to be who we are as a community today that made me weep. Everyone was weeping, though, it wasn’t just me.

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LeRoi Prince is obviously my favorite Prince impersonator. Photo credit Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

Bevin Branlandingham is also performing, which is me! I’m reading from my memoir! I’m almost done with the first draft. Whatever section it ends up being the themes are empowerment, rebirth, dishy dyke drama, spiritual awakening, sex, and dirty Brooklyn dance floors.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey. (With my friend Sam, singing a little R. Kelly.)

You shouldn’t wait to RSVP on Facebook, you should do it now.

And if you haven’t seen Ivan’s piece “To All the Kick Ass Beautiful Fierce Femmes” and you are a Femme or you are in relationship to Femmes, I highly recommend it. A friend of mine is newishly out of the closet and newishly dating Femmes and I’m putting together a curriculum for her to learn about Femme and this is required watching.

2013-03-30

Q and A with Author of Rye, a Genderqueer Erotica Novel

Sam Rosenthal asked me to take a look at his new, self-published genderqueer erotica novel called Rye. It is a really awesome method to love your body and reclaim your sexuality by consuming porn, erotica and images that reflect your body, gender and sexuality. Rye features a genderqueer main character as well as a polyamorous relationship, both things that aren’t depicted in mainstream sexuality.

I did a Q and A with Sam about the process of bringing Rye to life! Enjoy!


This is the book cover!

BEVIN: What was your inspiration to write the book?

SAM: I’ve been the songwriter for 10 albums with my band, Black tape for a blue girl. I write lyrics, which are short stories. I went to a reading of erotica, and thought, “Hey, I could do that, let me give it a go.” So I started writing. I liked the process. I found that I wasn’t just writing sex, I was creating characters that I cared for, and situations I found intriguing, funny, sexy. So It became a lot more than erotica. There’s a lot about labels and identity, fitting in and finding ourselves.

BEVIN: What made you decide to pursue self-publishing? Was it to preserve the content? Were publishers unwilling to embrace genderqueer sexual heroes?

SAM: I never seriously considered trying to find a publisher. I’ve always self-released my music (I run my own record label, Projekt), so it’s natural for me to do it this way. But yeah, really, I didn’t want to submit RYE to publishers, to wait a year for their rejections, or their attempts to tell me how to rewrite my book as they imagine it. The hell with that. Rye is my story. After I finished working with my editor, I had the novel I wanted. I didn’t need input from a publisher.


This is Sam.

BEVIN: Which character is most relatable?

SAM: Well, I guess it depends one who is doing the relating, right? If it’s those of us who know queer people, than it’s all of them. If you’re asking somebody totally mainstream, than maybe it’s none of them. I had some straight (but Kinky) people say, “Um, I don’t know if I’d want to read that, I don’t like stories about gay people.” What? Gay people? Straight people? Queer people? We all have the same kinds of emotions, and conflicts… It’s a story about people who are falling in love, worrying about their boundaries, and uncovering themselves.

BEVIN: Is a lot of your book based on real life experience or is it all purely your imagination?

SAM: I think that any novel has real life experience weaved into it. Some of it definitely happened, some of it sort of happened, but not exactly the way I describe it. Writing is sort of taking little bits of reality and poeticizing it, and making it more focused and intriguing. So at some point, I kind of lost track of the real events that might have kicked off a scene, as I worked it into the story-line. I also have to admit that a lot of what happens is life as I’d love it to happen, ya know? A lot of things spontaneously happen to Matt and Rye and Rain, things that would take way more planning and luck, in real life.

BEVIN: Give one piece of advice to folks who want to learn to get in touch with their genderqueer/trans/fat/dis/abled bodies and have better sex.

SAM: Let go of your ego. Stop listening to everything you tell yourself about who you are and how you do things. Your ego wants to keep in control and keep things stable. While your heart and your inner self wants to play and explore and discover.

If you’re interested in checking out Rye, visit the website to order the book directly from Sam (only $10!), or you can download it for your Kindle from Amazon if that’s your thing for only $5!

2013-02-13

FAT SEX WEEK: Single for Lyfe Lifestyle with Mads Dudebabemodel

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work, so long as Sizzling Stylez doesn’t offend your IT department.)

Mads Dudebabemodel, a Portland-based queer style icon, is the only person I’ve ever followed on the instagram just because of babeliness. (“Stop/don’t stop shamelessly flirting with me on the internet,” they said.) I noted that they declared that they were “Single for Lyfe” identified and I thought this was a great topic during the time of year when our culture strongly pushes couplehood. I want you to imagine that me and Mads are chilling, Bevin-as-Queer-Oprah style in a couple of fabulous fat-friendly chairs and having a proper talk show interview.

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BEVIN: Tell me about your Single for Lyfe Lifestyle. What does that entail and how did you get there?

MADS: Being single has become an identity of mine. I choose to focus on my friendships and chosen family and build those relationships to fulfill the many roles that a primary romantic relationship might traditionally fill. I don’t give up on romance or love, but channel those desires differently with different people. As a queer person, I have chosen to live my life the way I want with whatever gender and sexuality I choose to inhabit at any given time in my life. The same goes for choosing to be single and have relationships in whatever way I want to and when I want to. Fuck the formula we are taught about how relationships should play out and look.

Being queer has allowed me to explore the possibilities of being single 4 lyfe, but also being a polyamorous person has helped me come to singlehood. An important factor of being poly is realizing that one person cannot fulfill all of your needs. Having multiple lovers and relationships may be more fitting. I feel the same way not only about dates, but about friendships and chosen family. Why would I put so much effort into one primary relationship to be my chosen family, companion, etc. when I have all these rad people in my life to help support one another and give lots of love to?

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So many rad dudebabe friends.

I have been single for about three and half years and single for lyfe identified for about 6 months. Even when I wasn’t single, I was attracted to the single life and admired people who were so independent and did whatever the fuck they wanted. During the time I’ve been single, I have dated people, thought about having primary (or “serious”) relationships, and had some heartbreak. In my last major heartbreak, I had this amazing community surrounding me and supporting me immediately. It kind of shook me and woke me up to those willing to do so much for me in a time of emotional need. Processing the relationships in my life, I came to the conclusion that being single could be my radical form of love. I would invest my time in my community and take care of one another like I have felt and still feel taken care of. I would still fuck people, still date people, if I felt like it, but let them know that I wasn’t interested in becoming their girlfriend. I am fulfilled by my independence and receive lots of social and emotional needs from friends and chosen family. Also, I’ve learned from heartbreaks about not giving so much of yourself to one person who you haven’t even known for very long. I live a little bit of a guarded love life, but as I get to know people, I open up more and more. I like it that way.

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Pro tip: Animals are great ways to extend the amount of accessorizing you can do in one outfit.

BEVIN: What’s the most empowering thing about the Single For Lyfe Lifestyle?

MADS: I can do whatever the fuck I want. I fuck who I want. I date who I want. I go out when I want and where I want and I don’t have to answer to nobody. Obviously, caring for others and having boundaries help to alleviate any drama that may come with doing whatever the fuck I want. I also consider myself to be pretty communicative about what’s going on, but ultimately it’s about what best fits my needs at any given moment. If someone has a problem with the way I do things, they don’t have to be a part of it. It’s all about me and keeping myself happy!

Also I live in a house full of single ladies… we have lots of fun and empower one another with being alone, but never lonely.

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P.S. That shirt says “I’m Fat Let’s Party!”

BEVIN: Are there any parts of the Single for Lyfe Lifestyle that are challenging? How do you meet those challenges?

MADS: Sure. Not getting laid can really suck. There are definitely times when I’m not dating anybody or not interested in fucking anybody. But those “dry spells” can be times to put efforts in other outlets and other people who you aren’t fucking. My last dry spell I rediscovered how great I am at fucking myself. I mean, there’s a difference between a quick diddle and really getting down and dirty with yourself…

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Pin-up perfection! I need this on my wall!

I also find it challenging to meet people who I want to date who understand what kind of relationship I may want with them. Just because I don’t want to be your girlfriend does not mean I don’t care about you. I can be a very thoughtful and romantic date if someone gives me the chance and I’m into it. I’m just more about sharing the fun sexy aspects of life with a date. I am into one night stands, short flings, but also steady dates. Also, finding people who respect the way you date can be a bit of a challenge. I may be a slut, but I am also a lady. So treat me like a lady, if you’re lucky… you can treat me like a slut. I have met people who get me and those people do exist!

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BEVIN: I noticed on instagram that you are a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. What strategies or attitudes do you employ in order to take the best and leave the rest from a holiday that’s all about the cultural mandate of couplehood? What do you do to reclaim VDay from that cultural mandate?

MADS: I LOVE Valentine’s Day!!! It is my favorite holiday. I think some of that had to with my biological family always celebrating it together. It wasn’t about celebrating love with one person, it’s about all the people you love! I also like the aesthetic of Valentine’s day (hearts, pink, lace, etc.) It’s fun to break the stereotype of being this single gurl who doesn’t do relationships, but still is really romantic and lovey dovey! I seriously am so in love with so many people in my life. Just cuz I ain’t fuckin them doesn’t mean I don’t want to celebrate our love too. I like to make Valentine’s for lots of people in my life and this year I am having a slutty house party blow out on Valentine’s Day that is gonna be FIERCE. Also, making Valentine’s Day a slut holiday is the funnest.

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BEVIN: What’s one thing that people (at any size but especially fat folks) can do to feel more comfortable having sex in their bodies?

MADS: One thing that has helped me, as a fat person, is loving people of all body types as sex partners and that includes people who have a similar body type as me. I mean honestly, I would have sex with myself in a second.

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BEVIN: I know you get a lot of your mad style from thrift shopping. Do you have some tips my readers can use to thrift more effectively?

MADS: Whenever you thrift, buy things that make you think of your fashionista friends and give it to them. More than likely, the next time they are thrifting they will see things that remind them of you and you will not only have hot fashions, but meaningful gifts too! Also, clothing swaps rule.

Thank you MADS! You’re a smoking hot babe and a total inspiration! Mads is in development with filmmaker pal Cathleen Arnerich, called MadsTV. It is a queer dating/fashion/party gurl advice web show featuring Mads with guest appearances by other rad queers!

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2013-02-12

FAT SEX WEEK: My Favorite Places to Buy Plus Size Lingerie

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work as long as fat girls in lingerie are safe for your work. Fair warning.)

Probably one of the questions I am asked most often by people I don’t know very well, other than legal advice, is about plus size lingerie shopping. I suppose it’s a compliment to my personal shopping prowess and exceptional cleavage enhancement techniques. It’s true, I ADORE lingerie. I wear loungerie to hang out in the house in and to sleep in, I wear fancy lingerie in the bedroom as well as on stage femmeceeing, I often wear vintage lingerie as dresses and shirts. I have the equivalent of a full closet of lingerie. That’s not hyperbole. I believe lingerie is for all times and not just special occasions. It’s like make-up for the bedroom.

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Here’s me in 2008 wearing two pieces of vintage lingerie layered over one another. Vintage lingerie is actually really warm.

I thought for FAT SEX WEEK I would do a round-up of the places that I really like (this list is by no means exhaustive, I could probably do four blog entries about lingerie). I also include a quickie product review of the Milana Bra by Genie!

Torrid is one of my favorite places. They don’t nail it every season, but I usually cruise Torrid’s clearance racks at least once a year and find a couple of gems. I love anything they sell that is called “chemise” and involves a microfiber or nylon/spandex blend, lace panel and/or underwire bust. I have a couple of cute chemises that are extremely comfortable and have lasted years.

Torrid sells online as well as in stores, and you can ask them to hold something in store for you to run and pick up if you’re into going to the mall.

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This piece would be in my wardrobe if I had extra cash right now.

Cacique (the Lane Bryant brand) has been a favorite of mine for years. I worked there in the early aughts and their Plunge bra changed my gender. I still wear them pretty much every day. I like getting their lingerie second-hand via ebay or resale sites because the lingerie (not bras, but lingerie) can be laundered fresh enough like new. If you’re buying directly from Cacique, I suggest shopping near Christmas or Valentine’s day, that’s when the pickings are best, in my opinion. Lots of reds and pinks. Post V-Day clearance is best, honestly. And if you can combine clearance pricing and time it with LB gift check time (the “spend $75 get $25 off” deal) then you just win all over.

Pro tip: wear Cacique pieces as sexy tops out in the world. If you’re down with maximal cleavage it’s a hot look!

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The split-side satin chemise is available now. Super hot and shiny!

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The heart apron babydoll! OMG! So cute!

Size Queen Clothing out of Portland is also a favorite stop for intimates. If I was going to get a super custom made piece I would tap Bertha to design and put it together for me. She’s a GENIUS at spandex and fat bodies, and her pieces are exquisite. All of my Size Queen clothing pieces are treasures.

You can cruise her intimates (“tease wear”) on her website, but honestly, she’s so great to work with I would just chat her up with your vision and go from there. My friend Wyatt Riot got an amazing wrestler costume with a heart cut out for his “chubby” tattoo from Bertha. He wore it to Rebel Cupcake, it was amazing.

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Sadly the punching booth sign covers up the heart but you get the idea of the wrestler outfit. A wrestler onesie is a really great example of genderqueer lingerie!

Big Gals Lingerie is a dangerous place to shop (like, don’t shop there at work) for fat femmes who like other fat femmes. Their product photos are beyond sexy. It’s distracting. But, they go from size 1X-12X. I’ve never bought directly from them but know folks who have and have had great experiences both with “off the rack” pieces and custom made pieces. I’ve tried on their clubwear and lingerie when it came into my old workplace, Re/Dress, and I found the pieces to be good value for the money. They have tons of costumes and various other pieces.

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This pink sequin bustier is only $32!

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If you have a loved one who is recovering from illness or surgery, this nurse costume (up to size 12X) is a great outfit to surprise them with.

In terms of garter belts, I think the best you can get is something vintage style with metal clasps. The plastic ones have broken on me and the garter wearing femmes I know so many times! The metal kind are great because usually if something happens to them they are easy to swap out, but I’ve never known someone who broke the metal kind. There is nothing worse than walking around with a broken garter! Invest in a good piece!

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Rago is my favorite garter belt brand. I have a standard 6 strap belt in black and a full girdle style in white. This version goes from Small to 8X and comes in white, black and beige.

If you want to get some stockings to go with those garters, I buy my costume thigh highs from 3wishes.com. They have a whole section of plus size stockings. I buy the lace top stay up thigh high fishnets, which grab onto the fat at the top of your thigh and stay up that way. I also have their cuban heeled stockings and like them. I once got the black lace top stockings by accident and the sizing was very small on those, so look out for that.

I was given a piece of lingerie to review for my FAT SEX WEEK write-up by the folks at Milana Bra by Genie. It’s basically the same thing as the Genie bra, only with a lace panel in front for “modesty.” I’m the same blogger who earlier in this post suggested you wear lingerie as outerwear so I’m not going to ever buy lingerie for modesty. If that’s your thing, I’m totally cool with it. Despite its marketing towards modesty, there is an incredible amount of awesome in this piece!

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It’s the perfect genderqueer summertime outerwear club piece! I think if you paired it with a pair of vintage 80s dance pants or harem pants and some cool necklaces or a blazer it would be totally amazing. I actually really want to get Jessie Dress in one of these.

I asked for the 3X to try out and I am typically a 3X according to their size chart but it was way too small for me. It’s very boob minimizing, too, if that is your wish. It fit like a sportsbra. I would say go a size up from where they posit you on the size chart. It goes from small to 3X.

Like I said, I have a million more resources for lingerie looks, and hopefully this first helping gave you some places to start! Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment of FAT SEX WEEK!

2011-10-03

Pre-Order Sissy Calendar by Elisha Lim Now!

You might freak out about your 2012 plans if you think about them now (I do), but what better way to queer up that freak out than to pre-order a subversive gender queer celebration of femininity in the form of Elisha Lim’s latest project SISSY: A 2012 Wall Calendar.

“[E}very month brave and beautiful queers talk about sequins, glitter, femininity, insults, courage, happiness and femme pride.”

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“This is about the international queer community, and models from London, Berlin, Montreal and Toronto each express their own identities, which I kept in their own words.”

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“This is also a Universal Calendar, so it doesn’t state weekdays and can be re-used to preserve special events every year.”

All pre-orders are $20 and get you a calendar, two greeting cards and you get to support an incredible, dapper, queer, talented Canadian artist.

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Photo by Quito. From L-R, Heather, Silas, Elisha in the white shirt, Bevin’s back, Nogga.

Don’t spill the beans (she doesn’t read my blog) but I’ll be buying my sissy fag identified girlfriend a copy of this calendar for Smokey Mountain Christmas or yule or whatever we’re going to celebrate.

2011-05-29

Hot Piece of Hipster: Summer Genderqueer Hair

I think a lot about hair. I just had a discussion with a friend of mine about why we have no overlap in the folks we sleep with though we are both 32 year old queer fat femmes who live in the same borough. Given how small the community we queers roll in, I have overlap with friends of mine all over the country. This friend said she has a thing for people with bad hair and I said “Aha! That’s it! I only date people with good hair.” It’s really the very first thing I notice about someone when I am attracted. Hair, style, tattoos in that order.

So when my friend Max Voltage from Portland asked my opinion about good genderqueer summer hair looks I was totally into the task of compiling favorites. And with Max’s permission I repost my email below so that you out there looking for summer genderqueer hairstyles might benefit from my research. (And for those of you who do not start out with hair like Max, I’ve thrown a few favorites that I didn’t suggest to Max below.)

Here’s a picture of Max’s hair, I took it from a bizarre angle at Hey Queen in April while Max was in Brooklyn on tour:

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Here’s a picture of Max from a less extreme angle:

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Here’s what I wrote to Max:

First I considered your hair strengths. Your hair is really good as it is, though I totally understand wanting to do something different for the summer. But you have this very distinct look about you, with the sexy sideswept bangs that works really well with your face shape and I think any cut for you should enable you to keep that sideswept bang situation in your repertoire, even if most of the time you change it up.*

Maybe it’s the weather or something like that, but for the summer in general one keeps in mind getting the hair off the neck for cooling off purposes and humidity (at least on the east coast, not sure about Portlandia summertime humidity). So I looked for cuts that keep the length in the front but got some of the hair off the neck. I poked around my good haired friends on Facebook, my favorite style blogs and then did a search for genderqueer on tumblr.

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Photo by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

When you asked me for summertime hair, I immediately thought about my friend Nic Switch. They are a genderqueer porn actor and starred in my queer retelling of the Outsiders as Pony Boy. Hair was an important factor in our casting (the whole cast had great hair). Attached are two photos of Nic, one from the front and from the side.

I like that Nic keeps their hair longish on the sides (which is still shorter for you) and combs it forward while instead of just having the generic genderqueer fauxhawk (yawn) Nic does a bit of a pompadour/duck tail lift. The lift also has some good height to it.

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Obvy this would involve some product, and product is helpful for anti-humidity.

Now that we’ve gone into nouveau greaser territory I must also taut the pompadour. Pomps come in all sizes these days and I love a casual summer swoosh above the head. With the length of the sidesweep you’ve got good pompabilities. The pomp would also enable you to keep some of the length on the sides though cutting most of it to maximize summer comfort. Attached is a photo of Jessie Dress, my femme friend who is rocking a hot genderqueer pomp these days. You could do something similar, a little to the side which would maintain a bit of the signature sideswept Max look. You could also optionally have fancy curly sideburns. This would require a more heavy-duty hair product along the pomade spectrum.

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[As an aside, I cannot blog about pompabilities without shouting out my pal Alix of the Inverted Eye who sports my favorite queer pompadour.]

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Me, Ains to the left and Alix to the right at Rebel Cupcake/Hot Box collision in Oakland.

Eric from True Blood has some damn sexy hair. His hair is a side part and swept up with some lingering strands towards the face. His hair is also even longer on the sides but clean cut around the base of the head (no rat tail). It’s not quite hipster sexy, it’s just traditional fashionable boy sexy but I think it could work well for you.

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The last look I attached is some damn sexy summer sidesweep. If you kept your sideswept bangs and maybe deepened the part a bit toward the side (What side do you part on? Left? Right?) and cut the back part off, cleaning up the base of it, you could get this look. It’s dramatic and awesome.

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I found this look on one of my favorite style blogs, Ironing Board Collective. I want to be their fat style correspondent!

Also, are you open to color? I think a few highlights of a honey brown, just something a bit lighter than the brown you have now would make a huge difference in your look, brightening it up for summertime.

***
I know I was specifically researching for Max’s needs, but I need to throw some honorable mention summer looks for other folks who don’t have the length situation Max does.

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DAAAAAAAANG. Lafayette is looking so hot this summer in this season four True Blood promo photo.

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Danielle is a hot Texan.

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When I thought of good short hairstyles I immediately thought of the gorgeous creatures in this photo I stumbled upon on tumblr a few months ago. The hair sculptures are amaaaaaaaaazing. I know the hats are all wintercore or whatever, but I ache to find out who these folks are and how they work their summer looks.

Maybe next I’ll do my round up of how I beat the humidity and heat with my own long, thick mane.

*I think hair is an important part of branding. Max is an event producer, performance artist, and violinist. Branding/hair is something to consider.

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