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

2015-11-13

One Night at MIX Festival

Every year I struggle with how to describe MIX Festival and it’s magic and wonder when I plug the event on my blog and social media. People fly in from all over the world to gather for this experimental film festival/queer community gathering/installation art. After my epic Wednesday night in the MIX Factory I thought I would just give it a good Bevin narrative, maybe that’ll tell you what’s up with MIX.

meandvictoriamix

I arrived right on time for my appointment with the XFR Collective. It was early for MIX, 5PM, and the house lights were still on. The XFR Collective is a media preservation organization that works to provide low cost preservation services for obsolete media to non-profits and artists. I had a couple of VHS tapes I wanted preserved for my art. When I looked into doing it myself locally it cost $125 and I put it in the “I will get to this someday” pile and having the opportunity to do it for free was a high priority for me!

lazermixLazer, visiting from out of town and sporting these holographic wedges!

The first tape was a collection of Feminist Films from my Feminist Film and Video class in 1999 at UC Davis. It was my first foray into body liberation activism even though I didn’t know it! My friend Dianna and I did a five minute video talking about plus size shopping and how marginalizing it is. The soundtrack includes Indigo Girls and Ani Difranco. (I come by my Deep Lez tendencies honestly and earnestly.) The other video was my dad and step-mom’s wedding video, which I am going to use for a performance piece about her affect on my life I’m developing. (Liz died of a heart attack when I was 19 after having taken Phen Fen. Dad never joined the class action.)

anothermixselfie It’s a big part of why I do the work I do in the world to help fat folks feel valued in their bodies as they are rather than pathologized, and the first part of that was to learn to love myself.

The tape transfer process was not smooth because I was the first person of the day and there were technical challenges, so I just hung out with the volunteers. All three of them were librarians or archivists (shout out to my librarian babes!) and they were sweet and charming. A couple of them were even wearing vintage media themed outfits, like a sweater with folks in 3D glasses emblazoned on it! By 6 they hadn’t resolved things, and said I was free to wander instead of waiting for my tapes. Jacqueline thought it was funny when she arrived that they were archiving a wedding tape and didn’t realize it was my tape! “Deep 80s fashion” she mused. It was Merced, CA in 1990.

mixfamilyEntering the MIX Factory.

I mentioned in my last blog post I find the schedule hard to navigate on their website (I really just need a trailer for the festival) so I like to let the Goddess guide things. And here was the opportunity! I ran into my friend L.A. Teodosio who was screening a film I had heard about at that very moment but didn’t realize was at MIX.

catbuttface

I bought a ticket and slid into the screening with my roommate Damien (who is on the MIX Board) and a bunch of our pals. It’s called Peace of Mind and is about Teo’s partner Flo McGarrell, an artist who was killed in the Haiti earthquake. The movie is perfect for MIX because it’s a bit documentary, a bit art film, a bit fiction. The soundtrack is sumptuous and sweet, the scenery is beautiful, as Haiti is so gorgeous. It was shot both in Port Au Prince and the seaside town of Jacmel and there was a marked difference between the two places, though the lack of resources were consistent between the two. Flo made an interesting comment in one of the archival pieces, that when he was in Haiti cooking food was so difficult and food was much harder to come by, so he would lose weight. When he would go back to the states he would gain it all back. Flo worked with local artists as part of a project that taught artists and curated work and many of the artists were interviewed in the documentary.

catbuttThis is a cat butt.

Also in the film was a subfilm, a part of the movie KATHY GOES TO HAITI, based on the book of the same name by Kathy Acker, that Flo was working on with the director Cary Cronenwett (who directed the documentary, along with Teo). Zachary Drucker played Kathy Acker and it was interesting to see it, though from what I understood from the documentary the book itself sounds White feminist colonialist. We only saw a part of the book as they had only shot the last chapter, with the intention to shop it around for funding. Due to that and that it was in a larger narrative that addressed a lot of what it was like for LGBTQ people in Haiti, I thought it was redemptive of the source material and appropriately critical of her perspective on Haiti. Check out the trailer for Peace of Mind and if the movie tours in your area I highly recommend seeing it.

creepynestthingNest installation.

Because it’s MIX, filmmakers come to screenings and there are often talk backs, so the awesome Haitian editor of the film (and collaborator of Flo’s) Zaka, was there as well as Teo, discussing the film.

There’s a thing at MIX called “MIXoclock” where they say stuff happens at a certain time but that’s kind of an idea and isn’t really something to count on. Again, with MIX, best to just let the Goddess guide you. So I noticed on my phone that by the time the talk back of this one ended it was already a half hour later than the next screening (I had bought tickets for online). There’s only one screening room so I guessed I had a bit of self care time between the films to go buy some water, check my coat as the coat check was finally open and the house lights were down and everything was doused in purple lights and blacklights. Sitting in a theater for three and a half hours straight is a lot but I was glad for it! ART!

photobydraemixtriangePhoto by Drae Campbell.

The next screening (the one I prioritized and planned my whole night around) was curated by Queer Rebels, a duo made up of Celeste Chan and KB Tuffy Boyce, both Bay Area artists who I’ve performed with and love their work. Their curation of Queer People of Color made films is always spot on. A mix of lengths, narratives and stories, each is on a theme. This one was on Home and my highlights were a short music video about queers of color in the Bay vs tech gentrification and a short film about a gender non-conforming person coming home to their mother who does not accept them and is awash in grief. Another highlight was Orient, a film about the tension between Black folks and Asian Americans and internalized colonialism. Queer Rebels is incredible and the talk back afterward was also great.

celestemix2014Celeste’s galactic jumpsuit from last year’s MIX Queer Rebel’s screening.

After all of that art I stumbled dazed back into the MIX Factory thinking I’d visit with some folks and then head home. It was already 10, I had been there for five hours! Jacqueline and I went out on the smoking deck, I was aggressively hit on by a person who self-identified as “transexual satan” who I then referred to a different friend of mine. Kind of like, “You’re not for me but I have someone else in mind for you,” which is something I have done before and, listen, I roll with babes. It was a successful match in the end and I’ll save the rest of the dirt for Snapchat.

mejacquelinedraeMe, Jacqueline and Drae.

I rolled through the space here and there, looking at installations. You can go into a cat lounge area through its butt. You can sit inside a triangle. You can wander and look at all the outfits. Even the bathrooms are installations this year! I saw people who don’t live here anymore visiting, hung hard with some local friends and had a lot of fun. I was really tired and every time I felt my energy flagging somehow the space would fulfill my need. The best thing that helped me wake up a bit was a decaf iced coffee from Dunkin that Victoria brought me when she arrived at 11PM. I get a zip from decaf that can really turn around an evening and it worked.

victoriamixLike a psychadelic Goddess bearing decaf coffee.

Dinner was served at 11:30PM, it was a pasta with a side of root veggies and salad. Delicious! And free with entry/going to one of the films.

damienpowersuitDamien’s look for MIX that night (as photographed from my desk chair when I screamed “OMG Frye Boots with a vintage power suit!” as she checked herself out in our wall mirror). Here is her on video talking about MIX in her capacity as a Board member!

Victoria and I peeled off from our friends and laid down in a nest of pillows in a small side room where we watched a forest scene with a man “hatching” from a plastic bag. Again and again. The more I watched the more the art came alive. Also, resting laying down was really helpful. When can you do that in social spaces?

outdoorinstallation
photobydraehatchedmixSecond photo by Drae Campbell.

I was about to leave at midnight and then DJ Average Jo, Holly and Topher arrived so I ended up hanging with them. I was under no intoxicants yet was a bit high on socializing. Full disclosure, I did take a tiny bit of adderall to try to wake up around 9PM and that had zero effect. All told, I was there chatting and admiring outfits (two of my favorite things) until 1:30AM. By then DJ Battyjack was spinning, there was a band playing and other people were still arriving. MIX! It’s magic!

mehollymixPhoto by Jacqueline Mary, who said I looked like Muppet Baby Miss Piggy while snuggling Holly. High compliment!

I have a conference this weekend that starts painfully early in the morning but I’m still going to try to go tonight and tomorrow! If you’re curious and you’re in town, go! I coaxed Drae Campbell to come last year for her first time and this year she was there on Wednesday fully in the mix and emceeing!

photbydraemejacquelinedevonMe, Jacqueline and Devin. Photo by Drae Campbell.

2015-09-10

I’m Totally Having So Much Fun on Snapchat Here’s Why

It’s no secret I adore social media. I prefer to curate my own information streams because I think that corporate media is designed to create scarcity mentality, fosters insecurity and just works to ad big dollars to the insecurity industries.* Also, I like people’s stories, I like learning about new places and I love seeing lots of adventures through people’s eyes.

Instagram has been a favorite for some time, but lately I’ve gotten into Snapchat! (I’m @queerfatfemme there and all the other stuff I use.) I tried it once before when it first came out and it was okay but not great. Pretty social but I didn’t have a group of friends who were doing it so I didn’t stick with it and uninstalled the app.

bevindollypaloozagreenslipMe at Dollypalooza this year! Photo by Ves Pitts.

Recently a couple of bloggers I like mentioned that they were Snapchatting and my friend Devon Devine’s fun videos convinced me I should give it another shot. When I got a new phone I decided to try it again.

Snapchat is so different now and I’m really enjoying it!

Here’s the deal:

Record a video of up to 10 seconds, or take a photo that will be live on screen for up to 10 seconds (you choose the length). Add text, emojis, or draw on the photo if you want. Add a filter/skin and voila! You have a snapchat! (Here’s my tutorial about how to use Snapchat since I found it hard to figure out at first.)

Here’s a video as part of a little diary about why it is awesome to have a Femme roommate.

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

Your snap can be sent directly to your friends on Snapchat or you can publish it to “My Story” which is an aggregate of all of your snaps for the past 24 hours. Once it is 24 hours old it disappears forever!

The idea behind snapchat is that it is kinda throw away media. It’s not meant to last forever, so people are really casual, they lip sync, they dance, they show you where they are vacationing or walking down the street, they goof off with their best friends, they introduce you to people, lots of cute snuggly animal moments. In some ways, I find it to be more intimate social media because you get a sense for someone’s personality rather than something intricately curated like perfecto instagram pictures or a well-edited blog post. I would call it “hang out media.”

Some of my favorite things to watch on Snapchat are hotel room tours, house tours, cute pet moments, cool travel places, snap chatting (where folks talk to the selfie camera and tell us about something going on for them), outfit ideas, ten second drag acts, day in the life montages. I especially like when my real life friends talk because if they are my friends I probably miss them and like the opportunity for a virtual hang out!

One of my favorite things about publishing to Snapchat is geotagging! There are these skins that pop up for your videos or photos (when you’re in the editing screen, swipe right) that are specific for your location. They are very cute! New York City has at least one for most neighborhoods I’ve been in. For example, my therapist’s office is at Columbus Circle, so when I swipe right I can get one for Columbus Circle, a couple for the Upper West Side, sometimes it gives me Hell’s Kitchen, and I always get Manhattan. It’s cute!

bridgetboxFrom my snapchat tour of Bridget’s Femme apartment.

I love geotagging when I’m traveling just to show off and play with the geotags where I’m at. When I went to Normal, Illinois this summer (this is a real place, Dara’s brother lives there) I was really disappointed when I thought that Snapchat didn’t have geotags, and was delighted when they eventually showed up as options during my third hotel room snapchat tour video!

There are lots of places that don’t have geotags yet, I learned on my road trip through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey this summer. It’s fun to watch Snapchat develop and add more. Right now I’m visiting Webster, FL for a wedding and there could (should) be a geotag for Florida and perhaps one for “Swamp Life” out here!

Here are some things I’ve been doing over at my Snapchat story:

Tours of where I’m at (I travel soooo much sometimes, especially in the last few months)
Narrating my favorite parts about NYC
Nightlife adventures—the last couple of weeks I’ve been going out a lot!
Cute videos of Macy
Tiny diary-like snippets (e.g. a couple weeks ago I talked about how like how I leave blank space in the calendar intentionally so I have time for mini side adventures)
Goofing off with my friends (When I hang with Victoria chances are she might be scantily clad and when I hang with Jacqueline she will usually do a boob shimmy for my snapchat viewers)
Dance party at the Bed Bath and Beyond (that happened with Dara)
A tour of a sparkly and amazing Femme apartment (Hi Bridget!)
Wedding venue I officiated

jacquelinemacyJacqueline with Macy, before her Snapchat shimmy.

On Monday at the beach I had my friend Jo tell my snapchat how to body surf—a skill set I have not learned!

I’ve also really loved the special Snapchat content! Snapchat has an NYC local story that is really cute and seems to change daily. There was an adorable Animal Rescue one recently, a back to school one that focused on a day in the life of a high school, a really great “Life on the Farm” story, I loved the Snap story for Ramadan (at Mecca), and all sorts of music festivals I’ve never heard of.

There’s also Snapchat exclusive content from other media providers if you want to go down that rabbit hole. The National Geographic one is generally interesting and shout out to the Food Network Snapchannel because a friend of mine oversees the content there. I now know the secret to perfect hummus every time thanks to Snapchat. Also People Magazine does some throw away content (almost every time I look in on it there is a story about Taylor Swift).

Here’s a cute video I saw on Lady Quesa’Dilla’s Snapchat (@ladyquesa_dilla) that I asked for her to download so I could show off backstage at Dollypalooza on Instagram:

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

Here are some folks I am enjoying following on the Snapchat:

Blogger Nicolette Mason—she’s always on the go to private meetings she can’t talk about, going out with her hot wife, and talking about how perfect her adorable pug Frankie is because Frankie is, in fact, totally perfect.
@nicolettemason

Blogger Gabi Fresh—she’s got a wardrobe to die for (naturally) and she does really fun “what’s in this box” reveals when she gets mail. She’s also a big traveler and always doing cute hotel room tours.
@gabi.gregg

My fav Real Housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann—she has a totally adorable brood and they are always doing something fun. Also, her family’s chef is a hot dyke who does animal rescues and I totally love her show Don’t Be Tardy on Bravo.
@kimzbiermann

Blogger/model Nadia Aboulhosn—she’s literally always clowning with her BFF Shavah, being a total goofball behind the scenes, her knowledge of hip hop lyrics is pretty impressive as she is often lip syncing, and she has this cute animal voice where it gets all high when she sees a cute animal. Also, her jet setting model life.
@nadiaaboulhosn

nadia-aboulhosn-1441275114Nadia is this ultra model BABE but she’s also totally a weirdo magical person on Snapchat.

Plus Size Supermodel and Body Positive Activist Tess Holliday—she has a snapchat diary thing going on that I adore. Last week she real talked about how once she gets comfy in a hotel room it is hard for her to keep plans with her friends. She’s really good at narrating what’s going on and she is ultra jet setting.
@tessholliday

Are you on snapchat? I would love to know what you love to watch on snapchat, who you love following (and why) and any other protips for good snappin! Leave a comment below!

*Diet industry, plastic surgery, beauty industry, spending money to feel class status, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I love Sephora, but I go on my own terms because I like to decorate myself not because I think there’s something about me that can be fixed by $22 mascara.

2015-07-13

An Open Letter to Oprah about Crop Tops and Body Positivity

This is a letter I wrote to Oprah Magazine in response to a call for reader input in the August 2015 issue. It is in response to the totally banal and fatphobic response to a reader question in O Magazine that folks should wear crop tops “If (and only if) they have flat stomachs.” I generally skim or skip the style and beauty content in O Magazine every month because it’s written towards folks who are seeking a more neutral style than I am looking for. But given the deep internet controversy I thought this was a great time to offer Oprah some unsolicited advice about how she could be doing better.

Since posts are better with photos of lots of folks with different bodies, I have asked my friends to be part of a crop top army, their photos and links are throughout this post.

IMAG0213If I had a Bevin Magazine and I did it like Oprah with my photo on every cover this is what my cover could look like one month.

Dear Oprah:

I am writing this from the place of being very steeped in Oprah culture. Like many folks, I am a longtime fan. Growing up watching your talk show at my babysitters and getting more interested in your message of self-improvement once I got to college in the late 90s. I remember saving up to buy an Iyanla Vanzant book I saw on your show. I’ve always identified strongly with you and your interview style, my friends even started calling me “The Queer Oprah” about a decade ago because of my way of asking the right follow-up questions and getting deep into someone’s story, similar to your skillset. I like to ask questions until I really understand something and walk through the world with curiosity, which I believe you do as well and what makes you so good at what you do. I buy all the book club books. I’ve had a subscription to O Magazine for several years, and maintain a hoard of back issues for reference.

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Photo of Laura Luna, one of my favorite folks on social media. Her insights and vulnerabilities and fun are very inspirational. Here are her words as a caption to this photo. I highly recommend an instagram follow! “That time at #amc2015 when I got pulled up on stage by @leahrosegallegos from @lascafeteras to share a dance and everything around me felt magical cos femmes and a little of LA in Detroit and how because of seeing so many brilliant fats strutting their stuff at the conference I felt safe and even a little liberated to wear this outfit and dance dance dance in front of what seemed like a sea of people.#femme #queer #qpoc #qwoc #femmesofcolorvisibility #fat #xicana #latina #femmeofcolor #fatvanity #pocbodyposi #effyourbeautystandards #fatpoc.” Photo was taken at the Allied Media Conference by Ara Howrani.

Ever since you started OWN, I’ve been an even stronger fan, your spiritual programming really resonates with my eclectic mix of spirituality. I kept cable much longer than I could afford to because I wanted to continue to have access to OWN. (Because it streams online the parade of spiritual thought leaders on Super Soul Sunday is still part of my life, but if you made Next Chapter and Iyanla Fix My Life available for purchase like Bravo does with their shows I would be a very happy camper who doesn’t have cable.)

I say all of that to position what I’m about to say from a place of love and constructive feedback. I get what you do in the world, I get where you have been going recently, and I think you can do a whole lot better when it comes to talking about people’s bodies.

The original instagram post that started it all, according to news reports.

You were at the forefront of diet culture for decades, folks watched you openly struggle with controlling your body. Your value for your body echoed the dominant culture, that you should be thin. I think it’s important to recognize that the diet focus you had for many years influenced people, and caused harm by reiterating body shame and body hatred for all of the people watching who view you as a role model.

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Photo of Amanda Joy. Check out her art website and her instagram!

People change and people evolve, and I’ve noticed in the past few years much less emphasis on dieting in the Oprahverse–that has been a welcome shift.

I hated my body for so many years. So when I watched you dieting growing up, I identified with feelings of futility and wanting to try yet another thing to control my body. I hated myself so much that it consumed me. More often than not, my idle thoughts were spent berating myself, rather than focusing on bigger ideas or being open to seeing the world around me. I didn’t know how to be present. I was always focused on the future, the thin body I would one day have that would solve all of my problems. Or I was focused on the past, my failures, and deep depression.

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My friend Chavon modeling for Booty and the Geek. In Chavon’s spare time she makes geeky themed frames and journals, check them out on instagram.

Ironically, though the Oprah show reiterated my body hatred, it was an Oprah Book Club selection that helped me begin my journey to stop hating myself. Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone featured a fat main character who hated herself so completely I felt shame for identifying with her so strongly, and vowed to work to stop hating myself.

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Photo of Pizzacupcake, one half of the duo GAYMOUS, showing the important relative to the crop top–the side belly cut out. You can buy the incredible GAYMOUS EP here. (Their Let’s Pretend We Don’t Have Feelings video is also worth watching!) Photo by Danielle Billingsley.

It would be years until I got to the stop hating my body part of that journey, but once I did I was free to open my mind up to the world and step into an activist role working to help all people realize that they are worthy of love no matter what their body looks like. I really believe that my purpose in life was blocked and my spirituality was not accessible to me when I let myself stay obsessed with hating my body and myself. A big part of my spiritual awakening happened because I was able to love and inhabit my body, realizing that I was here in the body I was given for a purpose. Part of that purpose is to help folks heal the shame of a society steeped in body currency. (Body currency is a term coined by Jes Baker that I explain in this post.)

11202448_914884111888521_3032253831620096736_nI just started wearing crop tops this year. I’ve been slow to start wearing crop tops, even though I’ve been rocking a fatkini for a couple of years. I am forever indebted to my queer fat femme style icons for doing it for so long and helping me learn that it’s okay to flaunt and love your belly at any size. Photo by my friend Anne at Rebel Cupcake in June, 2015.

Now I’m present. I love my body and it frees me up to really inhabit this life. To focus on my purpose. To enjoy the world this time around. To have so much fun that it makes up for the years of depression, self-loathing and misery.

Fringe shorts on the Fire Island Ferry! Heading to Cherry Grove! 🍒

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

Speaking of fun, press play on this video and see how much fun I’m having in my Diet Industry Dropout crop top!

The body shaming response to a reader’s question about whether she could wear a crop top, “If (and only if)” she has a flat stomach is causing public outrage for good reason. This is a chance to get on the right side of history. More and more folks are deciding to love their bodies and wear whatever they want to display those bodies.

I was disappointed that the public response from O Magazine (as printed on People.com) was trite and shallow. “We support, encourage and empower all women to look great, feel confident and live their best lives – in this case, we could have expressed it better. We appreciate the feedback and will be more mindful going forward.” Actually, doing what you did caused harm to folks, much like the constant diet chatter caused harm on the Oprah show. Not just “could have done better” but how about instead of being just mindful you really do something different?

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This is Al Benkin. “I’m a otherly abled gender non conforming queer working artist. I am a proud She. My bramd is Beautiful Mutant Art aka Mutantland.” You can follow Al on instagram!

This is an opportunity to move forward with utilizing your platform to include body positivity. I think you can acknowledge that every person has humanity–do all humans deserve dignity regardless of their body’s appearance? Can you be open to the fact that our culture creates a hierarchy of bodies and that race, class, gender, gender presentation, sexuality, culturally approved beauty, amount of cellulite, body hair, age, ability and a ton of other factors ranks us and pits us against each other?

That keeping us hating our bodies and focused on dieting is a way to hypnotize us while folks who have their body currency on lock (white, thin, straight, wealthy men) use it to profit off of us?

This is a chance for you to use your clout to actually change our culture. You are a thought leader. What you amplify in your media makes a difference in people’s lives. You know from your experience on the diet roller coaster that body shame does not help people lose weight. It simply helps people hate themselves.

IMG_4486Photo of Jenna Riot, amazing femme DJ and style icon! Jenna’s instagram is here. More fun than the Kardashians.

Here are some ideas I suggest to adopt throughout the Oprah media platforms, including O Magazine, Oprah.com, and the Oprah Winfrey Network programming.

1. You can talk about nutrition and body love from the perspective of “all bodies are good bodies.” You can do this from a place of knowing that working to eat in alignment with the comfortable functioning of our body and movement for so many great, body loving reasons don’t necessarily have to be focused on an outcome of weight loss. That weight has nothing to do with people’s value. You can do a whole show about Health at Every Size!

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Photo of very talented performance artist Shane Shane by Odalys Diaz. I love Shane Shane’s FANCY belly tattoo.

2. Continue to suggest foods, eating patterns and physical movement that is focused on nourishing the body. You totally do this about half the time. (The other half of the time is printing a bunch of intense dessert and indulgent food recipes. Both are great! Both can be about celebrating food and bodies.) When you do this, try to not assign value to the food and movement you talk about.

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Photo of Kelly Higgins, self identified body positive straight girl. (I definitely think fatkinis are cousins of the crop top.)

3. How about a lifestyle show about people loving their bodies? Doing loving movement at every size. Getting various body positive activists to work with folks one on one on the show to help them work through their body shame. I have a lot of ideas for shows celebrating body love. There is so much fun to be had celebrating body love!

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Marina wore her first crop top last week! Here’s her tumblr.

4. Place a thematic emphasis throughout the Oprahverse on body love and healing aimed at young people. I imagine how different my life would have been if the Oprah Show had talked about body positivity and loving your body where it is at when I was an adolescent instead of making me want to go on a liquid diet. It would have been so freeing. It can still be so freeing to so many teens if you make this turn now.

You know who should be wearing crop tops? Everyone who wants to be wearing crop tops. Non-normative bodies wearing crop tops are important because they help make the world safer and easier for other folks to feel comfortable in their bodies. I’d love to see you in a crop top, Oprah. I don’t care what condition your belly is in, I know it is beautiful.

xoxo,

Bevin

P.S. I want to mention in this letter, because it’s an open letter, that it’s important to talk about the fact that just because people with all bodies CAN wear crop tops they don’t have to. It’s okay to be somewhere on the body love journey (or fashion preference journey) to not wear crop tops. No one should feel shame about their body love journey because they’re not ready to Rock the Crop.

Side note: How amazing would it be that, instead of the shallow “We’ll try to do better!” statement they actually issued, Oprah instead issued an apology with a promise that she’ll be on a future cover of Oprah Magazine wearing a “Diet Industry Drop Out” crop top?

Just saying.

11747402_10155735014085702_614776046_oPhoto of Jacqueline Mary by Courtney Trouble. Jacqueline wrote a great guest post about how to be a good ally to her crippled arm. She also is a DIY smut artist inclusive of all bodies, the link here is totally not safe for work: Heartless Productions.

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.

2014-06-20

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

I read a lot of blogs, especially design and mommy blogs, where it kind of seems like the blogger has this magical, perfect life full of sunshine and roses. I know that’s an easy thing to think about someone who publicly shares about their life that things are easy all the time. But it’s part of my artistic intentions that I talk about the way shit is hard sometimes, too. This piece is about how it is okay to not be okay sometimes.

On Father’s Day every year for the past four years my magical, powerful, wonderful roommate Damien Luxe produces an event called Fuck You Dad: A Cabaret to End Patriarchy. It is a way for her to reclaim Father’s Day, which always falls near her birthday. It’s such an empowering event and I’ve really loved getting together with other artists to perform in a cute backyard and DIY empowerment we maybe (probably) didn’t get from our dads.

14428960215_f66d930428_oFrom a previous year’s Fuck You Dad offerings, as published on the Heels on Wheels instagram.

As an only child raised by a single mom in off and on working class/poverty, with a family legacy of alcoholism, I’ve got lots of dad issues. I work through them in a few venues, most helpfully in a twelve step program for families and friends of alcoholics. Much of the time, maybe even 95% of the time, I’m really fine. I have lots of compassion, detachment with love, etc… But this year it took me by surprise.

My girlfriend, who has been going through treatment for breast cancer, just lost her beloved father. He was a wonderful man, he radiated love and support and everything a Good Dad can be. (And I’d like to point out here that the patriarchy makes it really hard even for Good Dads to be Good Dads.) I am so grateful I got the chance to meet him.

The day after Dara’s last chemo treatment her dad went to the ER with chest pains and a little over a week later he passed away. It is really shitty to want to be celebrating a cancer treatment milestone and instead be packing up to go to a funeral. We were supposed to be getting together for a family vacation where I was going to meet her brothers and their families for the first time and her folks were going to meet my mom and Grandmother, my two closest biological relatives. It was weird how all of our travel had changed and it was a grief tornado.

As far as I could tell for myself everything was fine, considering. I was holding it together and feeling really helpful with the family. Dara’s family rules, they are really sweet and awesome. I really appreciated being able to be helpful—managing food as it came to the house, cleaning up, grocery shopping, making sure Dara was eating. All the kinds of things I’d learned to do as a cancer caretaker in a more concentrated form.

14445164014_98c990f573_oDamien emceeing and Heather and Daniel Rosza preparing for their Fancy piece.

We flew home from staying with her mom for the week after the funeral and the next morning was Father’s Day. I was working on my piece for Fuck You Dad and it wasn’t gelling. I was feeling really distracted and moody. Dara and I got into a really dumb fight and I didn’t know why.

Until I got to Jacqueline’s house to workshop our pieces and I kind of lost it during her rehearsal. And then when I got to the cabaret and started crying as soon as I hugged my friend Heather, I just realized, I’M NOT OKAY.

This was both a surprise to me and also kind of sucked. When I perform I want to have more control over myself and not feel like I might cry when I get up to the mic.

What I’ve realized about resilience is that it’s there when I most need it. During a crisis, I’m a rock. I am a logistics mistress, I will get everything taken care of. I generally am not feeling my feelings when I’m going through something hard. I’m just getting through. Given all the dad grief going on so acutely for the previous three weeks, given all the caretaking energy I’d been putting out for the past six months, I just didn’t have all my resilience I usually do on Father’s Day.

The dad stuff that’s usually on the shelf and very tidy for me was a total mess. But because I was performing in this space, with these people around me all at once, all these amazing Femmes who have been my rocks (some of them for years), I could afford to lose it a little and have time to collect myself before I went on stage. And it was okay.

Being a Feelings Squirrel kind of person, where a squirrel saves her nuts to eat during the long winter, I kind of unconsciously save my feelings for later when I have space. I recognize that this is a survival mechanism that I learned out of necessity in a not great childhood. This is something I’m only recently learning about myself so I am still working on how to constructively let out my feelings when it’s time instead of having them come out in not so great ways later.

I’m experimenting with ways for me to have some space to feel feelings. Like when we were in Vegas I took a friend’s recommendation for a Korean day spa, one of those places where you pay $20 and get to go lounge in a sauna or hot tubs for as long as you want. I went there because I knew I needed a place to feel feelings.

14435415852_70ef34c5bb_oJacqueline spray painting Fuck You Dad on a comforter. Photo courtesy @mxjackdawson on Instagram–the modern day Getty Images.

But it wasn’t enough. I totally got to the point on Father’s Day where my feelings were coming out of me like I was an overfilled sandwich cracker and the peanut butter was squishing out the sides.

When I found out that my performance at Fuck You Dad was the last in the line-up I knew what I needed to performed. I scrapped what I had prepared and I decided to do a healing exercise with the audience.

As my introduction I had the emcee call on three people that new me to solicit compliments. This is a totally hard thing to do, solicit compliments, but is a really quick and easy way to access strength and resilience when you need it.

When I ask my friends for compliments, I’m not doing it from an insecure place. When I’m feeling not okay, having my friends remind me why I am a babe or a bad ass or competent or whatever really helps me get out of the negative thought patterns that love to rush in when my vulnerabilities are high. Try it next time you need a boost—call on folks you consider body positive allies when you need a boost about body self confidence, or call on folks who you trust to support you when you need general confidence reminders.

They were perfect compliments, too. One was about being a good dog mom, one was about my blog and the other was about how I have a spirituality that is very big but I don’t push it on other people. It was helpful to have that framework for what I did next with the crowd.

14430104821_d0d57e77f4_oI didn’t even get it together enough to dress how I wanted to for Fuck You Dad and Jacqueline loaned me this babely leopard dress. I’m pictured with this totally nice person who looks like my bestie Leo who has been on the West Coast for months.

I told the audience I was not okay and that it was okay that I was not okay. I testified a one minute version of this post about my dad stuff. I thought that probably, like me, hearing 11 acts, many of which really went there with exorcising Bad Dad stuff, brought things up for people and they might need some centering, healing and cleansing.

I lead a breathing and prayer exercise. Breathing in healing and breathing out fear. Breathing in love and breathing out anger. I offered a Reiki healing to everyone for their childhoods—at my present level of Reiki training I can heal through time and space. I had them picture a time in their childhood that needed healing and I beamed the healing out to them.

Then I did a centering exercise based in gratitude, where I had the audience turn to someone next to them and thank them for being with them in this moment. I find it really helpful to make human connections in times when I’m not okay.

So that was my offering at Fuck You Dad. I wanted to share it with folks out there in my blog audience. Kind of like how even the most ardent fat activist still has “bad fat days” even folks who have done lots of work on different areas of their lives have hard times and it’s okay to not be okay. It’s taken me a lot of work to release the shame that comes up for me when shit I thought was long settled gets stirred up for me again.

And Father’s Day is almost a week over and I’m working on doing the things I know that work to take excellent care of myself. And I know I’ll be okay, even though I also know it’s okay to not be okay.

2014-05-12

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket! Grandmother and Oh Canada! Tea from David’s Tea

Friends, I am so pleased to debut this episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket. My first adventure reviewing a tea from David’s Tea that I brewed at home. Since the tea is from a Canadian company and actually called Oh Canada! (because of the maple content) I decided to ask my beloved Grandmother to be my special guest.

We put out a full tea set and my mom video taped it. Grandmother is one of my femme icons and has taught me a lot about being exactly as glamorous (or, as I would say it, as glitter) as I feel like being regardless of how many people try to rush you to get ready in the morning.

teawithgrandmotherMe and Grandmother at High Tea a couple of years ago. I did an episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket about it!

My bestie Jacqueline was kind enough to lend her incredibly baller professional video editing skills to the finished product and here we have my review of Oh Canada! and some cute anecdotes from my Grandmother.

Spoiler alert: Grandmother loved the tea so much she asked me to leave it at her house in Palm Springs, CA.

You can order Oh Canada! from David’s Tea online or visit one of their shiny teal tea stores throughout the US and Canada. I am a big fan of the Park Slope one, but also have made friends with the tea folks at their Upper East Side and West Village locations.

You can find all of the episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket in this playlist on my You Tube Channel!

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2014-03-04

Seven Strategies to Curb Anxiety

Towards the end of January I had a little bit of a break-down. I just felt completely overwhelmed and anxious. I wasn’t sure why. I had spent most of the weekend doing self care activities and was walking home from the gym on the phone with Jacqueline saying, “I just don’t know why out of nowhere I feel so anxious and it won’t go away!” And Jacqueline wisely told me that sometimes when she does self care like yoga or something very relaxing she ends up with more anxiety. That resonated with me. It feels like when I don’t acknowledge my feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, it’s like a cork that releases all this pent up stuff I haven’t been looking at and poof! I can’t get away from it.

As a result of this little mini-breakdown, I am obsessed with self care right now. I’m talking to people about their self care regimens, being more methodical about what I need from myself in order to be the person I want to be in the world. I now acknowledge that when it comes to taking care of others, the more I have the more I can give. My well has to be 100% full in order for me to give water to anyone else, and I’m in the role of primary caregiver to my girlfriend (yeah, we went there) who is going through chemo treatment for breast cancer right now.

12417512173_a30b444fb5_zI went away for a birthday retreat with my friends in February and it was all about finding a place with a hot tub. I love to meditate in a hot tub when it’s cold outside.

I am going to do a mini-blog series about self care and in this first post I detail what I do to handle anxiety when it comes. There are lots of ways to deal with anxiety, of course, but this is what has worked for me and what works for some of my pals. Obviously, there are varying degrees of anxiety and some folks should consider seeing a mental health professional, but for those who have kind of spotty occurring anxiety like me, hopefully these tips will help.

1. Pay attention and course correct.

I treat feelings of anxiety and overwhelm as warning signs. They’re my own personal “check engine light,” some kind of acknowledgement my body, mind and/or spirit needs attention. If I’m having anxiety come up more often than usual than I know something is wrong and I need to do the work to assess what’s going on in my life and where the imbalance is. If I were on Car Talk and talking about running a diagnostic, I would do the things I know to do when I need to diagnose what’s going on with me. Journal, phone a trusted friend, stop and look at what’s going on in my life. In the January example, I knew what was going on–I had three friends and one of my cats pass away in a three week span in December on top of being primary caregiver for someone with cancer. Any one of those things is a lot! I needed to be gentle with myself and take care of myself and the check engine light came on!

When I’m feeling anxiety, it’s hard to know in the moment that I need to do something differently, in the moment all I can do is think “Fuck, how can I make this stop?” Then I turn to more immediate solutions.

2. Drink stress relieving tea.

Over my Christmas trip to visit my mom and grandmother I woke up feeling intense anxiety one morning. (I think this was another moment where I was relaxing and the cork popped out and all the grief and anxiety I was feeling came out.) I didn’t have anything that could cut the anxiety in the moment, so I went rummaging through Grandmother’s tea cabinet to see if she had any chamomile. Lo and behold, she still had the tea sampler I created as a hostess gift for my cross country road trip two years ago. Fully intact, it held in it four kinds of loose tea including “Stressed Out Tea.” It was like a gift to myself from the past. I drank that tea like I was chain smoking, one cup after another and within a couple of hours it started to work.

I bought the Stressed Out Tea from PS Coffee and Tea in Park Slope, but here are the ingredients if you want to create it yourself. Stressed Out Tea (blend of lots of herbs to calm down including rosemary, peppermint, chamomile, lady slipper, catnip, violet, feverfew, wood bettany herb, blessed thistle herb, white willow bark, stevia herb, raspberry leaf and flavored with peppermint oil).

841322_156802627802561_896072570_oPhoto by Katrina Del Mar.

3. Treat self care like a job.

Self care is a really important aspect of my anti-anxiety routine. The best thing I can do for my anxiety is to prevent it from happening. I like to say self care is a full time job, which it kind of can be, especially in the Winter when we have all the Winter Feelings and seasonal depression.

The other day I was staying with friends and they told me, “We go to bed at 9:30.” Which is an amazing example of prioritizing getting the sleep they need and having a mellow, unrushed morning. I have so much admiration for people who prioritize their self care.

Since my breakdown in January I have been very strict about doing all the core self care things I do every single day. I knew I hadn’t been doing the things I usually do every day, I was skipping some. I was in love jail, snuggled up with my sweetie in Winter and mistaking those temporary good feelings with the things I need to do for my own sanity in the long run.

4. Cut the caffeine.

Eliminating caffeine from my diet has been great for keeping my anxiety at bay. Some days I have none, some days I have a little, but I keep it in check as much as possible. I started the Lesbian Tea Basket web series when I gave up coffee for digestive reasons. Replacing my passion for coffee with tea wasn’t exactly a substitute (I still dearly, desperately, love coffee) but I do now feel very passionately for tea in a way I didn’t expect. I think the herbal aspects of tea are medicinally great but I also think the ritual of brewing and consuming a hot beverage is very soothing.

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5. Exercise.

It’s such a hassle sometimes, but exercise is so crucial to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It soothes everything for me. If I can keep it up at least twice a week it’s great to keep me from getting depressed or anxious.

6. Medicate.

There are a lot of people I know who medicate for anxiety. I’ve never gotten a prescription for anything mental health related, but haven’t ruled out the possibility. There’s so much stigma associated with mental health prescriptions but honestly, I think stigmas around what people need to do for their mental health are bullshit. If you have a headache you take an advil, if you have anxiety and a pill will help, maybe take the pill? I’m definitely a follower of the Kate Bornstein philosophy of living:

Do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living. Anything at all. It can be illegal, immoral, unethical, self-destructive… anything at all if it makes your life more worth living. There’s only one rule to follow to make that kind of blanket permission work: Don’t be mean.

I just got some Rescue Remedy to see if an herb tincture (they also have pastilles/candy and gum) could help me in those moments where in emergency I need to break glass. So far it seems to work though I’ve only done it a couple of times when I was mildly stressed and haven’t had a major anxiety bout since I got the tincture.

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I have some friends who medicate with klonipin (one of them just nibbles a little on a pill to take the edge off an anxiety episode), ativan, and xanax. Obviously you’ll go see a mental health professional or general practitioner who can advise about prescription meds.

Other friends I know with chronic anxiety use medical marijuana. For those who don’t know there are like a billion kinds of marijuana and there are lots of different ways to use it. Depending on your body chemistry there are kinds that just take the edge off the anxiety and you can still function (“cleaning the kitchen” weed) or others that make you want to sit on the couch. I am into watching documentaries about the medical marijuana dispensaries on Netflix and what it can do for folks. Again, this is totally something to go talk to a professional about if you’re in a jurisdiction that has the medical marijuana.

7. Meditation.

I am a shitty, inconsistent meditator. However, if I can take a minute to stare at some birds and ponder what they are up to, look up at the sky for thirty seconds, or close my eyes and just notice what sounds I hear, that will do me as much good as sitting in a chair with my eyes closed trying really hard to think about nothing. It’s really not much more for me than a way to ground myself in the present and remind myself that I am safe. When I’m feeling anxious I am not feeling safe.

12919812773_f0c6e5949d_zThis bird feeder was right next to the hot tub at the house we stayed at!

I hope this not comprehensive list helps out when folks are feeling frustrated by bouts of anxiety. Leave your tips in the comments!

2014-01-24

Five Ways to Begin to Love Your Body Right Now

In my interview with Amy McDonald at the Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit, she asked me for five tips people can employ to love their body more right now. I wanted to write these up and share them with readers who didn’t get a chance to hear the interview and for new readers who want to remember them from the interview. (If you missed the interview and want to listen to it–along with several other incredible talks with lesbian and queer folks talking about money, love, bodies, nutrition, travel, it’s available as a download. Click here to view more details.)

You don’t have to wait to have a good relationship with your body. Not after you lose weight or start going back to the gym or get a lover. Whatever space you’re in with it, you can start making peace right now.

1. Remember that you are not alone.

Everyone has a hard time with their body at some point or another. My friend Glenn Marla says, “There’s no wrong way to have a body.” And everyone can do better at loving their bodies right where they are at.

We’re in a society that commodifies insecurity–it serves the billion dollar beauty and diet industries if we hate ourselves so we buy all of their stuff. If you could really solve your own body hatred by buying something it would totally work but it doesn’t.

Even the most ardent body positive activist has “bad fat days,” and the struggle with our very human bodies is part of being human.

2. Be honest about your yucky feelings.

I am a big believer in naming our hard feelings and getting them out of ourselves. It helps expell shame. So if you feel complicated about a body part, be honest about it.

An exercise I’m a big fan of for a body part you feel complicated about is to talk to it. First, touch it, softly. If this were my stomach I’d rest my hands on it. Then I would talk to it. “Hey stomach, I’m feeling really complicated about you. X, Y and Z are making me feel really hard today.” Then, after you name the hard feelings, start thanking it for what it does do for you. “I know I feel complicated about you today, but I want to tell you thank you for being a soft place for my dog to rest, filling out my dresses, being a great canvass for a tattoo, etc…”

rp_7611841844_73be89d6d6.jpgFrom a Rebel Cupcake a couple of years ago. I felt sooooo complicated about that outfit.

3. Take excellent care of yourself.

When you don’t feel good about your body it is really hard to have the motivation to take care of it. Self care is really important for mental, physical, emotional and spiritual help, though, and it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle, negatively and positively. The more you don’t take care of your body the more you start hating it and the reverse is true, too.

Once you start taking care of your body by doing things like getting enough sleep or learning intuitive eating, it starts helping you feel more comfortable in your body.

It’s taken me years to learn how to take care of myself and I’m still learning. I just said to Jacqueline the other day, “I’m 35 years old and I just realized that I absolutely need to eat lunch within a couple hours of breakfast. As soon as I leave the house I end up in this spiraling vortex of not being able to get the food I need and I get hangry and want to kill someone.” It is so weird because my logic brain is just like, “I shouldn’t be hungry yet,” except that I actually usually get hungry and should just pay attention to my body.

Is there something for your body you could do to take good care of it today? Like an extra hour of sleep? A long bath or shower? Self care stretches time, according to Kelli Jean Drinkwater, and it really goes a long way.

rp_6051297793_7ca8fb97d1.jpgEveryone has a body! With the Miracle Whips.

4. Get value-neutral about your body.

I heard a spiritual thought leader say that the body was just a vessel for the soul. I have found that idea very helpful in coming to terms with my body changing when I don’t ask it to. It’s similar to the sentiment I expressed about How to be a Good Ally to Fat People Who Appear to Have Lost Weight. It’s just a body, in a different form.

Sometimes our bodies are doing things that frustrate us, as in a period of lessened mobility, or sometimes our bodies may feel absolutely great. Being really attached to one kind of outcome or another is a vicious cycle of not enough or worry about things changing. Weight naturally fluctuates a little bit, skin gets saggy when it gets older. It just changes, but it doesn’t have to change how much unconditional love you have for your body.

Part of learning to be body positive for me was learning my body was not my worth. The acceptance of your body without judgment is really powerful. It takes baby steps but repeating mantras of, “It’s just my body.”

5. Stop negative talk about other people’s bodies.

I absolutely love the expression, “When you point your finger you have three pointing back at yourself.” I have had to do a lot of work to stop judging other people’s bodies. When I hear myself begin to judge I stop and I change it to noticing. It’s a subtle difference but it does actually work. “I’m noticing that that person has amazing boobs. I’m noticing that that other person is very thin.”

We are conditioned in our diet/scarcity/commodified insecurity culture to judge other people’s bodies but that is actually not our job. So if I work to stop buying into that in my own head, and externally with my friends and family, I’m doing the work to change the culture I see as so damaging. I believe that change begins with me and I want to do my work to make the world more loving of all bodies.

I also think that we are our own worst critics. Whenever someone spends the time to say something really hateful I wonder what they are saying to themselves, alone, when no one is around. People who are terrible critics of other bodies are saying nastier things to themselves.

And the good news is as you get more value-neutral, compassionate and understanding about other people’s bodies it really helps to become compassionate about yours.

2014-01-15

Guest Post: How to Be a Good Ally to My Crippled Arm

My bestie Jacqueline Mary is disabled in a way where it is not readily apparent to the naked eye. Her arm was shattered in a bike accident a couple of years ago and the initial surgery restored only a small percentage of function in her arm. But because she still has her left arm and most people aren’t particularly observant, it’s not obvious right away that there’s anything different about it. She often has to tell people not to touch her arm, especially strangers in public, and sometimes people we know don’t even believe her and continue to poke, touch, even punch her in the arm because they think she’s joking. She’s also in a lot of chronic pain that has gotten worse over the last couple of months.

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She posted the following note to Facebook and I really loved it. Not just because she’s my friend, but also because I thought it was an exceptional example of stating your needs and asking for help–I believe vulnerability is a sign of strength.

What was a huge bummer about it was that she reposted it several times to her Facebook feed and it only got 10 likes. Whereas the day before when she posted about being hungover she got 30 likes. It speaks to a lot, especially to how uncomfortable people are about disability and vulnerability.

I’ve learned a lot from Jacqueline about disability lately and the most distasteful one was that men often use it as an opener to hit on her. GROSS!

Blanche side eye

So here’s a dating pro-tip: if you see someone has an injury or a cane, don’t use it to make conversation to hit on them. Hit on them in a different way. Get creative. Here are some ideas.

Every person who has chronic pain or a disability has different needs and asks around it, but most folks really want to be heard. So if a friend of yours is asking for help or being vulnerable, a simple “like” to say you heard something, or even (my favorite) a comment heart (<3) is a sweet gesture. I hope you like the following piece by Jacqueline Mary.

This is a brief PSA about the status of my arm – I’d appreciate some likes on this (aka- i read this, that sucks).

Things are not at all great. My radius is no longer attached to my wrist, which means it’s just kind of floating around in there. My hand is quite literally dangling off my ulna. In the last 6 weeks, my pain levels have risen pretty dramatically and my mobility has lessened even further. I’ve been to the clinic several times for this, but since I’m going to Bellevue and they’re seeing me for next to nothing, this is going to be a long process. They’re looking into surgical options and trying to see if anyone is crazy enough to cut me open without knowing what’s really happening in there. My MRI failed because of the amount of metal in my arm (which I’m told over and over again is exceptional).

The result of this is that I need my friends to understand. Guys, I’m tired. Fucking exhausted. Being in pain every moment is a huge head trip in so many ways, but the most noticeable is that it sucks all your energy away. Aside from actual physical fatigue, I’m mentally fatigued. What I need to do for my arm and what I need to do to survive are at war. The strength it takes to not just quit my life and stay in a comfy bed with my arm elevated is really wearing on me. This makes me, basically, bitter and cranky. I apologize.

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In addition, my arm is extra fragile these days. Even a tiny bump creates big pain. This means that I don’t want to go to things where I’m sure it will be jostled. I’m actively trying to avoid anything with crowds (especially shows, unfortunately). I’m driving most places these days. I can’t ride my bike anymore. The train, when it’s busy, is pretty awful for me. Please still invite me to things, but understand that I may decline for what looks like no good reason.

I’m wearing ace bandages a lot more these days, and it’s looking like I may turn back to the sling. Both of these are scary and stressful, as it’s much more of a physical indicator of my disability than I’ve had in a long, long time. This results in even more unwanted attention from assholes on the street. It also creates an appearance of being weak, which is extra scary because, well, I am, and it makes me feel like a bigger “target” to be attacked. However, if any of my creative, DIY, or textile manipulating friends want to make me a beautiful sling and/or wrap, I would seriously love that. Especially if it didn’t look like a sling and therefore made me feel a bit safer.

I know that most of my friends don’t have experience with disability, but I appreciate that you’re trying. Here are a few things you can do to make life a little easier on this crip:

1. Don’t touch my left arm. Ever. Don’t push it, don’t pull it, don’t try to hold my hand on that side, and don’t insist I hug you with both arms. Don’t be insulted if I pull away from you, I’m most likely in pain, aka not trying to get away from you. (And, for the love of god, don’t fucking tell me my scars are beautiful and/or give me character. Don’t downplay my disfigurement.)

2. Help me out. Offer to carry things for me. Insist. Help me open jars, doors, envelopes, even my coat. If you see me trying to do something stupid and struggling, offer to do it for me. I know, I know, I can get pissy when you offer, but offer anyway. The pissyness is a result of feeling bad about needing help, not a result of your offer.

Another GREAT way to help is walking on my left side if we’re in a crowd. I’d much rather have a trusted friend on my bad side than for it to be open to whatever dickbag wants to knock into it. Take the lead, guide us to a safer place, and don’t be afraid to yell CRIPPLE COMING THROUGH!

Also, feel free to call people on their shit if they’re not being kind or a good ally to me. I’m so worn out from having to tell people “Don’t touch me there, don’t push me, that hurts, THAT REALLY HURTS,” just to be met with giggles. It’s not a game, I’m not playing, and it’s not funny to me. Think of it as a matter of consent.

3. Be understanding. If I’m cranky, late, or cancel completely – I’m sorry. I can’t do all the things I want to do as it is, but it’s getting much harder lately.

4. Be kind. I’m tired. I’m sensitive. I’m touchy. Just be sweet to me. I try to not be sensational about these things, but I still have pushback where people seem to think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I know I mostly look fine, which is why things have gotten to this point before doctors would take me seriously.

Guys, I’m fucking scared. There isn’t really any other way to say that. Every time I go to the doctor, they manipulate it which makes it hurt even worse. I will not go back on painkillers. The “best” option I have is a surgery where they will take apart my entire arm (from the elbow down) and completely restructure it. This means another hospital stay, recovery time, physical therapy, and a bunch of other things I don’t have the time or money for. I have no idea how I’m going to manage that, but I trust that I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

So yes. This was a “brief” PSA about the status of my arm. Thank you for reading. Feel free to ask questions if you have any, but mostly I’m just very grateful to have friends who will read this, get it, and try their best to accommodate my bullshit.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for the Rebel Cupcake Leather Family Photo Booth.

Jacqueline is going in for major arm reconstructive surgery tomorrow morning. She’s going to have a piece of her hip inserted into her arm! The recovery period is going to be intense and require a lot of cabs. It’s so hard to know how to help, but here’s a concrete ask you can probably help with (or signal boost)!

Folks reading this in any city served by Uber cabs–a smart phone cab hailing service that allows you to call a car with your smart phone, which is actually a lot easier in NYC than calling a car service. Uber is offering a special where if you sign up now, as soon as you use your first free $20 ride (that’s right, it’s free for the first ride with this sign up), Jacqueline’s account will get a $20 bonus. Which means a free ride to or from work for her! You can help her just by taking a free cab ride!

Sign up for Uber here, Jacqueline’s referral code is uberjacqueline but should be automatically entered when you click that link!

These are the North American cities Uber serves–I love it and it’s pretty easy to use, especially the UberX service, it’s even just a little bit cheaper than a standard Brooklyn car service.

ATLANTA BALTIMORE BOSTON CHARLOTTE CHICAGO COLUMBUS DALLAS DENVER DETROIT HAMPTONS HONOLULU INDIANAPOLIS JACKSONVILLE LOS ANGELES MINNEAPOLIS MONTREAL NASHVILLE NEW JERSEY NEW YORK CITY OKLAHOMA CITY ORANGE COUNTY PHILADELPHIA PHOENIX PROVIDENCE SACRAMENTO SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SANTA BARBARA SEATTLE TORONTO TUCSON WASHINGTON D.C.

And if anyone has a lead on how to build a clamshell for Jacqueline to lounge in during her recovery, or the money to finance putting 100 pink and white balloons in her bedroom let me know.

2013-12-25

Leo’s Hammer and the Meaning of Christmas

My bestie Leo has been working hard to reclaim the Christmas spirit for the last couple of months. In the years since her mom passed it’s been hard and this year her dear ones have been watching her diligently working on figuring out what she can do to bring Christmas cheer back into her life.


Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography. I swear Leo and I are just friends, we don’t date even though we take great photos together.

You should know a little bit about Leo. She’s extremely kind and generous, introspective and intentional, capable and handy. She’s also extremely dapper and wears a hanky every single day. In fact, one of the Christmas cheer things she’s done is to wear a hanky with snowflakes on it. She fixes computers as an IT professional for a living but she really loves working with her hands. Carpentry has become a recent passion of hers and she knows a lot about tools and what it takes to build things.


Leo at my house helping me weatherproof windows. Note the hanky in her left pocket.

We decorated for Christmas at my house, she got a bunch of us together to go to a holiday market outside with apple cider because it reminded her of her childhood Christmas tradition with her folks going around to tree lots in Jacksonville with warm beverages and finding the perfect tree. So we did the adult version of that and she had a flask to spike the apple cider.


The whole time we were at the holiday market I did a new exercise to be okay being un-partnered during the holidays by “Husbandifesting*” with holiday gifts. It was a visioning exercise where I told my friends what gifts I would get the future Mx. Branlandingham–a wooden brain teaser puzzle because they would be super into solving things but not so into getting lost in the iPad, a nice tie with a cool pattern on it, a pocket watch, etc… And I told them what Mx. B would get me–a gift certificate to a tea vendor I was excited about, a teapot with a steeping basket inside, a teal glowy glass lamp of a goddess for my altar. It made it really fun and my friends totally played along!

In the same spirit of visioning for what she wants, Leo has been talking about this hammer for weeks. This very expensive ($200) very light (11oz) framing hammer that is titanium and does your taxes or something. At first I was like, that’s sweet, asking for what you want but where would I get $200 to buy you a hammer. But then I thought, well, maybe I could get it together to get friends to throw in for it. With all the stuff going on in my life I didn’t think I could actually rally the support needed to coordinate a Queer Kris Kringle army to buy a $200 hammer. But then after planning our outing to the holiday market, seeing how jazzed she was about reclaiming Christmas, I was like, “Fuck it, I want to make Leo happy, let’s see if we can do this.”


At the holiday market with Tommy, Marico and Leo.

Leo and I run in three distinct mutual circles that only overlap a little bit, so I’m kind of the perfect person to coordinate this. I started a Facebook message and put about 15 people on it who I knew loved Leo. I asked them to add folks to it. I asked someone to step up and take care of the paypal logistics (Jacqueline, with help by Miss Mary Wanna). Then more people added more people to the “Hey, That’s Leo’s Hammer” thread. Then out of nowhere we got WAY more money than we needed–good because the price of the hammer spiked to $199 from $169 the week before Christmas). Everyone just loves Leo so much they wanted to make her happy. So we did it! And then there was the natural queer processing about what to do with the extra cash and Tommy took care of that part, getting a gift card to a restaurant she likes near her house.

Our friends Miriam and Victoria had a holiday brunch and we totally commandeered their brunch to do the Leo surprise. Jacqueline, a very talented videographer, came up with the perfect way to surprise Leo on camera by asking her to “help” with a project she was doing on the meaning of Christmas. I think you’re going to love the results in this super touching video starring Leo!

*Husbandifesting is a word from Avory Agony about those visioning exercises you do to bring forth a masculine of center version of “The One.” I recently wrote a piece about marriage for Autostraddle that talks about all the different ways you can acknowledge love relationships that aren’t just about marriage. I also still believe for a loving, supportive future spouse while being happy with my life as it is in this moment.

2013-12-03

Queer Family Holiday Rebel Cupcake Saturday December 7th

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It’s here! My annual queer family holiday party! All the pertinent details are here and at the bottom of the post.

This is the fifth annual party I’ve thrown in NYC to celebrate queer families around the holiday season. In 2009 I did a Queer Family Holiday Party (part of the series of shows I produced in advance of getting my first monthly party, Rebel Cupcake). In 2010-2012 I did the monthly Rebel Cupcake in December. Now that Rebel Cupcake is no longer monthly I still wanted to have that holiday coming together spirit. This is an intentional event I do every year to cultivate and celebrate queer families of choice.

I’m very stoked to do things a little different this year–instead of a show I’m having INSTALLATIONS! Each installation artist is curating a specific holiday hybrid with BDSM. I was inspired by a leather family event I went to this summer that had a family photo booth. Why not do it in the holiday way?

LEATHER DADDY SANTA PHOTO BOOTH
Featuring Dusty Shoulders. She promises some amazing beard action, Santa suit and accessories. I’m working with our photographer Kelsey Dickey to have a super cute photo booth so you have something you might want to print out and send as cards to maybe your kinky friends but maybe not your mom (depending on your mom, I guess).

ERIN HOUDINI’S CHRISTMAS TREES
I took a rope class with Erin Houdini a couple of months ago through the Lesbian Sex Mafia and it was awesome! I learned so much. And Erin’s ropes are fucking sumptuous! The colors are also incredible and she’s selling them at Rebel Cupcake for $10 off their online price so bring cash for stocking stuffers. And stick around and watch her decorate people like Christmas trees! I am bringing ornaments.

JACQUELINE MARY’S JEWISH MOMMY HANNUKAH CELEBRATION
Mommy/boy play is awesome and so is Jacqueline and there’s something delightfully maternal about serving latkes and dreidel action. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

DAMIEN LUXE SERVES SOLSTICE
Damien is a genius performance artist and notoriously adept at BDSM so I asked her to serve something for Soltice.

MIZZ JUNE SERVES SHOTS
Whatever she wears will be its own installation, and the incredible Mizz June is always a delight. Buy shots from her, or send a shot to someone else at the party.

DAVID JOHN SOKOLOWSKI SERVES BEATS, BUT LOW ENOUGH SO YOU CAN TALK
One of the secret reasons I love throwing parties is because I have enough influence to set the volume of music. I never understand why music needs to be so loud in a club. And I know this isn’t just because I’m 34, I’ve felt this way since I was 20. Like, at a house party music is loud enough to dance and experience but still soft enough to be able to have a conversation. But at a night club or bar it’s gotta be at top decibal I still don’t understand. So I am the kind of person who is all, play good music but let’s keep it able to have a conversation.

People have met their partners, one night stands, new besties (it’s where I met Jacqueline and many of my dates) and artistic collaborators at past Rebel Cupcakes. I want y’all to mingle and meet folks!

Also David is a great DJ.

FREE TREATS!
My Cupcake Princess is out of town (*sob*) and I haven’t found a back-up yet so if I don’t find someone who wants to make cupcakes for Rebel Cupcakes (you get supplies covered/free admission/GLORY) I will be doing it myself like in the old days. But trust, RC is a place for decadent treats and I try my best to honor our gluten and vegan cupcake challenged siblings.

Here’s all the details. Hope to see you there!!

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 41: Leather Family Holiday
8PM-10PM; NO SHOW–Come early to experience all the installations * $10
Stick around after to dance at TNT til 4a
**NEW LOCATION—THIS N THAT BAR: 108 N. 6th St. @ Berry, Brooklyn, NY
(2 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

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From the Queer Holiday Extravaganza in 2009! Me, Deb, Glenn Marla and Taueret from our Re/Dress Brooklyn days! Photo by Ally Picard.

2013-11-05

Mercury Retrograde Update About Fundraiser for QueerFatFemme.com

It’s Mercury Retrograde, meaning the planet Mercury is moving backwards instead of forward. Astrologically this generally means communication breaks down, issues from the past resurface and there are all kinds of mechanical issues and it’s really hard to plan anything. Anything. (Learn more about this Mercury in Scorpio Retrograde on the Empowering Astrology podcast!)

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Photo by Grace Chu.

As though to put a cherry on the top of my Mercury Retrograde experience yesterday I woke up all set to write a post about meditation practice for my blog and I logged on to see that there was some kind of weird gray film over the site. I couldn’t navigate anywhere or do anything. I had been having trouble on the back end of my WordPress for awhile, even in spite of keeping my WordPress install up to date and updating my plugins. Some tinkering by a friend determined there was an ad trying to run over top of my website, spammers of some kind had hacked in through a back-end plugin and tried to drive traffic somewhere. I’m so sorry if any of you tried to read the site yesterday and ran into that, but there’s the mystery solved about what happened!

I feel very lucky that I was all up in my meditation practice so I was able to approach it calmly, figure out what I could do and what was out of my control, and let it go. I’m also grateful I listened to my friends and I’ve been doing a fundraiser to sustain the website, budgeting part of it for a back-end repair. I knew I’d have to get someone with some good WordPress know-how to get in there and clean out whatever virus or rotten code that was infecting my site but I didn’t think it would happen on such an emergency situation! So THANK YOU readers who have donated or signal boosted for my fundraising campaign because had this happened a month ago I don’t know if I would have been able to restore the site so quickly.

The thing about Mercury Retrograde is that I like to lean into the serendipity of it all and just let the good, unexpected stuff happen. So, hopefully it’s going to be a lot easier to use my site because the back end will be less wonky and I can focus on more content!

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Photo by Grace Chu.

That said, I’m at almost 40% funded, which is amazing and THANK YOU AGAIN to everyone who has donated! My blog is officially five years old now and I’m working to raise $1,000 per year of content! There are so many great prizes available, which I enumerate for you below with photos because GFM doesn’t allow photos, starting with the TOO HOT FOR GO FUND ME prizes, that are available through paypaling me (queerfatfemme at gmail.com).

Someone already snatched up the week stay in Mexico City at my friends’ Air BnB but there are some amazing marketing and branding prizes, homemade cupcakes in NYC, life coaching by me and so much more!

Coming up on the blog is the resurrection of the post from last week lost during the internal hurricane, the conclusion to FEMME SEX WEEK once I get my interview questions back from the amazing Femmes I’m interviewing for FEMME SEX WEEK and that meditation post I mentioned above!

Prizes that are too hot for Go Fund Me! (Paypal your donation to queerfatfemme at gmail)

$80
KCMO beer love package
2 bottles of Boulevard Bourbon Barrel quad (2013 and 2011). 2 bomber bottles from the smokestack series if your choice.
And a t-shirt or hat of your choice. Donated by a hot butch from Kansas City, MO, Jen!

$99
Lap(top) dance by Drae Campbell! Drae Campbell, butchlesque artist & comedian, will perform a laptop dance via Skype for you! Up to ten minutes. She’s hot as shit!

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Photo of Drae Campbell by Kelsey Dickey at Rebel Cupcake.

$100
Lap(top) dance by Miss Mary Wanna! Miss Mary Wanna will perform a private laptop dance via skype for you! Up to ten minutes of Southern shimmy! (Also redeemable in person.) We originally conceived this as a lapdance but it was definitely funnier if it was a laptop dance.
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Photo by Patience Owens.

All the Prizes available on Go Fund Me!

$10
I will drop good intentions on you via twitter! My benevolent wishes are totally powerful. (I saw an I will make a wish for you as a prize on a fundraiser recently and I loved the idea that for $11 I got someone’s good intentions. I take this really seriously! I will drop good intentions your way in a public forum!)

$15
I’ll send you a postcard with my benevolent wishes on it! Snail mail rules! Who doesn’t love getting mail? The postcard will be awesome. I made the below postcard to send to friends and it still lives on people’s inspiration boards.

postcard.jpg

$20
I’ll guest list you to my event of your choice within the next year. Maybe you were going to go to Rebel Cupcake anyway? It’s kind of like buying a ticket pre-sale. This applies to events that I’m producing that I get a list for.

$25
One fat unicorn pink bandanna, silk screened by me. It will look very similar to this one that I produced a couple years ago!

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$30
One “You Are Incredibly Resilient” poster. Conceived by me, designed by James Leander (a dear friend and graphic designer), 11″ x 14″ full color and a great reminder to stay strong in an oppressive world!

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$39
A tote bag that says “Fat on the inside.” It will be a bold print, and silk screened. I love tote bags and don’t fool around when it comes to them.

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$40
A tote bag that says “All Bodies Are Good Bodies.” Another bold print, silk screened.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.
$41
The baker (we call her the Cupcake Princess) behind the delicious cupcakes at Rebel Cupcake will make a dozen for pick-up in NYC. They are incredible and this is a bargain! Generously donated by Morgan Hart.

$50
Receive an unpublished chapter from my memoir–dishy dyke drama, misunderstood fat politics and a lot of awkward in this piece. It’s a gritting teeth kind of chapter but also pretty powerful.

Bevin reading at the Lesbian herstory archives
Me reading at the Lesbian Herstory Archives from my memoir.

$69
It’s very important that this prize is at the $69 level. 30 minute Tarot reading or life advice from Miss Jacqueline Mary. Redeemable via Skype or in person in NYC!

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket

$75
Learn to play (or enhance your playing) the fiddle with Julia Read, an amazing musician! 30 mins, can be via skype or in NYC. Listen to her stuff she’s amazing!!!

$125
All the things! Both tote bags, fat unicorn bandanna and poster from earlier prize levels!

$130
Branding consulting! Marico Fayre offers marketing/branding consultation via skype! Up to 30 minutes of consultation with a professional who can take you from zero to hero! She seriously does this for a living and is incredible at it! Great for a small or big business!

$150
Life advice from ME! I give lots of advice on my blog but now I can tailor it directly to you one on one via skype which I will be able to use once I have a new computer! 30 minutes of life advice coaching via skype or phone with Bevin Branlandingham. Legal advice, self-advocacy, love your body, shopping, dating, self-esteem, etc… Whatever! I’m yours for a half hour!

$500
I will put you on the VIP list to all of my events for the rest of your lifetime. Who knows where the universe will take me? This could be worth millions! Anytime you want to go to one of my events you just let me know and I will list you! What if I get to be a guest on Ellen someday? How about when I make it big and host the Oscars? You’re THERE! You’ll also get a signed copy of all of my books when they come out. Anyone I’ve ever dated can tell you I know how to make someone feel VIP!

Donate here!!

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