Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2010-05-12

In Solidarity With Those Who Have Been Called “Too Much”

I have a bestie who lives far away. When we used to visit only once a year and not keep up with each other regularly, as soon as she would pick me up from the airport I would ask for the current love life run-down. She is polyamorous and it was (and still is) always an interesting mix of folks.

One time, the list included a girl she was particularly fond of and things were going quite well, except that the girl’s other love interest was quite the opposite of my bestie. “I don’t know how to describe her except that she’s just… very beige.”

What made the situation, and Beige herself, so vexing was that the love interest was starting to spurn my bestie for Beige. “I just don’t know what she sees in Beige. She’s the exact opposite of me.”

This love push and pull between my bestie, that girl, and Beige would go on for years, with the girl bouncing back from monogamy with Beige to my bestie and back again.

I have incorporated the descriptor “Beige” in my love vocabulary now. It’s hard to describe what Beige even means, as a personal trait. Maybe it’s just the absence of bold color? I just know it’s pretty much the opposite of glitter. I identify as glitter, which to me is a color.

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Vagina Jenkins has been told that she is “too much”. Also check out her kickstarter so she can bring her too much to your town!

Glenn Marla has a performance piece in Tragic Magic where he talks about people who have been called “too much”. I’ve been called too much my entire life–too fat, too loud, too feminine, too “lipstick” when I first came out, too expressive, too blah blah blah blah blah.

I hate it. I love big and I always express myself. When I am excited about something I get louder, and I really like to be excited. I am effusive in my praise of people, and when I’m with someone in a romantic context I can make them feel like the only person in the room. I’ve been told this by multiple partners, which is why I tend to date Leos. I have also been told that I am a lot different than people expect by a lot of lovers.

I LOVE romance. I really enjoy giving and receiving special attention and courtship. I am so not the kind of girl who can play aloof–I just don’t have time or inclination to pretend to be something I am not. If I can “take it or leave it” I’ll just leave it.

I was told by someone I went on a couple of dates with that I was “a lot to get used to.” It brought up a lot for me–I had so much rage around being told that and it took me a few weeks to unpack. It felt like being told I was too much, even though I know that wasn’t the intention. I guess this post is my way of turning that unexpected rage into productivity.

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Heather has been told she is “too much”. Me, too. That’s why I got big hair, to go along with my big personality.

Heather and I were talking about being too much and how people get so scared and run to the easy, non-threatening beige. “It’s so unfortunate because they could have something so good and so easy, but instead they run away like a coward and don’t want to deal. If I wanted to date people who didn’t want to communicate and were douchebags I’d just go back to straight dudes.”*

We’ve both been left for people who didn’t hold a candle to us. It sucks! I don’t even know how to tell you how to deal with that except just to let it show you who that person really is. If someone prefers beige to glitter than it tells you that they don’t have it in them to date you and they don’t deserve you.

I go out with people and I see they have all of this potential and then all of a sudden they’re dumping you in a picture text message from the Gossip Girl set.** It can take a minute to realize that they really just showed you all you needed to know about them from their bad behavior.

I don’t know what it is like to be left for someone who is fabulous. I’ll let you know if it happens. I don’t usually get left for someone else, though, I get left because people aren’t emotionally ready to deal with anything, not even the conversation where we come to some agreement about what our casual romance, Romance, or ROMANCE could look like.*** I mean, everything is negotiable. And if it isn’t then at least you know it isn’t and that in and of itself is some sort of answer. I just think it’s worse being left in the dust holding nothing and wondering what the hell happened.

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My BFF Rachael, the Donna of Femme Mafia International, has been told that she is “too much”. Hey Atlanta, check out her new monthly Friday Femme Centered party starting THIS Friday, Friends With Benefits. Info here.

My friend Taueret has a tattoo that says “I love harder than expected.” I think that’s true for a lot of Ferocious Femmes and other flamboyant queers. I think it scares people. I mean, it’s true, some of the most scoundrely scoundrels I have dealt with let loose the “I love yous” within a week of starting to date me, which I ate up. I like to think that I am learning how to temper it a bit and be a little bit more skeptical about professions of forever(!!), and of course not profess love too early. But I do believe in showing people affection. And when you’re enthusiastic about people, actually saying “You’re awesome!” instead of hiding who you are and how you feel.

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Taueret. Frankly I just don’t understand how there can be too much of her love.

My bestie Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me once on the heels of another fizzled romance that she feels like this agent who incites change–that she tends to somehow be that catalyst for the people she dates to suddenly start working on their issues, and then they are sadly no longer emotionally available to date. It feels very frustrating when this happens over and over again.

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I feel like if Leah is an agent who incites change, it is somehow made less threatening and more appealing by her propensity for wearing hot miniskirts. I’m just saying.

There’s no great answer to this. I want to tell you all there is absolutely someone out there for you and that suddenly your Prince(ss) charming will show up and tell you that you are SO much instead of TOO much. I do firmly believe that there is someone out there for everyone. I just also know from personal, current experience that it takes empyreal patience to find someone who is in it for the full flamboyance, nurturing, love, whatever you have to give.

It took so much work to become the confident, courageous, colorful and caring person that I am. I won’t quiet it and I won’t be shushed just to make someone like me back. The right romantic interest, friends and community would want me to be my most vibrant self.

Being a risk-taker in love is going to pay off. I will always have experiences worth writing about, good and bad, I will always have things to learn from. I will always keep changing and keep growing. I am the kind of person who needs an adventurous risk-taker to come along for the ride. I encourage everyone to take risks, big and small, in love and in life as much as you can. It is what makes life so much more interesting than beige.

I had a great date with a really hot, fat, tattooed older butch who said they didn’t like make-out parties because “I’m a specialty food. The people who are attracted to me are really into me. But there are lots of people who aren’t.”

I have found a lot of empowerment from this statement. Being a specialty food is something special. It makes me a lot more interesting–going through the work I have had to go through to unlearn self-hatred and myriad of other things has made me a really fun and fascinating person. It makes the days I feel good really fucking shine, for no reason in particular. It means the work I do as a Queer Fat Femme performer, writer and activist is to create visibility. I hope my visibility helps all of the young Queer Fat Femmes out there have an easier time with dating when they’re 31. Maybe in 10 years Queer Fat Femmes won’t be such a speciality food (but will still be special!).

There’s no magic formula to making someone not intimidated by you. There’s no magic formula to helping people get over a lifetime of hatred to love themselves enough to want to date someone who is nice to them. It’s true for any marginalized identity, fat folks, dis/abled folks, people of color, trans folks, survivors, queers, etc…

I can give you this answer: There is only patience and confidence that as a community, if we love each other enough and work to help one another heal, we’ll create queers who are confident enough to love out loud and give glitter (and orange, purple, and paisley) a chance.

*I want to say there are plenty of straight dudes who are not douchebags.
**True story. “Thought of you. Also let’s not see each other anymore.”
***This is why Unicorn Dick is described as that fantastic head, heart, lust, timing combination–timing is often a bitch. Um, also, I hate this trend amongst queers where it feels like we can’t talk about “WHAT IT IS THAT WE’RE DOING” because it’s so threatening to have words for it. Come up with something creative but don’t avoid talking about it because it’ll scare someone away. It just leaves you left with no ending because there was no real beginning. Dangling participles are sucky in grammar and suckier still when they hurt your heart!

2010-05-07

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Identifying Your Emotions Edition

A couple of months ago I had a little miscommunication with someone around me stating that I was feeling jealous about something. She saw it as a red flag whereas I meant it as information, and actually, ultimately a compliment.

Jealousy is such a loaded word and it really doesn’t need to be. I’m an only child, I get jealous about lots of ridiculous things–friends, success, clothes, lovers, access to cable television. I have learned how to manage my jealousy internally and rarely feel it more than fleetingly. I have also learned that jealousy is a great information gathering tool for myself in terms of checking in with my emotions.

When it comes down to it, if I don’t care about someone enough to feel some jealousy, I probably don’t want to be friends or lovers with them. But me being jealous is not that deep.

Enter Glenn Marla, with a new term for the queer lexicography.

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JELLO. JELLO is a shorthanded way of saying jealous. “I am feeling a little JELLO about that” sounds much less threatening to yourself and the person you are expressing it to than jealous. Jealousy has such a bad rap, but if you can use the shorthand of “Having some JELLO” it feels easier to deal with. No weight watchers points, single serving. Try it, it’s fun.

“Hey baby, I just needed to tell you I am feeling JELLO about your date on Monday, so if you could make some time for me on Sunday to hold hands and watch a re-run of Glee, it would take the edge of my JELLO.”

This is a derivative of the term “J.Lo” which was brought to us via Damien Luxe via some generous queers in Philly.

Battleshipping. You know when you meet up with a friend, bring your laptops and do work together but separately, which somehow keeps you more accountable to the work product and slightly encourages you not to look up Jersey Shore news on Gawker? If you ever think about what it looks like with two people and their laptops back to back, it’s just like the rad board game Battleship. Heather came up with the term and was throwing it around about Silas and Damien and for awhile I really thought she meant they were playing board games.*

“Hey Zoe, want to meet up for Battleship next week? I really need to haul ass on the production of my book. Kate Bornstein wants to see one out of me soon.”**

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Me, Kate and Carmelita Tropicana at the reading for King Kong Theory, published by the Feminist Press.

Maple Chaser. I have thrown this term around on this blog before, but basically it is someone who has an affinity for Canadians. Like a chubby chaser or other such semi-creepster terms. I heard about it for the first time on FetLife. I like it for the double entendre of Canadian people and also maple as a food/concept. I think Canadians are hot and really love to visit Canada.*** And I love maple syrup, maple flavored anything, and especially maple donuts. They are very uncommon in New York, but very common in my home state of California. I have them at least twice a visit when I go to Canada.

“I find that tattooed butch from Toronto a triple threat in the lust department–I am a Maple Chaser.”

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Me. In Toronto. I am due for a trip. Book me for a gig!

The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs. I use this term to describe that beginning courtship phase when people do sweet things to woo you. It is in reference to an actual girl who wooed me by making me amazing meals involving both of those things. Several weeks later, she stopped the wooing without explanation. I kept hanging on, waiting for The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs to resume. What I didn’t realize was that she was showing me another aspect of her personality, though I was having a hard time adjusting to this new version of her when I liked the TDOFC&DE version so much more than the one that was ignoring me.

It is my belief that the Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs should never cease–a relationship needs to involve a certain amount of continuous courtship. Courtship does not require a great deal of energy, just a little thoughtfulness. (Check out the FemmeCast episode on courtship for some great ideas and guidance.)

“It is really difficult to do, but I need to move on. Now that The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs have ended I am not being treated very well, and I deserve to be cherished. My feelings for her are strong, but my feelings for me are stronger.”

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Enjoying Fried Chicken with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Our friend courtship continues, as we approach our 2 year friendaversary at the 2010 Femme Conference.

*Both highly productive people in my life, I wondered why they were having game night and not inviting me. I felt a little Jello about it until I realized it was a work/production date. Ha ha!
**Real quote! Nothing kicks you in the ass like meeting and performing with one of your heroes and having them tweet that at you!
***Seriously, Toronto has these incredible hot dog carts with all different kinds of hot dogs, tofu, turkey, regular, sausage and then tons of great toppings to put on them! And lots of hot queers, fun things to do, good beer, cheap ferry rides, amazing restaurants…

2010-02-11

Winter is Style Phobic

Yesterday my Femme friend Rachel posted to FaceBook that she doesn’t understand how to dress for snow and solicited tips. Femme Family Madam of Beauty, Bryn, responded “Snow = Femmephobic”. An FF Butch ally complained about snow being butchphobic because of the giant duck-like snow boots she is forced to wear.

Let’s be real–winter is just plain stylephobic. It’s a lot harder to be cute in the cold, what with all of the layering and the arduous task of putting on coats, gloves, hats, and special shoes just to leave your house. I grew up in California and didn’t experience my first real winter until I was 21. A decade later I’m still not over the novelty and annoyance.

I have come up with some ideas as to how to inject style and sass into your winter blah blah blahs for not a lot of money.

1. Get an accessory that can transition the everyday into glamour.

Your coat and accouterments are the first thing everyone sees on you. It’s also the one outfit you’ll wear every single day. Making it a good one is important.

This year I found a great way to transition 3 late fall weight coats (or California winter coats) to be really stellar and glamorous outerwear: a $10 Old Navy khaki trench, a getting sort of crappy houndstooth coat I was thinking of giving away and a mid-range mod print black and white coat. I bought a vintage fur stole* for $20. It wasn’t in fabulous condition, so I felt totally fine stitching it up, closing it with a pin and throwing it over any one of those coats. Instaglamour!

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I wish I had a better shot of the coat but I think the Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha cameo totally makes up for it.

I also bought a really gorgeous pair of teal leather gloves for $10. They were GAP in origin (but I got them from Re/Dress). They really pop against any kind of neutral coat, they’re water proof, and they actually work to open Macy’s poop bags, which is not true of most gloves. I believe in good leather or leather-like gloves only if they are cheap because expensive gloves get lost.

I feel complicated about hats so I try to have a coat with a hood in late winter. I’ve been seeing girls wear really floppy beret style hats this winter, with their bangs able to show and still function as a hat. I like having big hair so it makes it hard to deal. I have earmuffs that wrap around the back of my bouffant.

I shop like a magpie so pretty much anything sparkly gets my attention. A sparkly scarf is my day to day in the deep winter. Glenn Marla here models a glittery ascot. I’ve seen many of my hippest queer friends layering their scarves this year–so even if it is a thin glittery overlay you can put more layers under them. One girl showed up to a gallery opening with I think at least 5 scarves around her neck.
Glenn & Me at Heavy

Nothing says “I’m bringing a little winter cheer to this bitch” like wearing bright accessories in the depths of February.

2. Become a Maple Chaser.

When you’re confused about what to wear in the winter, look to our Canadian cousins. If anyone knows how to dress for insanely cold weather, it’s people who live it 5 months of the year. I like to cruise my Facebook friends to see what the Canadian fatties are wearing and then pester them with questions about where stuff comes from.

A visiting Canadian walked into Re/Dress this winter wearing the most gorgeous full-length fuchsia down coat. She also had fuchsia hair. I see a lot of well-dressed folks at the store and it takes an especially foxy outfit to stick in my memory like that.

It was likely this coat from Lands’ End. It’s still not on sale, but it might be by the end of winter.

3. Get some bangin’ outerwear.

I scour all year long for good outerwear (this is how you can get stuff for cheap). I found my calf-length down coat at a Marshall’s last January on sale for $40 when I was in there looking for some impulsive-make-me-feel-better-cheap-lingerie to buy. A plus size new with tags calf-length down coat is hard enough to find, let alone for $40. It is always worth it to rifle through the coat section of those places.

Sometimes it is a good idea to splurge when the time is right. My friend Miasia bought this coat from an online Parisian retailer. It’s INSANELY gorgeous, warm, and she got it on sale. I forget where it’s from or how much she spent but I say worth it. It’s form fitting, flattering, unusual and wool.

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Even Macy gets some amazing outerwear for the coldest months. This waterproof for the snow pink lame’ and silver coat was $2, new with tags at the goodwill (originally from Target).
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4. These boots were made for walkin’ not fallin’.

I am a faller. I hate falling. I don’t understand people who don’t wear snow boots. They have treads and are waterproof and keep your feet warm. I think snow boots get a bad rap as being big crazy duck shoes. They don’t have to be sporty like that! Online footwear shopping is your friend for snow boots.

My first winter as a working girl, I had to travel to do closings, so I needed a pair of boots I could tromp around Manhattan in that went seamlessly with my work wardrobe. I found a pair of Lands’ End fleece boots that are completely black, inconspicuous and have lasted for 7 years. The lovely part I’ve found is that, since they are black, they work equally well with tights, leggings or work pants.

Right now I am in love with these stylish Fitzwell Lesley’s. They’re spendy, though.

On the other end of the spectrum, Deb, the owner of Re/Dress, introduced me to these totally cute boots.

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I believe these are Tretorn Women’s Glad Rubber Boots. They’re about $48 and Deb reports very warm and keep her feet very dry!

Your boots do not have to sacrifice fashion for function!

5. Make the big reveal a good one!

As for the stuff underneath all of those layers, I like to wear polyester vintage dresses in the winter. They are extremely warm (nothing like a fabric that doesn’t breathe). I also tend to layer tights under leggings and wear wool socks. Because when wool gets wet, wool stays warm. (I learned the tights instead of long johns trick and wool socks bit from my winter camping training in Girl Scouts.) When you wear tights under your clothes it also doesn’t matter as much if they have runs or holes in them because they’re hidden.

When you dig your car out from 4 feet of snowdrift wearing tights and you fall in a snowbank, you dry off really quickly, where jeans will retain the freeze far longer. I’ve found this year’s crop of tights from Target and Avenue to have a good longevity.

I also like to put my scarf on right after I put on my perfume (just one neck spritz)** because when it comes off it retains a subtle whif of fragrance which is a really good olfactory seduction.

And no time is more of a special time for cleavage as the winter. Frankly, there’s just not as much and I like to do my best to defeat that.

I end this post with one of my favorite songs of the now (even though it’s a little old). It IS hard to be a girl in all seasons!!

*It was sold to Re/Dress by World Famous *BOB*, I bought it with store credit I got for trading in my white fur collar/muff/hat set that I never wore because it was too pristine. In turn, Australian burlesque performer Lillian Starr bought my set from Re/Dress. The beauty of resale!

**Always being mindful of people with scent sensitivities–that’s no joke! If you know someone who has one NEVER wear perfume around them. My mom is scent sensitive and perfume is like migraine-inducing kryptonite.

2009-11-20

Turning Rage Into Productivity: Transgender Day of Remembrance

In case you haven’t heard, there were two brutal murders of queer people of color this week (details below). The same week as Transgender Day of Remembrance. I can’t really articulate my feelings, mostly, they are a mix of rage, overwhelm, sadness, grief, irritation and helplessness–a lot of crying while reading twitter. I also can’t believe shit like this is still happening. Matthew Shepard was murdered over a decade ago. I remember those vigils, but for some reason these hit closer to home. Maybe it’s because I have been out of the closet so much longer, maybe it is because more of my friends and lovers are gender nonconforming now. Maybe I am more wholly in my body and self so I feel entitled to express the rage in my heart when it happens instead of dissociating.

Vigils are important to mourn and act in solidarity with people. I encourage all of you out there reading to turn your rage into productivity. Have dialogs about how hate crimes legislation and more prisons might not be the answer. Make art. Talk to people who don’t know what it is like to walk the world as a gender nonconforming person. Take a stand against violence against sex workers. Do something.

This is what my heart friend Leah is doing in Oakland. It’s so fucking articulate.

PRESS RELEASE

TIME: Sunday, November 22, 3:30pm
LOCATION: Mac Arthur and Grand Ave. at Lake Merritt

CONTACT: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Liz Latty
PHONE:
EMAIL: morethanavigil at gmail

BAY AREA COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO HOLD VIGIL FOR QUEER AND GENDER NON CONFORMING TEENS MURDERED IN MARYLAND AND PUERTO RICO

OAKLAND, CA – Outraged at the murders of two queer and gender non-conforming teenagers last week, Bay Area queers and allies will gather at Lake Merritt this Sunday for a candlelight vigil and open mic to mourn and brainstorm ways to keep their community safer from violence.

Last Friday, 19-year-old Jorge Steven López-Mercado got into a car with Juan Martinez-Matos, 26, who later said he had been “searching for a prostitute.” Martinez-Matos murdered, beheaded and dismembered López-Mercado after, he said, he discovered that López-Mercado had male genitalia and was wearing feminine clothing. Martinez-Matos then set fire to Lopez-Mercado’s remains and left them on the side of a road. Martinez -Matos is now in custody and has confessed to the murder. His bail is set at $4 million.

The same week, in Baltimore, Maryland, queer fifteen-year-old Jason Mattison, Jr., was raped and stabbed to death in his aunt’s home by an adult male, a family friend with whom, according to a Baltimore police spokesperson, Mattison allegedly had a “forced sexual relationship.”

Queer activists say they worry that López-Mercado’s murderer will successfully invoke the defense of “gay or trans-panic” to justify the brutal killing. “The fact that Martinez -Matos is saying that López-Mercado was ‘wearing women’s clothing’ indicates that he might try to say he was ‘fooled’ and therefore ‘forced’ to kill López-Mercado for their gender identity,” Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, one of the organizers of the Oakland vigil said.

“This is completely inexcusable,” Liz Latty, another organizer of the rally this Sunday, said. “It’s blaming the victim. We unequivocally denounce the way that the lives of queer and transgendered people, sex workers, people of color, women and low-income people are devalued and seen as disposable. We especially denounce the ways in which feminine-presenting sex workers of color are incredibly targetted for violence.”

Referring to López-Mercado’s murder, police investigator Ángel Rodríguez Colón told Univisión, “These types of people, when they enter this lifestyle and go out into the streets, know that this could happen.”

“We are outraged at the murders of López-Mercado and Mattison,” Oakland vigil organizer Latty said. “We, queer and transgendered people in Oakland, are mourning these senseless deaths. Yet we are also a resilient community. We wish to stand in solidarity with those in Puerto Rico and Baltimore who are surviving despite this invisibility and injustice.”

Bay Area organizers of the vigil have been in contact with friends of López-Mercado and are hoping to coordinate memorial events and future actions with the Puerto Rican and Baltimore queer communities.

Harry Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the FBI in Puetro Rico, said that the agency will monitor the investigation since federal statutes regarding hate crimes are implicated. Puerto Rican lawmaker, Charlie Hernandez, who authored the Hate Crimes Act of 2002, has been asking officials to consider charging Matos under that law. It would be the first time in Puerto Rico that a murder would be classified as a hate crime. According to the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force, López-Mercado is the tenth murder victim of a hate crime in Puerto Rico in the last seven years.

But Oakland vigil organizers say they want a different kind of justice that doesn’t rely on increased policing or punishment. They say that the prison system has not made life safer for victims of violence, especially those who are queer and transgendered people of color. Organizers say that violence against queer youth of color is only exacerbated by increased police enforcement, which disproportionally targets and locks up low-income people, people of color, sex workers, and gender non-conforming people.

“Hate crimes legislation and more police patrols would not make our communities safer. It would not have prevented the murders, and no punishment will bring these two men back,” organizer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha said. “Systemic homophobia and transphobia killed López-Mercado and Mattison, who like other queer or gender non-comforming youth of color, faced barriers like street harassment and discrimination in every facet of life. What could’ve actually saved the two young people’s lives are things like free or affordable public transportation, an end to housing and employment discrimination against people of color, queer and trans folks, and the decriminalization of sex work.”

“We don’t know how Lopez-Mercado identified, gender-wise, right now,” added Piepzna-Samarasinha. ” What we do know is that transphobia is a huge part of why they were murdered. As we continue to receive information from Lopez-Mercado’s friends and family members about how Lopez-Mercado saw their gender, we will change their pronouns to the ones they preferred. We want to work to create a world where all people are free to live in safety with any gender expression they desire.”

Vigils mourning López-Mercado and Mattison will also take place this Sunday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Amherst, MA, Tara Haute, Abilene, TX, Atlanta, and Durham.

2009-10-05

Mangos with Chili and the Mighty Real Tour!

Southland & SouthEast Coast! 2 Tours coming your way!!

Last weekend I saw the Mighty Real Tour in New York City. It’s two beautiful solo shows by two very handsome queeroes of mine. Silas Howard and Lynee Breedlove are veterans of the famous dyke punk band Tribe8.*

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Lynee is pictured here with my charming and adorable dog Macy.

The first is Thank You for Being Urgent, by Silas Howard. It’s a performance piece about his work to make a movie about the life, music and love of Billy Tipton and Billy’s wife Kitty. The movie hasn’t been made yet**–but I think it’s a testament to his work as an artist that Silas has been able to make a beautiful piece of art out of the process in the meantime. I’ve seen Silas’ show twice now–it is very poignant and inspirational. The director’s lab scenes from the movie made me cry. (Go buy Silas’ movie By Hook or by Crook.)

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If you don’t know about Billy Tipton, you need to read about him. It’s certainly not easy to change genders nowadays, but think about what it was like in the 40s and 50s living as a man. Intense.

The second part of the Mighty Real Tour is Lynee Breedlove’s Confessions of a Poser. It’s a little bit transguy show and tell, a little bit gender coming out story with a tip of the hat to dyke history–including the life and love of Phillis Lyon and Del Martin. But what it is most of all is hysterical, outrageous and touching. Lynee is a fabulous storyteller (go buy his book Godspeed) and it translates to stage very well.

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They were in Atlanta, my home away from home, tonight, and are moving West through the South. Check out their Facebook page for all of the upcoming dates! Go see them and support them!

The Mangos with Chili Tour has just announced their Fall dates. I saw the tour last year when I was in California. I was blown away. It was simultaneously exciting, devastating and really fun.

Mangos With Chili is a Bay Area based arts organization committed to showcasing high quality work of life saving importance by queer and trans artists of color to audiences in the Bay Area and beyond.

It’s co-curated by one of my very favorite people on the planet, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, the Femme Shark Correspondent for FemmeCast. Leah’s poetry is outstanding–the first time I saw her read she said “Love is an ANARCHIC BITCH” and had femmes screaming YES in response.

Ms. Cherry Gallette, the other co-curator/founder is a sassy burlesque performer whose work is titillating to both the body and the mind.
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Add to that The Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins, who I have talked about on this blog 8800 times recently but also must ad her tweet “It’s uterUS not uterME people–do your part!” kept running through my head during my last bout with PMS. I am pretty certain she has a sassy one liner about every aspect of life. But going to this tour you get to watch her take her clothes off and be covered in glitter!!!

The other performer on the roster that I’ve seen is Amir. You will recall him from Episode 8 of FemmeCast, talking about the Panjamism movement and he describes his rabble rousing as honoring his ancestors.

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I think it might be a testament to how much I love the work of Mangos that I am strongly considering a day trip to Washington, DC (a 5 hour drive) to go see their last show.

Mangos with Chili kicks off next Friday, October 16, 2009 in Texas and moves East from there. The full tour dates are at their website.

Grass roots word of mouth buzz is my favorite way to hear about cool queer art. If you don’t live in the regions these tours are performing in you should totally send the info to your friends who do live there! Queer realness, having $10 to spend on a movie or amazing queer performance art is easier said than done, but I think it’s important to fund the kind of art you want to be happening. Transguy veterans from dyke punk bands and queer and trans people of color aren’t at the top of many grant funding lists. It’s up to us to help keep this kind of art going!

*If you don’t know about Tribe8 I insist that you netflix the documentary Rise Above. It will tell you all you need to know. Also you should buy their cds.
**The fact that Silas’ amazing movie does not have a studio producing and funding it this very minute breaks my heart. If you are a studio who can produce and fund it, do it.

2009-07-16

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Polyamory Edition

It’s time for some additions to the Queer Lexicography!

A long time ago, this term was given unto me by my BFF Rachael.

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Side Dish: An apt way to describe a special lover who is not your main lover or partner. As further explicated by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha when I threw the term around her the other day: “You can enjoy a meaty entrée on its own, but how much better is it with a delicious side of greens or okra? Giving you vitamins and tastes that you just don’t get with the main dish. Making both taste more delightful in the mouth. How lovely.”

Another oldie but goodie, my friend Erica came up with it years and years ago, when we went to our first Michfest, to describe how some of the folks there deal with being on The Land with or without partners.

Free Ass Pass: The arrangement you make with your partner or primary or date or ladyfriend and side dishes or whatever, that when you are at a particular place or doing a particular thing, you are free to get booty. I’m in the process of making buttons to sell at events, conferences and what what that say “Ask me about my Free Ass Pass”. It’s a great idea to advertise that, especially when you’ve got a limited time, a vast pool and since the queer community can be SUPER shy about cruising.

This one tossed around me last night at Femme Family Femme Book Club by Damien D’Luxe.

The Slow Burn: A way to describe the extended flirtation of going out with someone and not going all the way or even kissing right away, or where no one is making a move at all but there’s still some palpable chemistry.

Often, timing and circumstances dictate the need for a slow burn. Long distance is a bitch. So is someone getting out of a weird life situation (in recovery, big break-up, etc…) so the slow burn is the emotionally responsible choice for both parties. We’ve all been there with the Reckless Rebound. That shit rarely lasts. She’s 6 weeks out of a long term relationship, so we go on these dates where we make out like Mormon teenagers in front of subway stations and then part ways because we need to use a slow burn to preserve longevity.

For long distance slow burn situations, Damien suggests periodic text messages of interest (factual and flirtatious) to the intended to fan the flames until the slow burn does something at some point. She also gave a lot of great advice about courting out of town ass for the upcoming episode of FemmeCast on courtship. She’s my Trampage hero and is totally going to be coming to a town near you this summer on her Stonewall Femmes Fight Back tour. I’ll update here about it, or you can check out her website.

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Sometimes a Slow Burn happens with an intown date where you’re just waiting for the right timing/life circumstances to bring it back around. Holly and I had a date right before she left town on the Equality Ride and when she came back she’s gotten together with this other girl and I still don’t know what their poly situation is. I’m letting this go on the slow burn and see what happens.

Glenn Marla warned that the danger of the slow burn is that things might fizzle out too soon. Last summer I had a slow burn that definitely died, but it was nice to go on dates and just hang out with someone hot and fun, a little kissing at the end of the night, but I was still far too broken from the end of my relationship to try to ratchet up the passion. And my date at the time was way too shy to ratchet it up himself.

But it is important to remember that anticipation can be an excellent aphrodisiac. Vivia the slow burn!!

2009-06-29

New Minisode of FemmeCast Now Available!!

After a brief hiatus, FemmeCast returns with a minisode all about the sweet stuff (or the not so sweet stuff we turn into a good story)!!

Host Bevin Branlandingham is joined by Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, hosting live from a road trip journey earlier this Spring.

Miasia tells her favorite story of street harassment, you can find her website and book her bellydancing at Miasia.org
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Bevin relives a drunken adventure in search of an ice cream treat with FemmeCast Sexpert, Rachael, Femme Family NYC Madam of Hospitality Chris and The Gay Dr. Phil.
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Bevin and Leah discuss “cotton candy pink sugar pussy brain” and how you can make it so finding love and good sex doesn’t mean losing yourself, your friendships and values to a content and cow-like existence.

What we’re listening to:

Gravy Train!!!, “All the Sweet Stuff”

Jill Sobule, “San Francisco”

Stay tuned for our next episode, Thinking Big! or A FemmeCast Guide to Courtship, coming soon!

Subscribe via Itunes


Subscribe via RSS

Stream it live in this magic pink widget doohickey or if you have to download it and take it home, right click here and select “save link as”.

Stream it live right here, scroll down in the widget to find Episode 8.5!!

Get this widget!

2009-04-20

The Queer Fat Femme Stop on the Femmethology Blog Tour

Today is my day on the Femmethology blog tour! It’s like we’re riding a virtual pink sparkly magic bus and I’m up front showing you what’s to your right, to your left and just past that next building over there if you squint a little and that UPS truck gets out of the way!

If you’d like a preview of some of the work from the book, check out the latest episode of FemmeCast, Episode 8. The first installment in the Cripping Femme series is the essay by Leslie Freeman from the book. “Essence/Artifice”. It’s moving and powerful. Coming up on FemmeCast, Margaret Price’s essay “Not That Girl” will be featured as the next installment of Cripping Femme and part of my courtship themed episode (Episode 10)!

Anyway, lots of people on the tour have reviewed the pdf of the book sent to them or talked about what Femme means to them and all of that. I’m here to talk about some of the authors.

Basically, here’s the deal about anthologies–the authors don’t make any money. Maybe they get a copy of the book and upwards of $50 (the Femmethology authors I talked to got a copy of the volume they’re featured in and according to one author, contributors are paid royalties). Even royalties are dicey because they only kick in once the book is turning a profit and are split! Anthology authors submit for the publicity, contributing to a greater discussion and the chance to have their voice heard, which is super important.

However, in these “troubled economic times” or as I like to call it “The Hateful Bush Economy” it is extremely crucial to support art made for our community, by our community. Since so many of the authors in the book submitted for the love of Femme community and don’t get paid for it, I thought I would throw back a little love at them!


Me and Damien hosting Speaking of Femme NYC. Our next one is scheduled for June 3 at Bluestockings!
DAMIEN LUXE (billed in the book as Hadassah Hill but is giving herself a new name for her 30th birthday) is a NYC based performance artist, writer and DIY media mogul. She’s also my co-Head Madam in the NYC Femme Family and probably one of the most community-oriented people I know. Right now she’s obsessed with getting a van, so if you know of any good deals within driving distance of NYC let her know.

You can buy her cd through cd baby right here, or at her website right here.


CHERRY POPPINS (in the book as Allison Stelly) is a fierce Femme activist, community organizer and dragster from Austin, TX. I met her at a Femme workshop at IDKE in Chicago, in 2004. She has a lot of different projects and performances going on, including being the forefront of the Femme ATX chapter of the Femme Mafia. She’s also sometimes a purveyor of amazing Femme crafts on Etsy (but is on hiatus right now) and her currect passion project is the Queertastiks, a subversive, mixed-gender, body positive queerleading squad using cheer-based performance art and dance as a tool for social justice.

If you find yourself in and around Austin sometime soon, check them out!


LEAH LAKSHMI PIEPZNA-SAMARASINHA is one of my besties, a spoken word artist and writer. My favorite line from any of her poems is “Love is an anarchic bitch”. Too true! She’s finishing up her MFA at Mills College and someday soon her memoirs are going to drop. In the meantime, you can buy her book “Consensual Genocide” at Tsar Books by searching for the title or Leah’s name. Piepzna-Samarasinha is her last name. She also performs her one-woman show “Grown Woman Show” all over the place (and can be booked for your college gig by emailing brownstargirl at gmail) and the tour that she co-curates, Mangos with Chili, is going on a Southern route in the fall, so check our their dates when released. Mangos with Chili is truly phenominal.

Leah also co-founded the Femme Sharks, is a correspondent on FemmeCast and talks really fast because the faster she talks the faster she’ll change the world. That’s my theory.


GINA DE VRIES is a San Francisco-based queer fat femme writer and spoken word performer who has been out and publishing since she was, like, 13. She’s really sweet and earnest and community-minded and really fun to have out at brunch. Her website is comprehensive, and tells you about all of her events, including a monthly sex workers writing workshop. The name from her website (Queer Shoulder) is from the Allen Ginsberg quote “America, I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” Gina proves it again and again by working hard to bring her light and art to the world!

When you see work by the Femmethology authors out and about, snatch it up! Most of them are up and coming and can use the community support.

The rest of the Femmethology tour dates are below, check out what those tour guides have to offer!

4/1. Sugarbutch Chronicles

4/2. Ellie Lumpesse
4/3. Queer-o-mat
4/6. Catalina Loves
4/7. cross-post: The Femme’s Guide and Femme Fagette
4/8. Daphne Gottlieb

4/9. Bilerico Project
4/10. Screaming Lemur: Femme-inism and Other Things
4/13. The Femme Hinterland
4/14. Bochinche Bilingüe: Borderlands Writing and The Vagina Adventures
4/15. Dorothy Surrenders

4/16. Miss Avarice Speaks Her Mind
4/17. The Femme Show
4/18. CyDy Blog
4/19. Sexuality Happens
4/20. Queer Fat Femme
4/21. Sublimefemme Unbound

4/22. Tina-cious.com and Jess I Am (butch-femme couple day!)
4/23. FemmeIsMyGender
4/24. The Lesbian Lifestyle
4/25. Femme Fluff

4/26. Weldable Cookies
4/27. The Verbosery
4/28. A Consuming Desire and Creative Xicana
4/29. Queercents
4/30. en|Gender

2009-04-19

Femme Lounge Wear

My Femme “aha” moments still happen, almost ten years after coming out as Femme. Just in the last 6 months I’ve discovered the lasting effects of revamping my lounge wear.

I’m a draglesque performer who has a huge stash of lingerie, but mostly really fancy stuff for stage use only.


Example of stage use lingerie from the Femme Mafia Masquerade in Atlanta. I like to have my Femmeceeing gigs to contain a “lingerie course” whenever possible.

I’ve never had a partner who cared for it. More than one long-term partner said to me “I prefer you naked”, which broke my High Femme heart. All I ever wanted was to be that vixen who comes walking into the room wearing a surprise frilly something or other*. Of course, it was a nice sentiment and helped my fat girl ego to have lovers who loved my body without accouterments, but I am still a fan of frill and accessory. I’d like to think that my ideal mate would like me equally naked and in lingerie just as they liked me equally in and out of make-up.

Last summer I started discovering the magic of vintage lingerie and wearing it as outerwear. Once Deb started selling stuff for Re/Dress (before the brick and mortar store opened) I had a hook-up for vintage lingerie. Here’s me last summer wearing a swiss dot nightie and a miniskirt.


I can’t wait for the weather to be warmer so that I can start wearing that again on the regular.

My friend Molly used to tell me all the time when I complained about doing housework, that she did it while wearing lingerie. It always seemed so weird to me. First of all, I like to be supported when I am walking around, which generally meant a bra, and I had so long associated t-shirts with “comfy” that it didn’t occur to me that anything else qualified.


Whenever I catch Molly randomly on skype, I am treated to lingerie. That’s her enormous cat.

I decided to start challenging the notion that I had to save my lingerie for occasional and brief visits from suitors** and wear it around the house for my own benefit. Now, I’m not really talking about crotchless nothings or underwear that wiggles down as soon as you walk two steps, I’m taking cute camisoles with a little bit of support in them (Target $15.99), vintage lingerie, frilly robes and the like. I have to say, it’s totally revolutionized how I feel at home.

The robes they made in the sixties look like they wouldn’t make any difference, but they’re totally warm because they don’t breathe at all. Probably flame proof, too.


This is a “live from the Femme Slumber Party” picture of Rachael and me while I was on gaycation at her house for the Masquerade. That’s her “Don’t fuck with me” face.

Rachael’s partner Steph, the Gay Dr. Phil and Purveyor of all Things Down Home Texas Wisdom told me I looked like her grandmother in the sixties. I took that as a compliment.

The best part, though, is that I feel totally glamorous and cute, even when I’m just sitting around in my house. Probably one of the greatest things I picked up at this year’s fat girl flea market was this long grey dressing gown that has a plunging v-neck (killer, yet supported cleavage) and is floor length. It’s also super soft. Leah told me it looked like I was going to receive royalty, not just make up my guest bed for her.

For a girl who loves dress up, dressing up in loungewear is really fun. Like putting on a full face of make-up and doing up my hair even when I’m in a foul mood, wearing fancy loungewear makes a huge difference for me.

If you’re a t-shirt and sweats at home femme, more power to you. But if you love getting dressed up, don’t wait for a partner to okay it for you. Do it for yourself.

*Though, to be fair, I do this on stage so it’s not really that big of a deal. And it matters more to me that I do it as a political act than as an occasional treat for a paramour.
**I enjoy the feel of me in lingerie against a butch in a ribbed white undershirt better than pretty much anything.

2009-04-15

Help Heal Fran for Leah’s Birthday!

My life looks like this: I plan an organize an event that takes literally hundreds of hours to put together, during lulls in the event I am surfing CraigsList on my phone’s tiny internet for apartments in Brooklyn. Because all of my stressors in my life are hitting a great glitter douche* of crazy all at once. I’ve seen 18 apartments in the last week and a half and haven’t found a good one yet. Mostly they are all recent renovations with no space and high rents that want me to be excited about stainless steel appliances. Seriously, all I want is some good counter space in the bathroom, closet space and a few windows. My future roommate agrees.

FemmeCast’s Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha came out for a clandestine visit/gig for API month at Swarthmore last weekend and it was a welcome distraction from everything to hang out and do life planning and road tripping with her. She went looking for apartments with me and I caught a bit on tape. (I want to start a video blog but need to figure out how to get the video editing software I need for PC. Eventually.) So here’s a bit of that adventure, for your pleasure.

Also, since Leah’s birthday is next week, she is doing a fund drive for her friend Fran Varian, whose writing is amazing. I can give $20 as soon as my next unemployment check hits, but what I can’t offer in cash I can offer in spreading the word. So if you have $10 to give, please do. I’d love to see Leah meet a fund raising goal for her fierce friend for her birthday.

Hey all

Hope this email finds you well. I’m turning 34 next Tuesday, yay! And
while I am open to give am open to gifts of makeup or books or another
skirt
besides the two miniskirts I wear all the time (I am a size 12-14 in
the ass), what I’m writing to ask is if folks could make a donation
for my birthday
to my friend Frances Varian, who is struggling with late term Lyme
Disease and is literally fighting for her life as an uninsured
working-class queer femme writer and badass.

Some of you know Fran: for those who don’t, she is an awesome abortion
provider, queer femme working-class writer and (can I say it again)
badass. You may have seen her on stage at any number of gay-ass events
in the Bay over the last few years, and she’s a former Seattle
national slam team champion. You can see some of her work here:
http://www.franvarian.com/, and here:
http://www.hipmama.com/node/30311.

Fran has been really sick for the past four years. What started out as
fatigue, muscle weakness and getting sick at the drop of a hat only
recently got
diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease- and when I say only recently
diagnosed, I mean that Fran fought for two years in SF to get anyone
to look at her increasingly frightening symptoms. Fran originally
believed she had fibro, and we were some of each other’s first
disability buddies. However, my health got better and hers got worse,
to the point where she now is dealing with heart problems, constant
nausea, spasms and seizures and worse stuff. She was diagnosed,
finally, a year ago with Lyme, an autoimmune disorder that is
having critical effects on her health, and which is difficult to
treat, both because of the lateness when it is finally diagnosed and
because of a medical industry that dismisses many patients who have
it . Late stage Lyme works a lot like late stage syphyllis in terms of
symptoms- some folks go into dementia as the spirochites that cause
Lyme go into the brain. Others die of heart failure in their 30s as
they penetrate the heart.

Fran is literally fighting for her life, as an uninsured woman with a
disease that is misdiagnosed and dismissed throughout the medical
world. Her fight has made her move to Durham, NC to live with her
partner, because it’s cheaper than the Bay and she’s found doctors who
will help her- a choice that carries the cost of isolating her from
the community that loves her. She’s had a PICC line installed in her
arm since last fall, and is in the middle of an intense course of
intravenous anti-viral and bacterial treatment that her docs say is
her one shot of beating this. And, she’s paying for the whole damn
thing out of pocket.

What I really want for next year’s birthday is Fran healthy, able to
move back to the Bay ) and reading poetry next to me. What I really
want is for my friend to not be another story of a working-class queer
femme fireball who died a preventable death of an immune disease in
her 30s- like Heather McAllister, the amazing, beloved queer fat femme
icon, who died of ovarian cancer as an uninsured woman in her 30s two
years ago. As a chronically ill woman who knows that I have lived and
gotten better because of the support and love of my community, I am
reaching out to my community to help my friend.

Anything you can spare will go to help Fran and her partner Dante to
pay for her treatment. You can donate here:
http://www.helphealfran.org/
My goal is to raise $2,000 for Fran in the next two weeks, which will
enable her to pay for her next round of treatment.

Please donate on her website, but if you don’t mind dropping me a note (brownstargirl at gmail dot com)
letting me know how much you were able to give so I can track how much
is going to Fran, it would rock.

In love, lipgloss and revolution,
Leah

*Glitter douche is a word I just learned from Cherry Poppins. Used by Kings N Things in Austin, TX, it describes the act of anything that “is that crucial moment in a performance (often drag pieces) when you grab glitter and toss it out over the audience. The glitter could also, say, come from an object, such as an umbrella opening dramatically and showering glitter out over the stage. We also occasionally make use of ‘confetti douches’ or ‘rose petal douches.’ Regardless of the material used, a gender performance show wouldn’t be complete without douching of some sort.”

Here I am trying to picture all of the moving parts of my life as little pieces of glitter flying all over the place. Instead of a shit storm, which is sort of what it feels like.

2009-04-01

FemmeCast Episode 8: That’s My Jam!!

“We’re fierce but not nuts, we’re the Sharks!”–Leah, Epsiode 8 of FemmeCast

There’s so much to be excited for in 2009!

Episode 8: That’s My Jam! Running time: 62 minutes.

In this episode host Bevin Branlandingham and FemmeCast contributors discuss what’s exciting about 2009.
www.Femme-Cast.com

Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and her BBFFF and co-founder Zuleikha Mahmood debut their latest addition to the Queer Lexicography, JAM!
“The reason why the Jam is such a great term is it’s better than any other term out there for the transmasculine genitalia. The Jam is something you want to get up in. We’re talking about the JAMvantage.”–Leah and Zuleikha

Zuleikha (left) is totally wearing a SHARK HAT

Special guest Sea Creature Ally Giant Squid, Amir, talks up the transmasculine first person account of using the term Jam and ways trans people can work to become comfortable with their bodies.
“Embracing the Jam is a way to become a good Sea Creature Ally to the Femme Sharks because it’s all about loving our bodies, embracing our bodies and using humor as a way to resist.”

We debut the Cripping Femme Series with a piece by series curator, Leslie Freeman!

Tara’s Fatshion report highlights her new love for wearing red, white and blue “Now with 20% less irony!”

Featured music by Dance Yourself to Death and Athens Boys Choir!

FemmeCast: The Queer Fat Femme Podcast Guide to Life is a FREE audio newsmagazine for Queer Fat Femmes, Fatshionistas of all sexualities and Queers of all genders. Hosted by Bevin Branlandingham with a cadre of regular contributors, we’re discussing dating, fat fashion, social justice, friendships, sex, gender, tranny talk, culture, travel, community and feature new music by Queer artists. A whimsical This American Life meets a radical queer how-to novel with MTV generation timing, FemmeCast will keep listeners laughing, connected and inspired. Available for download 24/7 at Femme-Cast.com

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