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

2015-05-01

The Power of Authenticity: Bruce Jenner, Kanye West and My Lesbian Sorority Ice Cream Wrestling Party

I watched the Bruce Jenner interview on 20/20 last week and had a lot of feelings. It’s complex to have your transition made public before you are living 100% of the time as your true gender. Most folks begin to “go public” with it with a letter to friends and family requesting a pronoun change and a new name. But not Bruce Jenner! A Friday night Prime Time TV interview!

As my friend Avory put it, “Bruce Jenner is a rich, white American who could not escape his truth.” As Americans we need to learn how to hear hard truths from people different than us, and for folks who are not trans accepting (like many of Bruce’s fellow Conservative Republicans) this interview and the rampant publicity around it, is another seminal moment for trans liberation. This moment is only made possible through the incredible work of queer and trans activists, allies and movements. Many leaders in these movements are incredible people of color who did not have the monetary or other privileges Bruce Jenner enjoys.

Here’s hoping this interview can help Americans learn how to hear hard truths from people who are different in other ways.

My favorite takeaway was the authenticity quote by Kanye West. He had told Kim Kardashian West, his wife and Bruce Jenner’s step-daughter, this anecdote.

Look, I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I have that. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything.

Kanye is exactly right. When you aren’t authentic to yourself, it is nearly impossible to enjoy your life. I spent a long time being depressed, suicidal, self-hating and body hating. It robbed me of the pleasures of the everyday. Making choices and taking risks to be my authentic self has saved my life.

I remembered an ice cream wrestling party with my sorority sisters when I was in college. It was June of the year 2000. I’m pretty sure our president, Sam, came up with the idea of getting a blow up pool, putting it in the backyard of our sorority house and inviting a bunch of women over to wrestle.

17128193937_7361eb21e7_zSomehow this is the only group photo I have from our sorority, taken at our winter retreat in Lake Tahoe, which includes friends of ours not in the sorority. I’m far right in what I believed was a “Winter coat” when I still lived in CA.

I think it’s important to mention at this part of the story that I was a member of a lesbian sorority, Lambda Delta Lambda, and our sorority house was a 3-4 bedroom ranch house just off the UC Davis campus that was shared by a few members of our sisterhood. Other formal Greek organizations on campus (the panhellenic sororities, as they were known) had pretty big houses with towering Greek letters attached to the second story. Ours was just a regular rental house but it was super cute and special because our membership was pretty small.

I was only a member for one school year. I came out during my Junior year in college and by the time Senior year rolled around I realized that my friends consisted primarily of straight women and gay men. I knew I needed a way to meet lesbians and so I decided to rush the lesbian sorority. I was so into the Greek system at Davis, having a lot of friends who were in sororities and going to events all the time.

16715377943_1a1311be88_zMy friend Dianna at a sorority produced charity event pageant for fraternity brothers to win a Mr. Some Sorority Name title. One of the contestants handed out cookies. I used that technique in my 2009 bid for Miss LEZ.

My roommate Jill was rush chair of Alpha Chi Omega and invited me to the rush event I’d been hearing her plan for weeks just to support her and get a free meal. When my friend Dianna came with me to the event just to check it out they sent their best sisters over to rush us even though I was just there to support Jill. Some of them thought I was there to do an expose for the college newspaper. (True story, I did write a women and gender studies term paper about the Greek system on campus, but it was never published.)

17309657576_b13e543019_zMe and Jill in our apartment! I was still learning how to have the bravery to wear sleeveless shirts

Despite the Alpha Chi Omega sisters’ best rush attempts I was never going to join a panhellenic organization. I definitely felt too fat to join a sorority where matching outfits bought at the Gap (which didn’t produce ANY plus size clothes in those days) were de rigueur and the dues were the equivalent to another quarter’s tuition per year. This was true of all of the panhellenics. I could barely afford college–I paid for my public university experience through student loans I’m still paying back, working three jobs, and my teacher mom’s couple hundred a month to help out. By the end of each quarter when the loans ran out I bought my burritos on credit cards.

But Lambda Delta Lambda’s dues were totally equivalent to an active club and they seemed really nice. And I needed to make lesbian friends if I was ever going to get laid with my newly minted out bisexual lifestyle. (In those days, I identified as bi because I didn’t know queer was a thing and my complex attraction to masculinity remained unexplored.)

My friend Dianna, great straight ally that she is/was, came with me to my first Lambda Delta Lambda rush event. I think it’s really awesome when you do ally work to be willing to blend into a marginalized group. Adopting an attitude of “who cares if people think you’re gay at gay events” is definitely an ally pro-tip.

The lesbian sorority rush event was very different, just a casual hang out at a local pizza place with the sisters and some of their friends and partners. I don’t remember being nervous about whether I would “get in” like the deep selection process of traditional sororities. Being part of a sorority was a great experience even though it was only for one year of college. I’m really glad I made the choice to risk doing it. There were no matching outfits, and I went to the local Greek letter schwag shop and bought myself a sorority letter sweatshirt in an XXL. I wore it for years, until it was threadbare.

17147837458_353da1e27a_zJill and I threw a fake fraternity themed house party that year. Fraternities on our campus LOVED decorating with spray paint and trash bags. Our parties were an amazing amalgamation of my LGBT friends, women and gender studies friends, Jill’s Greek friends and our mutual dorm friends. Here are a bunch of my sorority sisters and my friend from Girl Scout Camp, Cole, visiting from Sacramento.

Okay, so back to authenticity. At this point in my development towards becoming the fully actualized authentic human I am today, I was not a person who knew how to show up and be present. I hated my body, I never thought I was good enough, and was gearing up to attend law school after graduation because “everyone” told me I should go to law school. I had no idea how to know what I really wanted or to give myself permission to throw myself into things with the wild abandon I do today. I definitely did not feel okay risking looking foolish.

I was 21 years old and just about to graduate when Sam suggested an end of the year ice cream wrestling party. I went along with it because it’s what everyone else wanted, I wasn’t sure how I felt about watching girls wrestle in ice cream.

17335641065_e36aefa5e1_zOne of my sisters outside our retreat cabin by the snow woman doing some topless snow angel making. I deeply wanted to go join her but no way was I okay with being topless around anyone when I was that age.

I was informed that as the graduating senior among us I was going to have to wrestle (ugh) and I would get to select who I would wrestle against from my sorority sisters. I remember knowing immediately who it was going to be, I figured if I picked the strongest member it would be over quickly and I could move on.

Even though I was not yet aware of the true magic of the gender spectrum amongst queers (in the culture of UC Davis in the late 90s/early aughts Butch and Femme were frowned upon, most folks were on the andro/hippie spectrum of gender presentation) if you lined up our sorority based on gender appearance, I was certainly the farthest in the feminine spectrum and the girl I wrestled was on the other end. I think it’s a testament to how deeply I wanted to be Femme because I would wear clothing from the men’s section of Old Navy, as there was no plus size women’s section yet, and enough make-up to have it be girly.

17335640255_ce20b5a1c4_zThis is a great/terrible example of the kind of men’s clothing I loved to swim in because I thought it camouflaged my fat. This is my BFF Mary (we had so much fun together) and Dianna on our way home from our women’s honor society trip to Tahoe.

I don’t remember what I wore to wrestle but I’m absolutely sure it wasn’t anything special. I brought extra clothes to change into. I noticed with dread and extra humiliation that the girl I had a mild crush on was there (she worked in the same building as my academic advising job). I was first to wrestle and my sisters sweetly and deviously surprised me, the graduate, by making me “ice cream sundae” wrestle, pouring chocolate syrup, nuts, whipped cream, marshmallow fluff and lord knows what else on me as well as ice cream before I was quickly defeated by my masculine-presenting opponent. I remember standing there becoming a human ice cream sundae and feeling so embarrassed and nervous about what other people thought of me. After wrestling, I immediately ran into the shower for the wrestlers, got cleaned up and tried to enjoy the rest of the night. But I kind of couldn’t. I didn’t die of awkward that night, but I thought I might.

17147845358_e79c1a955e_zThis is me winning an award for being an “outstanding senior” at UC Davis. I hated being on stage at that point in my life. So deeply insecure. Also, back then I dealt with insecurity by being an overachiever!

I think about that time a lot as a lost moment. I could have worn a bathing suit to wrestle, but I think at that time in my life I was still wearing a tee shirt over my bathing suits in pools when I went swimming. I could have really enjoyed the ability to wrestle with the person of my choice and I totally should have chosen the sister with whom I had a ton of sexual tension. Being not authentic and not particularly brave, I didn’t know how to make that choice or even acknowledge our sexual tension. I also could have hammed it up being in the spotlight, since it was a really beautiful moment of appreciation and love by my sorority sisters. AND, with the incredibly resilient digestion of my 21 year old self, I totally could have snacked on some ice cream sundae but sadly I was too afraid of being seen eating ice cream in the equivalent of on stage.

What would it have been like if I had been my authentic self at that moment? I would have been present, I would have enjoyed the moment and I would have had a lot more fun. My insecurities and my self-hatred kept me from the best of that moment.

I have no regrets in my life, I believe we all have a path, we’re all meant to learn what we can from what happens in our lives. But I know how not being fully authentic to who I was robbed me of enjoying what could have been a really incredible night for me.

16570741810_8633364659_zIf I could have that moment again, I know exactly what I would wear. This bikini, which was pretty cheap and could probably stand up to potential staining from maraschino cherries. I would also totally ham it up because I have learned how much I LOVE to be on stage and perform and people love performative wrestling.

So Kanye West is right. You can have the best of everything and never be able to enjoy it if you’re not fully yourself. Authenticity isn’t just about gender presentation, sexuality, or body liberation–it’s about taking the time to get to know yourself and taking the risks to let other people get to know the true you.

Not all of us are Bruce Jenner and do that with a 20/20 interview. But when you see that tender smile of Bruce’s in that interview, you can see the smile of someone who is SO excited to breathe freely, without being on guard. It’s worth it to step out and experience the tentativeness, the risks, the scary feelings of learning how to chip off your shell and expose your tender, true self to the world. Start with your closest, most trusted friends and body positive allies. Then move on to safer public spaces, then go bigger and bigger. It is worth it to be your whole, true self.

2014-04-03

Untapped Cruising Territory: NPR Singles’ Mixers

Awhile ago I started a blog adventure to go to regions of NYC looking for queer cruising opportunities I hadn’t explored. I believe life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I really think that’s true for dating in this wild city. In a time when I was totally not cruising I ended up finding a gem I wanted to report back to my readers! Even in times of temporal monogamy* I’m looking out to try to get my readers laid!

The event: I’ve been working with a business coach on my attorney business to try to develop a sustainable, more reliable income for myself. My artwork suffers when I am having to spend too much time hustling for cash, and the whole point of having my law practice is so that I can support the body liberation social justice work I love to do. Part of the business coaching is developing business contacts as steady streams of client referrals as well as learning how to do more networking for clients.

IMG_8139_120710The event space. Photo from WNYC.org.

Under her guidance, I was in the process of developing an email to friends to ask for networking events they knew of. All of a sudden, as though a message from the Goddess, I heard an advertisement on NPR for a lesbian mixer. It was so perfect! The event promo on the radio made it sound like a networking event and the event page on the WNYC website made it sound like a singles’ mixer. I was already sold either way.

Coupled with all of this, my girlfriend is a great networker at networking events and volunteered to go with me and coach me on networking. So I was all set to plunk down $40 per ticket (the price was definitely helped because it is a benefit for public radio) to try out some professional networking with other lesbian NPR listeners. A better group of potential clients I could not have asked for.

Why this is untapped for me: Well, the price tag for one. I’m not one to spend $40 for a concert ticket, let alone a happy hour networking thing. Also, I’m totally going to admit loving and listening to NPR but I’ve never given to a pledge drive. (There are so many things I wish I could go back in time and do when I was working at a law firm making real money–donating to public radio is totally one of them.) I’m a total fair weather listener to public radio and I admit that.

Also, I don’t go to a ton of events marketed to lesbians since I actually identify as queer, though I do enjoy “lesbian” as a cultural identity. I was curious what kind of crowd this would create, though, so I was interested.

The Outfit: I went into the event thinking this was to get clients and not as a singles’ mixer (or as an event to write-up for my blog, otherwise I would have tried to get press tickets) so I didn’t take photos. However, I wore one of my super favorite lady lawyer dresses with some vintage cat pins on them. Hey, I was playing to my audience and lesbians love cats.

5752937889_3210240f0f_bI wore this outfit, though this picture is from a couple of years ago, I think I did similar hair and had a different pair of cat’s eye glasses. In my dream job world I wear vintage style dresses for all lawyer outings, which is only true about 50% of the time.

The Wing Femme: In this instance I wasn’t technically cruising so I didn’t have Wing Femmes, I actually had one dedicated Wing Butch (my girlfriend) and an intermittent Wing Butch (Leo). My girlfriend was actually great at this, she showed me how she introduces herself to folks at things like this, starting out doing most of the talking for me, a few of the folks in between she helped me tag team and then the last couple of introductions I did on my own. She was quite great at teaching me professional networking. I don’t love professional networking because I don’t love small talk. This is what makes me a great talk show host but not necessarily great at mixers.

The Scene: The scene was actually pretty fun! I saw a few familiar faces from the queer Brooklyn nightlife scene and some folks from some magazines I know. My astrologer Katie was there (who is single and was looking to meet folks**) and so were a few other folks I have met in my time as a queer New Yorker for over a decade. But what was more refreshing was how many folks I didn’t know!
700_3247Photo courtesy WNYC.org

The age range was wild–a few folks in their 20s, pretty heavy on 30s and 40s and then a good amount of lesbians over 50. But what was even better was that everyone seemed to be having a great time and really interested in meeting people.

I was definitely in the minority of being there for professional networking. At least 70% of the folks I met were definitely trying to meet people to date. I still made some good connections, though, and learned a lot about how to navigate professional networking events should my friends help me identify some of the good ones in NYC.

There was also a really great lesbian trivia game emceed by Caitlin Thompson. It was really, really funny. I was actually shocked when our team didn’t win the trivia game because we got almost all of the questions correct.

700_3034 (1) Photo courtesy WNYC.

The winning team got every question correct. I am in awe of that teams lesbianitude and knowledge of current lesbian events.

Folks were talking all night, and my single butch friend Leo said she got hit on a lot. I felt like the energy in the place was really good and a lot of people there got what they were looking for.

The verdict: I might have gotten a client (I at least got a good lead for a client, we’ll see if she retains me). But more importantly, for you, dear readers, I think the WNYC singles’ mixers are a winner! You can check out the scene for yourself in this slideshow at WNYC.com!

I heard (on NPR this weekend) that there is an OKCupid algorithm that says that if you agree with your partner about the answers to three questions it is a predictor about whether or not you will be a compatible couple. The questions are:

Do you like horror movies?
Have you ever traveled around another country alone?
Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?

(It’s totally worth reading the OkCupid blog entry about why those questions work to predict compatibility. Data! It’s sexy!)

However, I think that whether or not you both like NPR is a good predictor of being compatible because the idea of spending Sunday mornings (my very favorite time spent as a couple) are totally awesome spent brunching while listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

I really should donate to NPR.

WNYC is producing singles’ mixers for people of all orientations all the time (and lots for over 40s)! Check out their listings and maybe also donate to public radio before it’s too late and you pursue a career as a social justice artist.

*My then not-girlfriend and I had a temporary agreement during January about not exercising our non-monogamy, which some might call monogamy but I vehemently called “Non-practicing open relationship” so as not to compromise identity. At the present moment we’ve rearranged to a free ass pass arrangement during chemotherapy, but, lez be honest, getting laid is a lot of work and so is caretaking and self care.

**Katie generally likes femme of center folks, but people of all gender presentations who are stylish and fun get her attention.

2014-01-14

I’m in the Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit

My new friend and colleague, Amy McDonald, invited me to participate in the first ever Happy, Healthy Lesbian Telesummit.

For those of you who have never participated in a telesummit before, basically it’s an online “event” (meaning, a limited period of time) where you can listen to live or recorded presentations or conversations with moderators. I went deep down the rabbit hole of woo and self-development at the first Hay House World Summit last year. This one is next week! January 20-24!

Facebook The Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit

Amy is the Founder of the Happy Healthy Lesbian, an online community for queer women who want to live their best lives. To help us all off to our best start in happiness and health for 2014, Amy has brought together all of her favorite queer women mentors, coaches and guides in The Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit.

And guess who she’s chosen to talk all things Happy and Healthy Body? Your old pal, Bevin Branlandingham!

She’s also talking to my health coach Victoria from Heart Beets Holistic, my newly minted relationship coach (more on that journey in a blog post later this week) Christine Dunn-Cunningham of the Lesbian Love Guru, and my friend Dawn Kirby who taught me about tapping! She’s launching a business to help women heal from sexual trauma.

You can register for the summit here. You’ll get emails each day of the Summit with the days’ available conversation to download!

Amy will be speaking with lesbians and queer women from Canada, the USA, Thailand, and Australia, sharing wise woman wisdom about how we can all be happier and healthier this year. Together we’ll share our favorite tips and techniques of happy and healthy bodies, relationships, money, food and nutrition, travel and spirit.

All by queer women for queer women.

Registration is free and easy. AND by registering you’ll also be able to access loads of free gifts from me and Amy’s other guests, including teleclasses, e-books and more.

Register here!

I’m really excited about this event. I hope you can join in the fun!

2013-10-21

Introducing the Lesbian Love Guru

This summer I had the good fortune to meet Christine Dunn-Cunningham, better known as the Lesbian Love Guru. I was a little bit skeptical (that name is some big britches to fill!) so I settled in, Queer Oprah style, to ask her what she knew about lesbian relationships. I was really impressed with her advice! She had a lot of right-on perspective about how important it is to put work into your relationships.

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She’s launching a new program called “Relationship Magic: How to Re-Ignite, Re-Invent, & Re-Define your relationship to create deeper connection, love, and passion!” Christine asked me to share the program with my readers. She’s going to be giving away 3 videos filled with things you can use to create fulfilling relationships no matter what relationship stage you’re in.

The videos are free and include the following:

How to create more quality time with your significant other
How to avoid common relationship problems
How to create more passion in your relationship
How to get your needs met easily

She’ll also be doing a paid program for lesbian couples ready to “Completely re-ignite, re-invent, and re-define their relationships to create deeper connection, love, and passion.” This will be on a members-only website with 8 online video workshops, an interactive forum, and 6 group coaching calls with Christine, the Lesbian Love Guru, where members will get additional content, support and be able to ask her questions directly.

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More from the Lesbian Love Guru: “In the program couples will learn how to re-invent their communication patterns so they can work as a team to create a fulfilling and fun life together. I’ll show them the secret to re-igniting the passion in their relationships even if it’s been gone for years. And, I’ll help them create a deeper connection where both partners get their needs met and feel supported in their relationship. I’ll also be giving away a bunch of bonus content including my ‘Date Your Wife’ program.”

I had a chance to look through some of the Date Your Wife content when I met Christine this summer and it was legit–a lot of magic is lost when we take for granted the kind of intimacy and fun created in the context of dating.

The video content is free, relevant to folks no matter what relationship status they’re in and you can sign up here. You can also comment on the videos to win prizes, like $25 Amazon gift cards.

The Lesbian Love Guru also offers individual one-on-one coaching and couples coaching. She’s lively, inspirational and fun! She’s also a graduate of the Tony Robbins Mastery University and a Certified Extraordinary Coach, Peace Process Master Practitioner, Reiki Coach, Instant Miracle Coach, and Certified Rapid Coach. And she knows her stuff because she’s been there and did the work to turn her own marriage around to create a fulfilling and satisfying partnership.

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Christine and her wife Liz.

This post was in partnership with the Lesbian Love Guru but all words and sentiment are mine!

2013-06-10

Bevin Brandlandingham Guest Starring in the Lesbian Love Octagon on June 19th

A couple of years ago my friend Kim Kressal produced a run of the musical she wrote about dyke drama in the nineties called the Lesbian Love Octagon. I got a chance to see it during it’s brief tenure at the Kraine theater in the Lower East Side and was completely smitten. Whenever I tell folks about it, and I’ve told a lot of folks about it, I always reference my favorite song, the relevant lyric which is “Dyke drama and tofu scramble, that’s what we serve at the Lesbian cafe.” It’s a pivotal scene during which brunch is peppered with some serious ubiquitous ex-girlfriend messiness.

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This is one of the stars of the Lesbian Love Octagon in her go-go dancing alter ego at the first Yes Ma’am party.

The entire musical is so amazing because being a dyke in the nineties in New York City is so different! Back when our communities supported dedicated dyke coffee shops and bars and break-ups happened in person and not on Facebook. I often puzzle about how people made plans before we had texting and how people figured out how to get anywhere before google maps on our smart phones. Did they just carry subway maps and atlases around?

Kim (along with co-music writer Will Larche) wrote an incredible musical slightly based on her real-life group of friends. It’s clever, hilarious and tender. It’s also a real-deal production with actors appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity and awesome songs. I absolutely loved it when I saw it two years ago and was thrilled in a squeaky way when Kim told me it was being relaunched in June 2013, which is now. I’ve always thought this show should be a permanent off-broadway show for all visiting homosexuals to enjoy while in NYC. It makes a great date night!

Here’s the synopsis of the show:

Set in the late 90s on the Lower East Side of New York City, LESBIAN LOVE OCTAGON follows the journey of Sue, a less than butch dyke with a broken heart, as she tries to cope with losing her girlfriend to her ex-girlfriend. When Sue’s friends (a bevy of ex-girlfriends and ex-girlfriends’ ex-girlfriends) come rushing to her aid, they incite a tempest of lust and betrayal as they try to convince Sue that the answer to happiness exists in polyamory, pomade, and online personals. A riotous look at a righteous time in lesbian history, LESBIAN LOVE OCTAGON is a musical for anyone who has ever loved wimmin’s bookstores, tofu or cats.

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I was pretty thrilled when I fell into my first Lesbian Love Octagon in real life last year. I went on some dates briefly with someone (Dyke A) who later introduced me to someone else (Dyke E) I went on dates with and two other people (Dykes C & D) that Dyke A ended up going on dates with had a weird love entanglement. It was LLO realness and I was thrilled to have a word for it. The next time I saw Dykes C & D I said, “Hey, did you know we’re in a Lesbian Love Octagon?” I think you can understand why lesbian love entanglements are made for the musical format.

Kim asked me to guest star in the show, which means I play a small but meaty role of a performance artist from the 90s. I’ve written something very hilarious. I’ll be there on June 19th, you can buy tickets at this link.

But even if you can’t make it to my guest starring performance, I think you should absolutely get tickets for this on any of the days during its run because it will sell out. This is must-see lesbian entertainment.

Read more about the Lesbian Love Octagon!

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Me at a fundraiser date auction with one of the real life people in the friend group this musical is based on.

2013-05-10

The Healing Awesomness of Crygasms!

Three years ago someone I respect and love very much, a lesbian event producer who is a pretty big name in a certain set of lesbian circumstances, was shocked that I hadn’t watched any episodes of the Real L Word. I was baffled that she had even seen it and her advice to me was, “You should at least watch one episode and know what they’re putting out there and calling lesbian.”

I took it as a fair point and it so happened, days later I was in a hotel room with Showtime and the Real L Word was on. I watched the one requisite episode and was horrified that the episode began with interviews of the cast about girls crying during sex. One of them in particular stood out with her horror about girls crying during sex. It was so shaming and judgey, I felt so gross about it. I was unimpressed that a show about lesbians was so sex shaming.

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Look, it’s Fancy Feast in a big TV! Real Queer Word! (Even though Fancy is actually into boys, she’s real queer.) Photo by Courtney Trouble.

I wondered how many fresh or curious queer girls were watching the episode and felt ashamed or bad about crying when they were having sex. I felt sad for them. Crying during sex isn’t just “being a chick” or “being needy,” as was characterized in those interviews, it’s a great physiological reaction that often means different things for different people. And, if it happens when you’re having sex with someone, it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means!

Luckily, I feel pretty secure in my sexuality and I didn’t let that person’s judgement affect me. In fact, I feel like it says a lot more about her sex life than anyone else’s. But I want to make it clear to the world, to anyone who has felt like a weirdo about crying during sex that crygasms can be awesome, normal, magical and healing.

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More Real Queer Word shots by Courtney Trouble. Dreamboat Johnny Valentine manages a couple of awesome blogs, including a tumblr about vintage butches!

I’ve cried maybe a dozen times in my life during sex, with about maybe four of my sex partners, and they were all people who were lovers for some length of time. I’m not sure what the alchemy is but it’s got something to do with my overall life emotional state, the quality, vigor and angle in which I’m being penetrated and a certain level of intimacy that sends it over the edge. Sometimes it’s a weeping after it’s over, sometimes it’s just a straight up sobbing cry fest.

Since it doesn’t happen very often, I never thought about how or when to tell my lovers that it might happen and what they should do when it does. But then I was having such unsavory reactions sometimes that I thought it was a good idea to warn people. Not like, make a big deal out of it, but once I’m at the couple months with someone mark I mention casually what might happen and what I’d like them to do if it happens.

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The divine Courtney Trouble.

I went through a couple of times where the person sort of freaked out and stopped having sex. One time someone just stopped and then made the crying about them and it actually wasn’t about them at all and I was sort of annoyed and offended. That ended up with me comforting and reassuring them, while still feeling sort of bereft and emotional. (Which, also, helped me see a real disconnect in how we were relating and was one of the last times I slept with that person.)

What I ask of my lovers now, during a casual moment mentioning that hey I might cry sometime, is that they stay in the act and then later check-in about it. Usually I don’t want them to stop, and I’m the kind of person who is aware enough of my boundaries and am a good sex communicator if I need to stop. Probably I want a power cuddle after. The tears are cathartic in some way, and relate to the release I feel during sex anyway. Also, I reassure them it’s probably not about them.

Since it usually happens with someone I really know well, I was shocked when it happened to me once the second time I slept with someone. We were on like hour five and I thought to myself, “OMG I cannot cry in front of this person so soon,” and I willed it to stop. I still remember the song that was playing, I’m not sure if those Mumford & Sons had anything to do with it.

Crying is really good for you. It’s a good release emotionally, and it is a great activity to unblock the heart chakra. I’m not looking to crygasm every time but I’m not really afraid of it when it happens. I really like that quote, “The cure for anything is salt water, sweat, tears or the sea.” I think all of those could be well-intermingled with sex.

If a crygasm happens with you or a partner, pause and check-in about whether you want to continue, and know that the crying might not be a bad thing. It’s totally natural and happens sometimes! But also be ready for them not to want to continue. Maybe it’s a deep trigger for them and they just need to stop. Or maybe it’s just they’re so tired they can’t keep from crying (have you ever been so tired you can’t stop crying?)

Crygasms during sex are natural, normal and awesome and if I had the Real Queer Word I would make that explicit on that show.

ADDENDUM!

The night this was published I hosted Yes Ma’am and a bunch of people were talking about this blog post! My friend Jacqueline said the funniest thing, “If I ever cried during sex and someone stopped fucking me, I’d not only be a fat, crying person in their bed, I’d be a fat, crying, angry bitch in their bed!” I laughed for a long time. See why it’s good to check in with your partners?

2013-04-15

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

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

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Photo by Laura Sawchuck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Dear Younger Self (the video above):

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

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

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Photo by Jah Grey.

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

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

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

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Photo credit Stacie Joy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012-09-21

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 7: Layover in Bay Area, CA and Tips to Survive Returning to Your Hometown

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


Castro Valley, CA and Berkeley, CA

[Hey so I stopped blogging my road trip redux after I crossed into the CA border arriving at my mom’s place in the Bay Area and I’ve been wanting to get back to memorializing the amazing epic journey. It doesn’t take a degree in psych to know that I stopped at California because suddenly it got emotionally difficult! My home state had a lot of baggage for me to unpack, but the trip was really healing on so many fronts so anyway, here the journey continues…]

In planning my trip I had budgeted the day after Thanksgiving to hang out with my mom and Grandmother and soak up a little bit of the Bay Area. I was ready to stop driving so intensely and excited to have a “destination” for more than a couple of hours.

It’s worth noting that I was miserable growing up and thus unable to appreciate or notice much of the beauty around me. I really love visiting the Bay now. Part of the impetus for this trip was to get to spend some time in California.

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View from Dolores Park in San Francisco. Why I only went to DP once in my entire time living in California I’ll never know.

Thanksgiving dinner was great, even if consumed late, and Mom was visibly overjoyed to wake up to find me, Grandmother and Macy in the guest bed (which comes down as a Murphy Bed on the wall of her quilting room which is also known as the “cat library”*). Mom adopted Bella, a rescue who literally walked into her classroom one day, inspired by Macy’s cuteness and charm. Macy truly is an ambassador for her breed and muppet dogs everywhere. Bella and Macy sort of got along, though it was clear that Bella was used to being the Queen of the Mountain and Macy was a charming interloper.

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A family portrait with Bella and Macy featured. Macy LOVES Grandmother.

Spunky came by and the four of us went to a local breakfast place. She and I have been friends for almost 14 years and she knows my family better than any of my friends. It’s nice to have that. Spunky’s straight and suburban-dwelling. Grandmother asked later “How are you and Spunky such good friends?” Spunky’s the sister I never had and we make up in emotional similarities what we lack in basic life commonalities. We’ve known each other through so much.

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Me and Spunky.

We went to Doug’s Place, a well-known omelet destination in Castro Valley. Their pancakes are great. I randomly saw someone I recognized from high school at the restaurant but I didn’t say hi. He and I were very close when we were sixteen/seventeen and had the weirdest falling out. We lost touch while we were still in high school. So how weird is it to awkwardly catch-up this much later? This is totally the kind of thing that happens when you are the prodigal daughter returning to your smallish suburban hometown.

I’m not one of those people who has a lot of lingering friends from that time in my life. I’m in touch with about 5 people out of my graduating class of 400 and I feel really great about it. I sincerely love Facebook for the opportunity to peep in on and chat with folks about their awesome kids or whatever.

I really struggled with whether or not to say hello to this high school dude. If I had been alone or circumstances were different I might have gone up to him–nobody ever died of awkward. But I was also trying to focus on my precious few hours with my mom and Spunky (I was slated to visit Grandmother again a couple days later when she returned to Palm Springs).

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Spunky with Bella.

Even though high school dude and I didn’t acknowledge each other, it was kind of cool to see this person, that they had a family (a really cute kid) and were in town for Thanksgiving, too. It was enough to see one another from across a restaurant. Why chat and make vague promises of facebook reconnect? Anyway, my hair and features are pretty different than they were in high school but probably he still recognized me.

Oh, home town discomfort you are so real. Being in Castro Valley was itchy like a scab! Where you grow up is loaded, especially if you didn’t have a great or happy adolescence. After Spunky left to go home, I was riding in the backseat of the car with my mom and Grandmother and seeing the Castro Valley suburban streets from the backseat was super triggering. Like I was a grumpy middle/high schooler again and I just needed a dose of my own present reality to snap out of it.

But see, I love my family and I want to see them! And I also love myself and I want to take exceptionally wonderful care of myself! So how do I go home and not get into a crazy spiral triggered by a really rotten adolescence?

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Self-care tips from the wall of Jonah.

I’ve learned through trial and error in my twelve years living on the East Coast a lot of coping mechanisms about how to have a good time going back to the Bay Area. I start with myself, I bring the version of myself that is most authentic and don’t get bogged down in acting like I’m still 16 like I used to do when I came home. I have a lot of things that help me stay connected with who I am now, like staying in touch with friends through my phone, journaling and reading. I also rarely sleep in Castro Valley, opting instead to stay with friends in Oakland or San Francisco. That helps the most, really.

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San Francisco view from my Prius.

A year and a half ago I was going through some serious emotional work and I actually made an important boundary to not go to Castro Valley at all and instead met my mom for yoga and dinner in the city a couple of times. It was great to see her on neutral ground and avoid the hometown land mine altogether.

Another thing I do is I don’t engage in diet talk. I’m far more practiced now, but my family (like many others) loves to talk about their bodies from a not Health at Every Size/All Bodies are Good Bodies perspective and it can be really hard for me to hear. It used to be so hard for me to work around that. I have a lot of compassion for it now and I am pretty good at detaching from it and not engaging. When people talk about their bodies it isn’t about me and I don’t let it be about me. I also don’t let people talk about my body on anything other than my terms. And I will say my family is really understanding about my politics and my mom is definitely much more embracing of the HAES approach than she ever was, which makes the diet talk stuff much less of an issue for me than it ever used to be.

I also find it a lot easier when I can bring a pal home with me but that’s not always possible. Going into this trip I set myself up for success by scheduling a 2 hour catch-up over tea with my dear friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, both because I wanted to hang out with her and also because I knew the break would be good.

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LLPS is such a hardcore babe!!!

No sooner was I having uncomfortable flash-backs to my youth in the back of my mom’s car then I was able to slip into my own Prius and go visit Leah. She met me on the street of her Berkeley neighborhood wearing a slutty apron. I met a bunch of her neighbors and housemates and we went over to her friend Jonah’s room to watch them make candles. Yes, Jonah is a chandler.

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It was incredibly soothing! Jonah makes anti-zionist candles for Jewish rituals. At the time (just after Thanksgiving) they were making candles to fulfill orders, many were tiny collections of menorah candles for Hanukkah. I got to ask Jonah a lot of questions about the process and being in their environment with the warm smell of wax and all of the nettles drying along the wall was like being in a fairytale.

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Nettles drying above us! Reason #203 why the Bay is awesome is being able to harvest Nettles and make your own tea. I love Nettles tea.

LLPS and I got to have one of our power catch-ups on the bed while watching the candles happen. She took me to her house and showed me her tiny magical garden shack in the backyard, which was so much more incredible than I ever imagined from her descriptions over the phone.

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We hugged goodbye and I got back into the Prius and headed back to my mom’s house.

Mom’s BFF was over and we got to watch photos from her summer and some photos of her husband’s memorial service. I couldn’t afford to fly out to attend and was so grateful to get to see pictures from it and spend some time with Linda having grief community.

One of the things that sucks about living across the country from my family is that I rarely can take my family’s hand-me-down furniture. I wanted my mom’s clear glass dining table so bad! But mom saw an opportunity to give me the Kitchen Aid mixer that she rarely used and I gleefully accepted it!

Growing-up my ex-step-dad was notoriously selfish. Like, remarkably, irrationally selfish. Picture a 50-something year old man acting like a 4 year old. Mom and I weren’t allowed to use the Kitchen Aid and I’ve always wanted one. Mom got one not long after they divorced and she knew I would appreciate it like no one else could. So the Kitchen Aid (which, by the way, I totally use at least once a week) got nestled safely into my trunk. I always thought I’d have to wait until I got married or something to get a Kitchen Aid.

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Grandmother had to wear mom’s sweatshirts because it was “so cold” in the Bay Area. Which, compared to Palm Springs, it totally was.

I also raided my mom’s Lesbian Tea Basket** for a sampler of teas for the road, including a lovely hibiscus and some mint.

In the morning I said my goodbyes to Grandmother, Mom and her wife. I was leaving Macy in their care while I headed into San Francisco to go to a meeting I had scheduled into my trip right between visiting my mom and my dad. (I’m in a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics, which I joined as a result of an alcoholic boo but has helped me heal a lot of family stuff I didn’t expect.) I loved the idea of going into the city even for a couple of hours and was bummed I wouldn’t see my friends but didn’t have time on the road trip.

I went to my meeting, walked briefly through the Castro and took a quick detour in the Mission to grab a burrito before I left town. I also stopped at Multi-Kulti for a pair of sunglasses and some cheap fake eyelashes. My pal Alix Izen saw my twitter check-in and texted me to meet me for my quick burrito, which was a fortuitous and awesome catch-up.

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I got back on the road, crossed the Bay Bridge and headed to my dad’s house in Merced.

Next up! I visit Merced, CA for the first time in a decade and drive through some crazy fog!

*Let us not forget that my mom is also a Lesbian.
**I’m sure I mentioned this on my webseries before, but my mom putting all of her teas in a basket on top of the fridge was the original Lesbian Tea Basket and the namesake for my own LTB and starting the LTB web series.

2012-07-23

Summer Update and Magic Mike

When I embarked on the journey to write a memoir this summer, stepping out in faith with no book deal lined up or anything, I swore I wouldn’t end up like so many of my favorite bloggers who sort of disappear when they are writing a book. And then I did it! I disappeared. When you pour yourself into something 1,000 words at a time and it’s a lot of hard stuff you don’t necessarily want to look at or think about it gets really difficult. So it’s all, write, self-care, write, live a new adventure over here.

Me, serving Aerosmith groupie @ Rebel Cupcake 27: Classic Rock Cupcake. Photo by @morganirene our Cupcake Princess.
Me, serving Aerosmith groupie @ Rebel Cupcake 27: Classic Rock Cupcake. Photo by Morgan our Cupcake Princess.

It was also a bunch of preparation for all the events I’m doing this July. The Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Towards Ecstasy tribute show was incredible–the acts were so vulnerable, tender, funny and profound. We believe we called forth the spirit of Sarah Mc’s stalker as the microphone spontaneously started moving around after the band Hellmouth sprinked a circle of salt around the lead singer during a Buffy fanfiction reading/performance over “Circle.”

Backstage at Fumbling w/ @jessicahalem
Backstage with Jessica Halem.

Rebel Cupcake was also electric. Truly a gift to hear the haunting black mass of Coven by Nath Ann Carerra with Elizabeth Koke. And I met a bunch of blog readers! One from Portland! Next month is August 16th, if you find yourself in town.

During my writing days I’ve been doing what I can to take good care of the well from which I draw my creativity. This means morning pages and artist dates, tools I picked up doing The Artist’s Way (I highly recommend doing the book with a group or a life coach, as I did with rockstar and writer Lynnee Breedlove from Tribe8.)

One of my favorite artist’s dates to go on is going to the movies by myself. And the other day I found myself during matinee times passing a theater where Magic Mike happened to be playing.

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Masculinity!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a Kinsey 5.5 and I live a life that puts Femmes at the forefront. I don’t have a lot of masculinity in my life and I feel pretty great about it. I love the masculine of center folks that are in my community and in my life, but considering I live in the Haus of Femmespiration, work for myself and collaborate with Femmes and limp wristed fellas, I just don’t really do a lot of masculine studying. I don’t think about it that much, so it takes a special moment for me to focus my attention on that kind of spectacle.

And Magic Mike is nothing if not a celebration of masculinity.

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I will be honest, I really love Matthew Mcconaughey. He is one of my favorite fictional lawyers and I enjoy his soft Texas accent. He’s why I went to go see the movie. I also really loved Channing Tatum in The Vow, so he was a win. And I didn’t realize Alseed from True Blood was in Magic Mike and was pleasantly surprised.

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The movie is essentially conceived of an all male revue of super buff dudes gyrating on stage for throngs of excited women. The dance acts are great, pretty well-choreographed and conceived. In fact, as a former drag king performer who studied the way men walk and talk and wear facial hair, etc… I think this movie is a great study tool. Each performance was basically the same as an apolitical drag act I’d seen once or twice before. Or, in the case of “Pony” by Ginuwine, three times before. It is always hot when performed well. (Channing Tatum can dance. Who knew?)

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The plot is loosely structured around a new kid in town and the more successful thirty-year-old stripper showing him the ropes. Maybe a little bit Coyote Ugly mixed with Showgirls. The plot is barely there, clearly not well-developed and hard to follow. The main love interest is boring and has one expression on her face the whole time. But it doesn’t matter how terrible the plot is, the male revue is so fun to watch! Let’s go back to the club while there are dollar bills being thrown around!

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If I had a Women and Gender Studies paper to write for undergrad I could really rip this movie up and sideways. I had an emphasis on cultural representations of gender while in undergrad and I was great at movie deconstruction. But I have a memoir to write! So if you’re taking a WGS class this Fall, go see this movie and take lots of notes.

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Anyway, I highly recommend it as complete eye candy. Especially if you enjoy or are attracted to masculinity or are or were a drag king performer. Just watch some of the gifs on tumblr. You’ll know what I’m talking about.


Patriotism would be a whole section of my paper. I could get 10 pages easily.

I’m 25,000 words deep into my memoir (my goal is 50,000 by the end of the summer, when I will start taking the taffy draft I have and choreographing the sentences better) and have lots more to blog about as things keep surfacing. Why is it that I hear more often than not that folks “just aren’t interested in Femmes” and how can I learn to let the love in? So much to think about.

2012-06-15

Bevin’s New York Pride Guide 2012

Gay Stamina Month is upon us! And there are five weekends in June this year! So much time for homo revelry! I had a reader email and ask what was going on for Pride and my answer is “everything” but here’s what my Gay Agenda looks like for the next week and change.

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Photo by Amos Mac

#1 Rebel Cupcake
It’s my party so it goes first.

THURSDAY, JUNE 21st!! Kicking off NYC Pride Weekend. The theme is Let’s Get Physical, in honor of Crystal Light Dance Aerobic Championships from the 80s.

10PM-2AM Dancing; show 11ish * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N 9th St @ Roebling, Brooklyn, NY
(3 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

Rebel Cupcake: a flamboyant dance party for all shapes & flavors! WINNER of Go Magazine Awards for Best Emcee (Bevin) and Most Eclectic Crowd!

Performers:
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*Axon D’Luxe
Electrotext wordsmith and performance artist teaches us how to reclaim our bodies from trauma through aerobic exercise.
[http://www.axondluxe.com/]

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Photo by Jeep Wheat
*Afrotitty
Ferocious Burlesque Glitter Baby Supreme

*Bevin Branlandingham
Your Femmecee reclaims the President’s Physical Fitness Test
[http://queerfatfemme.com/]

More info available on the Rebel Cupcake page!

#2. Fuck You Dad! A Femme Pride Event
SUNDAY, June 17th, 7PM @ a Private Brooklyn Residence.

My fabulous and smart roommate Damien Luxe is producing it and it is going to be really amazing. I’m performing a piece from my memoir, not about my Dad (who, ironically, I have made a lot of peace with over the last couple of years) but about a Daddy Top I once had a scene with.

“Daddy is a fabulous sexuality … and ‘dad’ is a problem! Ya know it’s true. So on Sunday June 17, come to a variety show, ritual to celebrate femme pride & end patriarchy, backyard hangout & birthday party on the theme of Fuck You Dad!
// Show @ 8p *sharp* //”

Performing artists include:
Bevin Brandlandingham
Damien Luxe
Heather Acs
Jessica Halem
LeRoi Prince
NathAnn Carerra
Princess Tiny Meats
Shomi Noise

More info on the Facebook event.

#3 Queer Pride Party presented by Ellie
FRIDAY, June 22, 11PM in Manhattan.

She’s been doing Choice Cunts for 6 years and she is retiring from nightlife production! Come see Ellie off with a performance from Trans Hearthrob Rocco Katastrophe!

More info at the Facebook event.

#4 BACON BOOBIES presented by WOAHMONE and The Spectrum
SATURDAY, June 23, 10PM-4AM in Bushwick at the Spectrum

I went to my first Woah Mone party last week and it was spectacular! Full of feminine focus from all gender presentations. I felt my inner lesbian heart burst for joy while dancing to an overlay of “Mother Maiden Crone” during a classic rock song. Also Bacon is in the title. And boobies. How can this be wrong?

More info at the Facebook event.

#5 Everybooty Pride Extravaganza
SUNDAY, June 24 Noon to 10PM, Dekalb Market in Brooklyn

That’s right, it’s during the NYC Pride Parade. If you want to avoid that hustle and bustle for a different, less intense hustle, this is the party for you. Vendors, performances. It’s going to be an epic day. I might go, but probably will be at the beach.

More info and presale tickets at their Facebook event.

#6 Queer Pride at Riis Beach
Sunday, June 24, Whenever
Point yourself to Jacob Riis Beach and to the first Bay on the far left. You’ll find the queers.

This is the big alternative to Pride day shenanigans. Just the ocean and some homos. Likely what I will end up doing as a mellow end to the Gay Agenda.

More info at the Facebook event.

#7 Dyke March
SATURDAY, June 23 at 4PM, Bryant Park

It’s put on by an all volunteer force. Check out the Facebook page and the holey army being put together by Coral Short.

#8 Trans Day of Action
FRIDAY, June 22 at 3PM, Washington Square Park

“We call on our Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) community and on all of our allies from many movements to join us for the 8th Annual Trans Day of Action for Social and Economic Justice. We as TGNC People of Color (POC) recognize the importance of working together alongside other movements to change the world we want to see. We live in a time when oppressed peoples including people of color, immigrants, youth and elders, people with disabilities, women and TGNC people, and poor people are underserved, face higher levels of discrimination, heightened surveillance and experience increased violence at the hands of the state. We must unite and work together towards dismantling the transphobia, racism, classism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia and xenophobia that permeates our movements for social justice. Let’s come together to let the world know that TGNC rights will not be undermined and together we will not be silenced!”

More info at the Facebook event!

2012-05-14

Begin Again

One of my favorite concepts in meditation is the idea of it as an opportunity to practice beginning again. It’s a concept brought to me from a book I have been slowly creeping my way through, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program* by Sharon Salzberg. It was only ten bucks and came with a guided meditation cd and basically sets out why meditation is great and a gentle, 28 day program for becoming one of those daily meditating people you hear about and want what they have.

But, for me, like with all things, this meditation book has taken me way more than 28 days to get through and that’s okay. Sharon says in one of the very first meditations that as you get lost in thought you get to begin again. Come back to the breath. It’s very gentle. The practice of being gentle with yourself with something as simple as a thought coming into your head during meditation, when the idea is not to think, is a radical notion for someone raised in our culture of harsh judgment and perfectionism. Especially for me, where I relied on overachieving and appearing as perfect as possible as a survival mechanism through a difficult childhood and adolescence. Gentleness with yourself is a radical act. So is the idea that you can “begin again” even after you’ve done something wrong.

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When I was a fat depressed, often suicidal, teenage closeted queer I never thought I would be a New York plus size party girl making out with Zach Morris and gay AC Slater but maybe this was always my destiny. I wish I could tell early 90s awkward Bevin that it gets better. And also that her crushes on boys that looked like Zach Morris and AC Slater were just gaydar.

So, you see, dear readers, I am at yet another begin again crossroads. That law firm job I got in January that I was so stoked about? Totally bad fit. I won’t get into the specifics, but after about a month of thinking it was going well, it just wasn’t. My talents are manifold and were not a good fit for that environment. And I was miserable and working really hard. Certainly not making enough money to be worth the amount of stress I felt, though I believe that even one of those $150,000 a year associate jobs isn’t worth that kind of stress on your body and life. And so, after three and a half months, I am going my own way again. As a Capricorn overachiever I can be very committed to things and get mired into it even if I am not enjoying it, so to have it only be a three and a half month detour is significantly shorter than I otherwise would have stuck it out.

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Me and much of the cast of Bayside the Un-Musical at Rebel Cupcake. There’s one weekend left in their run (May 16-19th at the Kraine Theater in the Lower East Side), I saw the show and it was ridiculous and a MUST SEE for any fan of Saved By The Bell.

It was a shock when it happened, however the relief and peace I have felt since it was decided I wouldn’t be working at the firm anymore told me this was the right path. Decision making is a self-correcting process, I believe that even when you make a choice there is guidance about that. If you make the wrong choice, there will be a gentle (and then not so gentle) nudge away from it until you get on the path you’re meant to be on. Sort of like when I was engaged to someone who I know 4.5 years later was a terrible fit but at the time was undeterred and had no perspective. That was a self-correcting process. And, even though it was devastating at the time, I feel great about the life I have now.

The last 4.5 years have held a crazy amount of change for me. My life is radically different but so much more than I could have imagined. My Saturn Return was bananas–end of engagement, laid off from a job of 5 years, a terrible living situation necessitating a move while being on unemployment–and things keep on changing and upheavals keep happening. I sold my beloved Prius in April because I knew financially it was the right choice–good thing because then I lost my job and selling it has given me SO much flexibility.

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And today, I have a lot of possibilities and opportunities. I have been working on a new memoir, shelving the more difficult and emotionally fraught memoir for later, and it’s flying out of my hands and into a shitty first draft. (All hail the working through perfectionism enough to be okay starting with a shitty first draft!) I am feeling more creative than I have in months. I’m happy. It’s been two weeks and part time work and per diem jobs are sort of popping up. Enough to pay the bills.

I won a reader’s choice nightlife award from Go Magazine, the largest circulating free lesbian magazine in the world, as Best Emcee (and thanks to all of my readers who voted!). Rebel Cupcake won for Most Eclectic Crowd.

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The awards were really heavy. I felt like the Adele of the Lesbian Nightlife Awards. Also my Grandmother thinks I look like Adele since she went blonde and I don’t know whether it is because we’re both fat and wear big eyelashes but I’ll take it as a compliment.

Rebel Cupcake, a nightlife party celebrating all bodies and flamboyance, just turned two years old! At the two year anniversary one of my heroes, Barbara Carrellas, did a sex magic fire ritual and the demo bottom turned over and she made a cake out of foam on the bottom’s naked torso with two candles in it and the whole club sang Happy Birthday to Rebel Cupcake while the cake burned. That was an incredible moment.

I wrote a new workshop and debuted it at Columbia University for their Radical C.U.N.T.S. club about embodiment and learning to get into our bodies. (Called Get Me Embodied, like the series of embodiment posts I am continuing to write for the blog.) It was such a wonderful experience and afterwards I just thought “This is what I need to be doing.”

All of this happening literally on the heels of my last day of 9 to 5 work I am taking to be a sign that my artistic life is on the right path. It is terrifying trusting the universe and not knowing how I’ll have retirement or health insurance, but I am also very, very happy. And I know, somehow, I will figure it out. And I know there is power in letting myself begin again.

*I link to Amazon because I get a tiny referral fee for anything folks purchase from clicking through to Amazon from my blog but I suggest buying it wherever you can, it is a great read.

2011-06-07

Everyday Glitter

After months of seemingly endless rain/fog/end of times weather, we’ve finally got summer in full swing here in Brooklyn. I thought I’d celebrate this by doing a round-up of the little things that are delighting me lately.

ITEM THE FIRST: Hot Summer

Summer always starts so suddenly, like she throws you up against a wall and gets you all flustered, making you forget your own wardrobe. That you do, in fact, own 90 degree weather appropriate fare, except you begin scrambling. Before the Trans Women Belong Here dance party (we made $379!) last week it was so incredibly hot. I tried a new outfit three times and ended up wearing a dress I’ve owned for at least five years. I’ve learned that once I try three unsuccessful permutations of a new outfit I must accept that it is not happening, and thus I need to turn to a tried and true favorite. Same thing happened with my hair, I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like but after three attempts I just did my femmepadour and called it a night. The following photo is not what I wore to the TWBH benefit (still waiting for the photographer’s shots).

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This was my favorite going out outfit in May–a black and gold rosette tunic with teggings and black and gold boots. Sadly it’s too hot to wear that now.

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Speaking of hot summer wardrobes, Cristy Road introduced these shorts as “nightlife shorts.” Too short to take the bus in Bed Stuy, just short enough for the dance party. Photo from Rebel Cupcake.

Since as I write this it is Prince’s birthday (June 7), he has released a new song called Hot Summer. It’s a good listen. Google for it, as the link I’ve had keeps going away.

ITEM THE SECOND: Monday Funday

Since I work a non-traditional schedule and Mackenzi owns a store that is closed on Mondays we often partake in Monday Funday activities. This ranges from mani/pedis to going to the beach to trips to the suburbs for soup and breadsticks to meanders in local neighborhoods. This Monday Funday we went to Park Slope for lunch and had a delightful stroll. I didn’t realize how much walking we would be doing but we ended up clocking a lot of blocks. By far the most awesome part of our day was getting glitter tattoos at Exit 9 in Brooklyn.

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Mac had her existing tattoo glittered. The shop keeper expertly and quickly filled it in.

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I just went all lesbian cliche, with a rainbow glitter dolphin on my dominant wrist.

We capped off our adventure by getting burritos at the new taqueria on my corner and ate them on my stoop. It was so peaceful and lovely.

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No Mexican food for Macy.

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ITEM THE THIRD: More Stoop Sitting

Stoop time is really my favorite part of the beginning of summer. My friend Heather lives around the corner and one night at 11pm she texted “Come have a beer on my stoop with me.” I was already in my loungerie and settled in front of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy* but something about the ability to be outside and have a heart to heart compelled me to throw on real clothes and walk Macy over to Heather’s. And it was exactly what I needed. We talked about being artists and summer and love lives.

You know how sometimes your friends tell you something really simple and it’s exactly what you need to hear? Heather said “Bevin you have to remember that you’re really pretty. Don’t forget that.” You do all this work around self-love and unlearning the hatred and feelings of ugliness and whatever and yet sometimes the scared little kid inside you forgets and you just need someone to remind you that you’re pretty and you’re worthy just because you’re alive.

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So that’s what good friends are for. That’s why you let people in. That’s why you show people the tender underside of yourself because you need them to help. To remind you of the basics. When you’re different in a way society deems unpalatable you need ways to undue that armor that gets built up just to exist. You need ways to develop tender connections to other people. My relationships with queer femmes and other folks who are supportive of my identity was crucial to becoming an actualized human being and not just a robot going through the motions before I die.

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Anyway. Heather. Magical. Thank you.

ITEM THE FOURTH: Femmespiration

Speaking of Heather, she invited me to be on a panel of young** Femmes that was going to compliment a panel of Femme performance artists from NYC and London as part of the MUSING MUSES: A FeMUSEum conversation with Lois Weaver, Carmelita Tropicana, Amy Lamé and Bird la Bird.

The panel was so inspirational! And in such a meta way, too, because the panel was about the muses for each of the participants. Dolly Parton, Divine and everyone’s grandmothers were mentioned. Sometimes it is really helpful to hear other artists talk about how they find their motivation to create in order to rev your own mojo.

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Each of the artists on the panel has done so much, too, it was very femmespirational. I am especially excited to see Lois Weaver’s work on femmes and aging, see a performance of Carmelita’s, and visit Bird La Bird and Amy Lamé in London. Um, Amy is producing a pageant called Burger Queen. What I wouldn’t give for a patron to fund my trip across the pond so that I could compete. I really love the artistic format for pageants and one of the categories is cooking–I have a great recipe for Spotted Owl Casserole. And Amy is gorgeous and accomplished and I just want to follow her around.

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Amanda Cheong as a giant vagina. Amanda’s writing something new for Rebel Cupcake: Love Long Distance on Thursday.

Amy interviewed Kate Bornstein on stage. I couldn’t love Kate more. She makes me want to be a better artist. She, as an artist and a human being, truly has the ability to make her audience feel safe and loved.

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Kate’s Femme swagger is killer.

ITEM THE FIFTH: A Pig Grows in Brooklyn

Almost as quickly as we said hello to Penelope the pet piglet that my roommate was raising here, she moved upstate to my butch ironworker roommate’s boyfriend’s farm. Turns out my roommate is allergic to her, and Penelope was a lot happier being able to roll around in real mud instead of scratching herself on our (turned off) radiator.

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Silas, Penelope and Macy.

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Brian, Arnulfo and Penelope.

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It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday, Penelope. We’ll miss you. Hopefully I can go upstate to visit her in her new digs with the baby goat and the baby ducks.

ITEM THE SIXTH: Random Hotness

I was surprised and delighted to find out I was listed as one of the Autostraddle’s Hot 100 Real Gay Ladies***. It’s an honor that such a rad popular website is so supportive of my mission to promote self-acceptance. I’m also pleased to be on a list with so many other hot queers.

And just today I found out I am nominated for a “couple” of awards at the Go Nightlife Awards. Won’t you join me on June 15th? What I love about it is that it brings out such a cross-section of NYC nightlife. I went to the event last year and it actually did end up getting me a couple of dates with a steamy 20 year old. I’m bringing Taylor as my date so we’ll see how I do rustling up some casual action this year. He is an excellent wing man. 1,000+ people on the dance floor…

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*I have recently rediscovered this show. I never liked Grey’s Anatomy before but it is watch instantly on netflix now and for some reason it is speaking to me. In a month I’ve watched 50 episodes.
**I love to be reminded that 32 is young.
***Yes, I made it on an internet hot list and I still need my friends to remind me sometimes that I’m pretty. Self-love is a daily practice!

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