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

2013-12-17

Link Farm: Marriage is not a Coupon to Redeem, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Supporting a Loved One through PTSD

I have three things to share with you today that I’m pretty excited about. The first is an article I wrote for Autostraddle to celebrate the launch of their fancy new redesign! It’s all about marriage rights for queers and how marriage isn’t our only option.

“Marriage is like a chlorinated community pool that we now have access to. I think that people forget that queers have been swimming in the ocean the whole time. We have always had to be creative about how we create our love relationships and, now that we don’t have to be creative, I hope we still can be.”

Check it out on Autostraddle!

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This dress is the closest thing I have to a wedding gown right now and I love it so deeply. Gratuitous shots of two of my favorite people and heroes, Barbara Carrellas and Kate Bornstein. The documentary about Kate is available to tour to schools and festivals, get in touch with Sam the director–I saw it last weekend and it is phenomenal.

The second thing is that it is December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. It’s a day of remembrance and solidarity for folks lost this year. Sex work is work, and it can be extremely dangerous as media, laws and other social constructs create a society in which sex workers are not seen as people who deserve protection and are disposable. Working to legalize sex work is something I’ve been interested in since I was in law school over a decade ago. Right now I work with Desiree Alliance, an organization that brings together harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers.

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Me and Jacqueline at the Desiree Alliance Conference last summer. The next one is in the Summer of 2015.

To borrow from my friend Fancy Feast, who says it so eloquently:

I would be nowhere without the sex workers in my life. Today and every day we need to be doing what we can as allies and advocates to make their work safer. That means all sex workers everywhere, not just the white ones, not just the cis ones, not just the ones with college degrees. Every. Last. One of them.

You can learn more about December 17th events and projects here.

The third link I wanted to share was this article about Supporting a Loved One Through PTSD or Panic Attacks. I’ve been going through a lot lately both on my own level with many deaths (three in total) and then also as a caretaker and supporter of a person with breast cancer. As of this morning, I’m maybe going through the process of putting down my other cat (I put down Bear six months ago). It’s a lot! And the last three weeks have been kind of a huge emotional roller coaster. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a difference in care and support and I liked this article and thought it might be useful for folks who look at someone going through a hard time and wonder what to do. For me, right now, it’s just folks being there and being willing to listen.

Often in the midst of the episode, the distressed person doesn’t necessarily have their full vocabulary and can’t articulate exactly what they need in that moment. Afterwards, they may avoid talking about it out of embarrassment, fear, or a desire to preserve the peacefulness of the present.

So how do you learn what is helpful?

If you’re like my partner, mostly through trial and error. However, this cartoon inspired me to draw up a list of tips, taking from my own preferences as well as those of some friends. They’re not universal, but they’re a starting point, I think, for the right mindset.

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My friend Avory cuddling ALF on Friday night.

2013-09-03

Five Ways I’ve Learned to Embrace the Velocity of Change

A few years ago a friend of mine suddenly got a girlfriend. We were besties and spent a lot of time together, so I wondered why I was feeling weird about it. I was definitely happy for her, I liked her new beau and I was excited for her to get laid. I sat with the feelings for awhile and I realized what I was feeling was fear—specifically fear of change. I knew that changes in our friendship were bound to happen. We were both single and had a lot of nights free that we spent together. Eventually that situation changes.

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For this post I’m using photos from my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip. I went on that when I needed to shake up the energy in my life.

I parceled it out and realized that the changes were really triggering my fear of abandonment. My parents divorced when I was 18 months old and my dad was mostly out of the picture while I was growing up. That’s a pretty classic recipe for adult fear of abandonment.

Once I could label that it gave me something to do on my side of the street. I could address my fear of abandonment without blaming or getting mad at my friend just for being happy. I don’t ever want to be mad at my friends for following their hearts and being happy! I want them to be happy. This fear of abandonment is something I’ve worked diligently to remove over the last several years, and it involves a lot of embracing the velocity of change.

I’ve noticed my friends going through a ton of big changes lately. Huge new jobs—dream jobs. Sudden moves. Losses of many kinds. A lot of them have gotten into romances in the last few weeks–it reminds me so clearly of that time where I thought I was going to lose my friend. I’m still having to remind myself often that I’ve weathered these kinds of friendship changes before and it is going to be okay.

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Being a hipster in Austin, TX at their monthly Femme night.

I’m positive all of these big changes aren’t just isolated to my friends. Since this is probably relevant to my readers, too, I thought I would do a round-up of some of the things I’ve learned along the way about embracing the velocity of change.*

1.Accept that change is part of living.

I like to remind myself that when things are changing and tranforming that I’m really living. The only constant in life is change. When I get a little dizzy with the “too much too soons” about change (because sometimes the good and the bad changes seem to happen in a flash without warning) I remind myself of that Pearl Jam song titled Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. For some reason, when I was a fourteen year old devout Pearl Jam fan I heard that song and I would get so afraid that would be me—changed by not changing at all. And given how resistant I was to change at that age (and for many, many years after) it is a miracle I have gotten as far as I have.

I’m also the kind of person who initially resists even the little changes (I have feelings when my roommate moves around the appliances on our countertops), so my square one about change is generally negative. Accepting change as a constant has helped me hop away from that negative box faster than I used to.

Since change in life is a constant, accepting that as true—we cannot grip the happy times just as we cannot escape all the hard times—is actually a relief. When I’m having a shitty feeling I like to chant to myself, “Everything is temporary.” That helps.

Re-envisioning change as a good thing, a sign that my life is dynamic and magical, works for me.

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Having my cards read by a roaming psychic.

2. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Similar to the sentiment above, sometimes seeking out change is a really good thing. I’ve made big changes in my life before—I moved across the country at age 21. That was the first big thing I ever chose to do that forever altered the direction of my life. And it wasn’t my first choice, I really wanted to go to law school at my alma mater but I didn’t get in. Rather than hang out another year in Davis and re-apply I just bit the bullet and moved to Camden, NJ.

This was absolutely the best thing I did for myself at that young age. Without friends, a sense of safety or comfort, I really had to learn who I was. And I found myself. The year after I moved I started identifying as queer, made peace with my body and learned that femme was a thing you could be and it was awesome. I don’t know how long those changes would have taken if I’d never moved. I don’t know if those changes would have ever happened! I had no idea how resilient I was until I had to be.

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Slow dancing with that dreamboat Jessie Dress.

3. Small changes are good practice for the big ones.

Despite my desire to see change as a good thing, I remain a contented, homebody earth sign. I am so comfortable with things I’m familiar with I have to consciously seek out the discomfort of change. I try to push myself once a month to go to an event that’s out of my scene, I encourage myself to do new stuff. The weird panic I feel even for something as small as taking an unfamiliar subway stop is actually great practice for the big changes I have no control over. The tiny panics are prep. And once I’ve done it once it expands my worldview just a little bit more.

I also like to instigate change just to shake up my energy. Moving things around in my room, doing a purge of a drawer, slightly changing my hair, getting a piercing or a tattoo, going on a trip, these all help me feel change energy in order to shift my perspective on my life.

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Macy interacting with some chickens.

4. Remember all the times I weathered change.

When I started getting that panic about, “OMG the summer is ending and all of my besties are in relationships and I am going to spend all of my Saturday nights alooooooone,” it was helpful to stop and remind myself I’ve been through this before. Some friends just bail when they start dating something. That’s not about me at all. (You know, when they become the “I have to check ‘our schedule’ friends.” And the friends I have now slipped in there for the friends who slipped away. It’s the ebb and flow of life. My closest friends, our relationships have weathered a ton of changes. Including long stretches of not talking or moving long distances. But those are the kinds of friendships where you can pick up the phone and it’s as though no time has passed at all.

I’ve realized I never know what a friendship is going to look like when it starts and it is only time that tells me whether it will endure the shifts in our lives.

Just like friendships, I’ve gone through a ton of other changes that, at first, felt like a huge crisis but eventually became great opportunities. The whole memoir I’m writing is basically about how I weathered some tremendous changes in my life. (My wedding was called off six months out, I lost my job of five years and six months later was forced out of my apartment.) The good thing about those changes was (spoiler alert) I learned how resilient I am.

When I got laid off again by a small business I worked at for a three years, I learned it definitely gets easier the second time around. Applying this even to unfamiliar change is really helpful to shift my perspective from fear to curiosity. I don’t know what life is bringing me with each new change, but I know I have a choice about how I look at it.

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We were in Louisiana long enough to stop for gas and this photo at a rest stop. Definitely need to get back there and do NOLA!

5. Use your shitty feelings to teach you about yourself.

As someone who likes to learn and grow, I’ve found that often my shitty feelings are trying to teach me something about myself. Like how my panic around my bestie getting booed up taught me about my fear of abandonment, often there’s a lesson in my resistance to change.

Leaning into the shitty feelings is something I learned from my life coach when I was being life coached by Lynnee Breedlove. He told me once that if you imagine shitty feelings like an ocean wave that going through them is the best way to get to the other side. (Rather than fight them or just get out of the ocean altogether.) He said he likes to send up a prayer of “Thanks” whenever he’s facing a yucky change, reminding him to stay in gratitude.

I’ve got a couple of book recommendations. One is by SARK, a thought leader I enjoy who writes playful and deep books. Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity is an amazing book! SARK details a year where she lost a partnership, the death of her mother and her beloved cat companion. She walks through the process of turning these losses into opportunities to grow. It’s playful and deep and taught me a lot about learning how to embrace changes as they come. There are a ton of questions to ask yourself, workbook style. But even the narrative alone, if you’re not ready for the work, is worth the read.

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At Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium in Atlanta.

For the spiritually inclined, I also really enjoy Transitions by Julia Cameron. She wrote the Artist’s Way, so when I saw this in a tiny twelve step bookstore I visited when I was traveling cross country I snatched it up. Lately I’ve been reading the bite size reflections on change before I go to bed. It’s really amazing perspective on the good elements of change that we often can’t see through our pain. I like it a lot. It’s non-denominational and talks about God in the Spirit/higher power sense.

The result of my friend getting booed up years ago? We drifted apart. But it wasn’t nearly as hurtful or catastrophic as my panic at the time acted like it would be. I weathered the changes in our friendship and I’m confident I’ll keep weathering all the new changes my friendships have to offer.

*I am borrowing this term from an affirmation in Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams.

2013-02-13

FAT SEX WEEK: Single for Lyfe Lifestyle with Mads Dudebabemodel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So many rad dudebabe friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2010-06-28

Help Me Get a Talk Show! Also, Rebel Cupcake!

I am involved in a really exciting contest! Sometimes my friends call me the Queer Oprah, because within five minutes of meeting someone I’ll get their life story. And my career goal to have a talk show. Well, Oprah herself is having a contest to pick the next talk show star for her new network, OWN.

It took a lot of work, but I submitted my entry and am on a mission to get 100,000 votes by Saturday, when the voting ends.

VOTE HERE! CLICKIE!

Here’s the description of my talk show. There’s also a video of me (bonus to you if you can figure out what my hair bling is) on the voting page.

Bevin Branlandingham is a warrior for self-acceptance and wants to create a show built around the lifelong journey to self love. Her show includes four major components: Health at Every Size (physical and emotional/mental health), Style at Every Size, Sharing Stories, and a Variety Show Aspect including the network of artists Bevin works with that celebrate the radical act of self love. Bevin has an open-minded and soothing spirit that will inspire viewers of all backgrounds to get to loving themselves.

Thanks in advance for your voting (I have no idea if there’s a limit on how many times you can vote), telling your friends and whoever else you think would be into supporting my dream to have a talk show about self love!

****

Life never ceases to be anything but a roller coaster. I had some incredibly great news and some incredibly sad news, within hours of one another. My California tour was really fun and amazing, I met some inspirational people, filmed a section for the Fierce Fat Femmes documentary with the insanely gorgeous Kelli Jean Drinkwater, performed, produced and then took some time off in Southern California. I came back to Brooklyn in the heat of Femme Pride Week, followed immediately by LGBTQ Pride Week. Now things are set to wind down for a moment.

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Happy Pride! Photo by Nogga Schwartz from the last Rebel Cupcake: Queer Root. More photos here.

I’m super excited for the next Rebel Cupcake, July 8th. One of my besties, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is in town from Oakland. Along with her is Kit Yan (reigning Mr. Transman and brilliant slam poet), BUTCHLESQUE by Grrls Who Run with Foxes (who promise no sawdust and glitter in the audience) and Burlesque by Bambi Galore.

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If you’re a plan in advance person, the August Rebel Cupcake is on August 26. The theme is Steel Magnolias!

And remember to vote for my talk show! Voting ends Saturday!

2010-06-11

Delivering Happiness Book Review and Giveaway!

One of the things that held me back from the pursuit of my joy and my true purpose in life is that the things I wanted didn’t come with a defined path. I spent so much of my teens and twenties looking for things with an “If you do x, y, z then you will achieve your desired result.” This made the decision to get my JD at 20 years old really seductive. I was licensed to practice in two states by 24 years old and stayed in my 9-6 (or 8 or 9 somedays) job for five years because I liked the security and couldn’t figure out how to achieve my other dreams.

That security was a myth. Just like being engaged to someone I thought was my forever didn’t actually mean forever, staying with a job for five years didn’t protect me from the first round of layoffs when the real estate market crashed. Turns out, both of those were the best things to happen to me in years.

My career goal is to have a talk show. Of course, there’s more than that, I would love to create a Femmepire: have a magazine, an animated series and books and all manner of media related to the topic of learning to love yourself and living your joy. It is incredibly frustrating at times because it’s not like there is a curriculum in higher ed to become the Queer Oprah.

Damien Luxe spent two years working on an MFA in DIY. At first I thought she was actually in a program that let her use DIY as a specialty, but in fact she just created a curriculum for an MFA and self-studied. Sure she doesn’t have a “degree” per se but she finished her one-woman show, almost a whole book and learned a lot! She presented the curriculum at Heather’s Artist’s Salon and it was incredibly well-rounded.

Nearly two years on this path of diversifying my income and careers to enable me to get to my talk show and live the mission of my life, I started thinking that an MBA would be far more useful to me than my JD. What would it look like to create my own MBA curriculum? How would it benefit the work and art that I am creating to know how to market, strategize and create success?

The thought of reading business books makes me yawn, but it just so happens that I have been presented with an advanced reading copy of one of the most lively and interesting books about an entrepreneur that I have ever read.

Delivering Happiness

Written by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.Com, Delivering Happiness is part memoir part retrospective road map to creating the kind of corporate culture and success that encourages staff to create coffee machine robots for the lobby. He specifically establishes the purpose of the book to be how he found happiness in business and in life.

I am a slow reader* but finished the book in the time of a cross-country flight. In the introduction Tony sets the tone for the book and lays out the expectation that he’s not a writer and purposefully wrote the book in his own voice and without always the best uses of grammar. As a grammar appreciator, I cringed when I read that but actually it was a fantastically chatty read, like a blog but with better editing. I found the whole book incredibly inspirational and practical. Sometimes what you need is someone you can relate to telling you how they got to where they are.

I related to Tony quite a bit–a smart kid who didn’t like to do any extra work when he didn’t have to, he got into a lot of mischief and schemes (to no externally hurtful end) growing up. He also explained how he walked away from 20 million dollars during his dot com “vest in peace” period because he realized he wasn’t happy. That is the kind of chutzpah I know, love and admire.

Making decisions about your own pleasure or happiness over security is something that is shamed in our culture and, if you can master being in touch with yourself enough to know what will make you happy I think you owe it to yourself to risk the happiness. For me, learning to love the uncertainty (and brokeness) that comes with being in the relentless pursuit of my joy and my mission in life has been infinitely spiritually rewarding.

Tony’s discussion of the Zappos Core Values is also relevant not just in business, but in real life. I have highlighted a lot of lines in that section to go back and reflect on, but this was my favorite:

Under the core value “Embrace and Drive Change” Tony says “Ask yourself: How do you plan and prepare for change? Do you view new challenges optimistically? Do you encourage and drive change? How do you encourage more change to be driven from the bottom up? Are you empowering your direct reports to drive change?”

And this, too, from the core value Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded:

“We want everyone to not be afraid to take risks and to not be afraid to make mistakes, because if people aren’t making mistakes then that means they’re not taking enough risks.”

As a bonus to all of the good life and business coaching in the book, I also got to learn about one of the sexiest corporations I can think of. An entire website full of shoe porn, including amazingly multi-faceted shots of Fluevogs. I mean, really.

After reading this book I am definitely ready to continue my MBA in DIY curriculum and keep developing my Femmepire creation strategy.

If you want to get a copy of Delivering Happiness, using this link gives my site a tiny referral credit and with my referral fees I’m going to slowly amass my business book entourage. Next up is Suze Orman’s Young Broke and Fabulous (I’m reading Women and Money right now).

Further, I have a giveaway! Tony sent me an extra copy of the book as a giveaway on my blog. If you comment by midnight Eastern time on June 15 about your dream job (whether it is in a corporation or your own enterprise), you will be entered to win. I’ll pick the winner at random. Good luck!

*Slow readers represent!

2010-04-14

Exquisite Camaraderie: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Queer Brooklyn Nightlife

In May 2008 I discovered the queer hipster party circuit in Brooklyn and it revolutionized my New York nightlife experience. 

I came of age shaking my ass at gay boy bars with my fag friends, one of the only dyke fag hags in the joint. Let’s face it, a Femme loves a Fag.*  And once I stopped trying to fit in at lesbian bars, because it never worked, I was generally annoyed at the bad music or lack of people dancing.

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A night out in Philly a couple of years ago illustrates my early frustration with lesbian dance clubs.

During its four year stint, Panty Ho’s was an institution in queer nightlife. Located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, a hive for hipsters, it definitely had the crowd of big plastic 80s eye glasses and ironic/unironic neon fashion. I walked in and was so excited to see a bunch of hot queers I didn’t know, hear incredible dance music, and drink cheap booze. And while I felt excited about the social possibilities, I was also a little freaked out at the lack of body size diversity. It was clear to me that I was the fattest girl there by a long shot and one of only a smattering of Femmes.**

Once I found out about Panty Ho’s I learned about all of the other parties going on and I was determined to get into a regular dancing rotation. Fresh from a break-up I was ready for something new. I loved the energy buzz of going out until 4 AM and meeting new people.

So I did what I do when I feel excluded—I try to include myself. I would send an email to all of my fatty and fatty ally friends before the weekend and tell them what parties and events I was going to go to in order to rally support. Even having one person on my arm was enough to get me confident enough to be out on the dance floor, making an appearance, and being part of the change I wanted to see in the scene. Sometimes I was lucky enough to roll up to 10 deep.

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At February’s Hey Queen with Taueret and Jesse.

Over the past two years I’ve gotten very entrenched in Brooklyn queer nightlife. I love this scene because it is super gender diverse—queer and gay cis and trans boys join andro queers, hipsters and Femmes of all stripes. I have learned the DJs who play music I like*** and I feel pretty confident that I can walk into one or all of the parties dressed as wild as I want to–whether or not I “fit in” I will be accepted. I’m in a great feedback loop of flamboyance.

I also rarely drink much out in Brooklyn as it is expensive and I am broke, but I have so much fun dancing and socializing I don’t really care. New York is fortunate enough to have Right Rides for those that need a safe ride home.

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Photo by Maro.

In a turn of total magic and gratitude, I am the Queen of Honor at this month’s Hey Queen party. The theme of the party is Size Queen—in celebration of body diversity and all of the ways in which you can be a size queen. A big shift from going into the queer nightlife feeling like one of the only fatties!! Size Queen is on Friday night and I am planning hourly outfit changes as I have the benefit of a backstage.

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The one thing that always bothered me about the fact that it is more of a party “circuit” than just one club, is that it is hard to know what is going on unless you get on everyone’s email list/facebook group. I have found the trick is to check TheQueerist.com (if you are an event promoter anywhere in North America PLEASE put your events on that listing service—it is fabulous and free and Lissa the webmaster is a treasure) and also the “friends events” tab on FaceBook.

Panty Ho’s is over, but there are a lot of other monthly or occasional parties that pop up.

*Sweat!, run by Khane Kutzwell, is an all queer, all gender expressions, all dance, all night sort of gig. Held at a lot of different venues, the crowd really gets rolling by midnight and is very diverse.
*Hey Queen! as previously mentioned, is on the third Friday of the month at Sugarland in Williamsburg. The promoters, Amy Agony, Scout, Kitty La Kitty & Sarah Jenny are very diligent about the inclusion of a lot of different parts of the queer community.
*That’s My Jam is the biggest queer dance party in town. Run by DJ Tikka Masala and Bad Boy Trent (both really amazing folks), it’s a really fabulous place to just go and dance. The performances, when they happen, are always top notch–they had MEN in February and introduced me to SheDick. It’s generally on a Saturday night.
*DJ Tikka also throws a few other nights around town so it is worth getting on her email list.
*He’s a Rebel is a queer soul night at Nowhere Bar. Not in Brooklyn (the East Village) but still fun to get dressed up in vintage duds and dance. Zan is an incredible DJ.
*Original Plumbing Release Parties! Both have been absolutely amazing and packed in NYC. They have them in other cities as well! (Related–Murray Hill’s Mr. Transman 2010 Pageant is on April 25th!)
*GayFace mysteriously pops up now and then with dance parties.
*Banned! was going on regularly last summer and hopefully will return again this year. Always a lot of fun.
*Muff Muff Give. I don’t know if it is actually on the third Friday, but people can always party hop to Hey Queen.
*Rumours. In a little room above Public Assembly. It has the air of a speakeasy.
*Rebel Cupcake. Me, living the dream, with a flamboyance & body positive queer dance party for folks of all shapes & flavors. It’s going to be Thursdays, monthly. The first one is May 6, International No Diet Day!

There are a few others, you should pop over to OutAboutBrooklyn blog for more regular listings.

What I love about this roll of parties and events is that they are events BY queers FOR queers. Each party promoter saw a need and decided to do the work to fulfill it. As a producer of shows and events for over 10 years, I know finding a good, consistent venue, booking it and promoting is no small feat. It truly comes out of a love for community and making a safe space for good times. Exquisite camaraderie.

In sum, I want to say that it is super worth it to create a niche in a scene if you feel like it needs body and gender diversity. Oftentimes when I was coming out as fat and femme, I felt really ostracized in nightlife because I just didn’t fit in. But rallying my friends and doing what I needed to feel comfortable really helped me create what is now a really amazing nightlife for myself. Also, my fashion motto for going out in Brooklyn is to wear whatever I will feel most fabulous in, and not worry about whether or not people are going to get dressed up. I’ve gotten opportunities simply because someone knew me as the “fat femme in the french maid’s outfit”. Imagine if I’d let my insecurities keep it at home?

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Check out this video in honor of the last Panty Ho’s made by the gorgeous Sarah Jenny (above with Ice Queen hair bling). It shows the magic of the queer nightlife. I’m in it wearing an outfit inspired by Heather #1 from Heathers.

Ally moved away and broke our hearts—I sang Acapella versions of “End of the Road” to her for an entire week

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*Tip of the tiara to Damien Luxe for “A Femme Loves a Fag / A Fag Loves a Femme.” I’ve used this turn of phrase constantly and even applied it to specific sex acts.
**Though, ironically, the promoter of the party would end up being Ally, who has the best manicures ever.
***My top local DJs, in no particular order, are DJ Shomi Noise, DJ Sirlinda, DJ Tikka Masala, DJ Amber Valentine, DJ Designer Imposter, DJ Lil’ Rae, DJ As If. Almost all of these DJs have played Pointer Sisters at my request.

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