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

2016-07-31

That Time I Fainted at the Robert Mapplethorpe Closing Party at the Getty

A couple weeks ago our friend Barb asked us if we wanted to go to the closing party for the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Getty Museum. I hadn’t been to the exhibit yet, the party was free and it sounded fabulous. We had to RSVP with our email addresses, there were no plus ones, and the event filled up fast. We were the only folks we knew going, so it was kind of a social experiment–what kinds of queers were going to be at an LA Pride Presents event?

waitingfortram

Dara and I just hit the six month mark of living in LA and Barb is maybe three weeks into officially living here after lots of weekend visits from Fresno. All of us are recent residents of Brooklyn. It’s kind of scary, fun and exciting to go to gay events in a new town where you only know some people and you don’t know “the scene.”

The party started at 7, we planned to leave for the museum at 6:30 and I got a LOT done yesterday. I woke up at 8 and it was way cooler than most mornings in this heatwave because there was a haze over the sun, so I got to work doing some house projects. Dara was inspired, too, and we got a lot of physical things done at the house, only taking a break to go to Home Depot. (As a Femme who has only lived in major metropolitan cities as an adult I am feeling some type of Lesbian Merit Badge Achievement at the amount of home improvement and Home Depot attendance I’ve amassed since we moved here and rented this quirky house.)

After I did all of that stuff I met up with my friends Monica and Heather at the Glassell Park Pool to do some aqua jog. Exercise is really important for my mental and emotional health and it has been hard in this heatwave to move enough. I know it’s also super dangerous to move too much in the heat. I find aqua jog to be a great way to do both cardio and cooling off, but since we were doing it and chatting about serious stuff I didn’t realize I had been in the pool, moving, not drinking water and in the sun for an hour and forty five minutes, an hour longer than I usually aqua jog. In spite of my sunhat, I didn’t take enough self care precautions and I know in hindsight that took a lot out of me. When I got home I jumped right into finishing house projects and then got ready to leave.

bevinsunset

In this whole backstory I’m not drinking nearly as much water as I usually do and doing a lot more physical work during the heat than I usually do. So my body is super dehydrated but for some reason I’m not getting any warning signs, not consciously realizing it but behind the scenes things were going into alarm bell mode.

We parked in the Getty parking lot just inside the entrance off the 405, at the base of a hill. I was confused because I understood the museum to be at the top of a hill. We exited the first place we could from the parking garage, which was a not clearly marked staircase. If we had kept walking through the parking garage we would have found elevators, apparently, but three flights of stairs later we walked onto the “roof access” area and asked folks for directions. You can walk up the hill to the museum or there is a lovely train that will take you. We chose the train. Pro tip, if you go visit the Getty for the first time, read the website. There are many tips for visiting and I wish I had read them.

We got to watch the just-post-sunset colors over the mountains and the freeway below get more and more beautiful on the less than five minute ride. We exited into this spectacular terrace with a view of the last minute of sunset. My eye was drawn to the sunset but I definitely missed any signs about where to go for the party or the museum, so after our sunset photos we got into the first line we saw that seemed like tickets.

sunsetatgetty

Sometimes the sunset is the best art in the world, you know?

An official looking woman handed us plastic books with information about caves. I was thinking, “What a fabulous party it’s in a cave!” None of the people in line seemed like folks who were there for an LA Pride closing party for a queer artist exhibit. Part of me wanted to check out the caves since we were there but we had all discussed how much easier it is to do a museum and only see one exhibit and focus just on that experience. In hindsight I’m so glad we made the decision to ask whether there was a different entrance for the Mapplethorpe closing party because if I had fainted in a cave it could have been way worse.

We had to go up a bunch more stairs, which I think is the grand entrance to the Getty. I was thinking a lot about privilege and accessibility throughout this whole entrance process. First of all, one big part of accessibility is being clear about barriers to participation up front and what accommodations are available. Not seeing signs to the elevators in the parking garage or to the entrance was a thing that if I had been checked into how my body was feeling I probably would have opted for them. As an event coordinator I make sure to have those notes on events. (Noting whether there is street parking available, if there are stairs and how many, whether there are elevators, if the venue is ADA compliant, etc…) At the time I was acknowledging our ability privilege that if we were lost at the Getty we could at least walk up the grand staircase to get where we were going.

I was also thinking about art privilege and these giant statues we were seeing walking up. Money for arts seems so arbitrary sometimes. I know so many incredibly talented artists who, if given the financial resources, could make extraordinary sculptural pieces. It costs a lot to work with metal/most materials on large scale and I had just gotten an email from our photo booth designers for Dollypalooza about our tiny budget for props and it was just an interesting contrast about how we create, monetize and people experience art.

These are the things I think of when going to a big fancy museum. We found the check in area for the party at the top of the grand staircase and got our purple party stickers. We took more pictures overlooking Downtown LA below and saw the event on the terrace, it was spectacular. It felt appropriate and awesome that the closing party of an exhibit by a queer man be a party thrown by an LGBT Pride organization. We finally found an elevator, too, tucked behind a column of stone with no signage.

gettystickerI loved that the event designer matched the stickers to the party lighting and tablecloths. I thought it was a nice touch and great flow to the party layout, too.

The food was sooooo gooooooood at the party. I had been doing a whole foods cleanse for a couple of weeks to reset my digestion and really hoped that the duck egg rolls were wrapped in rice wrappers because they were very delicious and I knew I might get a tummy ache from them if it wasn’t rice wrappers but I was feeling the party vibe and living on the edge. And still not drinking water.

A friend of a friend came up and introduced themselves to me (a friend of Shannon/Miss Mary Wanna is a friend of mine!) and we gave them all of our drink tickets because none of us were drinking booze. Things were feeling great and fun and so magical!

Then we went to see the exhibit. I love Robert Mapplethorpe from intimacy with him through Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids. They lived in the same neighborhood I did in Brooklyn while he was going to Pratt, everything felt like such a big connection, living a big queer life knowing their weirdo artist friends in the 60s/70s reminds me of my weird queer artist community. I know a lot of photographers who shoot people similar to Mapplethorpe and wouldn’t be surprised to go to a Getty exhibit for one of them someday! (I highly recommend getting Shoog’s book Queers in Nature!)

I was getting really into the exhibit and the curatorial writing going along with the photos telling his story. How he loved fame and longed for it (way to go getting a posthumous Getty exhibit, what an amazing fame achievement).

mapplethorpeclosingparty

I overheard a man talking about how Mapplethorpe had a model he photographed where he showed his penis in some photos and his face in others and he promised the model he would never show them in the same image. So the curation involved a photo of the model’s face next to a photo of his penis and I had a lot of feelings of judgment coming up about deciding to break an artist/model consent contract intentionally like that. Even if not explicitly breaking it, I feel like when you’re curating you need to keep in mind what understandings the artist had with their models. As someone who models for folks, I am glad we do written consent/model releases now.

Mapplethorpe died of AIDS related illness and I was curious if a lot of his models have passed, too. What does death do with our art and consent practices? Should artists be including a clause in their estates about adhering to consent?

Anyway, then I had a few minutes looking at the Andy Warhol photo and marveling at the intimate look Mapplethorpe captured, feeling like I was making a connection with Warhol himself through the photo. How photography is sometimes catching the right expression or creating the right intimacy to convey to the audience a specific emotion. I walked away from the Warhol, found Dara and told her I was feeling woozy.

warhol

I don’t remember this part of what happened clearly, but this is Dara’s account, in her words to me:

You were feeling woozy and I wasn’t sure if it was a quick wooze or something more serious. So I checked in again and you said it wasn’t going away so you said we should sit down. We went and found a bench to sit on. Sat there for a few minutes and then you decided you needed to go to the bathroom. Rather than having you walk around woozy, I decided to see where the bathrooms were so we could get there the quickest route. I came back, took you to the bathroom and held your arm so I was supporting you a little bit.

You were walking and talking for a little bit. Then you stopped talking and then you proceeded to slowly fall to the ground as though you were walking an invisible staircase. I kept asking if you were okay but you weren’t responding. I wasn’t sure if you were bending over to pick something up so I tried to keep holding you upright but letting you go down slowly.

Once you were kneeling I said “Are you okay?” and you tried to stand up again. And you said, “I think I might have just fainted.” And then you fainted again, still with my arm underneath you so I was holding a fair portion of your weight. And then I said, “Baby, I need you to get on your butt,” when you were back to being lucid, I didn’t want you to fall over again.

Then you finally heard me and said, “Yeah that’s a good idea.” And you sat down on your butt, against the wall, and then a security guard came over.

Once I came to I realized shit was really wrong for me and that I should probably go to the ER. I haven’t ever fainted in my adult life so I was super worried about it. One of my besties fainted and hit her head going down on a counter and had a serious brain injury from it. I told the security guard I needed help and he said help was on the way and so was a wheelchair.

barbsbackBarb’s dress was pretty incredible.

I have a chronic digestive disorder, which means I am very intimate with my body’s warning signals around episodes of that, and since my whole body was shutting down of course that was happening, too. I was like, “I still need to get to the bathroom, I cannot wait, I still have my dignity and I am not going to shit my pants at the Getty.” In spite of everyone’s protests, I crawled to the bathroom. I was aware I was having an Ab Fab worthy spectacle and talking about my dignity, but better to be a spectacle than to shit your pants.

Brandon, one of the first responders, helped scoop me up with Dara to quasi carry me to the bathroom. I made it in time, with Barb and Dara waiting right outside the stall to make sure I was okay. Also, while washing my hands in the bathroom I ran into someone I know. Imagine being in a situation where you might be about to go to the ER when you run into someone and not have the words to even explain what’s happening so you just introduce your partner and your friend and say how good it is to see someone and then go out of the bathroom into the waiting arms of the first responders from the Getty.

Who, by the way, were amazing! They took a bunch of info from me and talked to me about my condition, with a certain kindness that felt safe and not mean. They thought I was probably very dehydrated and needed to go home and rest. It felt very VIP the way they cared for me and treated me through the whole thing. I got a wheelchair and they let me take a spin through the exhibit to see if I was up for seeing it in a wheelchair (the answer was no, but the FOMO part of me was glad I at least tried). I snapchatted the wheelchair ride because I was like “I will not waste this outrageous moment in my life, this is what social media is for.”

gettyinspiredThe hashtag at the museum is #gettyinspired and they have it on the ground where they think you should take photos which I thought was a great social media idea.

First responders are total heroes, the capacity to know what to do in an emergency and handle it with grace and kindness is a true skill.  To be the people who run into the burning building… The first responder team at the Getty also had some amazing stuff to say about the Getty Foundation’s good works outside the museum and the exhibits at the museum (apparently London Calling is not to be missed). I feel so grateful that if I was going to pass out in public I did it while on the arm of my supportive partner and with first responders so readily available.

They took us out of the museum in a truck from the VIP parking lot where the higher ups in the Getty Museum park directly to our car in the parking lot down the hill. I felt like a very woozy, sick celebrity.

barbbevinBarb was soooo helpful during the aftermath. Even just holding the purse and being back-up for Dara was really helpful. Also look at these shoes she just got on a work trip to Shanghai.

So then Barb drove us home. We stopped at a Whole Foods on the way because we needed electrolytes to help hydrate me and I called my mom. I don’t think she follows me much on social media but it felt terrible that she might find out I fainted at the Getty from someone else so I thought she should know first. Also I still wasn’t sure if I would end up in the ER.

bevinwheelchairI actually hurt my foot bending the toes back when I fell but so grateful I didn’t hit my head or anything. Also I’m totally wearing bike shorts in this photo and feel great about that choice for chub rub prevention last night when I was crawling towards the bathroom.

After home, bed, air conditioning, 2+ liters of coconut water and tons of alkaline water I am feeling 60% better. I am taking my body’s warning signs very seriously and keeping it simple and asking for help. I have a history of heat sickness and this is the worst it has ever been. I am going to be extremely mindful of heat, activity, house projects, hydration, electrolytes and social activity from now on.

And now I have a great story to tell.

fostersI cannot thank my supportive, awesome partner Dara enough for taking such good care of me during and after this ordeal. We are binge watching the Fosters on Netflix because my friend Silas Howard directed an episode in the current season and I want to watch it with context!

2015-09-10

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

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

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

bevindollypaloozagreenslipMe at Dollypalooza this year! Photo by Ves Pitts.

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

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

Here’s the deal:

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

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

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

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

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

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

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

bridgetboxFrom my snapchat tour of Bridget’s Femme apartment.

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

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

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

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

jacquelinemacyJacqueline with Macy, before her Snapchat shimmy.

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

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

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

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

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015-04-23

I’m Back on Facebook after they De-Activated My Account Asking for my Government ID

For background of this piece, read the piece I wrote two weeks ago about the de-activation without notice.

I wanted to tie up the loose ends about this because I don’t like leaving a story hanging and also I want folks who are not using their government name on Facebook to know my story and get prepared.

Photo Collage Maker_jbsNPuI decided it made going to the vet for Macy’s diagnostic work more fun to dress her in costume. The ultrasound techs thought it was really cute.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to engage with Facebook ever again. On principle, I don’t like that they require legal names or name authentication like this. But I have several friends who pointed out I’ve worked hard to get where I am and the body liberation work I do is best served by connecting with folks who I already know.

My connections are important to me and Facebook facilitates them very well. I know people from high school better than if we just occasionally have drinks. I can meet someone and still keep up on their artwork and their lives or whatever. Also, as a queer connector in the world it makes me feel good to help my friends moving to Providence meet my other friends in Providence (real life example). Also, I am a kind of “safe” ally to lots of different communities that my friends can come to for resources. Like a friend’s friend’s child just came out as genderqueer and my friend (who is not in the queer community) came to me for stuff her friend could read. That’s such an amazing thing to be able to do in the world! Improving the coming out process around someone’s gender by being a person with a reach beyond a specific type of community.

I have been off Facebook now for a couple of weeks. A few friends emailed or texted worried about not finding me there. I have missed some event announcements and life stuff for people but I kind of trust that people know how to get ahold of me if they need to. Plus, I trust the Universe/the Goddess and this happened for a reason and I just let it go as long as I needed to.

I was so worried that people thought I blocked them on Facebook! (This is a great reminder to always assume people’s best intentions!)

What I ended up submitting to Facebook on Monday night was a picture of my Driver’s License, which has my government name, birthdate and photo like Facebook asked for. I submitted two supporting documents showing my name as Bevin Branlandingham. One was the Curve Magazine article about me, which I think proves I’m a real person. The other were two pieces of mail. I get a lot of mail to Branlandingham, it’s almost always super awesome.

20150412_174540I’ve been using my time off Facebook to do new things like posting outfit of the days to Instagram with lots of item detail.

I also had a friend of a friend who worked at Facebook and a couple of other people on the inside, but I’m not sure if any of the connections folks offered helped my case or not.

Given what happened to me, folks should be prepared to give Facebook an ID at a moment’s notice. If I had some notice, I probably would have tried to get an alternate something (all of their requested documents are in the screenshots below:

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20150421_172611So, I’m back on Facebook, maybe a little checked out of it, for now.

2015-04-08

Facebook De-Activated My Account Demanding a Government ID

Monday was not a cute day for me. I visited my accountant to do my taxes, the preparation for which is a lengthy process as someone who is self-employed and doesn’t use Quicken. (Ugh bookkeeping. Ugh working class background/money fears/so much stuff to work through.)

I got my tax bill (UGH) and then… we finally heard back from the vet. Macy, my beloved Shih Tzu, broke her ankle in February. She had ruptured disc surgery in July and several months of recovery so the chip fracture was an emotionally and financially difficult set back.

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Part of the ankle treatment was having her sedated for an x-ray. Pre-sedation blood work meant we found out by accident that her calcium levels are high. Which could be an indicator of cancer or parathyroid disease or just high calcium which, if left untreated, can deposit minerals in her organs and then cause more disease. The process of figuring it out is one test after another. When your vet calls something an “Easter egg hunt,” that’s not a great sign.

Monday we got the results from her recent special hypercalcemia blood test (this required a special lab and a 7 day wait for the results) and her thyroid is normal but the calcium is still high. Next up, yet another ultrasound. (She’s 13 pounds, they couldn’t ultrasound her neck WHILE they did the abdomen? So fucked up.) It is stressful, expensive, sad and poor Macy.

After the day’s events, I went to Facebook, thinking I could maybe talk to some friends who have been on lengthy dog diagnostic journeys. Or talk to some of my working class femme friends about being self-employed. Like so many times I’ve gone to Facebook, a nice aggregate of people I actually know in real life, I went to my phone browser and popped it in. I was greeted with a login screen, which is odd because I generally stay logged in to Facebook.

Once I logged in, Facebook asked me for my driver’s license. Until I provide them some kind of identity verification from their list, I am locked out of Facebook. Not only am I locked out, but my friends report that they cannot find me, cannot message me and cannot see my profile. Facebook has made it so I no longer exist on their system.

This was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am just trying to live a positive life and right now it’s like death, death, money stuff, illness, now Facebook.

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The problem is, I use a different name, a chosen name, to interact with people in social media. Bevin is my government first name, but because I have a super googleable name, I choose to use a made-up last name on all forms of social media. Bevin Branlandingham is my stage name, but it also provides a great invisible wall between my day job and my life online. I think it is extremely reasonable to make this distinction and I would, in fact, encourage other people to do this with social media, no matter the “privacy settings.”

I would not have the same issue if my name was very common, like Jane Smith, but I still think social media is not a place where your government name should be required.

There are lots of other reasons a person might not use their government name on social media. Here are some reasons that I came up with the last time I wrote a blog post about the Facebook legal name requirement:

1. Trans people and other people for whom their legal name does not represent their gender(s).
2. People whose name is extremely googleable. The John Smiths of the world don’t have the same issues with online content that the Bevin Branlandinghams do.
3. Performers who use facebook to connect with their performance community.
4. Roller Derby folks who want to use their derby name to connect to their community.
5. People whose jobs or careers would be jeopardized by interaction with social media.
6. People for whom a legal name change is a barrier of time/access/money.
7. People who use social media for a specific group that utilizes nicknames.
8. People who don’t want people knowing their legal name in a casual setting.
9. Folks who are hiding from abusive exes/parents/relatives or stalkers.
10. Folks whose countries of citizenship would punish them for speaking about their country.

facebookalias

After the last hullabaloo over Facebook and real name requirements, I thought Facebook actually listened to the LGBT activists and drag queens who went to them and had meetings with them. Schooling them without being paid tuition. I GUESS FACEBOOK DIDN’T LISTEN.

I had a lot of feelings about being denied access to my Facebook account, on a day when I was already full of lots of difficult feelings.

Lately I’ve also been using Facebook to connect with my communities because not one but two of my friends in different crowds passed away suddenly this past month (one was suicide). It has been really helpful to connect with people around this, lots of whom are old friends who only get in touch with me through Facebook.

It felt really shitty to be isolated from my friends on a day when I kind of needed to reach out. It continues to feel shitty to have to figure out how to get Facebook to verify my “authentic identity” when I have a ton of other stuff that’s more important.

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For example, my allergies are super bad and I need to sit on hold with Callen-Lorde and get an appointment with my provider. I also think dying my hair is more important than going through the debacle that will be the uphill battle to reactivating my Facebook profile.

Since Facebook deactivated my account I have discovered that anything I used Facebook to login to is no longer available to me. For example, I pay monthly for Spotify because it is so easy to stream all the music except now I can’t get into it because my Facebook login won’t work. Same with my meditation program. I will NEVER use a third party login for a website again. By the way, Spotify doesn’t have an email or contact form for customer care–I’m having to contact them via Twitter. I don’t feel comfortable giving my money to places that don’t prioritize customer care so I am going to have to figure out a new music situation. The amount of agita piling on with this Facebook suspension is astounding.

Here are some screen caps:
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Since I don’t ever intend to make my stage name my government name, I don’t have any of the documents they are asking for. Why would I bother? I’ve never subscribed to a magazine as Bevin Branlandingham… but I’ve been featured in magazines as Bevin Branlandingham, presented at conferences, run a successful website, etc… On principle I also think this is shitty. Facebook is kind of the first place people go to to announce a new name, what if they haven’t done anything other than tell the people they love about a new name? Or what if they just (like me) don’t want to use a government name for social media?

I’ve done security measures with Facebook before, answered security questions, verified the identities of my friends in tagged photos. What happened that Facebook now wants to shut down my account and see my library card? I feel like I’m trying to go to a nightclub and the bouncer is demanding my ID.

The ironic thing is that I have a Facebook page with a fake name that is still totally accessible to me! (Rebel Gateau, a loose French version of Rebel Cupcake.) I use it for nightlife promotion so I can friend folks who wanted to get party invites. Facebook I can still get in the back door!

My therapist called me a “woman of my time” because of all of the ways in which I use Facebook. When doing my expenses for taxes in 2014 I paid more money to Facebook for advertising than I paid for printed fliers. We live in a different time. But I guess Facebook doesn’t want my money because it’s money from someone who doesn’t use an “authentic name.” And maybe that’s how they got me in the first place, because my credit card info doesn’t match my Facebook screen name.

I have a lot of rage about this, and it is probably just a place for all my other rage about how mad I am that my friends died and confused I am about my feelings, how frustrated I am about the process about Macy’s diagnosis and how worried I am that if I don’t keep shoveling dollar bills at it that she is going to die. Oh and feelings of helplessness about money, taxes, bookkeeping, getting rid of stuff (the latter being that Queer Exchange is a great place to get rid of stuff).

It would be nice to have access to my friends on Facebook at this time, but I’m just taking a break. Hopeful that most folks have my email or at least remember to google me and get my email from my blog. (It’s on the sidebar.) So far three people have texted asking why they can’t find me on Facebook, so that’s something.

In the meantime, I got a nice Fuck You from Facebook in the form of an email telling me all I have missed in the 48 hours since they deactivated my account.
FB email after suspension

I’m totally not kidding. I cannot actually log into my Facebook account, but they email me what I’m missing. Just like being inside a nightclub and coming out to the line of folks waiting outside fruitlessly arguing with a bouncer about IDs telling them what fun everyone is having without you. Facebook, you are an asshole.

I want to tell Facebook “You can’t fire me, I quit” and figure out how to live the social media life I want to without them. And yet, I’m still wondering how I can crowd source my incredible pool of friends so efficiently without Facebook. And I miss creeping my departed friend Laura Mulley’s Facebook feed because I’ve been learning a lot about her since she passed away last month and really appreciated that process and moving through grief.

The intention of this post is to warn folks who don’t use their government name on Facebook–they will come for you. And it will be without warning. So don’t rely on Facebook messenger to get info because poof, out of nowhere, Facebook will rip it from you unless you want to prepare all of these docs ahead of time. Maybe if I had a couple of weeks’ warning that they were going to ask me I could have tried to get a library card in my chosen name.

I can’t manage my Queer Fat Femme Facebook Fan Page now because I can’t get to it without my Facebook account. So I will simply have to use other social media outlets to tell people about my performances and life.

If you want to find me: Twitter (good articles/media recommendations), Instagram (my dog, my partner, my babely friends and adventures) and Tumblr (whatever goes on Tumblr).

I’m still a positive person (my motto about my attitude is to not allow my personal tragedy to interfere with my ability to do good hair, where good hair is ultimately believing the good in life) so I can’t leave it on an FU Facebook note. Instead, here’s a great Dolly Parton quote.

dollyism

2014-09-26

Thoughts on Facebook Legal Name Policing

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Facebook legal name policy lately. For those of you who haven’t heard, Facebook has been deleting accounts of people who don’t wish to use their legal name as their profile name. They’re coming for people, one by one, and telling them they either need to change their name to their legal name or convert their profile to a “page.” Pages don’t have the same kind of interactivity that a regular profile has.

This is very disturbing on a lot of levels. The first, is that primarily in this round, drag queens and gender variant folks seem to be targeted. They’re also on the forefront of the fight with Facebook to reverse their legal name policy.

What is baffling to me, is that Facebook is a platform that is reliant on users for content. It seems wildly inappropriate for them to be putting requirements on users to out themselves. If folks don’t feel safe using facebook they won’t have the kind of content they currently have. People who are using legal names would be more likely to curtail content.

People choose variant names for lots of reasons, here are just a few reasons I came up with, but there are tons of folks who choose to use their non-legal name:

1. Trans people and other people for whom their legal name does not represent their gender(s).
2. People whose name is extremely googleable. The John Smiths of the world don’t have the same issues with online content that the Bevin Branlandinghams do.
3. Performers who use facebook to connect with their performance community.
4. Roller Derby folks who want to use their derby name to connect to their community.
5. People whose jobs or careers would be jeopardized by interaction with social media.
6. People for whom a legal name change is a barrier of time/access/money.
7. People who use social media for a specific group that utilizes nicknames.
8. People who don’t want people knowing their legal name in a casual setting.
9. Folks who are hiding from abusive exes/parents/relatives or stalkers.
10. Folks whose countries of citizenship would punish them for speaking about their country.

facebookalias

I don’t use my legal name on Facebook for the Google concerns of number 2 above. Because I still have a day job to be beholden to, I can’t just have all my stuff out there. I also use Facebook specifically to only be friends with people I actually know—I already have a “Page” and I don’t need to have another one to connect with folks I know in real life. I worry about when Facebook comes for me. What am I going to do? I don’t even have email addresses for many of the folks I’m connected to there.

I feel a deep love for the intimacies of social media. I have had so many great connections in the world and keeping up with them on a common platform is awesome. It’s kind of awesome that Facebook has become a place where I have access, at the same time, to my radical queer friends and straight folks I know from when I was a camp counselor. I really miss having time to chat for hours with my former co-workers, and it’s nice to get a glimpse into their lives.

What’s odd, too, is that the government will allow you to change your legal name to whatever you want as long as the intent isn’t to defraud creditors. That’s pretty wide open, right? Why can’t Facebook be guided by the same principle? Why does a judge need to codify someone’s name in order for Facebook to feel satisfied that the person is able to connect with their friends and provide Facebook free content?

Just because they haven’t come for you doesn’t mean they won’t. First it’s legal names then who knows what else. I think it’s important for folks who don’t have the same legal name concerns to be on the side of folks who do. It’s time to ally, and time to work together. It’s also time to find other ways to stay connected to people.

There are a couple of things happening to support people for whom the legal name requirement is prohibitive to their involvement on Facebook that I have heard of. One is on October 8, a day of deactivization—folks are deactivating their FB accounts for the day in protest.

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Spread the word!

As concerned citizens of the world we are now making it clear to Facebook that on October 8th, 2014 as the Full Moon goes into a complete Lunar eclipse so will Facebook. On that day we will be deactivating our accounts for 24 hours in protest of Facebook’s recent enforcement of their dangerous and ill-considered “naming policy”.

We demand that Facebook change it’s “real” name policy and stop policing the identities of it’s members. We stand in solidarity with those who have joined Facebook to create and build community where they can inhabit a safe and friendly environment. Due to the difficulties faced by people in oppressive countries and bigoted environments many people have used pseudonyms to protect themselves as they reach out to others to escape abusive families, spouses, stalkers, to protect their jobs, to voice political dissent -as did the founding fathers when America was fighting for it’s Independence from England, as have many other freedom-fighters throughout history.

There are numerous valid reasons why people use pseudonyms including the joyous and powerful antidote to oppression -whimsy!!!

Our names and identities whether given, chosen, or earned are our own!

Another is a queer group of folks working on creating an open source social network–Quirrel. This doesn’t exist yet but it is in development, so if you’re a coder you can get in on that. (From my Facebook feed, “CollectQT is run by black trans women, non-binary queers, and a sex worker, and the social network they’re building is open-source.”)

People are starting to flood to Ello, another social media site that is being funded by venture capitalists. It might be the answer, it might not, and currently it doesn’t have the valuable “friends only” features that Facebook has.

It all feels so powerless. And yet, when one in four website hits is Facebook and Facebook decides to change things, we feel the hit pretty deeply. And need to get less dependent on it.

In the meantime, you should backup your facebook data. In case they come for you and you lose all your photos. You can back it up by going to settings, scrolling to the bottom and click back up your facebook data.

P.S. If you’re a friend of mine and rely on Facebook to tell you when I update my blog, you can get on my email list and I promise to send one email a month with my top blog posts and upcoming events.

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