keep on coming out

Hello kittens:

Happy National Coming Out Day! I was never entirely sure what the idea of the day was – mass comings out? Does that happen?

Not that it’s stopped me from feeling warm fuzzies about this day. Indifferent hipsters haven’t (yet) tamped it out like an American Spirit on the asphalt, and, more importantly, it’s a day to celebrate and support people in vulnerable situations. I like that.

I gave an NCOD speech on the Diag when I was attending the University of Michigan, probably in 2007. (Sorry, remembering dates hasn’t always been my strong suit.)

I don’t remember exactly the message of my speech, but I do remember the context. It was Sukkot, the Jewish festival of tabernacles, and Ann Arbor Chabad House had a sukkah set up in the center of the Diag, mostly to help Jewish students observe the custom of the lulav and esrog. I knew Chabad House was going to be there, and I briefly vacillated about even giving my speech. See, I wasn’t out to my ultra-Orthodox rabbi.

Not that I personally was ever Orthodox, but Chabad House is a sort of outreach organization for Jewish youth – they’ll teach anyone who wants to learn, and I was wont, from time to time, to pray and study with them. (If you met me after I got out of my last religious phase, or you just know me through this website, you’re probably a little confused right now. Just imagine how confused I was!)

In the end, I gave the speech, starting by wishing everyone a happy Sukkot and acknowledging the Lubavitchers in the center of the Diag. I waved, they waved, and my world didn’t implode. It was a couple of years before I went back to Chabad House – for one Rosh Hashanah service in the rain – but my world didn’t implode.

The point is, I guess, you never stop coming out. You’ll hear a lot of people say that, but this is my spin on it.

I’ve come out as things I didn’t know existed when I came out as gay: genderqueer, polyamorous… Things that aren’t in the Firefox dictionary. Things that might scare you a little, not to mention the people you’re coming out to.

I half-jokingly think that, just like people my age are far less likely to have one career than our parents, we’re also less likely to have just one gender and sexual identity throughout our lives.

Like I said, it’s only half a joke. But I don’t think it’s a sign that we’re flaky, or ‘special snowflakes’ or some mumble-grumble about the intertubes and how fast they move. I think it’s a credit to us and the people who have gone before us that coming out isn’t a destination, but a journey. (Ugh, sorry, but it’s true.)

Do we go through phases? Hell, maybe we do. Which is not to say that lots and lots of people don’t have stable, underlying sexual or gender identities – but those of us who don’t are starting to take our place, to say that phases might not be such a bad thing. Why would I want to cling to something I’m not anymore – and why should I pretend the thing or things I am now will be the thing or things I’ll be in the future?

I’m so happy to see the strides the queer zeitgeist has made just in the 15 years I’ve been a part of it. People are going to keep coming out as things we’ve never heard of, because everyone’s coming out builds on the coming out of people who came out before. Any one instance of coming out reenforces us as a queer whole, giving us new strength and vigor. And while I hope that the generations to come won’t pretend their new names don’t make ours outmoded or old-fashioned, I hope, too, that we give them the support and space they need to become authentically themselves – whatever that might be at any given moment.

I see a day coming when we introduce ourselves a lot more often – when we say things like “what are your identities and pronouns today?” When we, at least amongst ourselves, stop boxing people (including ourselves) in to whatever the first thing we came out as was. When we stop expecting others to present a recognizable, socially acceptable face to the world, even while acknowledging that what’s recognizable to society is informed both by prevailing norms and the ways we react to them. When established queers and new generation gender warriors stop staring each other down across an artificial divide and see that each once was or will be what the other was or will be – and that there will be no one aha moment, but an ongoing series of losses and gains, of sorrows and triumphs.

And did I mention coming out feels fucking great? Not for everyone, not every time – and only you know if it’s the time and place for you. And even after you do it that first time, you’re going to have to keep doing it, over and over again. But it gets easier. And you heal the world a little every time you do.

EVER LOVE,
Big Mama Schlomo

(not my) new normal

Hello kittens:

I was casting around, looking for something to watch today, and I ended up face to face with the pilot for The New Normal, NBC’s brand-new fuck you to Modern Family.

I had known this show was going to be problematic ever since I saw the first ad:

I said I would buy the first person to correctly identify the plot of the show based on this picture alone coffee. And while I didn’t end up buying anyone coffee, my best friend’s observation more or less sums it up:

abercrombie statues with big gay erections, big gay stepford wives and a wutchu talkin bout willis reality ‘star’ kidnap children from appalachia to sonoma to build big gay family cult in unincorporated juarez, leaving a trail of blood and heartbreak across america

In reality, the premise of the show is that a successful white gay couple wants a baby, finds a surrogate with a sassy homophobic/racist grandmother, and has a sassy black assistant who sasses sassily.

Let’s just get down to it.

IS IT REALLY TWO THOUSAND AND FUCKING TWELVE AND I HAVE TO POINT OUT THE ONLY PERSON OF COLOR ON YOUR SHOW IS A SASSY BLACK ASSISTANT.

IS IT REALLY?

I’m done with all caps now.

Sorry.

NeNe Leakes delivers a great performance on your show. So why don’t you give her some more air time? Why are her only lines about stealing from her white boss or interacting with the racist grandma? (Although admittedly, her smackdown of racist grandma was probably the best part of the show.)

In fact, I’d probably watch a show about NeNe Leakes and racist grandma. I’ll never understand the sitcom formula of having the only funny/compelling people be supporting roles.

Moving on in my notes, we come to “vapid femme/grounded butch.”

So tired of this one. So tired I don’t even want to talk about it. Nexus of homophobia and misogyny, etc, etc. It’s not like there aren’t flighty femmes and grounded butches who find each other and make happy lives, but ohmysweetjesus does this representation need an overhaul. Love, my grounded femme drag queen ass.

Speaking of things that need to be overhauled, how about gay men getting away with saying UTTERLY MISOGYNISTIC CRAP on TV? You really won’t want to see the adoption agency rep. It’s cringe-worthy. Oh, and let’s not forget the fatphobic gag that continues into the next act. (“100 pounds down!” Click. Ugh.)

Oh, what was that, a joke about how scary vaginas look to you? Oh, ok, fuck you, too.

There was probably one funny joke about the appearance of vaginas. It was probably made in like 1945, NOW MOVE THE FUCK ON. Also, if you want to rent someone’s uterus for nine months but can’t bear the thought of seeing a vagina for 5 seconds, you probably aren’t ready to have a child. Just sayin’.

Also, PS, amputee joke?

I’m going to end where I probably should have started with The New Normal.

It’s really nifty that there are places where rich gay white people having babies via surrogate is “the new normal.”

But it’s not the new normal in most places. In most places, it’s very strange, and in a lot of those places, it’s also illegal.

Also, not all gay parents are wildly (mysteriously?) successful and/or white. And while we’re at it, not all gay people are wildly (mysteriously?) successful and white.

And not all gay men are misogynists who only hang out with PoC who work for them.

And this wouldn’t necessarily be a huge thing if this weren’t the preponderance of representations of gay (white) people on TV. And I put white in parentheses because white is the default assumption of gay people on TV.

Here’s the thing: I’m just not entirely sure we need more TV shows about the kind of white people who have the kind of jobs that provide them with ridiculous sums of money for almost no work.

I realize the fact that I feel comfortable criticizing a show about a gay couple – the first show about a gay couple on national TV, methinks – means that things have come a long way in recent television history.

But I don’t think there’s any more reason for a show about gay people to have to make up for it by being at least implicitly classist, racist and sexist.

Just stop sucking, TV. Just stop sucking.

And PS, I totally meant that thing about giving NeNe Leakes more airtime.

even more of your drag questions answered!

Hello Kittens:

It’s that time again. It seems I’m quickly becoming the net’s leading authority on drag shows. Well, what can I say, there are a part of my weekly life, whether I’m in drag or just clapping for my fellow (giggle) queens.

You have lots and lots (and lots and lots) of question about drag, so let’s get right to it. And make sure to watch out in this edition for some of the completely random/horrifying drag questions that bring people to my website!

Pluck it, tuck it, werk.

1. why does a man become a drag queen

‘Cos it’s awesome. ‘Cos lady clothes are fun. Because performing is exhilarating.

Assuming you’re amenable to the idea of drag, you look at it one of two ways: 1) wow, that’s so great, but I could never do that, or 2) wow, that’s so great, and I want a piece of that. People who get into drag obviously fall into the latter category.

A lot of people, even a lot of gay people, assume there’s some sort of ‘pathology’ behind wanting to do drag. It’s really just another art form, one that uses gender expression as its medium, and paints in all the colors of the MAC rainbow. It is a fun thing to do that other people find entertaining. Win-win, end of story.

2. i’m fat and i wear a wig

me too!

3. how to attend a drag show

Step 1: find a drag show.
Step 2: go to it.

I don’t mean to be flip. It’s just to say that the only way to go to a drag show is to do it. If you’d like to be the best-informed audience member you can be, please read my handy-dandy guide, “So you’re going to your first drag show.”

4. how to have fun at a drag show

Step 1: go to a drag show
Step 2: have fun at it

Again, not to be flip, but you just have to do it. Trust me, if you go to a drag show and don’t have a good time, you’re probably either an asshole or immune to fun. Which is to say: the fun will happen, you just have to sit there and let it wash over you. Hoot, stomp, clap, tip, and please drink responsibly.

5. are drag shows for gay men

Drag shows are for the people who show up. Back in the day, there were lots and lots of drag shows at straight night clubs and supper clubs.

Like showgirls, but with full-coverage foundation.

Drag shows are not exclusively by or for any one group of people. There are for people who want to have fun playing in the sandbox of gender.

6. worried boyfriend may like drag queens

Unfortunately I don’t have more info about this person’s situation. It’s not often I think of relationship advice as gender specific, but I guess this would be one of those rare cases.

So I’m just going to assume whoever typed that is a concerned straight girl.

First off, what do you mean by like? Like, as in enjoys the spectacle of drag queens? Because that’s the whole point. There aren’t too many hard and fast rules about drag, and most of them were made to be broken, but a pretty solid rule is that drag queens should damn well be entertaining. If your boyfriend likes drag queens in the thinks we’re awesome kind of way, he’s like most other people with an open mind and a sense of humor.

Or you could mean the other kind of like. Maybe your boyfriend is attracted to drag queens, and maybe he’s not. He’s the only one who knows that, and it couldn’t hurt to ask him. But let me say this: I distinctly remember my grandfather ogling RuPaul in 1993. He thought she was a woman, even if she was a bit “leggy.” I myself from time to time find my head turning towards a pretty young female-identified drag king. Being turned on by a person who is presenting as a gender you’re attracted to, even if they aren’t actually that gender, isn’t weird.

And if your boyfriend is still attracted to you? Then you probably have nothing to worry about.

7. if someone is a drag queen do you ask them about their

Nope. Probably not.

I’m kind of sad this question got cut off, but the answer is probably no. Unless it’s about something really superficial, like clothes or makeup. Otherwise, it’s probably none of your damn business. Rule of thumb: ask yourself if you would ask that question of a stranger if they weren’t a drag queen. If you wouldn’t, you shouldn’t.

8. high heels fucking machine

Don’t wanna know.

9. sweet butt drag queen in prison

See #8.

10. can you make money as a drag queen?

Yes. Can you make enough money to pay your bills? Realistically, there are probably fewer drag queens than you think who don’t have some other job, too. If you like eating on a regular basis, I wouldn’t quit your day job until drag is actually your night job.

11. gay depilation

Is there a difference? WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN TOLD?

Yo, we all remove hair the same way. Drag queens just have more to remove.

  • exfoliate
  • wet the face with lots of hot water for 30 seconds
  • apply a good shaving cream (not something that comes out of an aerosol can!) and use a fresh razor
  • rinse the face with cold water and use a good aftershave product
  • moisturize

12. how to tape yourself like a fat drag queen

I’m going to hope you mean this.

13. how do u have a drag qween friend

Be nice to a drag queen. Strike up a conversation. Be cordial and interesting. But please don’t collect a drag queen as a friend just because she’s a drag queen.

(…and maybe learn how to spell queen. NO T, NO SHADE!)

14. what’s wrong with going to a drag show?

Absolutely nothing.

All right, kittens, that’s it for another round of your drag questions! I like doing this! And trust me, I have a backlog of questions to answer, so if I haven’t gotten to your question yet, stay tuned!

LOVE,
Big Mama Schlomo

all your drag questions answered!

Hello kittens!

I’ve noticed that many of you who end up at my website come here looking for answers to questions about drag and drag shows. A lot of your queeries are valid and interesting, while the rest normally involve porn I probably don’t want to know about.

So, I thought I’d answer the questions people ask time and again, along with a those that seem particularly compelling.

Ready? OK!

1. if you’re a drag queen does that mean your gay?
drag queens who aren’t gay
are all drag queens gay

Yes, all drag queens are ghey, and if you are a drag queen, you are ghey. JUST KIDDING!

God I hope no one stopped reading before I got to the “just kidding” part.

Being a drag queen does not in any material way reflect on either your sexual orientation or gender identity.

I’ve never done a survey, but my educated guess is that the vast majority of drag queens are gay cisgender men. But just because lots or even most are doesn’t mean they all are.

Really, anyone of any gender or sexual orientation can be a drag queen. All a drag queen is someone who turns the dial on femininity (whatever that means to that person) up to 11 and then starts looking for 12.

Why do you ask? Do you want to do drag and you’re worried that might mean you’re gay?

Well, maybe you are. Heck, I don’t know, and I can’t tell you that. But what I can say is that wanting to do drag doesn’t make you gay. Being gay makes you gay. And if you’re straight or bi or whatever and you want to do drag, honey, I say go for it. No one’s gonna ask for your sexuality credentials, and maybe being a straight drag queen can be your angle at your local club or bar.

Now, are you asking because someone you know wants to do drag? Maybe your heterosexy boyfriend? Again, I can’t tell you if your boyfriend is gay or bi or whatever. But you know what? You should probably take his word for it. If your relationship is awesome and the feelings are real, there is no reason for you to feel insecure about your boyfriend puttin’ on some glitter to make the childrens smile.

2. if you attend a drag queen show are you gay
is it ok for straight men to go to drag shows?
do guys go to drag queen shows

Nope, sorry, no straight guys allowed!

KIDDING! I hope you picked up on that.

Grrl child, I don’t know what drag shows would be without straight people. I can’t speak for every bar and club, but I would venture to say that the show at my local club relies on the attendance of straight people.

We love havin’ straight people around at the shows. We will make fun of you (in a fun and edifying way). We might even make you play “What Should the Straight Man Touch?”. And it’s all in good fun, the best fun.

Now, You best not be actin’ a fool. You DO NOT need to ham it up with your butch self if you come to a drag show. And you DO NOT need to “act gay,” ‘cos that shit is offensive and stupid. You in our house, honey, so just be yourself, drink your drink, and clap for the pretty queens, ya hear?

3. why do people go to drag shows
what do they do at drag shows?
what do you think of when you think of drag shows

Why do people go to drag shows? To laugh, clap and drink. Simple as that.

What do they do at drag shows? They turn up the dial on gender (femininity in the case of drag queens, masculinity in the case of drag kings) and they werk. it. OUT! In heterosexual English: people put on highly stylized and gendered clothing to make the childrens happy.

Most drag performance comes in the form of dancing while lip syncing, but really, drag is just the template, not the art form. There are drag comediennes and drag fire twirlers and drag singer-songwriters and drag erotic dancers and drag performance artists and probably a couple of drag astrophysicists. If you’re not sure what happens at your local drag club, the only way to find out is to get your ass down to a show!

What do I think of when I think of drag shows? The best night of my week.

4. how do drag queens make money
do you tip drag queens
how much to tip drag show

How do drag queens make money? Well, honey, most of us have day jobs. If you narrowed down drag queens to people who only make money by dressing up in drag, it’s a pretty small field.

For most of us, drag is an expensive and time-consuming hobby or side gig. Don’t get me wrong, we do it because we love it. But should you tip? To the best of your ability.

For much more on tipping at drag shows, please go here.

5. fishy drag queen definition
would i make a fishy drag queen

“Fishy” means that a drag queen is particularly womanly in appearance (and, often, manner). I would advise you to use fishy with caution. You never know when you might be telling a woman she looks womanly.

Would you make a fishy drag queen? Nobody can tell you that. You’re just going to have to try it out.

If you ask me, some people put way too much emphasis on being fishy. I don’t want to spend two hours putting on makeup for no one to notice I’m wearing makeup. I’m not gonna walk around in two-inch heels if I can saunter in 6-inch heels. I’m not going to wear a dress that says, “please don’t look at me.” I want my drag to say, “look at me! Do it now!”

6. work werk meaning drag culture
what does hunty mean in drag queen?
what’s a kiki?

It’s vocabulary time! Sharpen your pencils, class is in session.

Work/werk/werq/however the fuq you wanna spell it means “get it!”, “go!”, or, basically, “I appreciate that which you are doing and I encourage you heartily to do more of that!”

Hunty (honety, whatever) is part of an odd drag phenomenon in which a T is inserted after an N in the middle of a word. I know that’s a really oddly specific rule, but nobody ever said language was logical. Some more examples of this phenomenon include “Tinta Turnter” and “good mornting!” PS, I don’t know why, but I can’t hear somebody say Tinta Turnter without laughing like a banshee.

Kiki means gossip or gossip session. By extension, some queens (maybe especially in the south?) use it to mean “hanging out,” since (some) queens spend a lot of time hanging out and gossiping!

Kai kai is when two drag queens hook up. Not to be confused with kiki.

Please note that, just as it’s not necessary or appropriate to use the three words of Korean you know with the only Korean you know, it’s not really necessary to use drag terms with drag queens just to prove you know them. Jus’ sayin’.

7. can anyone be a drag queen?

You bet your sweet ass they can. Literally anyone.

You should not let anything stop you from being a drag queen.

You might think: I don’t have the right body shape. I’m not “pretty” enough. My beard grows too fast. I don’t have the “right” identity. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have the use of my legs and drag queens have to dance.

I want you to look all those thoughts right in the face and tell them to go away.

Anyone can be a drag queen.

You know what? Being different is an asset as a drag queen. No one wants to be a cookie-cutter drag queen.

I want you to take that thing or all those things you’re afraid mean you can’t be a drag queen and turn them into the things that will make you the best damn drag queen you can be.

And to help you, I’m going to set myself a cheap drag challenge: how to do a complete drag look with $40 or less (plus freebies for things you have around the house or can probably easily borrow). In fact, I’m looking forward to it!

Okay, kittens, thanks for reading. Check back for my drag on a budget challenge and to see more answers to your drag questions.

EVER LOVE,
Big Mama Schlomo

femmeberjack: futch, bemme, and this ol’ queen

Hello kittens,

Duality is the spice of life. Well, it’s the spice of my life.

There are a lot of dualities in my life. I’m this, but I’m also that.

But ya know one thing I’ve never really doubted, at least within the deepest, most honest part of myself? That I’m a femme.

I am a femme. Hi, I’m Schlomo, and I’m a femme.

[Hi Schlomo!]

Other people, however, have not been so quick to catch on.

Like, even when I tell them.

Lawdy.

In college, someone (very important and influential) told me I wasn’t really trans if I liked my facial hair.

To do their bid for king and cissexism, other people told me my trans identity just reenforced the gender binary.

[If talking to cis people were a drinking game, saying that transitioning was reenforcing the gender binary would be the point at which you give up and chug the whole damn bottle.]

And so I sat there, not doing anything. And I kept not doing anything. Except maybe growin’ that beard out.

That beard.

You’re not going to find this in any butch/femme anthology, and you’re not going to see any femme theorists hop to cop to this, but that beard is your one-way ticket to alienating yourself from the femme community.

What they will instead try to tell you – and, I believe to a great extent that they believe it, or at least want to believe it – is that femme is a feeling, an essence, a way of being, and that a femme is as much a femme naked, without any makeup, jewels or hair.

This is my bullshit card, and I am playing it.

Isn’t this a femmy bullshit card?

I have been told straight (ha!) to my face that I was not invited to femme things because “other people” might not perceive me as femme.

Well Jane Dandy for other people.

Ya know what? It’s true. You can’t see other people’s “feelings,” their “essences,” their “ways of being,” or even their vigantic goddess cores.

But if the relative degree of hair on my face disqualifies me from having a vigantic goddess core, then please stop lying about femme being a “feeling.”

My beard.

What can I say? I was raised by a butch-femme lesbian couple. Isn’t that handy?

There was something so interesting, so compelling to me about my butch mom’s transgressive masculinity. She was high butch, if such a thing exists. She routinely got sir’ed, wore only men’s clothing and men’s cologne, had a mighty mid-Michigan mullet and drove a Jeep. There was something wildly alluring about this genderfuck going on right before my eyes.

And I think the thing is that I knew, as a femme, that when I imitated her, it was almost like I was performing masculinity from that perspective. I adopted a lot of her mannerisms of dress and scent, but I identified more with being transgressively masculine, even when this got lost in the reading for other people.

And it spent a lot of the next fifteen years getting lost in the reading by other people.

In my anorexic depressed fucked-up teens, I did try to throw myself a lifeline by wearing big, brash jewelry. In-your-face, wild, obviously women’s jewelry, sometimes ten pieces at a time.

But the beard stuck around, which is something that I feel like I have to atone or account for.

Ok, first, I had spent all this time as a child fantasizing about the time when I could grow a beard, which I figured would be the moment I would turn into a real boy, and all these thoughts and feelings about being a girlyman would just go away. I ached to walk into class and say, “sorry, I didn’t have time to shave this morning!”

But the reality was that when my beard came in, it came in hard. It really didn’t take long to figure out that I could either have a beard or spend most of every day shaving. I mean, seriously, I develop shadow while I’m shaving.

So I think I took a page out of my butch mom’s handbook and said let nature take her course. This v-neck satin women’s tee and twelve pounds of second-hand gold jewelry will carry the message for me.

Nope. Really, not even kind of. And by the time I got to college, had some really serious beard growth and no longer felt like putting on a truckload of jewelry every morning when I had spent most of the previous night learning Russian verbs of motion, there weren’t any breadcrumbs left for other people to follow the trail to my vigantic goddess core.

I got shut down wicked hard. I didn’t move ahead with my transition, I let that beard roam wild, and I fucked a lot of guys who thought they were fucking some Jewish lumberjack.

I realized way too late on my mission to sleep with all the consenting adult males in Washtenaw County that I was tired of fucking misogynists. You can use fucking as a gerund or an intensifier in that sentence, but I’m looking more at its gerundive qualities.

I wasn’t the only one having this awakening. A lot of my friends who slept with men were looking at their love lives and saying, “do we really have to put up with this shit just because we fuck men?”

No. No we don’t.

Ain’t no misogynists gonna get my candy, ‘cos if you hate women, you hate me. All my fierce femmeness came bubbling back to the surface, and I decided I needed a more enlightened class of man in my life.

I was single and wrapped up in radical queer theory around the time I graduated from college (ok, technically I got dumped three days before I graduated from college ON THE SAME DAMN DAY BEA ARTHUR DIED!), and it gave me the perfect opportunity to sit around, brood, and cogitate on my genda.

In my experience, trying to figure out your gender is about crawling down all the little rabbit holes that call out to you. My first pair of Giorgio Brutinis. Realizing how desperately I needed that sparkly orange scarf back from a friend. Laying in bed at night thinking about nail polish. Actively thinking to myself: how can I make it so that other femmes can read me!?

When I was, oh, probably 23 I did myself a favor I should have done for myself years earlier: I got me a copy of Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook.

It’s funny, ya know, she interacts with the narratives she can see other people having in their own minds surrounding even reading or possessing this book. Does this make me trans? Will I become trans if I keep reading? What will other people think if they see me reading this book?

Over and over, Kate points out that you’re not the person you were five minutes ago – the implication being, at least from my point of view – why bother trying to be something you thought you were ten years ago, or something other people have always wanted you to be?

I got a little surprise when I took the “Gender Aptitude” test, the first big questionnaire in the book. I got a 33, which puts me very squarely in the “gender freak” category:

Whoa! This stuff must seem like kid’s play for you. Either that or water in the desert, huh? (Bornstein, p 17)

According to my score, Kate and I should already have been having a queer ol’ time together – and, queer as I was, I wasn’t sure how I could square not knowing what to do with all my gender biznass with the notion of already being a “gender freak.”

But what I ultimately got from the book is to say: fuck it. Who cares if no one else sees me as a femme? So what if my beard means I can’t go to your party? Your party is probably stupid and boring, anyway, especially if me and my vigantic goddess core aren’t invited. I’m a futch bemme queeny faggot, and you. can’t. touch this.

EAT IT!

Right? Awesome little year of self-actualization I had. (I eventually got down to a 26 on that gender aptitude test.)

Then I became a drag queen.

Who’da thunk it?

I was so gender-actualized when I started getting into drag that I ironically didn’t really realize what was going on at first. But there it was, or should have been, staring me right in the face: YOU’RE A FEMME NOW! Wanna come to our party?

I can’t say when it finally hit me, but I eventually realized that barrier was gone – I was beard-free and could be all the femme I wanted.

After all…I shave everything that shows or has tape on it (ouch!). My caboodle is overflowing, and I have my own vanity setup. I’ve got wig heads and hair spray, and tinted moisturizer and two different grades of exfoliating mask. My eyebrows come out of a NYX palette, and my heels go to the sky.

That ain’t hair honey, that’s makeup!

But now I’m in this weird place – do I even want femme acceptance anymore?

What does it mean to have an ironclad “defense” for my femme identity?

What does it mean to have exterior proof of an interior truth?

If they didn’t want my credentials then, why do I even want to give them my new ones? And why did I give other people so much power to decide what I was and was not?

I can’t tell you how much it would have meant if just one person had just seen me and believe me. Eventually I found those people. But it was only when I decided to stop asking permission to be who I am, whether I’m in combat boots or a sheer orange sequined top.

Oh, maybe it’s all a joke. And I’m big enough and old enough and strong enough and queer enough to laugh it off.

But maybe, just maybe we can make some room for other people’s vigantic goddess cores on down the line, huh?

Maybe so the little ones won’t have to go through the years of head-pounding and identity denial and questioning and fear. Maybe the little ones can say “Hi, I’m a femme!” and have other people take that at face value, whether or not that face is painted for filth.

Ever love,
Big Mama Schlomo

so how about your second drag show?

Hello kittens:

Many, many people who visit my website end up here because they’re looking for information about going to their first drag show. What can I say, I had a hunch that people wanted this information, and I guess I was right.

So…did you take my advice? Did you have fun? (I sure hope you had fun!) Do you have any questions about your experience? Do you plan on going back for another show?

Let me know in the comments or send an email to schlomosteel @ gmail dot com. I’d love to do a follow-up post about your experiences!

~Big Mama Schlomo

building castles in the shit:

a statement of principle.

[trigger warning for discussion of transphobic and racist violence and self-harm/suicide]

Hello kittens,

You know, it’s funny. I was going to call this an anti-manifesto. But I’m so tired of being reactionary.

I’m just tired, to tell you the truth.

I’ve always been an insomniac. My most vivid memories of the 80s are the late-night music videos I devoured because I just couldn’t sleep.

I want my em-tee-veee!

But that’s not really what I’m talking about.

Or maybe it is.

I carry so much tension in my jaw. Really, it’s crazy. I’m sure if I ever slept for long enough I would grind my teeth.

But mostly I lie awake at night. If it’s not some material crisis –

did I make enough money this month for my $1000 student loan bill? or my rent? or my tax bill?

– well, then it’s everything that’s wrong.

Some people have an interior monologue. Some others have an interior dialogue. Honey, I’ve got a full-on fucking conversation in my head.

The first détente I ever came to with religion was: maybe whatever you believe is true – for you.

‘Cos even by the age of ten I had figured out that, with a world full of religious people who were convinced they were worshiping in literally the only correct way, there was slim to no chance that there was a right way.

I was that atheist for a long time. You know. The Dawkinsite smug mothertrucker who figured being a jackhat was a surefire way to cure the world of religion. But it didn’t get me anywhere, and it got my blood pressure all in a tizzy.

Religious people would always come at me with the comfort and light religion brought to their lives. And you know, religion’s not my bliss, but maybe that’s their castle in the shit.

Now, I don’t think you should be allowed to knock over any one else’ castle in the shit, and that’s why I still have a lot of problems with religion. But if religion could calm the fuck down and just be individual people’s castle in the shit – well, who am I to judge?

What’s a castle in the shit?

Well, what’s the shit? The shit is the constants.

The commodification of our identities to sell books and tickets to lectures and space in classrooms and cable TV subscriptions.

The volleying of our very lives by suits and the politicians they buy to get people who are scared of us into the voting booths.

Being talked about in the media like an issue, not a person.

Being poked and prodded by undergrads who don’t get that you’re a person, not an issue.

Having people tell you you can feed your kid an organic fair-trade vegan diet on the 290 pre-tax dollars you make a week working two part-time minimum wage jobs.

Paying the same tax rate as your multi-billionaire boss.

Our money being used against our will to kill brown people in other countries so that we can take their stuff (and give it to the suits and the politicians they buy to get people who are scared of us into the voting booths).

Our money being used against our will to imprison poor, brown and queer people while rich, white straight people are given get out of jail free cards.

At least three dead trans women of color this year alone, murdered by and for hate.

Another trans woman of color forced to plead guilty to second-degree murder for defending herself against a hate crime, while the murderer of an unarmed black teenager is touted as a hero.

Vicious jockeying for position and privilege, coming down to using each other as human shields in the culture wars.

Marginalized people slamming doors in the faces of other marginalized people once their own margins shift.

Picking streets to walk down based on lighting conditions.

Tailoring your public affection based on fear conditions.

Looking over your shoulder.

Secretly, quietly passing that same old victim-blaming, victim-shaming advice back and forth because, despite our efforts, the world still sucks.

Constantly defending your identity and your person, from enemies and friends alike, because in the end it’s the only thing that’s really yours.

The shit. You know, the shit.

My dad always said I would make a great UN ambassador. He read me as someone who can bring people together, which I guess is kind of true.

But mostly I just hate the fuck out of conflict, and I will do pretty much anything to resolve it.

I guess that’s why I’m so amenable to these castles in the shit.

All right, I told you what the shit is. So what’s a castle?

A castle is your counter-constant.

It’s the literal or metaphorical square footage where you say, “no, fuck it, this shit is mine.”

I guess the first castle I recognized was religion.

But I didn’t name it until recently.

I’ve had this recurring thought for the past few months: I just want to hole up in my house with my partner and say ‘fuck everybody, fuck theory, fuck how fucking awful everything is and the fact that nothing I/we do seems to change that.’

Fuck it, this shit is ours.

Do you know how scared I was to tell people I was in a monogamous relationship? The shit I internalized that made me feel like a traitor for agreeing, for the time being, to only sleep with one person?

Fuck it, this shit is ours.

Or should I say castle?

The preservation of life is one of the most important principles in Judaism. You’re even allowed to break Jewish law in order to preserve life. If someone is starving and the only thing available to eat for some crazy reason is ham, you can give them ham.

I’ve been living with mental illness for more than 15 years. (What’s that got to do with ham? Stick with me for a second.)

The first time I remember planning to kill myself was when I was ten years old. I broke a toy so I could cut myself with it. That’s how young I was.

I finally got help when I was 16. By then I had become a cutter, an anorexic, a compulsive exerciser, and it turns out I was living with bipolar disorder, severe obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as generalized anxiety.

Getting help is one of the castles other people have kept trying to kick over. Either I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the shit on my own, or I was a victim of the Prozac nation.

Almost no one wanted to hear or let me say that, even though I was put on enough anti-psychotic medication to make an elephant woozy, it stopped me from killing myself. It preserved my life. Getting put on psych meds – even the wrong amount of probably the wrong psych meds – was my castle in the shit.

Staying alive is a constant thread in the output of marginalized people. Kate Bornstein’s hashtag #StayAlive. The Le Tigre song “Keep on Living.” The great Nina Simone song “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.”

Every time the mental illness starts to win, I have to tell myself what other people (mostly my mom) used to tell me: everything could change tomorrow. You never know what chic vintage chair you might get for your castle in the shit.

All right, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. Maybe six moths or a year from now. And you know I’m not talking about a chair. And you know that I know that you could win the lottery when you’re depressed and not be able to crawl out of bed to redeem your ticket.

But it won’t rain all the time. Or it will super-duper rain eventually, if you feel like you’re in a drought.

And your castle – whatever it is – will be there waiting for you when you’re ready to retake it.

Most of everything is the shit. That’s why our castles are so important.

You will get knocked or pulled or pummeled down into the shit. Our castles are the monkey bars built on top of a huge mound of shit. You won’t always be able to make the next rung, but maybe you can walk over some of the shit when you stand back up and get to another, shinier rung.

We have to stop getting down on each other’s castles.

I call for an immediate ceasefire on other people’s castles in the shit.

All anyone is trying to do is build a castle in the shit. If they’re good and kind and not mean, they don’t want to knock over anyone else’ castle – just to hold their own.

Maybe your castle is your domicile, and you want to grow flowers and listen to Roches records and smoke a little grass and try and forget whatever it is that makes you need a castle.

Maybe your castle is being a lesbian-identified transman.

Maybe your castle is self-deprivation. Or maybe it’s indulgence to the fullest.

Maybe your castle is a bottle of wine or internet porn or LARPing or giving yourself tattoos.

Maybe your castle is not giving a fuck what other trans people think about your transition.

Maybe your castle is remixing Adele songs while wearing a stranger’s dirty underwear.

Maybe your castle is plastic surgery or nudist biking or composting.

Maybe your castle is figuring out where to put your castle someday.

Maybe your castle is moving your castle every day so that no one can pigeonhole you.

Maybe your castle is calling people out on trashing other people’s castles.

Maybe your castle is the liminal space between other castles, or castle-hopping for fun or survival.

Maybe your castle is dying, if all else fails. I hope it doesn’t. Dog in kennel above, I hope you find some other castle.

But I’m not you.

I call for an immediate end to queer-on-queer soul violence perpetrated in the name of the queer culture wars.

I call for a celebration of overlapping and intertwined realities.

I call for recognition that strongly held sincere beliefs that don’t hurt anyone can probably all coexist even if they are seemingly mutually exclusive.

I call on the queer dialectic to knock it the fuck off with trying to define queer, instead choosing to delight in living it.

‘Cos ya know, we can help each other build our castles in the shit. And maybe we’ll start developing some infrastructure, necessitating hauling some and maybe eventually all of the shit away. We could build super castles to hang out in. We could build a ministry of fucking castle-building.

What’s your castle? Part of my castle is knowing that you’re here to read this, whoever you are.

Don’t knock over anybody else’ castle. And don’t remodel your castle for anyone against your will.

#BuildYourCastle
-Big Mama Schlomo

buzzword is a buzzword: or, i wasn’t talking to you

Hello kittens,

I got two comments from a self-identified “straight, male WASP” that have been sitting in the queue since I wrote DWD because I felt I couldn’t in good faith publish them without seriously addressing their content.

I will now approve these comments, and then proceed to deconstruct the everliving hell out of them. Because you’re not entitled to like my answer any more than I’m entitled to like your question.

Ready? Okay!

As a straight, male WASP, I was anticipating rhetoric, obnoxious buzzwords, and faulty logic when I read the subject of your post.   I was pleasantly surprised.  The buzzwords were there, but you seemed to find them just as obnoxious as I do.  There is a lot to be said for movements, and it is necessary to identify the group as such in order for them to work, but, as you poignantly explained, it is a shame when the group identity overcomes the individual, especially when the purpose of the movement is to more freely permit individuality.

I’ve never gone in for the argument that outsiders seeing your in-group critique is enough to not engage in in-group critique.

But I’m not above holding myself accountable when my work has unintended consequences.

I wrote what I wrote for me, and because I knew there was (what I thought to be) a small contingent of queers who were similarly pissed off.

It turned out that what I wrote resonated with thousands of people, and while not all those resonances where consonant, I think it was reasonable of me to assume that any assonance would be in-group.

Frankly, I think I’m well within my rights to say that I wasn’t talking to straight cisgender people.

Exactly zero percent of the reason I wrote DWD was to satisfy straight people’s critique of queerness.

Straight people and I are coming at a critique of queerness from entirely different directions.

My critique of queerness comes from 15 years lived experience as a self-aware and publicly living queer, immersed variously in the context of the LGBT rights movement and postmodern queerness.

Straight people, in my experience, are coming at a critique of queerness from a bizarre admixture of homophobia and transphobia, sexism (in the form of lingering suspicion of the women’s rights movement), self-satisfied right-drifting neoliberalism (i.e., liberals for Ron Paul), and the need to say ‘thought police’ at least five times a day.

And ya know what? Putting all that aside, I still wasn’t talking to you.

I was talking to people who have lived the queer experience, whatever that means.

When I critique pomo academic queer feminism, my critique doesn’t end with, “in closing, go make me a sandwich.”

You were expecting “rhetoric, obnoxious buzzwords, and faulty logic”? Well, let’s move on to the next sentence in your comment for context, eh?

My upbringing and sexual identity have been such that I have not been very thoroughly exposed to the gay (or queer?  What is the proper term?  I don’t even know, really.  Whatever, you know what I’m talking about) rights movement.

First of all, for the everloving love of dog in kennel above, all 1793 (!) words in that post were about the distinction between queerness and the gay rights movement.

The implication of your statement is that queer theory makes use of “rhetoric, obnoxious buzzwords, and faulty logic.” I’m going to go out on a pretty sturdy limb and guess your statement doesn’t hail from your desire for clearer communication and adhering to logic trees.

You say that you aren’t involved in queerness, up to the point of not being able to tell LGBT from queer.

You know not from whence you speak, sir, and I offer now this counsel, perhaps useful in life in general: in manners unknown to you and which do not concern you, it likely proper form to shut the fuck up.

Now, sir, I know you’re chafing under the collar now to scream “free speech!” (or “first amendment!” or “thought police!”).

Sir, you’re certainly entitled to have your opinion.

Just as I’m entitled to inform you that your opinion about my opinion of queerness matters about as much as white people’s opinion of Bill Cosby’s opinions about parenting in black communities.

It’s nifty that you give us permission to have movements. And I know you thought you were coming from a good place when you said:

Here’s hoping for a future where people can just identify themselves by their names, instead of needing groups and labels.  Here’s hoping that someday even the word “queer” is no longer necessary, and being queer can be seen by society as just as natural as breathing.  It’s a long time off, but it might come.  Cheers!

But here’s the thing: we don’t need your permission. And you know what they say about the road to hell and good intentions.

You see, sir, you really tipped your hand here. You’re looking forward to a society when people don’t have to use the word queer, when names replace labels and groups dissolve away.

I bet you say, “I don’t see color, I see people!”

Come closer. I want to make sure you get this.

The only people who look forward t0 a future where everyone is the same are people already privileged and enfranchised by existing systems.

There was this great sketch with Candace Bergen and Gilda Radner talking about the ERA. I think it was the first season of SNL. Gilda Radner was parroting the silliest claims of the opponents of the amendment, and Candace Bergen said the most heartbreakingly incisive thing: “we can be equal and still be different.”

You don’t want to consider a day when everyone is respected and honored for the panoply of differences they bring to every table.

You – and a whole fuck ton of other people – at best dream of a future world where everyone is or acts exactly like you, so that you can treat everyone like a straight WASP guy.

I know it’s difficult to imagine from your privileged perch where you (think you) mediate all matters because you’re above them that not everyone wants to be treated like a straight white guy. Because being a straight white guy in this culture kicks total ass – why wouldn’t everyone want a piece of that?

This might come as a surprise, but not everyone is a straight WASP man. In the ideal society, our differences will not disappear. They will be seen as assets in keeping our species vital.

Well, sir, there you have it. About 1000 words addressing some of the points in your comments. I regret that I couldn’t get to your question about corporate sponsorship. But even this Marxist faggot doesn’t have time to explain people’s right not to have their politics with a side of corporate greed.

Likewise, I regret not getting to this gem:

Marriage though…. can’t the solution be simple?  Just eliminate it from the governmental picture.  Give it no rights, no protections, no definitions, no taxes or tax breaks, no legal standing, and call it a religious institution.  Let the churches decide for themselves what to do with it.

Because I’m afraid I won’t even be able to convince you how deeply 1) fucked and 2) ahistoric that notion is. But here’s a fun fact for you to consider: the church only started policing marriage in the middle ages. For most of the church’s existence, religion and marriage were as separate as you and me.

Well, perhaps one more tidbit: if you think turning over decisions on the rights of a minority from one tyrannical majority to another tyrannical majority is going to solve anything, well…I’m not sure what you were expecting to get from reading my critique of queerness.

In closing, sir: go make your own damn sandwich.

-Big Mama Schlomo

dwd part iii: towards a (re)solution

[Welcome to the third and final part in this series, “distinction without difference: why i’m rethinking my queer identity”. You can read part i here and part ii here. Thanks!]

Towards a (re)solution

So what’s the T, Mama Schlomo? Is you is or is you ain’t a queer?

I is. But I feel pretty confident in saying that I am, for lack of a better term, queer.

Queer was supposed to be the solution, and now it seems like just another problem. No one believes in the power of words more than me – and I think queer has had most of the wind knocked out of its sails.

Gosh you guys, remember when we all started saying “umbrella term”? When I was 18, I thought there was so much room under that umbrella! I thought we could all huddle all nice and safe under the umbrella and mix and mingle and dance a little and maybe, idk, have a refreshing spritzer and talk about the weather – ya know, the rich white heteropatriarchy – and then bring it on home with maybe like a nice noodle dish.

All right, it was a really well equipped umbrella.

But thinking we could all have a dance noodle party under the umbrella was probably about as silly as thinking that we could all fit under the umbrella in the first place.

I know I say this over and over again. If it would fit on a button, I would probably make it and stick it on my tote bag. But here I go again:

The only thing that will advance our causes is coalition building. To quote myself:

Everyone who doesn’t have missionary position at-least hypothetically reproductive (no barriers, no birth control) sex with one and only one married heterosexual cisgender partner has a legitimate claim to queerness.

I find myself at the same impasse with queerness as I do with feminism. Which is not shocking, considering they are both things I am desperately passionate about and entangled with that have been near monopolized by racist, classist academic systems.

It is perfectly clear to me that the choices are blowing open the systems or blowing them off.

Part of me wants to build an infinite addition on that umbrella.

And part of me wants to tell that umbrella to stick it where it’s happiest – where the sunshine of full equality don’t shine.

I know I’m not the only one. I know I’m not the only one because feminists call womanists traitors for not playing within the system. I know I’m not the only one because any queer who questions queerness gets labeled queers’ least favorite word – gay.

I know I’m not the only one because thousands of you have passed this series around to your friends and said, “look, hey, that thing we’ve been talking about? We’re not the only ones!”

My poor boyfriend asked me the other night (well, tonight, but you’ll be reading this three days in the future) what I was thinking, and I told him about this series.

Or more accurately, I thundered on about all the things I had been writing about, all the wrongness I see in the contemporary queer dialectic.

He asked me the question I initially asked myself, and the question I know I’m opening myself up to:

“Do you think you’re just saying that because you don’t want to be part of the norm?”

But doesn’t the question say everything?

Queer is the new norm for LGBTQIA people who stand in opposition to the monied white male interests of the Human Rights Campaign.

Just because queer is a new norm doesn’t mean it isn’t a norm.

Remember that quote from “QUEERS READ THIS“? Let’s revisit it.

Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night.

If there’s one thing I still firmly agree with, it’s that queers should be using their outsider status to reconsider institutions. I said over and over again when I was still firmly entrenched in radical queerness that the time the gay rights movement invests in fighting for marriage equality would be better spent developing new queer modes of life.

But life is only The Raspberry Reich for white kids with trust funds and copies of The Little Red Book.

Marginalized peoples can’t eat political purity for dinner. They can’t feed it to children their partners aren’t allowed to adopt.

Queer studies used to be figuring out tactics in an all-out battle for our lives.

Now it’s biphobic people in an arms race to see who can claim they supported Cynthia Nixon first.

I’ve got a big appetite and a bigger mouth still, but this is by far the most I’ve ever bitten off. I am going toe to toe with the very notion of queerness.

I am actually, factually suggesting that there will come a time when I don’t call myself queer anymore.

I believe queers should use their outsider status to reconsider institutions. And now I’m reconsidering the institution of queerness.

Where will you go?

Where will I go? I don’t know. But I didn’t like being asked that by a boyfriend trying to convince me I couldn’t leave him, and I don’t like it from the queer establishment.

Not having a prefab social identity to step into is no longer a good enough excuse for a default reactionary identity.

A list of things I’m not is not an identity. Nor is my desire to not be known as those things.

This is not a call to action. I do not call on other queer people to denounce queer identity, if for no other reason than I don’t have an answer to ‘what do you call yourself now’?

Well, there’s at least one other reason. Everything I’ve said is based on my experience of the contemporary queer dialectic. I don’t want to force my experience or perspective on anyone else any more than I want the gay rights movement or radical queers to force their experiences and perspectives on me.

I want – or wanted – so desperately to believe that queerness and feminism were for everybody. But with each day that passes that seems more and more like a slogan designed to keep people in line while creating the perfect out for institutionalized privilege to not examine itself.

I pledge allegiance to no flag, choosing instead to believe in my own ability to function as a morally reasoning human being with a system of values placed above any party line.

Thoroughgoing adherence to any system means compromising with its dominance hierarchy, and honey, I ain’t no chicken.

I go with a whisper (okay, a 4000-word whisper), and not with a bang. Maybe that’s just the kind of person I am. I go away quietly from queer – to study it from a distance? to finally say goodbye?

Time will tell. But the question must first be asked to be answered.

Ever love,
Big Mama Schlomo

______________

That about wraps it up! Thank you to everyone who has read this and Tumbl’d it and passed it around to friends and said such nice things. You all give me hope for change. For those who’d like to stick around, my next posts will be about gay allies in a post-gay world and – what else? – coalition building. – Big Mama Schlomo

dwd part ii: where the dialectic breaks down

[Welcome to the second part in this series, “distinction without difference: why i’m rethinking my queer identity”. You can read the first part of this series here. Check back for part three tomorrow!]

Where the dialectic breaks down

The dialectic fails because it assumes the wrong thing: that enough articles and 696 seminars and clever jabs in anthologies will eventually arrive at the correct definition of queer.

It is perhaps the case that there can be no holistic queer theory because there is no one queer experience. I wish to dog in kennel above I could convince people that that was okay.

I moved pretty quickly to edit out the word radical in front of queer when talking about myself because I realized that radical queers don’t believe that.

In the preface to “That’s Revolting,” Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore calls military service, marriage and adoption the ‘holy trinity’ of the gay rights movement. In case you’re wondering, that’s a terrible, terrible thing to Sycamore.

On military service you’ll get no argument from me. Well, maybe not no argument. The US military is used for unspeakable evil in the world today. But you’ll notice there’s a full stop at the end of that sentence. I think people shouldn’t join the military because the military is used for unspeakable evil in the world today.

But I don’t think that belief gives me the right to claim people for my team and insist that they believe exactly as I believe. I’d rather have a friendly or even unfriendly disagreement about military service than put people under the boot of a classist, racist ideology that focuses more on intellectual and political purity than the lives of the poor people and people of color who enlist in the military.

And ignoring the lives of poor people and people of color is something the contemporary queer dialectic is very, very good at doing.

Do I believe the military industrial complex should be dismantled or at least radically scaled back because its purpose is to use poor people of color to fight other poor people of color for resources including but not limited to oil and faux puppet Western-backed allied governments in key geographic locations?

Yes.

Do I think the education and economic systems should be radically reformed so that people no longer see the military as their only viable option at advancing their futures? Yes.

But I’m afraid that turning my back on other institutional oppression and marginalization to advance the essentially academic idea of dismantling the military industrial complex is something I can’t jam on anymore.

And I sure as shit can’t jam on the idea that marriage and adoption are only for rich white people anymore.

I can’t believe it (well, yes I can), but this statement actually once fell from my lips:

“Rich white gays just want marriage so they can protect their assets.”

Ya know, I’m picturing someone got high and said that at a party one time in like 1994, and it passed around queer communities like demonstrably false wildfire.

Rich white gay people have hijacked the movement(s). This much is eminently true.

But rich white people have also hijacked queer thought, which is why you will hear variations of the above pretty much every time two or more queers talk about marriage.

I say that someone got high and said that thing about marriage because it really only makes sense until you shake your head a couple of times and realize how bad you need a tofu scramble.

This isn’t even difficult.

Rich white gays already have access to the lawyers and accountants who can do all that typey typey magic to make ersatz marriage arrangements of the monetary kind.

Ya know who really needs marriage and adoption? People who don’t have that access.

People who have children resulting from heterosexual unions and need to protect their same-sex families later.

A poor woman in a same-sex relationship after having children and divorcing her husband who’s forced to choose between her relationship or her kids when the father threatens to sue for custody.

A partner left never to see hir children again when the relationship ends and hir partner’s lawyer uses heteropatriarchal laws to block visitation.

Poor queers who can’t get even an inch ahead like their straight peers because they file taxes as single no matter how many years they aren’t.

Queers have other objections to marriage. These I won’t touch because they’ve been so thoroughly hashed and rehashed. Marriage has a deeply fucked history and I am all about questioning throwing ourselves headlong into this institution.

But how do you think radical queers would have felt about the Loving v Virginia decision? How about the decision allowing married women to own their own property?

You hear shockingly little from queers about divesting marriage of its rights and privileges. That is a plan I could get behind one hundred percent, and then I would clone myself so I could support it more.

But radical queerness sabotages itself because oppression and marginalization become safety blankets over time.

Look, I jam on the fact that I’m all kinds of outside. I dig it. I don’t want to be a normal, a square. I don’t want Pat Robertson to like me.

But the only people who think oppression and marginalization are precious badges of honor to be upheld at all costs are the people who are already in most other ways privileged and enfranchised by the system.

The radical queer approach leaves no signposts for the improvement of conditions in real people’s lives in its intellectually pure pursuit of outsiderness.

WHAT WILL BECOME OF QUEER CULTURE!? they cry.

The queer culture that willfully marginalizes poor people and people of color to honor a fuzzy memory of a queer heyday that was just as racist and classist as today’s reality?

No thanks!

The idea that all queers will get married if gay marriage is legalized is as ludicrous as the notion that people will start marrying their dogs, hills or dead people if gay marriage is legalized.

And doesn’t any success of your critique of marriage mean so much fucking more if the law isn’t the thing holding queers back from marriage?

Wouldn’t freely not getting married in a society where you could get married mean so. much. more the next time you have a queerer than thou potluck?

The lives of other LGBTQA people are not yours to live. Or police. Or control.

Or use as shields in the culture wars. Or commodify for personal gain.

Each of use has one life to live, and I’m going to live mine no matter how the Human Rights Campaign or Gayle Madwin feels about it.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

[All right kittens, that’s it for part ii. You can continue on to part iii here!]