He finally finished it! Yay!

This was recorded about two months ago (?), and it is my official podcast debut. After listening to it i’m glad to say that i don’t sound as silly, nor do i stutter, as much as i feared (though may be that more the result of editing on the part of the host).

Anyway, give it a listen! It’s loaded with fun and important information.

00:00 Opening 01:00 Introduction – I no longer have my cool job – Balticon was awesome 05:23 Field Report: Trans Queering Your Sex – Practice good pronoun usage – Courtesies you learn for trans people are good for all people – Gender identity, gender presentation, gender attribution – Get clear on terminology and roles – Negotiation can be sexy – Yes/No/Maybe – "Remember who's running the fuck" – Condom and lube recommendation – Call for more fie … Read More

via Trans(re)lating

Not much to say here. The freelance is going really slowly and i lost my crappy regular job, so i’m looking for work and bored at home. But naturally i still love to draw and paint, and since i recently found the pen to my tablet (cue choir of angels), i decided to do a digital painting using one of the drawings from entry #27:

Fixed the proportions, and i think it came out rather nicely, although as usual it looks different on the laptop. Ah well.

OK, so by now you’ve all heard about Tracy Morgan and his really terrible attempt at a joke that got tons of applause in Tenessee (good job, y’all).

A few things bug me about this. Of course the first thing is the homophobia/heterosexism that this is indiciative of. Even if Morgan himself is not homophobic, the fact that he felt comfortable enough to make jokes about violence toward his hypothetically gay son indicates just how drowning in privilege he is, and how he doesn’t give a shit about that. LGBTQ kids across the country already feel like they can’t talk to their parents about it. For the record, LGBTQ adults feel that way too; why do you think this blog exists? So for him to joke about stabbing his son if he came out? Stay classy, dude.

So that happened and he issued his lame apology. But then came the talking about it and the commentary across the internet-o-sphere. Most of it is predictable: condemnation, snark, some apologists standing up for him. But the stuff that really bugs me is the commentary that, when expanding the argument to the larger issues of which this whole situation is merely a symptom, turns into calls for people to ignore him, buck up, and in some cases even becomes a kind of victim blaming. One such case is Elon James White’s secondary podcast, The White House. Now before i go any further, let me say that TWH is LOWBROW, much like Morgan’s comedy, but in the case of the podcast, their lowbrow humor is not rehearsed in any way. They just snark on whatever topic is on their docket. They’re all professional comedians, and TWH is a show where they just shoot the shit, and it’s usually fun, and light, Elon jokes about how he’s going to hell for associating with the rest of the crew, because their jokes are really WRONG sometimes. But the point is that it’s all tongue in cheek, and ironic, and everybody gets that going in. That being said…

Today’s White House episode was not a typical show. Since the subject was Tracy Morgan, the discussion became one of the rights of a comedian: what is someone allowed to joke about, when does it cross the line, and when does reaction to a comedian crossing that line go too far and become abridging on free speech rights? Valid questions, but i was very upset at the resulting discussion. First off, none of the crew are LGBTQ anything. The discussion that ensued showed that in spades, positively REEKING of cis/het privilege. There was the argument that we’re raising a nation of wusses, and that this country is too litigious, and that we’re quick to call for the dismissal of someone who offends us, and that if we take action thru a non governmental organization whose purpose is to expose issues of oppression to those in power, we’re infringing on the free speech rights of the one who offends us.

REALLY???

So there should be no consquences for when someone says something offensive? Or even when something is percieved as offensive by certain parties? We should just buck up and not say anything, and let that shit slide?

REALLY???

What this says to me is that some people, specifically the members of the TWH crew who were making this argument, DON’T KNOW WHAT FREE SPEECH MEANS. What it actually means is that yes, comedians can say all the offensive shit they want. Have at it hoss. But if i, or 3000 people take offense at what you say, we have the right to complain. We also have the right to call a non-profit organization and get them to use their connections to get an audience with someone higher up on the totem pole and complain on our behalf. That is the double edged sword that is “free speech.” You have the right to say anything via whatever means to whatever audience, and i have the right to say to complain via whatever means to whatever audience, if i’m offended. If then, you lose money, because people become aware of your offensive jokes and don’t want to hear them, thus not buying tickets and getting their friends to not buy tickets, that is not you being silenced by any governmental entity (because THAT would be unconstitutional, and ACTUALLY infringing on your rights to free speech). What this is, is you merely dealing with the (perhaps unforeseen) consequences of your own actions. You want US to buck up? YOU BUCK UP, and take responsibility. Of course, you also have the right to complain that you’re losing money because an organization came at you for what you said, but we also have the right to call you a whiny punk. Now you have a choice to make: continue saying stuff that pisses people off, or change your comedy routine.

One bit on the podcast that particularly pissed me off, especially in light of recent blog posts, was when one of the crew started arguing semantics about the stabbing joke. He began by quoting the original article:

“He (Morgan) said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death.”

He (the TWH crew member) then decided (possibly as another attempt at a joke) that what Morgan was actually saying was that he didn’t mind so much (eyeroll) if his son is gay, but that he should at least “be a man about it” and not come out using an “effeminate” voice, because that’s what is actually the stabworthy offense. Not being gay, but being a “feminine” man, and by extension possibly trans. Great. So it’s all ok now, right?

FUCK THAT SHIT.

This is indicative of systemic homophobia, heterosexism, cis-sexism, not to mention outdated gender roles. What it’s more indicative of is that he (the TWH member) is OK WITH THAT, to say nothing of Morgan. This kind of thought process and is what actually kills people. It’s what is at the root of the bullying to which they say we should just stand up and fight, and the aloneness LGBTQ youth and adults feel when we think we can’t come out to our families or friends. This is why i can’t just wear the clothes i like when i feel like it, without fear that i’ll be be made fun of, or worse have to turn to my self defense training and have to maim someone who comes at me, or worst, just get shot or otherwise killed because of my FUCKING CLOTHES. It is because of the systemic pervasiveness of this thought process.

It’s slowly being broken down, but like so many things there’s a long way to go, as indicated by the applause Morgan recieved at the show where this all happened. And as long as people who are going to make jokes like that are not taken to task for their words, it’s going to go that much slower.

31 (de todo un poco)

June 6, 2011

Lots going on lately.

Last week i went to Balticon 45. It was my first sci fi convention and as someone who normally only goes to anime cons, this was a bit different, though kinda the same. As a small con, it reminded me of the anime cons of yore (about 15 years ago), when a convention like Otakon was small enough to be held in a regularly sized hotel with no overflow, and you could actually hang out with your friends at the con and not get completely lost trying to find a panel you’re interested in. As such it was quite refreshing, and i got to actually sit down and talk to the guests, including but limited to Nobilis Reed and Paulette Jaxton. It was fun times all around, and i’m glad DDog took me.

My wife has started her internship, which is awesome for her and eventually for all of us, but it means that she and the baby are staying with her mother most of the week. So i’m kinda lonely, but i spend the night with them when i can. I’m taking the time semi-apart from them to try and build myself up a bit. I don’t have many friends in this city, so i want to try and have a social life and actually make some, so i plan on going out more often during the week. Part of this has to do with my own loneliness and the fact that i’d just like more people to talk to, but also it has to with my own mental health and the fact that i need to feel a sense of connectedness to SOMEBODY, given some what’s been going on in my head lately.

That something in my head being that the subject of my gender expression has come into question a bit. As related in entry #29 i like dresses. Matching skirts and tops, more specifically. Part of this is because i have to figure out what to wear for bellydance, but in my exploration of bellydance fashion i’ve found that “matching” isn’t exactly necessary, even for performances; all that matters is that one doesn’t clash. But male bellydancers and the outfits i’ve seen them wear look… wrong to me somehow. At the very least they aren’t what i’d want to wear, so i’ve been looking elsewhere and the only places to look are at sites and catalogs geared specifically toward women. Oh and Etsy. Etsy’s been great. But aside from bellydance, i’ve found that i want to present a more “feminine” appearance in certain circles, if for no other reason than the fact that i don’t want to have to be confined to wearing the clothes i like in my own house (or, since we live with my brother in law who doesn’t really get it, my own bedroom). I’ve been finding small outlets for it in my artwork (see entry #27 and #30 ; let’s just be honest, “Stocking Boy” is essentially me), but it’s not enough, and since even that is confined to this rather hidden space, it doesn’t really help, so i’m trying to find ways to express what i feel i’m becoming. There are a few problems that come with this desire, though. For one, even when i can find clothes that fit, which is a challenge in itself, a lot of what’s available doesn’t really match who i feel i am. This is the kind of thing that will go in cycles though, as the fashion world does its thing and trends come and go. I haven’t looked everywhere, obviously, so there’s bound to be something for me out there. My art has actually been really helpful in this respect, because i can simply design what feels right for me and then put the outfits together piece by piece, and my friend Lee has agreed to help me make whatever i can’t find, and alter whatever i do find that’s not quite right. Like so:

So yay for friends!

The other problem is, of course, society. While some friends i have are very accepting and in fact eager to see me in a dress or any other less than “masculine” outfit, outside of their company i feel very insecure, unless i also happen to be in a space full of accepting strangers. It’s bad enough being a man who wants to be pretty in the way that i want, but the fact that i’m also a person of color, specifically, a black man, has what feels like double the complications. I’ve already mentioned my brother in law and the fact that he doesn’t get it. My local family doesn’t get it either, and so i feel restricted there, though i know they love me. My family back home, of course… fuhgedabaddit. Aside from that, there’s a notion of hypermasculinity in the black community that goes beyond what i’ve seen in even more conservative American culture at large. If i, as a black man, want to continue to call myself a man without being persecuted, made fun of, or otherwise oppressed by the culture at large, i CANNOT speak softly, or bellydance, or move, dress… BE… the way i want. Never mind the fact i’m also attracted to men (i’ll get to that in a minute); any or all of these things makes me less of a man in this culture anyway, but in black culture it goes double. Even in progressive circles, a stereotypically feminine speech pattern, for example, is mocked and put down (i’m talking to you, Elon). So for me to dress how i feel is REALLY right for me in public, would only (most likely) open me up to ridicule at best. Luckily, i suppose, i like dressing masculinely as well.

Until i do get a hold of the clothes i really like, and have access to accepting spaces in which to wear them, however, there are a few things i have been doing to feel more like myself. I mentioned in entry #29 that i want to be more androgynous looking, just in general. To me that means neutrality, and THAT to me means a blank slate. I dunno, maybe i get it from my art background, blank paper/canvas, bla bla bla. Anyway, to achieve a kind of blankness, i’ve taken to removing all of my hair. Back when i modeled, i got rid of my body hair, because i felt it was more aesthetically pleasing, since i was nude most of the time; it brought out my muscles and made everything look smoother on camera. I still feel that i look best without hair for that reason (though i don’t model anymore) but also because i feel that in its blankness, it’s neither masculine nor feminine in and of itself. Similarly, i’ve cut the hair on my head REALLY close. I’ll probably end up shaving it at least for special occasions, but i’m going to keep it low for the duration. I guess the thought process behind all this is similar to a mannequin, or one of those poseable figures you get for art school. They’re completely blank (especially the latter), and you project whatever image you want onto them. So my hairlessness is a good start, at least.

On to other things: men. It’s been pointed out to me that in my social interactions, when someone i’m attracted to is approached by, flirts with, or otherwise has amorous interaction with a man or M-apparent person, my jealousy level tends to spike way harder than a similar interaction with a woman or F-apparent person. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is, and i think it has to do with the fact that while i’m attracted to men, and definitely want to fuck and be fucked by a few, i don’t LIKE men, in general. If that sounds paradoxical, i’ll explain.

I was primarily raised by my mother; my father was definitely not absent (my parents were and are still married and live together; my father was my first major artistic influence), but all of the more delicate talks (save for THE TALK[tm]) were handled by my mother, and i wonder if that colored my future interactions. When i was in junior high and highschool, while i got along well enough with the guys in my classes, i felt that i had much more meaningful conversations and just over all a better time with the girls. Part of this had to do with the fact that my artistic drive took hold at a very early age, and most of the students who were that hardcore into art were girls, and all of the art teachers were women, so they were just who i was surrounded by. Also, in highschool, boys would do all kinds of things to try and get girls to notice them, and i thought that was flat out stupid. First of all these guys were doing things that were REALLY unhealthy in the name of being “manly.” But i had no problem striking up a conversation with almost any girl anyway, so i didn’t see the point. Paradoxically, of course, while i could talk with the best of them, i could never get a date because once i was actually attracted to someone, i’d get nervous and not know what to say. This pervades to this day. I still don’t understand this foreign language they call “flirting.” Anyway, this has probably made me a bit bitter, seeing as the old “chicks dig jerks” adage seemed to be completely true, so when my jealously level does spike due to an M-apparent person being around, it’s probably due to lingering feelings of insecurity and just feeling like i’m not good enough, which is linked to classic feelings of competition, and “what’s wrong with ME?” and other shit like that. I’m not sure if this is exactly it, but that’s all i’ve got so far.

Anyway, MEN SUCK. Or at the very least, i’ve found precious few who i’m attracted to AND with whom i can have a real conversation. I’m glad for the few, and i certainly hope things continue to go well with one in particular, but in general, ugh. I’ll stick to looking. I dunno, maybe the problem is straight guys. I haven’t hung out with too many gay/bi/queer/etc guys. But that goes back to an earlier point, that i need to expand my social circle and plan to do so.

What else… oh! Slack-lining! Thanks to my wife’s obsession with obscure sports i’ve been doing this for a little less than a week and i’m kinda obsessed. It’s basically stunting on flat rope that has some bounce to it so you can springboard and stuff. Of course i’m not to the level of doing anything really cool yet, but just practicing is so much fun! I’d like to get to the point where i can do yoga on the line, then kung fu, and eventually bellydancing. It’s already good for my dancing because of the leg strength i’m building, plus the fact that i have to keep my knees soft at all times. An unexpected but REALLY helpful crossover. Again, balancing is one of those things that are purported to be more for women than men (the men tend to do more of the flying, which is not very much what i’m interested in), but well, this is where i am.

My wife put it best, i think. Whatever else might be going on with me, when it comes to physicality, it’s not that i want to be a woman, i just want to be able to do what women can do. And apparently, wear some of what they wear.

PS: I’ve also been feeling pretty subby lately, but only a few people care about that. 😛