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. šŸ˜›

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