Mother Dearest


It has been a fabulous summer. A perfect balance of hot and sunny, cool and rainy, humid and sleepy. With Astasia's leg back in working order, we've been keeping very busy doing all things that are impossible in a wheel chair. It has been a wonderful break. In just under two weeks we will have our engagement party, and my aunt and uncle will visit, as will my very good friend Chimwemwe, who I haven't seen in years. I'm really looking forward to it.

Thus, with her always impeccable timing, my mother sends me a letter about how in her expert opinion, Astasia (who she's met once, and spent precious little time with) is controlling and manipulative, has hijacked my ability to think independently, and is bringing out the worst in me - causing me to be rude and disrespect my family.

Now, there's really nothing new in this letter. I know my mom hates that I'm out here, living, as she says "as a lesbian," and that she resents Gwen because of it. I know she thinks it's all horribly sinful, based on her religion. But I had been nurturing a seed of hope. I had been telling myself that given enough time, if I just said it the right way, somehow, maybe, one day.....

But I think I was fooling myself. I think my mother is too stubborn. I think her faith is too well armored against reason or logic. I think I just gave up on ever having her support or affirmation. It feels a little like losing her altogether.

My mom and I have never been close, and we have always butted heads. She has never liked the way I thought or dressed or did my hair. I didn't think it would bother me so much to lose my mother. I think I'm starting realize that the reason it does bother me is because this scenario is one we've been playing out since I was a child. I've never really had her support or affirmation or pride. She's always been very invested in who she wanted me to be. No wonder we weren't close. We didn't know one another at all. The daughter she loves so much doesn't actually exist.

I feel like an orphan. The weird thing is, I've always felt like an orphan. I felt like an orphan when I was six. It's almost enough to make me reestablish contact with my dad.

But not quite.



I always fool myself when it comes to the end of a semester, thinking it will be so good to have a nice long break. How good it will be to sleep in, not have to work all day, not have to commute, not have to think.

It is not fucking nice.

The weekends are nice. Astasia and I can actually spend time together. But on Monday she's off to work, and I'm left to decide how I'll spend my day, and somehow make myself actually spend it that way. But going from the constant pressure to complete an uncompletable amount of work and make endless decisions about proportions, materials, colors, door placement.... (the list goes on) to this..... I have been wallowing in a sort of depression that makes it hard to even eat, never mind structure my day and accomplish anything.

Sunday night I slept from 10 pm till 2 am. Unable to sleep and not wanting to prevent Astasia from sleeping, I finished reading Brothel by Alexa Albert, a book I had started on Sunday evening. I had been interested in the book because I recognized the particular brothel it was about, Mustang Ranch, from a radio show on Playboy Radio that Astasia and I had listened to last summer.

Brothel: Mustang Ranch and its Women tells the story of a Harvard Medical student who gained access to Mustang Ranch in order to conduct a public health study on condom effectiveness, and ended up making repeated visits and becoming an installment in the brothel's culture. The book talks about Nevada's history with legalized brothel prostitution, how the brothels are run, the various reasons that women work in the brothels, and the social issues that surround legal brothel prostitution.

Put simply, the book is fascinating.

There are any number of aspects of this book that I could discuss, but unless you all read it and come back and discuss it with me in the comments thread, I'd feel like I was just talking to myself. Which I probably am anyway..... I'll just pretend that somewhere out there is interested in my book recommendations. I recommend this book highly. You will learn a lot, and think a lot too.

One thing that I would like to write about here, however, is the ever-present-in-my-mind issue of gender essentialism in our culture and how much I dislike it. Mustang Ranch, for example, has only female workers who only service males. Women are not even allowed in the front gate. (Which is to say, that if I ever wanted some gay for pay action, I can cross Mustang Ranch off my list of tourist destinations). There is one part of the book that talks about the men who frequent the ranch, painting them in a rather tragic light, and this is a part of the book I had a hard time getting behind. The virgins who can't get laid, the married men who can't ask their wives for certain things, the socially awkward, the commitment-phobes, they need sex, and if they're willing to pay for it, and women willing to sell it to them, why shouldn't these poor souls have their needs met? This is the tone of one of the sex workers, and okay, I see her point. Men have needs right? Sex is very important to most men.

But sex is important to women too. There are female virgins who can't get laid, married women whose husbands can't satisfy, socially awkward women, commitment-phobe women, they all want to have sex too. It's a societal assumption that the sexual needs of men surpass those of women, that their hunger runs deeper. So we are not surprised to hear of men buying sex for whatever reason. In every city, whether legal or not, there are places that men go to buy sex.

I guess I just don't think the situation is so dire for those men. I think it's the way if a woman gets sick she's expected to tough it out and get better while getting the laundry done and dinner on the table but if a man gets sick he's on the couch with a thermometer and a blanky and woman doting on him with chicken noodle soup and a gentle hand on his forehead.

Cheating aside, if you just really wish someone would tie you down and whip you with a crop while plunging dildo into your ass, you should bloody well be able to fork over an exorbitant sum of money to have it done. But a man doesn't need this more than the woman who wants the same.

I don't know. Does the societal attitude that men's need is so much greater contribute to the prominence of men seeking out sex for pay? Were societal attitudes reversed, would the Mustang be filled with men? Is this another part of male privilege?

Go read the book and then come talk to me. I'm soooooooo bored.


Okay, yes. I have been absent. And yes, I have had a heavy workload at school, which is only likely to increase until the semester's end.

But if I was going to be very honest, the truth is I have been on Tumblr. And it's not that I love Tumblr more than you, it's that I haven't had the mental stamina to do anything more complicated than click "<3" on photographs of naked women.

Scouring the internet for photos has brought me to Jiz Lee.

Jiz is a gender queer porn star. I know that Astasia has written about Jiz. We are both crushing pretty hard, but I think for very different reasons.

I want to be Jiz. Which is not to say I want to be a porn star, because I don't. Well maybe a little, but not really. I think what's remarkable about Jiz is that they manage to be so very androgynous, so very contrary to what our society tells us we need to be in order to be attractive, and yet so very fucking hot. So unbelievably magnetic.

I never really felt like a woman. And I didn't want to look or act like one. And I didn't want to become a man either. I lived in this ambiguous middle place, where I could be attractive, but only at the expense of my own truthfulness. It had never occurred to me that the way I felt about my gender expression was an actual thing, with a name, and a niche, and porn stars, and I could be that way and feel sexy on my own terms.

It feels significant to me, to feeling okay about who I am.

I got a very short haircut, and I look like myself again. It feels so good, and right. Astasia thinks I look hot this way. Just the way I am.

Sometimes putting a name on something is a way of limiting it, but in this case, I think it has given me a type of freedom. Room to breath. Language for my feelings.

Anyways, for photos of androgynous individuals, my tumblr is Androgynish. Sometimes NSFW.



The 'P' stands for 'Promised' and 'town' stands for 'Land.'

This is a town where every store is a unique, independent collection of quirky items. The coffee beans are all organic. Art Galleries are sprinkled throughout. Little courtyards of shared outdoor space are hidden away between houses and down alleys. Houses are clad in rustic cedar shakes, instead of that hideous vinyl siding. Every car has a dog. Every cafe has a water bowl.

More importantly, the P-town zip code has the highest concentration of same-sex households in America. The reading I've been doing attributes this to P-town's early reputation as an ideal summer retreat for artists and the establishment of several art schools and a theatre group. As the town became known for a place where eccentric people were accepted, it became a destination for gay people looking for a place where they could also feel accepted.

Now it is a place with a rainbow flag on every corner. If gay people are not a majority, they are at the very least normal here. Normal. Not worth remarking upon. Perfectly commonplace.

Even in the liberal environment of New England, I sometimes feel like an abnormality, like I need to make delicate use of pronouns, like there will always be this moment of awkward hesitation after telling someone new that my fiance is a woman, not a man. Like I'm satisfying the butch dyke stereotype by identifying certain male qualities.

Here I'm just another tourist, and it's not unusual that I'm holding hands with a woman, and I exist somewhere on a spectrum of gender expression. And there's a corgi in the cafe - INSIDE THE CAFE - that doesn't seem to know how unusual her particular experience is.

I don't think people realize, even I don't often realize, what it's like to be constantly aware of different-ness. To have in the back of my mind that most of the people I meet are are alike to one another in a way that they are different than me, and their sheer numbers mean that my life, my freedom, are essentially in their hands. I am able to live openly as an out lesbian because the straight people permit it. Even should the laws protect me, they do not force social acceptance. In the world of the straights, I exist thanks to the generosity of those around me.

What if there was a place where that wasn't the case? Is P-town a glimpse of what that would be like?


Self-Indulgent Complaints

I'm supposed to be writing an essay. I have 4.5 hours to write 4.5 pages. It's a boring-ass paper about Emerson's conception of the human soul, as compared to Conrad's conception of the human soul. Who cares? I'm a fucking architect student. I'd like to write a paper on my conception of a house that would reflect Conrad's conception of the human soul (it's black, in case you were wondering). Forget Emerson altogether, he apparently has never read the news and has no idea what horrible things those that "follow their genius" are capable of. For him I'll build a padded room.

All of which is to say, I now have 4.25 hours to write 4.5 pages of an essay I haven't yet found quotes for, which makes it a perfect time to write a blog. I would rather write a blog, with no preconceived idea about what I'm blogging about, than do this ridiculous arbitrary exercise where I compare and contrast the self-important ideas of outdated thinkers who are dead.

Here is a list of things I'd rather do than write this pointless essay:

Watch gay porn
Do housework
Put on Make-up
Beat my head repeatedly against a wall
Drink unsweetened soy milk
Catch the Swine Flu
Do strength training with the Swine Flu
Slip on the icy driveway and break my brittle old lady hip
Any of my other homework

That's just a taste.

/whiny bitchy school rant

I'll be back with a real post later.


Coming Out Never Ends

Nezu's post about coming out has reminded me of an issue I need to resolve at some point very soon. Instead of trying to write about it all over again, I'll just quote myself like a self indulgent bastard.

"You've reminded me that I have an aunt I am/was very close to. After coming out to my family (who were categorically against acceptance) I was too scared to tell my aunt. I couldn't handle any more rejection from someone I love. So I put her out of my mind, stopped contacting her, and now it's been nearly two years. All she knows is that I'm off at school and staying with a friend. Now my "friend" and I are getting ready to send out engagement notices, and my aunt doesn't even know (at least I haven't told her) that I'm gay. I guess I should do something about that."

Some additional context: When I was starting to question the legitimacy of biblical literacy, this aunt was the one who told me it was okay to ask questions. She told me I was right when I felt I couldn't trust the mainstream christian writers to answer the questions I had. She told me I should explore all I needed to, and that she wasn't worried about me. She thought I'd figure out what I needed to figure out.

This aunt is my father's sister. She is the one I called when my dad's family was imploding (exploding? self destructing?) and she is the one who talked me down from fits of uncontrollable sobbing. She is the only one from my dad's immediate family who isn't completely fucked up, and she's always been my support when my dad was being a douche.

This aunt has been unbelievably cool. But she is still one of them. A Mennonite. I'm so afraid that, for all her encouragement, she will think I've finally gone too far, that this is the point at which she can no longer support me. I will be so disappointed in her reaction, because I will have hoped beyond hope that she wants me to be exactly who I am, and happy as well. I don't believe that she can accept a gay niece.

But, when I'm really honest, I know that I need her. My dad has fallen off the grid. He doesn't talk to me or my sister. He just lives alone out in the woods, brainwashing my little brother and planning to run off to the philippines to get married. She's the only one who knows him, but he doesn't talk to her either, since she refused to bail him out of jail that time. She might not even know what's going on, that my stepmom has left the province, that their marriage is finally over, that my dad almost died in some kind of accident. She should know, right? Could she shed some light on the situation?

So, Aunt W...... you know that friend, well I'm gay, and she's my fiance, and want to come to the party?

Even at times when I know what the right thing is to do, I'm afraid that if it doesn't well, it will put me in a tailspin that will make it impossible for me to focus on my schoolwork and get through this semester.

Yet, time is of the essence. I don't know. I don't want to deal with it. But I have to, because she matters.


Community Standards

I grew up feeling at odds with the world even before the possibility of being gay entered my consciousness. I constantly felt that the world around me was trying to force me into some kind of mold that didn't fit. I was constantly objecting to the categories people would want to place on me. Kids, especially in high school, do that all the time. You belong to a group, and there's a list of identifiers to indicate which group that is. You can be a goth, or a punk, or a nerd, or an outcast, or a jock, or one of those terrifying popular girls.

Here's what you cannot be - a popular girl with a punk haircut. A goth with a letterman jacket. You can't roll with the nerds if you fail your bio test. And you can't be a jock if you've made friends with an outcast.

I remember hearing a lot about the way I should be dressing, how I should be acting, how I should go out and make more friends, how I should stay in and study for better grades. Why don't you grow your hair, you WOULD look so pretty if you'd only dress nice.

Being gay, you get used to the rest of the world making arbitrary decisions about you, how you should look, act, what kind of relationships you have, which contracts between consenting adults you are allowed to participate in. When you are a lesbian you must wear flannel, have a short hair cut, behave abnormally masculine - and when I think about it now - at least a little mentally ill. When you are a gay man, you must speak with a lisp, wear skinny jeans and mesh shirts with no sleeves. We want to know what you are when we look at you. We want the way you act to be consistent with who we think you are.

This is not news to anyone, and I've addressed this topic before. However, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon, the more I read about, watch shows about, and study the world of non-gender normative individuals.

I would expect people who are not gender normative to be extra sensitive to the sort of categorizing and stereotyping I've been talking about, but it seems they are all doing it to each other!

You have your gold star lesbians, late in life lesbians, bisexuals (the horror) trans-people, drag queens who identify as women, drag queens who are men dressing like women (posers!) drag queens who are camp, drag queens who are glam, fairies, bears, twinks, butch dykes, lipstick lesbians, bois, the list goes on and on.

Sometimes the glam queens tell the camp queens that they're not real drag queens. The gold star lesbians won't date the bisexuals. The bears shun the twinks. Lipstick lesbians aren't real lesbians. Butch dykes aren't butch enough (I can still tell you're a girl!) Transexual rights, it would seem, are a completely different set of civil rights that apparently are less important, and don't even get me started on those queers!

Why, I ask you, is a community of people that has dealt with so much of this bullshit from society at large inflicting it on one another? We should be extra sensitive. We should be extra accepting. We know what it's like to have someone tell us that we don't count, that we're not doing it right, we should be a different way. We know that it hurts. Why then do we turn around and do it to each other?

This reminds me of a movie called Antwone Fisher that every one needs to watch, and not just because Derek Luke is the most beautiful man to ever grace a movie screen. It talks about abuse within the African American community, and how it was appropriated from their oppressors in the days of slavery. I honestly know very little about this, and would like to do some reading on it. Is there a general effect whereby oppressed people turn the abuse inward, to their own community? Or is this categorizing and judging behavior in the LGBTQ community simply a reflection of the larger culture we live in?

I, for one, am apparently a gold star lesbian (who thinks Derek Luke is beautiful) who is engaged to one of the dreaded bisexuals (who is a femme, and therefore not real).

A strange world we live in.