I will be performing at the Lambda Archives for the Queer Artists Project on March 15th. My performance will start around 8pm.
I’m imagining building a fort and plastering it with No Trespassing tape. Behind my baricade, I calmly target the audience with a mic and a video camera. Isolated sounds float disembodied through speakers and the images I gather project onto my body.
That’s what came to me last night after a brisk cold walk to the bar from my car.
I think I want to comment on the appropriation of gay culture by popular cultures.
A friend of mine adorns himself with glitter and nailpolish. He minces and flames. He’s 100% straight.
I adore these things about him. I pinned my rainbow button to his drowsy girlfriend’s sleeve as she sat in his lap. She is trying to explore her bisexuality – I wanted her to know that I see her. But also, in away, I wanted to say that I love and accept them from the bottom of my little gay heart.
Recently, however, I saw a picture of him with rainbow suspenders and I recoiled. I thought of the trendiness of swinging, straight couples hunting for that perfect bisexual woman who will love both of them in a harmonious triad, and 1-dick-per-relationship policies. I thought of dudes who ask me to sleep with their girlfriends, but insist that they at least be allowed to watch. It’s hardly a gracious offer.
Jay is not selfish or rude unlike some people who seem to forget what the word “lesbian” means. I’m ashamed that for even one second my brain wanted to connect the dots between him expressing himself and people who suck.
I don’t own all the rainbows and unicorns and I can’t deny the fun of a threesome that lines up perfectly with your expectations and fantasies. I know I am projecting my own fears and injuries. I think I am bitter. The collective pressure to submit to a normative sexuality, the times when I did submit, and (when I am angry and/or drunk enough to claim) that I was “collectively raped by society,” fill my mouth with pith and poison. I have taken man to access woman; why shouldn’t a straight pair do the same?
I gave myself the power of “no” too late in life. And so, when a man asks access to my body even after he knows I’m gay I feel forced to use my no. It feels less like a choice and more like a struggle. Years of all the unsaid NO gather in my fists and my eyes. They don’t know the implications of what they are asking. They haven’t studied the male gaze nor been pinned under it like a lizard under a curious child’s hands. Yet every time they ask (I’ll write a post someday about the frequency zomg) I’m hit by a truck.
There is a conversation. It is not that tourists and heteroregulars infiltrate our spaces, our bars, our clubs. We also invite them. I literally bring Straighty McStraight guys to my bars. Like some kind of sadist, I toss ’em in the sea of gay fish and the evil voice in my head says, “swim sucker! Dog paddle like I have to do every day of my life.”
I am only vindictive when I am weak. Really though, I need my rainbow-suspender-wearing friend. He is a pioneer in this conversation as much as any of us queermos. His choice of attire asks, “Will the straight community accept this?” and inversely, “Will the gay community let me borrow this?”
I’m a femme, so at first glance most men assume I want to bang ’em. Kidding, but many assume they even have a chance. I borrow femininity and receive invisibility. I access a “normal” that butch does not. I allow the assumptions and the lack thereof. I ask, “Will strangers accept my sexuality even if I do not perform under their expectations or stereotypes?” I ask myself “how much of this crap will I put up with before I out myself….?”
Yet I’m not femme because I want to be a pioneer. Like my friend I’m just trying to do what I want. We just freaking like nail polish. AND GLITTER. And extra vaginas for everybody to share. Being in this larger conversation about sexuality and freedom and agency feels less like a choice and more like a struggle. What is my responsibility, what is his?
So the video projects on my body, but I also select it. I target the audience, but they also see their image on my skin, can smile or frown, wave or duck. I allow, they infiltrate, and visa versa. That’s the idea with this project anyway. Thoughts?