Posts Tagged ‘best of’

post-election: on love

November 5, 2008  |  essays  |  35 Comments

How can I write about anything except politics right now? Obama, Obama, Obama. Fivethirtyeight had the projections almost completely accurate. I didn’t see too many major voting mishaps – aside from the long lines at polling places which, as we all know by now, are the new “poll tax.” Which is reassuring! In the last few days I kept hearing, “things are looking good for us, but remember: they cheat.”

So, thank the gods. I’m glad we all got to vote. I’m glad each of our votes counted. I’m so glad to see Obama victorious.

But … then there’s the gay stuff. Prop 8 in California, Prop 102 in Arizona, Prop 2 in Florida. Initiative 1 in Arkansas. Connecticut and Colorado were victories, but with the other four I’m feeling pretty defeated this morning.

I’m angry about this election. I am so grateful for Obama’s landslide win, don’t get me wrong. He ran a fantastic campaign and he did some incredibly gracious, beautiful things with the entire United States, in every place he visited – he wasn’t purely focused on the battleground states, he wasn’t ignoring the South just because it was a given that it’d go red.

But I’m angry about all the other propositions that passed. The literally millions of people who think that me, my relationship, my love, my orientation, my body’s wiring, my queerness is somehow a threat to them, somehow damaging to their way of life, somehow harmful, somehow detrimental to society, somehow bad and wrong and evil.

I take personal offense to these results.

It’s so hard not to. I try pretty hard to ignore the gay marriage activism that are going on in this country – ever since DOMA I’ve been only increasingly discouraged. I’ve written about this recently – my hesitation to think that the gay marriage fight is the end-all be-all of gay activism, that gay marriage is going to get us accepted into the “normal” club. Well, maybe I don’t want to be in the “normal” club.

But this time, I got involved. I got all crazy with 8 Against 8, I read every post Lesbian Dad kept eloquently writing, I researched the state of gay marriage in the US for weeks. I got invested. I named the puppy. I – in my liberal progressive hippie love-will-prevail idealist brain – was not prepared for such a defeat.

Gay marriage is going to revert to being illegal in California. Californians just voted to legally and specifically discriminate against a group of marginalized people. To explicitly and intentionally make us second-class citizens. Less than.

What about Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin’s widow, who just months ago made their more than fifty-year relationship completely equal, valued, valid, legitimate, in the eyes of California law? God I hope they had a good lawyer who put all sorts of forms and documents in place. How stupid and fucked up and time consuming and wasteful that Phyllis and Del even had to go through that, to do the research to figure out what rights and privileges, precisely, they were being denied because they couldn’t get married, and pay a lawyer to draw up the corresponding papers, and enter into a legal agreement with each other.

[It reminds me of If These Walls Could Talk 2, the first segment, with Vanessa Redgrave. Watch it, if you haven’t seen it. I guarantee it will break your heart, but kind of in a good way.]

I want to go back and study the history of interracial marriage – also called miscegenation, which is a great word I don’t know if I knew until today – and see how it was finally overturned. Was it state-by-state? So-called “activist judges?” Did this country watch as, one at a time, states added their own constitutional amendments banning interracial marriage? Were there Mayors who were radical enough to marry interracial couples anyway? How did it finally get overturned? I’ve never been much of a historian, really, I’m much more interested in what’s happening right now, in front of me, how this current system works – and of course it’s important to know where we came from to know how the current system works, but still, I didn’t understand history until I started studying the history of my people, the queers and gender-variants and radicals and revolutionaries.

But still, I don’t have a firm grasp on this particular American activist history, and I want to know how it worked before, because I want it to work again. Because maybe after I know one storyline’s success, I’ll be comforted. Because I’ll remember that it took hundreds of years to gain that particular right to marry, and then I’ll remember that this fight is young, that, despite our headway, there is much farther to go.

I know there is much to celebrate. Perhaps I am taking Obama’s win too much for granted. I know I have a particularly “biased” perspective because I grew up with activist parents in liberal communities; I spend my times in progressive activist circles and queer communities in big cities. There is a piece of me that is saying, “of course Obama was elected, how could it possibly be any other way?” But I said that about Gore and Kerry too, despite that Gore did win the popular vote (don’t get me started) and I’ve seen cardboard cutouts of people that have more personality than Kerry.

Clearly I don’t have a very good grasp on the reality of this country. On how conservative Republicans are capable of organizing people to vote against their own best interest in the name of “values.”

I’ve seen some posts around today already that say having Obama in office we are poised for a Federal lift on the ban on gay marriage, but honestly I don’t know if I believe that. Of course I’d like to think so, sure, but then there’s DOMA, and “37 states have their own Defense of Marriage Acts [and] … 27 states have constitutional amendments.” (source.)

Make that 30, as of November 2008: Arizona, Florida, California.

Times like these I wish I knew more about politics, and history. How can we lift these constitutional amendments out of the states? Do the voters have to vote again? Who can overturn DOMA at the Federal level? Do we need it to go through the courts, or through voting? Do we need certain Supreme Court members in order to have these things overturned? How do we get a Federal constitutional amendment that protects the rights of minorities?

We couldn’t even get something written into the Federal constitution that says that women are equal to men. Remember the ERA? Failed. Failed, failed, failed. It has been introduced in front of every Congress since 1982, and yet we still do not have anything official that says women are equal to men. Is that really so radical, so influential, that there is such opposition to it?

And correct me if I’m wrong here, I am not a constitutional scholar, but: I thought constitutions were for guaranteeing rights, not for taking them away.

Despite that I do understand what people say about the threat of gay marriage, I don’t really understand. I just don’t. Why? Why why why are we so threatening? On bad days – like this one, when literally millions of people voted against my very personal right, my very personal decision to get married – my heart fills up with emotion and I feel like a little kid after another kid yells, “I HATE YOU!” My eyes well up. I didn’t do anything to you. Just – why?

Here’s what gay marriage is: it’s commitment. Building a family, possibly taking care of children, or dogs or cats or hamsters or fish. Finding someone to share your life with. Taking care of each other. Being better together than you are alone.

And here’s what gay marriage is: love.

The simple act of loving another person. Maybe I forget how difficult love is for so many of us. Maybe I’m forgetting that love is often beaten out of us before we are even able to critically think about the world around us, just by nature of growing up in this culture. It really is revolutionary, isn’t it? Just the act of who I love could change the world, and is changing politics.

Despite my frustration at the horrible steps back that we are taking, there is hope. There is change happening.

Obama’s acceptance speech was especially moving. He slipped “gay” right in there with that long list of American identity descriptors – “young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled” – as if it belonged. As if it was no better or worse than any of those other things.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

(Full text of Obama’s presidential acceptance speech here, though I do suggest watching the video – he is such an impressive orator.)

I just have to keep remembering: let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. I can do that. I have to do that. I will do that, despite that my government says it’s not good enough. I know, I really do know, underneath it all, under the pink of my skin, in the nest of my heart, that it is enough – that I am enough – that we, my beautiful community, are enough.


UPDATE, 7pm EST: I know, I know, it’s not completely 100% official yet: the No on Prop 8 folks haven’t given up, and a recount has been demanded. But last count, Yes on 8 was ahead 400,000 votes. Not an easy thing to make up.

Legal Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Proposition 8, Should It Pass: “The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court today urging the court to invalidate Proposition 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians.”

Also: There’s a protest rally tonight in West Hollywood: We Shall Not Be Overlooked. Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, San Vicente Blvd between West Hollywood Park and the Pacific Design Center (647 N San Vincente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA).

Marriage is so gay*

October 24, 2008  |  essays  |  6 Comments

Last week, I dreamt of my future wife.

That’s a strange thing to write down and admit, actually, especially publically; but I thought exactly that when I woke: that was my future wife. I still know exactly how she tasted, smelled, how her waist felt in my arms.

I’m not sure how I feel about marriage, really. My mom has always said I should wait until I’m 30 to get married, and thinks too many people get married too young. I don’t really think the government should have anything to do with my personal relationships, and I don’t think the government should value certain kinds of relationships over others – one man + one woman? What about a triad, a lesbian couple, co-habiting straight men? Who cares how people make a household work, as long as they do?

But: I do believe in commitment, in stating publically that you love someone, in gathering friends & family in a ceremony that celebrates and affirms the difficulty, the support, the community around a relationship.

Since I came to be aware of the inequalities of queer relationships in the eyes of the law in, oh, I don’t know, high school? middle school?, it has just been a given that I couldn’t “actually” get married.

“Whatever,” I told myself. “Like I would get married anyway. Like I want The Church + The State involved in My Relationship.”

And the activist circles I ran in were skeptical of marriage as The Gay Rights Issue: “There is so much to be done!” we argued. “Marriage is such an issue of privilege. What about hate crime legislation, discrimination policies for the workplace, queer homeless youth, AIDS, suicide rates, the drinking/drug problems in the queer communities? What about foster kids and adoption and simply BEING KILLED because of gender and sexual orientation? What about cissexism and trans advocacy?”

Unfortunately, the momentum of queer activism isn’t necessarily in the radical queer youth & college students – it’s with the money. And mostly-white mostly-middle-class homos have already decided what The Gay Issue is: marriage.

It’s a symbol, really: not just a symbol for normalcy, but a symbol for a relationship. And that’s what is at the heart of this movement, the heart of the difference in sexual orientation: the right and ability to choose whom we love, with whom we partner.

While my personal beliefs are still a bit more radical than that, I’ve studied the history of social change enough to know that chnage happens gradually, in pockets, a little bit at a time. I also feel like gay marriage activism is a limited scope – like aiming for the mountaintop instead of the sky – because it still defines marriage as two people, right, we’re still talking about working within the monogamy system here. So while many of our poly friends are going “rah rah gay marriage! And PS, what about us?” the gay marriage activits are kind of saying, “Shhh, we can’t talk about your issues right now.”

But then again, it’s easier to go little-by-little than to overhaul the whole system. It’s a classic social change model conflict – after observing a system of oppression, do we a) work from within it to attempt to change it, or b) throw it out completely and start over? My radicalism wants marriage to be thrown out. I mean really, what good is it? But I feel the same way about other institutions that seem to matter to some feminist theorists and reclaimists, such as Christianity. I don’t personally have any investment in the system of Christianity, so I can’t imagine going inside of it to fix and change the oppression and hierarchical marginalizing structures that are in place – but others do have that investment, and are doing the work to include women in clergy, to research the history of more women saints, of queer history in the church, etc. Lesbian and feminist priests and nuns and churchgoers – what they find in the practice must be worth the work of reclaiming and rebuilding, for them.

Actually, I can draw a parallel here: for me, it is language. I am a poet at heart and never cannot be. People ask me why I use language they deem offensive – dyke, fag, pussy, cunt, slut, butch, femme, queer – and I try to explain it is because I love these words. As if they were delicate glass boxes filled with mud, I pick them up from being buried in the compost heap and wash them, dig the dirt from their creases, make their silver shine, make them see-through again. I am invested in the system of language, even though within it -built into the very makeup – is a hierarchy that says certain people are better, best.

Which brings me to my next point: words. Of course “marriage” is not the same thing as “civil union” or “domestic partnership” – the words are different. “Beautiful” is not the same thing as “cute” or “gorgeous” or “attractive” or “stunning” or “elegant” or “handsome,” right? Those all have slightly different connotations, even if their definitions are overlapping and very similar.

I am a poet. I’ve worked hard to say that sentence. I eat words for breakfast and fall asleep with book after book open on my pillow. I theorize language and meaning and definitions and semantics, revive words that are suffering, influse love and equality and value where I can.

It doesn’t matter how many rights there are in a “civil union” or “domestic partnership,” they will never be marriage, because they are not the same word.

Period.

Mark Twain wrote, “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

It is the difference between fire, and a firefly.

Words are not some static, fixed thing. They are living, they have lives and evolutions, they are manifestations of the culture from where they come, in which they are used. We can change them. They do change and evolve and grow to suit the needs of culture – they reflect a culture, but they also shape a culture. A new concept, term, or phrase can define a movement, a change, activism.

Researching all this information about the state of gay marriage in my country recently has really got me thinking about my own future. I don’t come from a very traditional family, I’ve never thought I would have a very traditional wedding – bridesmaids, groomsmen, white dress, any of that. I’ve received some amazing, beautiful, moving photographs from queers over the last few days, and I find a part of me is craving to have some beautiful party, some celebration, where my love and I can costume up and wear cool clothes and be surrounded by our friends looking dashing.

So I have some ideas forming about what I’d do for my own ceremony. No real dealbreakers, just ideas that I like. Although I am really attached to the idea that our first dance would be choreographed – let’s hope my future wife knows how to swing. (Let’s also hope next time I’ll dream her phone number or URL, so I’ll figure out how to contact her.)


* I hate this common use of “gay” and not infrequently call people on it when I hear them say it. But the tension in this sentence – calling marriage “gay” – cracks me up. Kind of like the bumper sticker I saw at Little Sister’s Bookstore in Vancouver, BC many years ago, which read, “Straight people are so gay.” Hah!

8 Against 8: 8 bloggers – 8 days – as much money as we can raise to defeat Proposition 8 in California. Vote no on Prop 8!

Vote NO on Prop 8

October 20, 2008  |  essays  |  8 Comments

8against8 – 8 bloggers, 8 days, $8,000 – Vote No on Proposition 8!

This marks the beginning of 8 Against 8, where 8 lesbian blogs are writing for 8 days against Proposition 8 in California which would render same-sex marriage illegal and raising a goal of $8,000 to defeat the initiative.

Aside from me, the other 7 bloggers participating in this 8 Against 8 are Grace Chu and Grace Rosen at Grace The Spot, Lori Hahn at Hahn At Home, Kelly Leszczynski at The Lesbian Lifestyle, Dorothy Snarker at Dorothy Surrenders, Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend, Riese at This Girl Called Automatic Win, and Renee Gannon at Lesbiatopia.

In addition to California’s Proposition 8 on the ballot in just a few weeks, Florida has Amendment 2 and Arizona has Proposition 102, both of which would amend their state constitutions to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Arkansas also has Act 1 on the ballot, which would forbid gay and lesbian parents – and any unmarried parents – from adopting children.

Every day during 8 against 8 I’ll be featuring some different things against the initiative. Donate some funds NOW, talk to everyone you know about voting in this year’s election (regardless of their location), urge your Californian friends and family and lovers to VOTE NO on Proposition 8.

8against8 – 8 blogs, 8 days, $8,000 – VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 8

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October 16, 2008  |  journal entries, miscellany  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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October’s Queer Activism

October 11, 2008  |  essays  |  13 Comments

On October 6th, 1998, Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming, beaten, and left for dead – because he was gay. He was taken to a nearby trauma hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, and died on October 12th.

I lived in Fort Collins at the time. I was not out, I was living with my high school boyfriend of five years. Nobody I knew was talking about it, aside from the brief acknowledgment in order to look away. There were protesters at the hospital. The Denver newspaper announced that he had died before he actually died.

I remember crying. I remember being so confused as to how this could’ve happened. I remember being terrified to come out in that environment, so I stayed in the closet for two more years.

Years later, after I was living in Seattle and came out and was building an amazing queer community, I saw Matthew’s mom Judy Shepard speak at my college. I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember a few things she said so deeply: “I’m just a mom,” she said. “I’m not an activist, I’m not a historian, I’m just a mom of a really great kid who died because he was gay. People ask me all the time, what can I do, and I always tell them: Come out. Come out everywhere, all the time. People discriminate because they don’t think they know any gay people. They don’t know that the guy they go bowling with is gay, that their office neighbor is gay, that their dry cleaner is gay. They think gay happens “over there” in big coastal cities. Until everyone starts realizing that gay people are just like them, discrimination will keep happening.”

I tell that to people a lot, especially baby dykes (or baby fags or baby queers) who are struggling with coming out. It’s our number one place of activism: to be who we are. To let the soft animal of our bodies love what it loves. It is not easy for any of us, but for some more than others, as there are still very real consequences to coming out and being out, not just with our families and parents (especially) but in our daily lives.

I was searching for some Judy Shepard direct quotes and came across this article from 2001, which relays more of the thoughts I’m trying to articulate:

Matthew came out to her at the age of 18, three years before he died. He decided in his own time and space when to tell his parents about his feelings on his sexuality and how that was important to him. After explaining how she and her husband dealt with Matthew’s coming out, Judy believes that “Your goal in life is to be the best and happiest you can be. Be who you are. Share who you are with the rest of the world.” Come out. Come out to yourself. Come out to your family. Come out to your friends. Be who you are and don’t hide in the closet of fear. Take pride in who you are through and through. [...] In closing, Judy illustrated her thoughts that if the corporate world of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals would come out and be true to themselves, their lives, and the world we live in would be a better place. Maybe Matthew would still be here today. ‘It’s fear and ignorance that killed Matthew. If fear is shed, the violence will go with it.’ Acceptance of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would not allow fear and ignorance to exist as hate.
- Erie Gay News report on Judy Shepard at Mercyhurst April 3 2001.

Years after I left Colorado, when I was in Seattle and studying writing, especially formal poetic forms, I wrote an acrostic poem about Shepard. The acrostic is a form you’ve probably played with as a kid, at least – you take a word and make each letter in the word the first letter of the line of the poem. In this case, the assignment was to write an acrostic about a place, capturing both the essence of the geographical space and an event that occurred there. The title is a reference to the date he was attacked.

    MATTHEW 10:6 (Acrostic)

    Framed in thick oak trees, equidistant, streets
    Open to fields marching toward undisturbed horizons
    Regulation-height lawns burn with summer’s oppression
    Tearing boys from youth, from breath. Behind

    Cinnamon foothills, anger and ignorance sprinkle
    Obstructions in the north winds. An easy tragedy
    Laughs. Tail lights disappear, tangled in this inevitable
    Last night – train whistles whisper, keeping company
    Infused with ghosts. Plucked from a fence,
    No one blinks – hospital doors swing shut.
    Shepard boy releases. The world watches the moon set.

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On being a (gender) freak in New York City

October 8, 2008  |  essays  |  3 Comments

I am not noticed much in New York City. My recent trip to Washington State’s Olympic Penninsula reminded me of this and I’ve been more observant of it ever since.

Honestly, to most subway commuters, shoppers, service industry employees, I just don’t register on their freak radar. I dress quite conservatively, usually, for one. I’m often in slacks and button-downs, kakhis and a polo, with a gadget bag and an iPod when I am commuting to and from Manhattan, and I just don’t account for as much attention as someone soliciting for money, someone homeless sleeping on the train, someone with a boa constrictor, someone in a wedding dress.

[Maybe it's a class thing - upper class and working class are noticed, middle class is generally anonymous and neutral?]

I have often noticed that I pass as male here – that people, service employees especially, call me “sir.” But in watching this a little closer I have noticed that it’s not that I’m passing necessarily, I think people are just not paying close enough attention to me – it’s quite obvious I’m female upon just the slightest attentive glance, and I don’t think most people are consciencious enough of genderqueer-ness to call me “sir” by default.

My freak is not in my display of clothing, my costuming, my visible markers – my freak is that my clothing is on this body, that my gender presentation breaks the sex/gender assumption of my societally-instructed gender role. And honestly, the survival skills of New York mean that you don’t – you can’t – pay too much attention to the average Pats and Jamies around you, because you will either: a) get completely overwhelmed by the input, or b) miss observing the dangerous freak and find yourself in harm’s way. It is a skill that, as an empath, observer, and writer, I have had much struggle learning, as I want to be able to observe and notice the things going on around me, and indeed that is one of the best things about New York City, this huge, constant swirl of energy and life. But while it is energizing in small doses, to live inside of it constantly we must develop thick, massive boundaries as to not take in all of the constant comedy and tragedy around us.

When I dress up for a date or for a photo shoot, New York’s reaction to me is slightly different. This is when my masculinity becomes deviant and subversive, even aside from the body it is performed upon, because I start looking like a fag, I add elements of flair and sissy and dress-up and vaudeville, and that is not quite the same conservative masculinity that gets scanned over and does not set off anyone’s freak radar.

So my masculine gender is only “freaky” when it starts to be more feminine, more faggy, more queer. This makes sense now that I’m thinking of it – I just never thought about it like that.

My identity is largely marked by the construction of clothes, costuming, and physical appearance, as I think many butches are, as that’s the most obvious adaptation of the non-normative and subversive gender, and of rejecting the compulsory gender. But strangely I’ve gotten to the point where my construction of this notion of my identity is so “natural” that it doesn’t set off freak radar anymore. It’s only when I take my adopted gender role to more queer places – camping it up, making it more feminine with traditionally feminine colors, adding bold accessories and high contrast – that I start standing out in this city.

about the calendar photo shoot

October 1, 2008  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

The New York City Sex Bloggers 2009 Calendar photo shoot took place this past Sunday at the Slipper Room, and it was a huge success.

The Slipper Room, if you haven’t been, is a really amazing venue where the New York Burlesque troupe reherses and performs. It’s got fabulous gold and red curtains, iron art-deco railings, velvet booths – the works. Burlesque Night Club & Cocktail Lounge floor manager and DJ, Ken, was in attendance to help with logistics (thanks Ken!).

I frequently admired photographer Stacie Joy for her toppiness of the entire shoot. “What if possibly we …” “No.” Stacie would cut us off. “This is what we’re doing.” Stacie’s assistant darren Mayhem was running around and taking care of all the crazy details with much grace. We had our own scene stylist, Jezebel Express, who, when we were swing dancing toward the end of the day, revealed that she’s got a degree in dance – and given her burlesque talents I’m not so surprised. Though I didn’t work with them, also significant for the shoot were hair stylist Danny K Style and makeup artist Stormy, who was celebrating her 50th birthday and was a freakin firecracker. I can’t wait to see her perform some of her burlesque, I bet she’s amazing. Makeup and hairstyle make such a difference, it’s still a surprise to me - Mariella, for example, looked so much like a classic pinup – I couldn’t get over it.

Speaking of the beautiful pinup girls:


Elizabeth, Tess, Diva. (Oh I love heels.)

Twanna was an amazing little brown courtisan and she’s got such a great smile. (Her outfit made me feel like such a pervert, and I suppose that’s part of the point.) Audacia was so elegant in two different corsets and gloves, Desiree pulled off Jessica Rabbit like you wouldn’t believe. Diva‘s identity was protected, so she had to cuddle up with me for a few of the shots (aw, such a tough life, Sinclair, you’re thinking. I know. The things I do for art). Elizabeth was rockin’ some feisty heels and amazing fishnets, which was all the more glamorous because she’s rarely dressed up all girly like that. Jamye has an even bigger camera personality than she does in person, and one of my favorite moments was when she was doing one-legged push-ups to get her muscles to “pop” prior to her shoot. Hot! Lux was lovely and a bit smoky/mysterious in lots of black, Rachel couldn’t get away from featuring her great ass – and why would she? May as well show it off if you got it, yeah? Mariella showed off her perfect hourglass figure and looked like such a pinup. The feather boa tipped the tall leggy blonde Riese into a serious model, she had such the perfect smile-with-your-eyes Tyra thing. The sadist in me got off as I watched Tess writhe in pain getting her corset laced even tighter, and I even got a chance to smack her ass at the end for a minute.

Oh yeah, and me … well, I’ll tell you there were some fabulous accessories involved in my shoot, including a pocketwatch and a cigar. We’ll see which ones turn out, I think we’re all still waiting for the proofs from Stacie.

Twanna, Desiree, and Diva have their own round-up accounts, and Tess posted to the Sex Blogger Calendar blog about it too.

Today’s the deadline to buy a day on the calendar, so head on over to the Sex Blogger Calendar blog and pray that your birthday or blogiversary or kinkiversary or coming-out-iversary is still available.

It’s going to be a hellofa calendar.

Sugarbutch Star: Eileen

September 25, 2008  |  dirty stories  |  26 Comments

This is the first Sugarbutch Star 2008 story, the submission is from Eileen at A Place to Draw Blood Laughing.

Her Best Line

I’ve heard the New York City subway referred to as a “hotbed of sin,” and it’s true, New York has the most attractive people with their most attractive fashion at any given moment.

Tonight, I’m on my way to meet the guys, play some pool, drink more whiskey, share weekend conquest stories. Jesse’s got the night off and will join us later.

She gets on at 9th Street, I notice her immediately. Petite, dark hair, gold glowing skin, big dark eyes, a thin swingy white wrap dress tied at her hip, simple white sandals with a small kitten heel and four straps over her ankles. She sits across from me and doesn’t notice me, she’s absorbed in Murakami’s Wind-up Bird Chronicles.

She’s gorgeous. She crosses and uncrosses her legs slowly, deliberately. She’s got this smoky eye makeup on that makes her dark brown eyes even bigger, liquid and pooling and I haven’t seen her lower her lids and look up under her lashes, but I’d like to.

I wonder if she’s queer. Then I wonder if that matters. Sure it does – it’s more fun to sleep with a girl who knows how to treat a butch in bed. We’re strange creatures, to some, after all. I think what I often think when I see a gorgeous leggy girl, reading some intellectual book, in barely enough clothing: if she’s queer, man, all is right with the world. I keep an eye on her, watching her movements, the way she brings a fingertip to her mouth and laughs to herself, the way her eyes dart, how her palm flips as she turns pages. She leaves her legs uncrossed once and turns her ankle in slightly, an unconscious but slightly submission that makes my hands ache.

I turn up my iPod, attempting to stop staring. She slips me a tiny bit of eye contact, just a sip, and a sideways smile that says she’s known I was there all along.

Damnit.

I shift unconsciously, take my leg down from the seat in front of me and cross my legs, sit up straight. My cock shifted wrong in that maneuver and now it is digging into my inner thigh, but I can’t adjust it – how tacky to go poking at my junk when she’s watching. I can’t shift my position again yet either or she’ll know I am adjusting myself for her gaze. I’m starting to wince from the way the cock is pressing into me, dull pain that may be making a bruise. That’ll be attractive.

I try to look casual and stare out the window as the subway takes the Manhattan bridge into the city. She turns pages, crosses her legs again. I reach into my pocket and finger one of my cards with only my name and cell number, black text on a simple white background. Classic. Minimal. I don’t need adornment. Except maybe her.

At Broadway/Lafayette I adjust my cock – finally, finally – as she shifts and other passengers block our view of each other, then I move to stand above her, holding onto the rail. She doesn’t look up. The train pulls into the station and I place my card in her book. She looks up, startled, and I get that amazing view of her eyes, the one I was waiting for, peering under her long dark lashes, open and big and I could get lost in the way they shimmer. She sees me and blinks.

“In case you want to call me,” I say, then step off the train.

I’ve stopped sweating by the time I get to the bar. My cell rings while I order my first Jameson rocks.

“Hello?”

“Well, if it isn’t Sinclair Sexsmith.”

No caller ID. Could it be her? I gulp. Does she know me? It must be her. So soon? “Yes, who’s this?”

“Jane,” she says. “On the D train. I thought I saw you notice me.”

“… You were impossible to miss.”

I can almost hear her blush. “Are you busy tonight?” she says.

“Out with friends at the moment, but I could be free later,” I say.

“Good. Come out to the bar at 24th and 10th. 10pm. Alright?”

“… Alright.” Why would I argue?

*

The bar is nearly empty, low lights and a few single patrons at the dark counter, quiet. Some low music is coming from somewhere, soft and subtle and electronic. The bartender is polishing pint glasses and laughing low with a woman in red, candles reflected in the glass as she polishes.

“Hey,” I say as I approach the bar, making eye contact with the bartender. “Can I get a Jameson rocks?”

She nods, but continues to wipe the glasses. I shoot her a puzzled look. She nods again – a gesture this time, I catch it, she’s directing me to look behind me.

I turn and she’s there. Jane. Same white wrap dress, same long legs and strappy sandals, same gorgeous dark eyes. She’s sipping a martini. A smile on her face like she’s amused. She has a second glass on her table: whiskey. On the rocks. Ready for me.

I take one, two, deliberate steps to her table. Place both my palms on it and lean over her, still standing, so she has to look up at me.

I tip my chin to the drink. “That for me?”

She swallows, holding back a smile like she’s the cat who got the canary, and nods. Almost nervous, but she’s covering it well. She’s so sexy with her tiny little movements, fingertips on the glass, looking at me shyly from the side. I don’t believe she’s queer. No, that’s not it – I don’t believe she’s the kind of femme who primarily sleeps with women. Yet. She picked me up, sure, but I’m beginning to fear I’m her experiment. Maybe she’s just a fan – but then again, so what? So maybe she knows what I like – am I being taken by the ways femme can undo me? Am I so preoccupied by her smooth legs (oh my hands on her ankles running up to her knees), her big eyes (looking up like she could swallow me), that I become willing? I’m a sucker sometimes. I’m skeptical. This girl clearly knows how to wield her power.

I keep eye contact for just a flicker, say “thank you,” sit down, and take a sip.

*

“I changed it,” she’s saying. “It’s my middle name, really. My grandmother’s. My mom is a second-waver, gave me one of those gender neutral names I always hated. But I never was a girly girl until I started dating butches.”

She leans in, as if telling me a secret. My second Jameson is melted ice and she’s halfway through her second martini. “I grew up a tomboy, I have three brothers. I mean, I was the bully on the playground! I begged my parents to let me play T-ball and little league like my brothers did. I was the only girl in the league, for a while. Others came after me. My first girlfriend in high school, we met on my softball team. I know, so gay.”

We laugh. I knock the ice around in my glass. High school girlfriend. Duly noted.

“I used to dress up for dances and stuff and get made fun of so much. ‘Hey, I thought you were gay!’ So I put my dresses away. Tried to fit into the lesbian uniform.” Jane shrugged, fingering the speared olives in her glass, leaned back again. “But, Sin, seriously – once I finally took my real gender out of the closet, it’s been adolescence all over again. New desires, new awakenings. I feel like a teenager.” The tip of her toes brush against my ankle.

“Is that so.” I lean in, catch her gaze; her eyes are alight.

“’Femme is knowing what you’re doing,’” she says, looking down into her drink, then giving me a penetrating stare. “Isn’t that how you say it?”

She’s quoting me. It’s hot. She gulps the martini, the liquid too much for her mouth, and chokes a little, sputters, then smiles and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. My cock stirs.

“C’mon,” she says, and gets up.

*

Her place is nearby. It’s why she chose that bar – to interview me before taking me home. She planned the whole thing. Those were here best lines back there. She wants me, and she’s willing to work for it. I like that.

She locks the door behind us, positioning herself next to me, taking a few steps like it’s a dance and she’s leading so I follow, and then my back is against the door and she’s sighing and flipping her hair and waiting for me to kiss her.

So I do.

She tastes like cream. Smooth, just a tiny bit of thickness, mostly ease and softness. She waits for me to guide her. To show her how I like to be kissed. She doesn’t rush in and thrust her tongue, just makes herself warm, wet, open, available.

I let desire increase slowly. Start soft as I get a grip on her hips, her lower back cradled in my forearm, fingers eagerly pulling at the thin fabric of her dress. She lets it get stronger in me, slides her ankle against my calf as she wraps one leg around mine low. I start growling a little, that ravaging tone that is not quite a moan, but a hunger, building.

She arches her back, gasps, cries out, leans into me like she’s nuzzling, and starts laughing, delighted. “Fuck,” she says and looks at me, catches my gaze, then gets shy and looks down. She fingers my buckle.

“Unbuckle your belt?” she says. And I take it back – that’s her best line.

I do, swiftly, pulling the button open, popping the fly, taking my cock out as she kneels, knees wide and pelvis tilted like she’s already on top of me and easing down on something big.

She takes me in her mouth tentatively at first, just the head, wraps one hand around it, gauging the length. Can she swallow it all? She’s thinking. She laps her tongue, runs her lips down the shaft, then draws a breath and swallows me whole. It’s too much for her mouth and she makes a little gulping sound, choking a little. Her smoky eyes water and she looks up at me, keeping it in her mouth. I fight the urge to thrust in again. I can feel the tight O of her throat clenching and she tries to get hold of her gag reflex, then pulls her mouth off and puts her hand back. She rocks her pelvis a little as she sucks, the pretty white fabric of her dress between her knees is falling open and I want my fingers there, want to hear her gasp and oh and yes.

Goddamn she feels good.

She keeps hold of my cock at the base, keeps it pressed against me so I can feel everything. She works it good, pressure and speed and oh god I’m going to burst in her mouth. My hands in her hair, on the back of her head. Her gorgeous smoky eyes are smudged and she looks even more beautiful.

I love it when they start to dishevel. Makes me want to tangle her hair, pull at her dress, smear what’s left of her lipstick.

*

“Fuck me,” she whispers, a command, a request, a desperate need, as she pulls me on top of her on the bed and wraps her legs around the backs of my thighs. I drag my palm from her knee up under her dress and push it aside, tear at the tie and it falls away in one neat cascade of fabric. She nuzzles into my neck again, arms around my shoulders as she sucks my earlobe into her mouth and flicks it with her tongue.

I groan. Fuck. Exposing her skin I take her all in, tracing my gaze along her body, her curvy waist and small soft belly, round breasts, small but thick, a handful, cherry nipples and no bra. I catch one in my mouth and encircle the other with my hand. She arches her back, sighs a little, taking a breath in and leaning back, her mouth open, eyes closed, hands at my shoulders, gasping.

I lift up to kiss her. Her mouth supple again and she’s eager, open. I’m hard and a little fierce, desire honed and sharpened and ready. Her noises are muffled by my mouth.

I bring my hand to the back of her neck and take hold of a fistful of hair. A gamble with some girls, but Jane wants to be taken, I can feel it. She responds immediately, like a cat does to a stroke of its back, arching and curling into the touch of a hand. Eyes closed, she’s taking it in. A gasp and she’s still, waiting. I keep my grip. I drag my other fingers down the side of her body, gently, and her nerves are increased from the immobility. She shivers but does not squirm. Waiting.

My hand at her stomach, on top of her thigh, pushing her legs open. I smile. I’m smug in these moments, I can almost start laughing from the waves of power and dominance and pleasure. Go ahead, try me. Go ahead, give in. I’ll take you, I’ll catch you. I’ll make you. Come.

I cup her pussy with my hand and drag my fingers along her lips from on top of her sweet smooth panties, I can feel the outline and she’s swollen. She unhinges her hips and spreads them wide, but I need them together so I can slide her panties off. I twist and pull and toss them aside, pull her up by the wrists so I can push the dress from her shoulders, expose her fully.

My mouth on her clavicle, her skin sweet and smooth.

“Please,” she whispers, airy, her breath hot. “Please.”

I nearly laugh aloud, nearly chuckle, something strong moving deep in me, grinning and restraining myself. I push her gently back down, grab at my cock with my hand.

She reaches for it, lifts her head and shoulders and her stomach flexes. She licks her lips, looks at me. My eyes are on my cock, pushing at my jeans, peeling back the split around the zipper so it doesn’t obstruct. It’s a silicone cock, just boiled, and doesn’t need a condom. I find her cunt with two fingers, my thumb along the shaft, and she’s wet, eyes begging for it, waiting, mouth open, jaw tight, one hand behind her on the bed, grabbing at the blankets and waiting for me, breathing in, trying not to growl or scream or hit me, trying not to roll right off the bed and run with all the energy buzzing under her skin right now.

“So sweet,” I murmur, tip of my cock touching her cunt. “So, so sweet.”

She’s tight, I can feel her contract, thick, around me as I slide in. Slowly, slowly. I get to the base and extend my torso, she’s watching me and I capture her mouth in a kiss as I slide out. Softly, softly. She adjusts her hips. We are quiet. Sounds of breath and bodies. Her brown eyes are smokier than ever, big and open with flecks of gold that catch the light and I swear I can see myself reflected as she gives me the shyest smile.

“Oh – oh – fuck,” under her breath, she leans her head back and her neck is long, stretched, as I pull out quicker, slam back inside. “More –” she gasps, “more.” Right in my ear, a whisper. I shudder, work in her faster.

“Goddamn,” I mutter, a little breathless, my dick swelling and I can feel how she tightens. Her legs around my waist now. Pressing hard against me with resistance, friction.

She bites my shoulder. Claws into my upper back with her hands and I take a sharp breath in, like a splash of cold water, a sudden sharp sensation.

And it’s there again, that urge to laugh, to chuckle low as I regain my breath and control. I take hold of her hair again, position my arm across her chest so I’m holding her down and lift myself to my knees, legs apart and slid under her hips. I get the angle just right. Low and tight. A little room to wiggle and the strap of my harness is hitting my clit just right.

This goddamn girl is going to make me come.

She can feel the shift in me and her eyes widen, gaining a look of intensity, concentration, focus. So much effort, so much work, to let someone in, to trust a stranger to hold you up, even your dirty, dark, private places. I want to. I want to be able to catch her, I feel she’s falling into some other space and her stomach contracts, she clenches everything as I thrust in, and again, and again, until finally it is precisely right, that one perfect spot and pressure and we are both unraveled, bursting, shaking at the seams, simultaneously, all at once, then shuddering, shaking, gasping, reveling in each other’s bodies, and in our own.

“So,” Jane says after a moment, low murmurs in her throat, happy sounds of quiet satisfaction, satiation, saturation. “Indian or Thai?”

“Thai,” I say. My hand traces lazy circles on her hip, over her skin, delicate as lace.

She kisses me, soft again, supple and deep, and gets up to make the call. She doesn’t ask me what I want. She pulls on a robe that barely covers her ass and winks at me as she leaves the room. I tuck my cock into my pants and tidy my perfectly messy hair.

She returns to the bedroom with another whiskey rocks and a glass of white wine, replaces the phone on the nightstand and opens the curtain on her bedroom window, revealing a sliding glass door. She opens it and gestures to me; I follow. It is a lovely view of 10th avenue, a dozen floors up, and we watch the traffic. I marvel at the quiet when I am just above the city.

The quiet is a little long and I should say something. I open my mouth.

“So, Sinclair,” says Jane. “Where are you from?”

I grin, and take a sip of the whiskey, so smooth, and the mouthful goes down easy.

upon returning, a small complaint

September 24, 2008  |  journal entries  |  14 Comments

I was out of town last week, and now have returned from the other coast, the coast where the sun sets correctly into the water rather than over land, where I was in the Pacific Northwest primarily visiting my very large extended family for five days. I have all sorts of ideas about family and heritage and where I come from, about having kids and having a traditional structure, about how much my sisters and I are the freaks of the family.

Also strange to be referred to as niece, daughter, sister, granddaughter. Those words have never felt so ill-fitting. At some point I went to the bathroom and the door was labeled LADIES and I nearly stopped right there and turned around.

I am not a “lady,” not really. It’s not that I’m necessarily offended by it – I feel lucky to be part of groups of ladies at times, I love that I’m in women’s circles and women’s groups and women’s friendships, but even that word – woman – I’ve never quite felt right about it. I never refer to myself as such.

It’s not that I’m offended by it, it just doesn’t fit. Like too-big clothes or trying to put a hippie in black goth lipstick.

I have a friend who tells childhood stories that always start, “When I was a little girl …” and it struck me when I noticed it that I never refer to myself that way. I’ll say “kid,” as in “when I was a kid.” These days, I say “guy” – “I’m that kind of guy” – when referring to myself. Sometimes I use dyke or queer or butch I suppose, but I don’t ever use woman, lady, girl, or even sister, daughter, niece.

Still, it’s not that I’m transitioning – I’m not – and it’s not that I don’t identify with the lesbian/feminist communities – I do. Maybe I’m too much the poet, too much the semantics theorist, but some of these words just don’t fit.

I suppose this is just one of those frustrating gender binary things, and yet another of the reasons why butch is a trans identity of sorts. And yet another reason why I am still, continuously, inspired to keep doing this work, to understanding gender and creating new language to adequately describe myself and others, to contributing to the community and lifting each other up.

So there was a wedding in the Pacific Northwest, which is what prompted the large paternal family reunion. There are few events that are more gendered than a wedding. I thought it was going to be a small family wedding, as a few of the others had been, but the 20-something family members were actually in the minority and the community of friends and colleagues were abundant. At the church, I got sneered at by the small-town strangers. I was a bit flamboyantly dressed – pink button down, black argyle vest, no tie (I didn’t think it was going to be so formal!). But certainly I was not the only one dressed up, it was a freakin’ wedding!

Just served to remind me that I’m an outsider. I forget that, in New York City, where I don’t generally get noticed walking down the street unless I have a particularly good hair day. I fit in, I don’t stand out really.

The throwing the bouquet / throwing the garter felt like very strong gender-defining moments in the evening. No way in hell I was going to go out there and catch the bouquet – and actually I’m not sure I have ever been to a wedding where one was thrown, now that I think about it. But I did get out there when it was time to throw the garter. I couldn’t stay, though – I was too much on display in a room-full of too many people who had been giving me too many bad looks throughout the day.

I was little more than The Dyke From New York City all weekend.

I’m lucky, I suppose, is what I should take away from that experience – if I lived there, I would not dress as I do, would not have the fun I do with my hair and pink button-downs and vests and ties and belt buckles and cufflinks and jackets. I’m glad I have that opportunity, that I live in a place that not only accepts it, but encourages and, at times, demands it.

I didn’t expect it to be the reason, but really, I came to New York City so I could learn how to dress. Nothing has taught me fashion or style like this place.

Sometimes it is so uncomfortable to not conform to gender roles.

PS: I’m tremendously behind on email and correspondance, forgive me as I catch up.

On Pronouns, Mine

September 16, 2008  |  essays  |  10 Comments

I’ve had almost half a dozen people ask me in the past few weeks about my pronoun of choice, so here’s the deal.

When referring to me as Sinclair Sexsmith, I go by the masculine honorific – by Mr. Sexsmith. That, I do feel strongly about. Pronouns have generally then followed, so I am often referred to as “he” and “him.” That’s fine, and I think the masculine character that I have cultivated here as my alter-ego fits quite well with masculine pronouns. I didn’t expect it to happen and I didn’t quite plan it, and I don’t know if I ever would have asked for my friends or lovers to play with male pronouns in my personal life, and I very much like it, more than I thought I would.

But, female pronouns in referring to me as Sinclair are also totally fine. In fact, in some ways, I like that some people refer to me with male pronouns and some with female pronouns, because I firmly am occupying both spaces. In some ways I like the gender neutral pronoun options like ze and hir (pronounced “here”). The Gender Intelligence Agency introduced the pronouns pe (pronounced “pay” not “pee”) and per, short for person, which I quite like but which is proving incredibly awkward in speech. Maybe I’ll try to write a story with them in it sometime, just to try it out, get more used to it.

Problem with pe and per is that it doesn’t have a third possessive adjective version of the pronoun – the “his/her/its” version. I guess that would be per, again? To borrow wikipedia’s structure, it looks like:

Pe laughed.
I called per.
Per eyes gleamed.
That is pers.
Pe likes perself.

Yeah, I like the philosophy behind that. But looking at the fifteen different gender-neutral pronouns that wikipedia lists as potential options, I hesitate to think that we need more of them. I guess we keep making them because the others don’t quite work, yeah? I kinda wish there was more consensus, but some part of that has to come about organically, about what gets put into use in daily life for a significant piece of a community.

In my offline life, I do not go by male pronouns, at all. As things go on, that is becoming more strange, actually – my sister referred to me recently as her sister, and I thought, oh yeah, I’m a sister to someone. I’m a daughter. Someday I’ll be an aunt, a mother. I think lesbian dad is rubbing off on me that way, in that I don’t know if I’ll ever be “mama.”

I do go by sir, sometimes boy, and other masculine words like that in a sexualized context … but there really aren’t very many of those words for butch tops in bed. But that’s a slightly different post.

So yeah, did I make that clear? Either pronoun of the main two pronouns are fine, neither of them fit exactly – but please do use the masculine honorific (and thanks to jesse james for finding that word for me).