||[Jun. 30th, 2015|03:48 am]
Pride means different things, depending on who says it.|
If you watch Sense8, it's as much about remembering our dead as it is about debauchery.
If you watch the proceedings from afar, it's about colour, glitter and celebration. The here, the now, the celebration of us.
If you were Irish and marching this year through inner-city residential Dublin, watching people come out of their houses to watch us, and cheer us on... it's about gratitude.
For me, each and every year is about normalisation in some way. Every day, of each year, I feel the need to scuttle, leaving room for the people who obviously aren't me and have more claim. I stick to my job, I'm good at that. It is my domain. If you can be a guy, stick to the dress code (in my corner of the industry, a t-shirt and jeans), and play nice with the customer, you can be as weird as you want on the job.
Every day of every year, I think of myself without shape; I hide under clothes.
Every day of every year, I possess a voice that I can't use too much without becoming an annoying whine; I keep myself in moderation.
Every day of every goddamn year, I can find a place that allows me to express one aspect of myself or another, but not the totality; I keep myself fragmented.
Pride... Pride is when I walk out there as me. It's when I rediscover what I consider myself to be. It's when I cast off the erosions of the year, then look at and reassemble what's left.
Since college, I hide from contact, in case my personal space infects others.
Since college, I dress only in jeans and t-shirts. No makeup, no nail varnish - hell, even in the motor tax office, I wore nail varnish - no odd items of clothing, breaking out into velvet. Just t-shirts.
I'm getting brave these days and sometimes wearing fitted t-shirts... but bearing an obligatory emblem of nerd culture; can't stray too far from the uniform.
There are times I look back at posts from when I was a teenager, and I envy her. I sometimes think she was a better person than I am.
I've had options taken from me, and I've given some up as a sacrifice for an easy life. I've written before about my hair, and how losing it was a loss of identity for a while, but it was also a loss of options. Options for transition, the easier life was to not worry about leaving the house without fake hair. The option of investing what remained of myself into a hairpiece or pieces just left me feeling cold at the mere thought; they could be taken away from me just as easily as my hair... even easier.
I lost my spirituality; I can pinpoint the moment, the exact geographical location, and the book I read... let me look it up and I could give you a page number. I'd never willingly give up my spirituality, nor would I ever act to take it away from others; people like that are assholes.
I lost all these unique points of Me, and I sloughed down to something less than I was before.
The Pride March is where I take the remainder and show it off as best I'm able.
My personal space recedes to a fraction of what it is. I exchange compliments with strangers freely. I'm unafraid to say what I like. I bear myself to the city, and the city doesn't flinch.
But the magic... the real magic is in what happens after.
The after-parties are when we take over. The gay bars fill up, wall to wall, an occasion you'll only see twice a year. The streets around them fill until traffic needs to be diverted. So, the rest of us invade the straight bars with our antics, high on afterglow of the pilgrimage from the Gardens of Remembrance to the park.
We are the new normal then. A drunken intermingling of personal spaces. An invitation to friends to join, and witness our desires and impulses, unchained from any expectations of the rest of the year. Nothing is too gay, too queer, too trans. We exist, and we celebrate each others' existence. Some of my deepest flirting happened on those nights. And in the days following, I have felt the vestiges of that potent mix of an acknowledgement of my existence and empowerment, as I walk through the city like I am fucking part of it without a need to file down my edges.
This afterparty was no different.
I flashed to a select crowd at a house-party. I have no problem with flashing; I don't have shape. I normally don't flash because I have no shape.
People saw what I grew by myself for myself. What I didn't expect was the reaction (cue clickbait title of "You'll never believe what happened next"). I knew one person was somewhat jealous of what I have (I nearly typed that as "had", but they're still there last I checked), but I'll never know why as I'm equally awed by hers. It inspired one friend to order me to switch tops, into an almost-seethrough white racerback sleeveless vest.
Apparently it suited me. When I looked at myself, I could (and imagine I still would) only see my flaws, but friends and strangers said I looked good. I didn't know how to even... the barrage just sent my brain into a spin. Core dumping, no I/O device receiving signals. In most cases, I managed to pull myself out enough just to tumble out the word, "Thanks", but I honestly could not understand how what they were saying applied to me. I couldn't follow on my sentence. Extra words seemed superfluous, and even counter to the point, but just "thanks" standing alone seemed woefully lacking. So my mind span.
Friends backed off with the compliments, and I kept the top on. There were slower, more gentle compliments through the night, and I still didn't know how, but I was able to attempt accepting them even if I didn't know the magic of the top. What did it show? What did it hide? I don't understand what people saw, and can't see it myself, but I hope one day I might. It represents an alternative to the constant erosion of my self. I don't want to wake up at 50 limited to the few options I will inevitably whittle down through the decades. I don't want to have a lifetime uniform of my own making. But I'm terrified of mistakes, especially when I feel incapable of telling good from bad.
It was a reminder of how much I limit myself to my perception of flaws. I know every alopecia-patch on my head. I know when new ones arise, and when some are filled in with fuzz, if even temporarily. I lost my hair, and now it's the thing between the patches. I'm too afraid to get it styled in case they tell me the only option is to shave it off.
I am a shapeless thing with hair between patches, and that night proved my friends saw something else, and I think I've forgotten how to see what they do.
There are times when I feel conditional acceptance in groups. An invitation to lesbian night out playing pool, where we eventually talk about our parents' lacklustre attempts at sex ed; I shared something, and we all laughed, knowing where we all came from, and I didn't feel left out. It was cool, but limited to that time and place.
I once met someone with alopecia, and we were able to talk, and simply laugh about our experiences without explaining context, that it was all right to engage with any reaction other than sympathy. We talked about eyebrows, eyelashes and that funny feeling where you feel only half your hairs stand on end. It was cool, but so limited to us hairless monkeys that to find one is rare (the other guy is a homeless guy, he's fun to talk to).
I was once invited to a girls' night. We talked, and traded thoughts. We weren't limited to talk of boys, but talk of us. That was good. Most "girls nights" I've been invited to have been boy-centric, about anyone other than themselves, I could never be that kind of girl, and I can't even emulate it.
All of those nights allowed aspects of me to be less censored than the rest. But this night was me in its totality.
I kissed that night, too. I think it was the first time I kissed since the taxi driver. I think the last time before that was the grandmother. I think the last time before that was the closest thing I've had to a date... everything was right but that kiss. It's a pity, because I would have liked it better. That kiss excited me, simply because it happened. But the kiss wasn't for me.
I don't enjoy kissing that much. With my first two partners it was nice. My first was more than nice but made me feel so embarassed that I ran off. Then I tried again. But the first real kiss was with someone I held a flame for, a boozy, pre-drunken kiss that shot straight through my spine. She felt it too. She rarely liked kissing much either, but she liked it too; I'll treasure that.
This kiss was technical, rhythmical. I always wonder what to do with my tongue, and so I think too hard. Apparently what I do works though. Or at least it worked for him that night. He liked it, but he was also an asshole about a friend, so I put in distance for the rest of the night. He was clingy for a bit, nearly pouring coca-cola into my beer. I refused his coke, I have no idea what that must mean.
It was the first kiss since the taxi driver. But at the party, this guy asked. It made a difference. I was afraid I couldn't do it, but I did. I did not freak out. Just like being able to eat onions again, I could kiss. Not without the fear of my reaction, but at least without the reaction. That was good.
I may have been convenient, but I think I was more than that. It was more than just being there at the time.
The thing I associate most about post-pride is touch. I frequently wonder why I shy away these days. I jump away when I don't see touch coming, even from friends. Sometimes I act like I've accidentally invaded someone's personal space by them touching me; something toxic. Pride Night seems to be a night I put it away. Pride can be a night of Touch, sexual and non-sexual. This was non-sexual, but nice. I was touched, and I didn't flinch, even though it came from behind. A friend braided my wig, and the feeling of stray hairs, and eventually light touches on my shoulder felt good. I said so. They continued. I simply sat there, because I could do nothing else. Later as she lay against me, as we exhausted our last wind, I ran my hand over her shoulder, not for any effect but comfort.
A man I'd met that night, asked me if he could kiss me on the cheek. I said yes. I think it meant more to him than to me. I think I was someone else to him.
As I finished my drink and had one last smoke, I talked to someone open who is very open about her sexual life, and she prefixed an explanation with, "You know how you can tell someone fancies you?", I said I couldn't. I can get inklings but write them off. It doesn't happen often. I'm glad I couldn't think of the office Christmas party. I let myself believe them, and I was right, but I hit a trap of who she saw... I think she saw a man with some shape. I have no idea what she saw, but she never saw it after I added her on social media, outing myself as trans. I never properly talked to her since that Christmas party.
But normally, I can't tell. I can't tell, and I'm not sure I want to. I sense inklings and think it's me thinking too much of myself. I sense inklings, and I swallow them, thinking of the potential headache before me as I disentangle what they see from what I am, and see if there's anything left that they're interested in.
I don't think the party-goer got that. She puts being unable to identify attraction as an Irish thing, and I wonder if it's that simple for me.
But each Pride night shows me what I could be as a person if I reached for it. Each Pride night shows me what I can do if I just had the tools to do it. Each Pride night shows me what life is like as someone who's not an exception.
I don't know how to be a person every day, but that annual reminder helps.