And Yet None of My Bullies Were Fat…

diet coke guyThere’s a Golden Girls episode where Blanche meets a guy at the library, agrees to go out on a date with him, balks when she realizes he’s in a wheelchair, and hilarity (naturally) ensues.  At one point, the girls find themselves sitting around the kitchen table hashing out the pros and cons of Blanche’s latest romantic entanglement — you remember that episode, right? — and Sophia weighs in:  “Just because a man’s in a wheelchair,” she says, “doesn’t mean he can’t satisfy a woman.”  Invited to elaborate, she unspools one of her famous Sicily stories.  “Picture it,” she says (and I paraphrase here), “Sicily: 1918.  A man in a wheelchair satisfies a woman.  It’s a short story but I think it proves my point.”  In this spirit, the following post:

When I was in the eighth grade (nearly thirty years ago, I am aghast to calculate), our school was one block from the nearest 7-11, and, with unfettered access to the Big Gulp soda fountain, I became what might charitably be described as a fan of Diet Coke.  I had only recently grown tall enough that my body stretched my weight up and down rather than from side to side, and I wanted to stay that way, and it had the word “diet” in it — if one Diet Coke could make you skinny, imagine the miracles that 200 fluid ounces a day could make manifest.  On the very first day (literally Day One) of high school, therefore, I didn’t even hesitate — why would I? — to plunk in my two nickels or whatever vending machines cost in those days and order up my Diet Coke come lunch time.  I wish I was exaggerating, but the hostile, shitty, faggot-bashing, limp-wristed lisping “Diet Coke” heckling started up before the actual can even clunked out of the machine, and it carried on for two years, until I transferred schools.  You read that right: I was intimidated and verbally hassled by the same eight or ten dickheads every single day (they did take weekends off), for two years, because I drank a fucking Diet Coke with my lunch.  A few of my so-called friends bailed on me, one or two of the gayer ones actively participating in the bashing bullshit to deflect attention from the faggoty gold bracelets with which they dripped, but my friends who had the balls and the strength of character to stick around were heckled by association, some to an extent of which I have only been made aware in recent years.  All because of a can of pop.  (Well, that, and a crippling fear of Self, with which I truly hope those guys grew up to come to terms, not that it’s my job to wish them well.)DIET COKE

Skipping ahead: Picture it: The airplane the other day, from LAX to Denver.  A big gay flight attendant serves a Diet Coke to an honest-to-God (according to his leather jacket, leather hat, t-shirt, and tattoos) Hell’s Angel.  And this burly, bearded, busted-up-lookin’ biker dude, when offered the can, demurs, satisfied with a little 6-oz. plastic cup of it.  Which is fine; I’m way past the point of judging people by what they order to drink on the airplane (although not above judging them by how they order it.  “Would you like something to drink?”  “No, thank you.  Just a black coffee and a tomato juice.”  OK, if those aren’t “to drink,” I’m gonna need to know just what the hell you are planning to do with them before I serve them to you…).  You want a Diet Coke, I’m happy to serve it to you, and you wanna split the can with your tough-as-nails wife, frankly, I think there’s a certain romance in there somewhere.  But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t strike me; would those Regis dipshits have had the nerve to laugh at this guy?  To belittle or berate him over a beverage choice?  And pay for it — if you’ll allow me to rhetorically ascribe imaginary and stereotypical violent tendencies to a man who was perfectly friendly to me — by spitting their teeth into a puddle of their own blood in the parking lot?   I doubt it.  And not least because by now I bet they all drink the shit on airplanes, too.  A big reason that being bullied is so frustrating is that it can be so frickin’ arbitrary.  I was an easy target, and self-loathing has to go somewhere, although a better place to put it would be Away.  I’m out now.  I’ll never be skinny again, and I don’t drink more than a 6-pack of pop in a year.  I serve a million Diet Cokes a year, to every kind of person, without even thinking about it.  It struck me funny the other day, is all — this dude as butch as they come, and all the shit I had to put up with?  Like I said, it’s a short story.  But surely it proves some kind of point…

My Polyester Pride

As many of you know, Pride is a favorite subject of mine, and one on which I’ve been posting kind of a lot lately.  I’m proud to be gay, proud to be a drag queen’s husband, proud to hate broccoli — throw me a character trait or a physical feature and I can crank out 1,500 words on why it’s awesome before Pandora even asks me if I’m still listening.  While my pride in the flying career to which I’ve been called is related, in some ways, to Gay Pride (a link that we can explore in depth in its very own post), it’s a Pride that I don’t spend a lot of my free time or blog space quacking about.  They’ve written whole books (surely) on how gross broccoli is, but how rhapsodic are you really gonna wax about your Coke-handing-out skills, legendary though they may be?

sky team

Then on Saturday, an Asiana Airlines 777 crashed — rather spectacularly — on landing in San Francisco.  They lost a tail, they lost a wing, and they lost two teenaged passengers before the smoldering wreck skidded to a stop in a ditch between runways.  Two flight attendants were injured when slide-rafts inflated in the cabin, pinning them to their jumpseats; their co-workers, at the end of an eleven-hour flight, wearing high heels, opened the usable exits and executed what appears to have been a “textbook” evacuation of an airplane that threatened to burst into flames at any moment.  According to an article on the Wall Street Journal’s website, a passenger “saw a diminutive flight attendant, Jiyeon Kim, who was carrying injured passengers down the aisle, to get them off the plane. ‘She was a hero,’ he said. ‘This tiny, little girl was carrying people piggyback, running everywhere, with tears running down her face. She was crying, but she was still so calm and helping people. I took a photo of her.’  He said the flight attendants got everyone off the plane as the smoke billowed inside.”  As they are trained, and must come to work prepared, to do, a crew of exhausted flight attendants with — I promise you — nothing but their downtown San Francisco layover on their minds leapt to their feet with their hearts in their throats and saved nearly three hundred lives.

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Equal Rights Blog Hop: My Two Cents

equalrightbloghop

Click here to hop on!


“What Being a Member of the GLBT Community Means to Me”

I’m a rule-breaker.  Sort of.  Actually, in my non-writing job, I’m more of a rule enforcer.  Fasten your seat belt, turn off your phone — I’m a real stickler.  Unless you’re cute, in which case I can usually be counted on to let most stuff slide.  (Do fasten your seat belt, though, for Heaven’s sake; it’s summertime and the bumps get crazy.  You won’t be so cute when the airplane floor and ceiling are finished with you.)  The rules I sometimes break are more like Life Rules.  You know, the ones They try so hard to enforce: like, you have to a. look a certain way or b. sleep with a certain gender or c. eat more broccoli.  Um, a. no I don’t, b. ok, I do, but it’s not the one I’m supposed to, and c. gross.

rainboysTo be a part of the Queer Community, you have to break a bunch of rules.  If you didn’t disappoint your parents or gross out the (closet-case) jocks at your high school, you need to at least terrify a good many of the small-minded people you pass on the street.  You want into the Queer Community, you’ve probably been designated as “other” by another, more traditional community before you even come looking for us.  And the best part of the Queer Community?  You’re gonna be different here, too.  For all that we are discussed and legislated and marginalized as One Group by what we’ll call the Dominant Paradigm (because it’s pretentious and fun!), we are (ironically?) a community that stretches the term “heterogenous” to its limits.  Not only are we everywhere, but we are everyone.  We are old, we are young; we are fat, we are fit; we are macho men and glittery girls, glittery femme boys and macho butch women; we are one of the few communities that pulls members from every corner of the world.  Every race, every culture, every social strata produces queers, and I love it.  Cast out from — or choosing to reject — more insular communities, we continue to meet challenges within this one.  I am perfectly at home in the queer community, but not always comfortable; my worldview is in constant upheaval: Being Queer can look like that?  Can act like that?  Can have an ass like that?  On the surface, I might have little in common with, say, a transgender Latina lesbian, but it is precisely our differences that link us to this large, loud community, and it is in the mind-bending diversity of All That Is Queer that I find the freedom to be Exactly Me.  Whoever that is.

A (generous and thoughtful) review of my novel Kiss Me, Straight on Amazon remarks that the book “is about the beautiful thing that occurs when we have community in our lives,” and finding a sense of Home in a changing world is a big part of my forthcoming novella Crazy Like Fox.  While many of our ill-wishers would use the threat of separation and isolation to keep questioning Queers toeing the Society line, it is my mission not just as a writer but as a big fat queer in general to inspire people to follow their heart wherever it might take them without fear.  A “community” that wouldn’t want you doesn’t deserve you, but this community will shove over and make room for you.  We won’t make you turn off your phone, but you might wanna buckle up — the ride gets kinda wild.  

(For the Queer Town Abbey Grand Prize Giveaway: My worldview is in constant what?)

Thanks for hopping by!  A lucky commenter (who includes his or her email address) will be chosen at random on July 8th to win a signed copy of my debut novel, Kiss Me, Straight, a JMS Books release.  And don’t forget to click here to keep hopping!

On the Topic of Being Proud

forsaleJune is once again upon us, and Pride is busting out all over.  This weekend, Denver celebrates its annual Pride Fest, and this year, now that I suddenly find myself shacked up with something of a local celebrity in Denver’s queer community, we have splashier plans than usual.  It is well known to regular readers of Mister S that I love being Proud, and it is my mission as an artist to encourage You to be Proud, too, wherever your particular, unique brand of Awesomeness may dwell.  At this stage in my life, being Proud is easy and fun, and, in my fervor to see everyone around me fling loose whatever shackles are standing between them and their own brand of Pride, I often gloss over the early steps in my own journey, some of which were steeper than I would necessarily prefer to highlight.  I will tell anyone who asks (and people ask all the time) that I have “always” known that I was gay.  And it’s true: as far back as I can remember, deep into little kid-dom, I always knew I was “different,” even before I fully understood what that meant.  But “knowing” that I was different and digging deep enough to find the courage to allow my difference to manifest itself were two very distinct processes.  Knowing it was easy; going to my first Coalition to End Homophobia meeting in college and saying with a straight face (ha ha) that I was there as an “ally” rather than as an actual Queer was excruciating.

It was only a few nights later that the ridiculous way claiming not to be gay made me feel prompted to come out to my New Best Friend, who took most of the wind out my sails (and cemented a lifelong friendship) by saying, “Me, too.”  “But, you can’t be a lesbian,” she still teases me for saying.  “Aren’t they all mean?”  Ever a trooper, she embarked on a long (and, I’m sure, unrewarding) career of prying open my eyes, mind, and heart on myriad issues of tolerance by trying to help me open my heart to tolerating my damn self.  Having enjoyed a certain Queer Rebirth at Long Beach Pride at the end of our freshman year, she returned to campus with a brilliant evangelical plan: she would take me to Pride and let the healing begin.  Stranded in the Inland Empire, with something of a Pride Emergency on her hands, it was determined that waiting until the large summer festivals was too much time wasted, and so we set out for Pomona Pride.  The Tiniest Pride Ever, at least in 1991, it didn’t stretch to the outer limits of its small municipal host park. Its main feature was a lanky S&M enthusiast cavorting clumsily across the one stage in leopard-print Dove shorts, snapping his riding crop and preaching to his wide-eyed audience (of two) that Love is the True Handcuff, and none of the attendees were of the Water Polo-Playing Frat Boy variety over whom I spent so much of my free time pining, so I didn’t quite see the point.  Was I supposed to be “proud” to be like that guy with the riding crop?  I wasn’t lanky, I could dance, thank you very much, and I wasn’t about to be caught dead out in a pair of Dove shorts; my friend says she could actually see me pulling my closet door shut again as we drove away. Continue reading

My Boyfriend’s a Girl


fishnet lips
Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are.

OK, it’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds; he’s not an actual girl.  He didn’t secretly begin life as one, nor is he in the process of transitioning into one.  But he has started dressing up as one for fun and profit, and it’s taken some getting used to.  We spend a lot more of our disposable income on makeup than we used to, for one thing, and there are feathers everywhere.

Our Favorite Queens from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3

Our Favorite Queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3

Last summer — our eighth together, mind you, with nary a whisper of “I want to be a drag queen” in the interim — we were glued to Season Three of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix.  Jared has seen every season, but I have not.  I have only seen Season Three.  Over and over again, because RPDR is produced in such a way that I am riveted to every episode, even if I’ve seen it several times before.  Knowing the outcome before we even sit down to watch a given episode, I’m still on the edge of my seat by the second commercial break, yelling my commentary and critique at Jared, at the television, and all up and down Facebook each time, because my ideas and opinions stay fresh like that.  (Don’t roll your eyes at me.)  Raja totally deserved to win, but I still root for Alexis Mateo each time around, just in case RuPaul does Drag Race like the movie Clue and there might be a surprise ending.  But really, as long as they keep sending Carmen Carrera home, I’m happy. Continue reading