It’s Never Easy to Say Goodbye. Except When It Is.

I want very badly to let Fred Phelps’ death pass unremarked upon, mostly because of how I imagine it would aggravate the crotchety old attention whore.  But he spent so much of his energy foisting himself onto the queer consciousness, I feel like saying my piece will help me send his bullshit karmically packing along with the rest of him.

Fags R Cute (reddit)

If the frightened and tight-hearted bigots of Westboro have taught us anything, it is that not every death is a tragedy.  The passing of Fred Phelps is not a loss to the American Community, the Brotherhood of Man, nor even, according to what I have read, to most of his family — a legacy, it is tempting to speculate, on which he might have hoped to improve.  He chose the burden of hate that he lugged through this life, and he can take it with him when he goes — he neither needs nor, frankly, warrants any from me.  I wish him a more forgiving god than he would ever have wished for any of us, though still I hope he planned ahead and packed mostly for exceptionally warm weather.

It seems that Westboro doesn’t believe in funerals for its members, which I find a hilariously convenient tenet of their “faith.”  I’m annoyed that there won’t be a funeral for the most famous funeral-crasher since Harold and Maude, but not for the reason you might expect (or for that matter that I would have expected of myself).  The only thing that was ever sacred to this man, his megalomaniacal family, or their quasi-political fund-raising-organization-masquerading-as-church was media attention, and the most fitting send-off I can imagine would be for the number of vociferous, sign-waving picketers at his own going away party — be they from military families or the gay community or families or victims of the numerous tragedies he sought to exploit or just the fair-minded community at large — to total Zero. Continue reading

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A Jar of Queer Feelings

star jarHello, Friends.  If you celebrated Christmas yesterday, I hope it was festive and fortifying.  Unless Santa brought you the Ethel Merman Disco Album, too, it probably wasn’t as fabulous and rhythm-driven as ours was, but take heart — if you feel your holiday lacked luster for want of an incredibly gay media project, I have just the digital chapbook for you:

A Jar of Queer Feelings was electronically published yesterday, with plans for print copies to take the world by storm in January.  As project director/founder/publisher Sarah Magdalena Love will tell you, “36 artists and writers have contributed to the first edition of this book series resulting in a collage of queer life that touches on various dimensions like family, sexuality, politics, gender and liberation through various art forms, personal essays and poetry.”  I mixed it up a little bit for this project and submitted a photo rather than a piece of writing, and one that captures life in this house at its gender-bending queerest, at that.  As you know (or can learn here), I had my own set of struggles around my husband’s entrée into his glam and glittery Drag Career, most of which stemmed from gender norms and expectations, both mine and my fears around “theirs.” (And subsequently from my shame and irritation at letting what “they” think impact my home life and my relationship here in my forties.)  I still don’t really kiss him when he’s got lipstick on, and I definitely don’t understand why anyone would volunteer to squeeze into pantyhose, but my fears and my shame have been wrestled to the ground, and I embrace each opportunity to celebrate new, feather-strewn layers of my husband’s fabulousness, and of our Big Queer Life together.  And so I’m especially pleased to be a part of a project that will donate all proceeds to Gendered Intelligence, a charity that believes, as my husband and I do, that “the arts are an amazing tool for sharing our stories, platforming our voices and building awareness around the ways in which heteronormativity regulates and restricts everyone.”

You can be like The Merm, who’s always doing something for the boys, and get your very own copy for US$3.30 here.

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

Closets are for Clothes

Today is National Coming Out Day.  One of my favorite holidays on the Queer Calendar, although I traditionally celebrate it from the sidelines.  At 40, I’ve been out of the closet for more years than I was in it, and the door on my closet hung half-open all askew on its hinges at its most secure.  I was Raggedy Ann for Halloween when I was in Preschool, for heaven’s sake — I never got to surprise anybody!  Starting on the literal very first day of high school, I was bullied for being a big fag — physically never, verbally every single day, and mostly by guys who grew up to be big fags — until I had the sense to transfer to a public school.  I told almost no one there that I was “gay,” although I would wax like a drooling idiot with cartoon hearts for eyeballs about the boys I had crushes on to anybody who would listen (or to passersby, whether they listened or not).  When I was 19, out to dinner with my parents and my sister, my mom turned to me over chips and salsa and said, “So, you’re gay, right?”  I confirmed that I was.  My dad asked if I was safe — this was 1991, mind you, when we still kind of thought that gay sex was a short, slippery slope from a bed to a coffin — and I confirmed that I was that, too.  The food came, we ate it, and poof, I was Out. Continue reading