Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A certain kind of intimacy that maybe I'm missing, I mean I'm not missing it right now

First I'm sitting on Grant’s sofa so exhausted I can't speak but I'm speaking because that's what I do when I'm exhausted and around someone I mean I'm speaking because I'm exhausted. Grant’s on the bed, he motions for me to come over but I don't want to mess up my hair, and my body hurts too much to find the right position. I like it when Grant touches me but I also get nervous it's like my body sort of freezes and I'm trying to remain calm because I don't want to freeze this is something old but new. Before I thought it was Grant who got nervous but sitting here realize it's me, maybe Grant too but me right now.

This nervousness in body went away for a while, years really because I worked to stay so present and then I worked staying present too -- sex work, that is -- I didn't want to turn tricks like the classic stare-at-the-ceiling-and-then-tell-me-when-it's-over because that was like incest, I made sure I wasn't leaving my body instead I could find something hot to focus on. So I managed to stay pretty present, except all this pain drama changes things because I can't exercise and then I don't feel that present in my body just my brain and then someone touches me in a sweet and caring way and I get kind of edgy then I'm upset like all the work I've done is undone but not really because I know what it is, kind of. I mean I know that I freeze because of everything way back, my body not something I had control over it took me so long to figure that out and then touch became something to embrace instead of just where am I? I mean that's what I thought touch was before -- someone touches me, I leave. Remember to smile anyway. I don't want to do that now, but I don't want to scare people either, you know? Sometimes I fall into this deep exhaustion all the sudden and it's like I don't know where the hell I am, it's hard not to brush this away if anyone's around -- don't look!

I want to meet people with warmth and engagement, physical intimacy with the emotional and political and intellectual not separate, I want more touch in my life not less -- I mean I want more people to touch me, not all those conversations that go everywhere even deep emotions but body body body, where's the body? I'm trying to keep my body here, right that's why I want more touch but then I find myself drifting away I can make it safer by moving into a different position, shifting the hands that are hands on me or focusing on the sensation, yes I like that sensation I'm okay.

Anyway, then Grant and I end up cooking and talking late about his parents who were drug addicts, he'd wake up and there would be these elaborate new floral arrangements, a new sofa, everything would be clean or moved to a different place it was kind of disorienting but comforting when he heard his mother cleaning the bathroom late at night he could hear the water running. I talk about my father drugging me, I have these memories where it's like everything in the room goes white my head like one side of a drawbridge going up no hands. Except what are memories when these are memories, I mean memories broken except if I lean my head back I can see something. Grant says when you were a little kid and I can see his eyes getting sad but aware. That's one of the things I like about Grant her emotions are right up front except sometimes it's disorienting for me like what's going on I mean wait so much feeling I'm feeling too but more distant I think. I mean these things are familiar to me, I’m matter-of-fact about them but actually that's often true even with things I'm not familiar with, it’s how I deal.

Grant wants to show me the vacant apartment where this older fag used to live but then she died and now they're trying to rent it out for $1400. It's only a little bigger than Grant’s apartment, which is $800. We look in, but the coating on the floors is too toxic -- although I see the supposed bedroom, which is a closet-type space between the entryway and the bathroom. It's late, which is when I have energy but I want to get home before 2 a.m. so I don't get too wired -- or at least get a taxi before the bars close. Grant's getting wired, he's talking about painting her bathroom after I leave. No, girl -- then you'll be inhaling the fumes all night. Grant usually goes to bed around 9 p.m., now it's 1:49 and we're both getting funny and slightly delirious, Grant’s showing me things in the closet which is so organized it's like another room, here's a leopard print jacket from Grant’s father's wife -- Grant calls her Shower Lady, she likes that. But it's time for me to go, we hug goodbye I realize I don't hang out with people this late anymore because everyone goes to bed earlier. But there’s a certain kind of intimacy that maybe I'm missing, I mean I'm not missing it right now while I'm hugging Grant goodbye.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gendercator drama, part one

Okay, I was going to go right into a description of a panel discussion I went to about the movie The Gendercator, but maybe you don't know about the Gendercator so I better start with a brief summary. The Gendercator is a short film by Catherine Crouch that follows a lesbian tomboy who gets high at a party and passes out in 1973, only to wake up in 2048. Times have changed, and she can no longer inhabit a non-binary gender presentation -- instead she can conform to socially-assigned roles of "female" or hormonally and surgically transition to "male.”

The controversy over The Gendercator first arose in San Francisco when trans politico Robert Haaland circulated a petition in May demanding that Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival, pull the film from its schedule.
The petition declared:

We, the multigendered LGBT community and its allies, declare that there is no space for hatred and transphobia in our community institutions. We reject the notion that transsexuality is anti-feminist or anti-gay. We demand that our community artists be held accountable for the messages that they deliver, and that artistic projects not be allowed to hide under the mask of “sparking dialogue” when the intention is actually to divide and demonize. We further ask that Frameline’s LGBT Film Festival and other LGBT institutions refuse to show the hateful movie “The Gendercator,” which makes no attempt to engage in actual dialogue. We assert that the dialogue that most urgently needs to happen is not around the validity of trans people, but instead around the double standards that trans-related material continues to endure within our own community.


The film had only screened in a few locations (and not yet in San Francisco), so much of the controversy centered around the original director's statement, which read:

Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.


Within a week after Haaland first urged people to pressure Frameline, close to 200 people had signed the petition, and Frameline decided to pull The Gendercator from its lineup, declaring, "Given the nature of the film, the director’s comments, and the strong community reaction to both, it is clear that this film cannot be used to create a positive and meaningful dialogue within our festival.” This was the first movie that Frameline had pulled from its lineup in the festival’s 31-year history.

Now, since Frameline had originally programmed the movie, it was unlikely that they decided to remove it from the festival due to "the nature of the film" or the director's comments -- clearly the "community reaction" was the deciding factor. This made me uneasy -- shouldn't the largest "LGBT" film festival in the world stand by its curatorial decisions? Did the movie only become transphobic once people protested its inclusion? Should a movie be removed simply because it is controversial? Shouldn't controversy be part of a queer film festival? And why couldn't Frameline create a meaningful dialogue within the festival? (I'm not sure what a “positive” dialogue is -- maybe when you know the results ahead of time?)

Frameline, like other gay film festivals, has come to center around consumer-friendly depictions of gay and lesbian identity (and a bit of trans and bi) -- coming out stories, lifestyle profiles, adventure stories, talking-heads documentaries, celebrity biopics and niche-marketed identity flicks. Is there some brilliance? A little bit, but you certainly have to dig. While Robert Haaland initially expressed shock that Frameline would program a transphobic movie in the festival, I was much more shocked to learn that this was the only movie in 31 years deemed transphobic enough for withdrawal. Last time I checked, transphobia was part and parcel of mainstream gay culture, which also embraces the charming "values" of racism, classism, misogyny, ableism, ageism, body fascism, bi-phobia, etc. (all, no doubt, represented in this year's festival). This is why I was more disturbed by the rhetoric around the removal of The Gendercator (“We won," declared Robert Haaland) than I was surprised that Frameline would plan on screening a transphobic movie.

Obviously, winning did not mean challenging the validity of a market-driven lifestyle institution, but instead meant engaging in a single-issue campaign. The Gendercator, a 15-minute film screening as part of a sci-fi program late at night at the smallest venue in the festival, had suddenly become the embodiment of transphobia, and any institutional analysis of structural transphobia (or racism, classism, misogyny, etc.) at Frameline was no longer deemed necessary. All Frameline needed to do was to remove this film from its schedule, and try not to program anything so “controversial” in the future.

But what about the movie? I was able to see it after writing to the director for a DVD, and I'll admit that initially it's quite seductive, opening with colorful Super-8 footage of 1970s lesbians partying on park benches to the Rare Earth anthem "I Just Want to Celebrate." The lead character, Sally, a stylish butch lesbian wearing yellow pants and shirt, tweed vest and cap with leather jacket, is led into the woods by a full-bodied femme and they start to make out until Sally passes out under a tree and the other woman leaves her. The drama happens when Sally wakes up 75 years later and a nurse and doctor are evaluating her gender presentation. It's still humorous enough until Sally meets two of her friends from the old days, one of whom has transitioned from female to male. He tells her, "It all began with the evangelicals -- you know, one man/one woman and all that -- then the next thing the trannies went along with it.” His wife (and former lesbian partner) adds, "Before long, butches and fairies were forced to make the change -- you have to be a man or a woman, no more in between."

While the movie is allegedly engaging in satire through sci-fi stylings, the notion of evangelical Christians joining with transpeople to impose binary gender tyranny was certainly jaw-dropping. Satire generally takes a terrible situation and brings it to an extreme that reveals insight about the actual predicament. Here the “insight” is that Christian fundamentalists and transpeople are on the same team. While there are some funny moments in The Gendercator, it's this irrational fear of transpeople that ends up dominating -- the movie ends with a transman, "the Gendercator,” deciding to nonconsensually reassign Sally, and we see hair growing on Sally's arms and face as she gasps in heavy breaths like a Frankenstein-type monster while machines beep ominously.

This fear of a Brave New TransChristian World is juxtaposed against a naïve faith in 1970s white feminist visions of womyn’s land, as one scene (a dream?) depicts Sally rescued by a group of women in a VW bus who declare, "We're taking you home." Home is apparently a wooded area where Sally can play softball with long-haired white women wearing bandannas. It's hard not to think of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the largest public gathering still celebrating the womyn’s land ethos, and riled in controversy for its abominable "womyn-born womyn" (i.e. no transwomen) policy for entry (only recently amended to the contradictory policy of asking transwomen not to attend, but not necessarily denying entry).

I do believe this notion of lesbian homeland, however fraught and potentially fraudulent, is exactly what is at the heart of Catherine Crouch's movie. In other words, the question she's trying to ask is: what becomes of homeland when more people are allowed inside? I would say that if the borders aren't shifting to allow for innovation, exploration and transformation, then it doesn't sound much like home. But Crouch, like many identitarians (and the gay establishment), is more interested in policing the borders.

It's hard for me to feel impassioned about forcing Frameline to remove a movie from its roster when I think that most of the movies in the festival are absolute garbage that should never have been made. I'm more interested in creating possibilities to foster the discussions that the controversies over this movie, transphobic and silencing as it is, has nonetheless provoked.

(Oops -- now I don't have time/energy to write about the public discussion after this "introduction," so stay tuned -- I promise a sequel sometime soon...)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two upcoming events...

If you're in the Bay Area, here's where I'll be reading...

K’VETCH 11-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Sunday, November 4, 9pm
Sadie's Flying Elephant, on the corner of Potrero and Mariposa
San Francisco
ALL-FEATURE EXTRAVAGANZA with Charlie Anders, Christopher Boyd,
Cindy Emch, Logan Knight, Ace Morgan, Alvin Orloff, Heather Renee Russ,
horehound stillpoint, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Max Wolf Valerio, Shawna Virago and Lauren Wheeler. Cohosted by Kirk Read and special guest Samara Halperin (Tara Jepsen is touring)
FREE

INSTANT CITY ISSUE #5 LAUNCH PARTY (The theme is CRIME)
Thursday, November 8th, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Readings begin at 8 p.m. SHARP!
Adobe Bookshop
3166 16th Street, between Valencia and Guerrero
San Francisco
Readings by Stephen Elliott, Sarah Fran Wisby, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Richard J. Martin Jr.
Followed by live music by CONES (Formerly Fierce Antler)
(415)-864-3936
FREE

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In between

Okay, so you want to know what it's like when I'm standing in line at this event and there's a guy in line who I think is hot, he has an interesting style that I can't quite place -- charcoal pinstriped pants with a gray denim jacket and there's something about his hair that's hinting at rockabilly with a little poof bordering on a pompadour, or maybe that's his posture. Anyway, I like his look it's very polished there's a slight roundness to his features that feels comforting. The line is very long, he's maybe 20 feet away and I think of going up to him and saying I like your look -- just something casual and friendly, people say things like that to me sometimes although never fags really -- maybe they go to the same place where I am now, a nervousness bordering on silly from the distance but I don't have that distance.

I'm in a very social mood, talking to everyone around me -- making loud comments about everything, when we get inside I see the same guy across the aisle from me, another opportunity to say something but I just study his profile, pale skin and freckles. At one point I notice him looking at me and I do that thing that I always think is friendly which is that I smile but my eyes move away -- I'm wondering what that looks like -- maybe it doesn't look friendly at all, just like I'm a doll with detachable features. I get another opportunity in the hallway, he’s talking with maybe his boyfriend who I said hello to earlier I could just go up and say what do you think of the event? The point isn't so much to hook up but to get past my fears that the world will end if I say anything. My last chance happens after the event is over and he's standing right between me and a friend of mine, I'm saying I'm in a really social mood -- I feel like chatting. I mean that's what I'm saying to my friend, the guy in between doesn't look up from his cellphone, he's texting.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tight and still like maybe I can camouflage into the bed

This is what's happening, just as I'm about to fall back asleep except it's like there’s fabric wrapped around my neck someone's choking me I'm pretty sure there's just empty space with a blanket far away but I want to check it's so uncomfortable. I move my hands there, across not right at the center too scary. No fabric, just skin. Then I'm awake again, thinking I shouldn't have checked because I knew there wasn't any fabric but it's hard to fall asleep when it's like someone's something's squeezing it all shut, the place for panic.

Everything’s stacked against this particular night of sleep: the guy's grunting orgasm next door, then his tv vibrating the walls, his phone conversation at least the white noise generator blocks out the details except my brain planning everything else. Whenever I get deep enough then I wake up and when I get out of bed there’s extra sadness between my eyes. I'm touching my neck softly just to see, it's okay except at the center, what happens at the center is that everything stops my breathing my body moves back squeezes shut everything tight and still like maybe I can camouflage into the bed and they won't know I'm there.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Where loneliness and loveliness feel linked

Back to the sinus trouble, I mean it's been there all along I've just been trying not to give in. But why so much trouble after an acupuncture allergy clearing for smoke, yes awful smoke the acupuncturist says sometimes the clearing triggers the symptoms. All this hot weather means no air I mean no fresh air everything aching, this started before. By the time I arrive at the acupuncture office, it’s like my food isn't digestible I can't sit without hurting, allergies clogging my face. Afterwards, I'm thinking about exhaustion and desire, desire and exhaustion, but then I get too tired and I can't think anymore, still thinking with my eyes closed just to see what happens if I breathe -- in means my eyes go up out means my eyes go up -- fast like they're frightened -- is that the way it's supposed to be? I'm searching for some kind of message, my feet on the floor hands in lap jaw untangling tingling the fan on the computer starts to blow -- even the computer’s too hot although I don't know why I say even -- the computer is a machine, it runs on electricity. I'm trying to stay still just to find out what will happen but then my lower back starts to ache into stomach, neck clenching up.

Oh, no -- more gunshots -- almost every night now, I mean I didn't used to hear any gunshots in the Tenderloin. I've always felt that the biggest danger was from cars, speeding suburbanites and drunks heading home -- in my old apartment I heard an accident at least once a week, twice I looked out and someone was lying dead in the street. Just when I moved into this apartment, there was an altar on the street for a four-year-old who’d gotten run over. So cars scare me -- but I don't hear them so much from this apartment, now it's gunshots and tonight there’s screaming and running crashing into metal then sirens. I've already taken my contacts off, so I'm paranoid a gunshot will pierce my seventh floor window -- things like that happen when you can't see, although mostly I just feel awful and sad.

When I wake up, I mean I’m experimenting with this not-waking-up feeling -- if I just keep my eyelids slightly closed can I pretend I'm still dreaming? Sometimes my body is a record of everything that's not supposed to be traumatic, like right away today there's such an intense burning starting beneath my wrists and going up to my elbows. Why now, except for the way my wrists rested on soft but not soft enough pillows on the acupuncture table, pillows there just so my wrists could relax instead I get this burning.

Today I'm not hopeful for the possibilities of desire. I need some ideas beyond bars, backrooms, Jeremy, the Nob Hill Theatre, the phone sex line, fantasies that I’ll meet someone on the street. But also there’s my body and the way the sun makes me squint into exhaustion until even the fresh air is too much. I'm somewhere between everything and nothing, a place that could mean more but instead it means less. But then I'm sitting on Divis and Geary and it's something about the way the air hits me so cool and moist I'm flooded with memories of when I first came here, this is the air of Haight Street that time when I was sitting on the sidewalk writing in my journal and Sam walked up, I think he thought I was a Haight Street kid I mean there I was sitting on the sidewalk in all my dyed-hair glory, telling him how crystal made me so sad I didn't want to do crystal. He invited me home, I can't remember if this was the first time we’d had sex or if it had already happened -- he wanted to fuck me, I wanted to get it over with, he said I don't have to fuck you it's not something I have to do, I said no, I want you to fuck me -- he didn't know it was the first time I would never have told him I was embarrassed I was already 19. The room got so hot it was like I was burning up I got hotter and hotter, his dick slipped out he said oh there's blood. I said it's been a while then he showed me different literary magazines, I liked the way his face got all red.

I didn't grow up in San Francisco, but I grew up in San Francisco -- that's what I'm remembering. The fall air clearing my lungs where loneliness and loveliness feel linked, but not in that desperate trapped forever sort of way, just like it's okay to feel overwhelmed or uninspired this will all pass. I'm thinking about the things I like in San Francisco that I don't do. The beach -- I love the beach, but I never go because I worry about getting stuck waiting for the bus with all the cold moisture aggravating my pain. No one else likes to go to the beach at night. Buena Vista Park -- looking up through the trees at the sky lit by the city -- I don't go there because the walk destroys my body, I always get too hypoglycemic and then I get frantic that I've ruined my life. The sea lions at Pier 39 -- I love the sea lions, but then I get stuck in tourist hell. Late-night walks when I can study the way light makes the buildings float, the way I'm floating too -- except then my body hurts too much. I would love answers, but there are no answers right now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sweet and grounding but scary too

I remember a transition, it was in Seattle when I had elaborate hair, purple and green spitcurls in the front with the back spiked up and underneath maybe orange. I’d get is it a boy or is it a girl a lot, even though I always had what people call masculine features it's just little things like the angle of your head or the way you carry a purse. It had been years of dying my hair bright colors, I couldn't think of anything else that would be exciting so I shaved it all off. Suddenly fags looked at me differently, with tricks I'd already started dressing preppy because that's what they wanted, I mean that's what they required -- preppy with a ski cap that I said I just didn't want to take off, this was Seattle it rained a lot -- the funniest time was when I took a shower with that cap on, I said it's just my thing.

Outside of sex work I was still the same flaming queen but I'd learned that I could pass if I tried, I mean I’d tried as a kid and it had never worked, here at 23 it took me a while to realize this could be liberating, to realize everything I refused. Even if I didn't want anyone to see me in my hooking clothes like I'd lost something, me -- I would cross the street to avoid people I knew. People stare at you anyway but not in the same ways, though it's hard not to think they know everything -- your discomfort and glory held back.

It's funny how much hair means, back then the shorter the better in the gay marketplace, maybe a flip at the front or a certain spikiness -- soon the faux-hawk would arrive, but no one knew yet. Then the shag, but only in certain circles. Nowadays the gay leather clone look is back, I just ran into someone who’s probably about 30, head shaved to the scalp and a huge beard. This is the strangest of fashion items, a full circle back to a masculinity that hasn't mattered in the same way since somewhere soon after I was born don't get me wrong -- masculinity has mattered, just not in the same way.

I'm trying to remember how I ended up at the gym, that first time in Seattle it was the Y, maybe Andee suggested it? That seems strange, but I know I missed dancing -- dancing had always been my exercise but in Seattle I couldn't find anywhere I loved. Before I’d always loved the clouds, but in Seattle it's different -- it's seven eight months of rain and you're sinking I needed help to feel pleasure.

At first my biggest worry was that suddenly I'd turn muscley I'd always verged on the anorexic none of those strange bulges -- I hadn't expected I’d start to experience a masculinity in desire that felt sweet and grounding but scary too because isn’t this something I'd always struggled against? I remember this guy I had a crush on -- he was working masculinity without working it -- I'm not sure that's possible, so you know I had a crush. We'd exchange shy comments I guess he was flirting with me too but I didn't realize until much later, I saw him at a bar with this super-queeny fag who was his boyfriend and I got so excited for them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

But you already know I can't tell

Yes, I'm back at the Nob Hill Theatre. The guy at the front counter says hello like I was just there yesterday, the problem is that even though it's been a month and it still feels that way. Walking around in circles thinking I should leave now I really should leave now I've been here too long I should leave now. I don't like disco, but here it's the best part, another place where dancing would make everything so much better.

You want to know about the porn: Dutch boys barebacking -- that one's okay until they start to look too skinny and anxious, piled one next to the other in fucking pairs, probably a brothel importing fresh Eastern Europeans. Then there’s big-budget LA mainstream porn, puffed-up guys with insanely big dicks, is that really -- and no, really? My favorite is two guys cruising on an airplane, one of them is jerking off and the other guy’s looking anxiously over his shoulder at the supposed other passengers, his girlfriend asleep between them but then I accidentally switch to some guy wrapped in latex, whimpering, and when I'm back the two guys on the plane are naked in another row of seats where are the other passengers it's not exciting any more.

Back in the hallway, there's this hot guy who always reminds me of someone who worked with me 15 years ago at Harold's Newsstand just a few blocks away -- that guy, Mervin I think was his name -- no, Melvin -- he showed me his Blow Buddies card and said I'm bisexual. This other Melvin is always here, brooding with a hat, a little bit of facial hair barely perceptible. I've never seen him hook up with anyone. Back in a room, I watch someone's fingers at the glory hole -- I'm not into him, but I can see how fingers softly brushing a hole can become alluring, no matter who they belong to. After I'm about to leave for the 35th time, standing in the hallway grabbing my hard-on through my pants this guy walks by he looks excited. He's kind of cute -- bald head, I like bald heads, the early years of middle age, on the clubby side of preppy -- mainstream gay circa 1995, I don't mind that look. I let him back in me into a room and then it all leads up to those physical gestures of his cock hardening in my throat until he’s about to leave the room, says he's going to take a break. I love breaks, but doesn't he know the place is about to close? I say hold my balls, and then I shoot onto the seat, I say I hope someone sits there. I don't really mean that, it's just that the guy looks sort of scandalized -- girl, don't worry it's vinyl.

I walk outside and this guy does a double-take, turns around and says well you're certainly a faggot, a faggot with a circus for pants you're a faggot if I've ever seen a faggot. I want to shrug it off but it's kind of annoying he's so close I'm laughing, that's what I do in situations like this. His tweaker friend with his shirt open keeps walking, I look at this guy he looks a little bit like Melvin -- similar height, kind of short, big eyes soft round face, maybe Latino or South Asian kind of cute I mean is he flirting with me or bashing me? I'm sure you can understand my predicament here. All of his gestures are reading straight but he says where are you going. I say I don't know. He says I'm going somewhere to do drugs. His eyes bugging in and out and he's swaying, the guy across the street is yelling I took care of you, this guy says no I took care of you -- and the tweaker’s already grumbling from a block away but maybe still waiting.

This guy is touching the front of my pants -- why are you in such a good mood -- you’re a mess your fly’s open, are you a stripper here? I'm laughing, zipping my fly. I say it won't last that long, I'll get home and I'll be depressed. He says or were you just having fun? I grab him playfully and kiss the back of his neck, it's true I am in a good mood I guess it's because I just came -- sometimes touching someone else, even if he's not that engaged, is enough to make me feel hyper-present and playful. This guy sort of turns around and then I kiss his neck from the front too. He says what are you on?

I'm trying to remember if I used to ask people that when I was on drugs, I guess it's true that everyone else seems really really high. I'm laughing and this guy says oh -- everything, what do you mean what am I on – everything! The tweaker is yelling from the distance, this guy yells back GO AWAY. I say who's that tweaker? This guy says I'm gonna hit you in the head, and he holds two plastic bottles in the air, I step back. I say what's that? He says silicon -- I say what are you going to do with silicon? He says I work at Lucas films, I'm gonna hit you in the head -- go away.

I start walking downhill and maybe he has friends who show up and they're pointing in my direction, I'm not sure. I'm in the mood where everything is fun really, especially the deserted streets and I'm wondering if maybe that guy thought I was crazy because I was flirting with him after he kept calling me faggot. I guess that was kind of crazy, but you already know I can't tell. I'm walking slowly to appreciate the few minutes I have before exhaustion, until I'm at the bus stop looking at those terrible digital displays they've installed that tell you how long you have to wait but it's always longer: this one says next bus in 71 minutes.





Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts on feminism and faggotry

I'm fond of saying that most faggots wouldn't know feminism if you hit them over the head with it, but usually this isn't as funny as it sounds. So often it means that my sex life stays separate from my politics, the gestures of passion don't grow impassioned. I’m trying to create a space where the rigor of politics builds desire into something I can finally imagine. Unfortunately, I can't necessarily say that I've seen politicized people treat one another better, but I want to know what it would mean to build a culture of possibility.

I'm trying to talk about faggotry and feminism, how they intersect so clearly in my life but elsewhere they’re rings around one another. Feminism taught me to politicize every choice, including the ways in which I claim desire. I want to say that faggotry taught me to claim desire, including the ways in which I politicize every choice. Just because that sounds symmetrical. It would make things easier.

Kids on the playground called me faggot way before I knew that I had choices. I mean boys -- it's boys who called me faggot. Years before I knew what it meant, at least the cocksucking part, and then years more before I realized they didn't know about the cocksucking part they just knew I wasn't going to become a man if I didn't play by their rules. I hated them, and I hated their rules.

When I realized that it was gender they were seeing not desire, that little boys are monsters because of their parents and the cultures that makes them enact violence in order to access power -- when I realized these things, that's when I realized I needed to be a faggot because it was the only way they wouldn't win.

This was feminism: I was claiming a space outside in order to break apart their rules. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I claimed freak, right? Because I wanted to scare people into giving me my own space. I wanted to inspire kids beaten down still showing a spark not to care about everyone else. I would never have used the word kids -- we were already 14, 15, right? Anyway, that was after I decided to cook my own meals, do my own dishes because I saw the way this was required of my mother.

No need to track whether I was a feminist before a freak, a freak before queer, queer before faggot. I know this all took a while, that each layer makes the other, that none of this prepared me for the relentless dehumanization in gay male sexual spaces. Gay was never an identity I embraced, someone on the street would say are you gay? No, darling, I would say -- I'm a faggot.

The problem with gay male sexual spaces is that they’re almost like some homophobe on the street, demanding your adherence to the worst norms of masculinity unless you want your head bashed in I mean a blowjob. And feminist spaces, where the energy is so high the possibilities bright and glowing but I look around for faggots and I can count them on my fingers, sometimes just one hand.

What is this person doing with the frying pan?



Monday, October 22, 2007

What about when the eyes open wide with excitement

I'm waiting for the bus, this guy stares right at me he's checking out my fashion I look for his eyes and he's already past, I mean I catch his eyes for a moment cute face head shaved bald slightly bougie black clothing and then he's passed, I'm looking at his back to see if his back sees me no to see if he'll turn around. No one ever turns around any more, that's what you do online, hurting your neck again. I’m always horniest outside, so many different kinds of guys who upstairs I wouldn't even imagine. That's what's lovely about the street, the possibility for interaction, where is the possibility I'm looking for possibility.

But also I'm wondering about the difference between cruising someone's look and cruising. I mean I'm wondering about me -- I almost always I assume they’re clocking the fashion, studying the hair, taking it all in, attempting to figure it out, making notes for the folks back home. Often there’s disdain -- that's not cruising or at least not the cruising I'm looking for. But what about when the eyes open wide with excitement -- is that an appreciation of color and contrast, texture and pattern, or the possibility of our lips interlocked? I don't know if I'll ever figure it out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

This is cute, I think it's cute...


I don't want desire to feel like a cage

Sometimes I look at certain men who came of age around when I was born, that time when people called themselves liberation, they embraced it. I watch some of these men in the sexual spaces I try to inhabit, decades of neglect framing addiction, emotional catastrophe, medication, health crises, assimilation, masculinity, desperation grasping rage driving sex. This cultural norm around pleasure at any cost even when it's no longer pleasure -- you devour what you can; you can't leave. Welcome to a new generation, tv screens in eyes an internet chat room. It's like no one else is around except you and what you'll never get.

They painted the roof next door, but left this graffiti...


Saturday, October 20, 2007

A walking pile of arms around me

The homeopath likes to hear about my emotional life, I'm telling her about my project of rediscovering a sense of liberation in my own sexuality, she says is there a new partner?

A what?

A new partner hadn’t even entered my mind. I mean I hate that word I don't want someone to answer my life. Sure, I want sexual partnerssssssssss, I want a sense of hope, an excitement about pleasure, camaraderie, romance, adventure, maybe I want to date, maybe boyfriends or lovers or fuck-buddies but mostly I want sex to be fun again -- and funny -- 30 people at once outside up against the trees with so much sky, I want desire to make my life more enjoyable, I want bodies to feel like splendor -- my body too -- I want safety and risk, collapse and detonation I want the glamour of so much spit in my mouth I can only spit further into yours I want so many hugs it's like I'm a walking pile of arms around me I'll beg you to do whatever you want -- as long as it's what I want, I mean what you want -- I’ll fall and you'll hold me, whoever you are, even if you're a different person every time even when you're the same person I want you to hold on. Even if my arms hurt I'll hold you all laughing and crying yes.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sometimes sadness settles all the way through until I’m nothing but edges

Sometimes I get so angry right when I sit down to write, angry that I'm already exhausted I have to push through all this headache messiness in order to get where I want, to the words on the page so I mean something. Today the headache starts right when I get up -- I don't know if it's the carpet fumes from the hallway or the paint fumes from the roof of the building next door that my apartment overlooks, now the roof is silver it reflects all the light. I'm not sure whether this is a good thing. Then of course there's the mold, the heatwave weather trapping toxic air, all those charcoal grills outside, I walk by one and poison goes right up my nose like a gas station -- Chris says it's mesquite, but isn't mesquite an herb, a tree, a shrub, something maybe good for you?

I'm thinking more about that last time in the backroom and why do people have to act so horribly? I guess you're not supposed to be human, just a button-pushing machine pushing other machines pushing. That's the norm -- everyone accepts it, it's okay. I try to smile, hug people even when I don't want to have sex with them, caress some guy's hand even while I'm moving it away. There's a way to assert boundaries without expressing disgust, although sometimes I get stuck smiling too much and to some people that just means keep pushing.

I'm trying to think about what would have felt empowering in that terrible situation of race-baiting, scenesterism, aggression and alcohol-enhanced stupidity. Sometimes in public sex environments I witness tragedy enacted on such a grand-yet-personal scale, like one time at Buena Vista Park when some guy was slamming his dick into this other guy's ass -- the other guy was so high he didn't even have a face, I reached down to see if there was a condom of course I knew there wouldn't be, the guy fucking reached for the back of my head I mean he stuck his tongue down my throat stubble brushing against that place between lip and cheek I felt his hand on the back of my neck moans into my tongue he was grabbing my dick suddenly harder then I'd imagined. He finished thrusting, zipped up, looked me in the eyes and moved away I realized it was the other guy grabbing my dick, pulling me towards him like he was reaching underneath for the football I stumbled forward, such a soft sweatshirt I kissed his neck he kept angling to get my dick in his ass I said no I don't want to fuck you. I couldn't tell if he was grunting or talking, just that where his features looked soft in the dark when he stood up to walk away everything jutted hollow indignation stumbling elsewhere.

Sometimes I wish I could save everyone, I know that's not a useful dream what is a dream if it's useful? I don't even know how to intervene, challenging choices conscious or unconscious in these spaces where questions don't matter. Sometimes I settle for getting aroused anyway, like that will get me anywhere except sadness later. It's not a thing that I want, anything but space. Yes, let's rename it: Sadness Later.

Did I really hold that guy’s balls while he fucked into a soft sweatshirt? Sometimes sadness settles all the way through until I’m nothing but edges, maybe the walk home will be okay. Or the walk to the taxi on the way home. The food when I get home, the shower, the feeling of water on my hands.

Joining him

I'm watching this guy's sideburn spitcurls like short versions of the ones I used to have, the way they frame the profile of his face. I mean I can only see one spitcurl, because I only see one side of his face. I don't understand how this dark spitcurl sits so perfectly against his pale skin, when the rest of his hair looks comparably messy in that just-out-of-bed sort of way. I'm not suggesting that he just got out of bed. Until I realize it's because his hair is curly, that's why the spitcurl curls without effort -- not like mine, it needed gel first then spray.

White button-down shirts can mean anything, I want his to mean I can hug him like the woman next to him, they're both wearing tight suit jackets, velvet or velveteen I'm not exactly sure the difference. Soft fabric it shines. He already took his off. His chair blocks the middle of him since I’m imagining from the back. I'm left to look at his shoes, the ones with a band of color with three circles cut out, this pair has an orange band with gray underneath and when he leans forward I can see the muscles on his back, not muscular just muscles through white shirt. I'm tempted to pretend that I don't know what brand these shoes are, it's sad the way a color combination can be striking even when it reminds you that someone's working for 15 cents an hour. Still, when this guy pulls his legs up onto the chair I want to join him.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making space

I'm telling Chris about the dream about him, how hot it was how I felt like I was carrying him on the strength of our relationship. He seems kind of disengaged, earlier he ate a surprise jalapeno so he's been irritated, an allergic reaction. He says I don't usually like listening to people's dreams, but I listened to most of that. I can't help thinking that he’s actually irritated about what I'm saying, but I still have so much more. I say I have something to tell you, and that dream was an introduction, and I look Chris right in the eyes because I want to look away, instead I create a flair to my gaze like this is also performance: it's something that's hard for me to say, I mean maybe it's obvious I don't know I mean it's not anything negative -- I can't believe I just said that, when my mother asked if I was going to say anything negative -- cross that out, I'm just wondering if this is a good time to tell you something, or if I should wait.

Chris is lying on the sofa in my faux living room, the faux part is because there's only one room I mean I have another sofa sitting right across from the one with Chris on it, and I'm sitting on the other sofa. I say well, in this project of trying to regain a sense of liberation in my own sexuality -- maybe that sounds distant, to call it a project, when I'm talking about my life. I say well, I'm not necessarily suggesting this, but you're the person who I feel most physically comfortable with, intimate and safe and there’s a sexual dimension that's playful and fun and so sometimes I think that maybe we should have sex, that I want to have sex with you. I'm looking right at him again, I'm studying his reaction and he sits up, this is late for him he's getting tired but he sits up anyway.

It feels weird that we're sitting on opposite sofas, physically so close but in different surroundings -- behind me is the skyline, I'm on the floral loveseat; behind Chris is my apartment, she’s on the long floral sofa that I brought with me from the last apartment. I say actually, I’ve thought about having sex with you off and on, for the last 15 years it’s happened really and then I think about it for a little while and decide no, it wouldn't be a good idea, but I never tell you about my thoughts so that's what I'm doing now -- I just wanted to let you know. Maybe one of the reasons I think about it is that the only time I think I felt liberated in my sexuality, excited about all of the possibilities was 15 years ago when we first met and I’d just moved to San Francisco and in some ways it was easier for my practice to match my ideals, especially sexually. And you and I were having sex and it was both casual and intimate, I didn't see any reason it would stop it felt so joyous and filled with possibility, then I went away to the March on Washington, where I met Zee and I wrote to you about that but for me that was just another exciting sexual possibility and so I didn't understand when I got back and you’d found this boy who seemed so boring it's like you were a couple. Now I understand that's what your pattern was, that you went from one relationship like that to the next but at the time it just seems so alien I didn't know why we weren't having sex anymore. I mean, I want to make it clear that I'm not suggesting we have sex now, it's just that you know how I hold things in.

I'm studying Chris for his reaction. I can't tell if maybe I'm shaking a little bit, I mean I was shaking at the beginning now I think I feel calmer. Chris says you don't want me to answer, right? I say no, that's not what I'm looking for. He says I'm glad you're talking about this, all of these things, it's inspiring to me -- over the past five years you haven't seemed content with your sexuality and then you'd keep going to the same places like Blow Buddies and it never seemed like you had a good time. I can tell you shut yourself off to flirting -- sometimes it seems like your boundaries are too rigid, I'm glad you're thinking about all of this.

I say it's just that I've mastered sex in certain areas -- sex work and public sex environments -- but anywhere else I'm too nervous about crossing people's boundaries. Chris says it sounds like sometimes you don't know when someone's flirting with you. I say you're right -- I don't have any idea, I sit there waiting for someone to make the move and even if he makes it I can convince myself that it's about something else entirely, maybe he likes my look but that doesn't mean he wants to sleep with me or maybe he’s just being friendly because I'm so friendly or maybe he’s actually straight. Chris says I’m dealing with similar issues now, since I haven't been drinking. I say that's hard for me to imagine, you’ve always seemed so good at cruising. He says but now it's different, since I haven't been drinking.

I say the other thing is when I first moved back, that one time we had sex -- do you remember it? Chris says yes, I was really drunk we went in that alley by the Powerhouse. I say well I wasn't drunk, I mean we had sex in the alley and it was weird because it was like having anonymous sex with your best friend, but do you remember when we went back to my apartment and then you were begging me to fuck you, you were saying please fuck me, please, and I was like what is going on -- no, Chris, it's time to go to bed. That's when I thought oh, I don't think we should have sex.

Chris says yeah, that's when I realized I didn't want to have sex with any of my close friends, I mean with any of my friends there's a sexual -- a sensual -- dimension but I just don't want to risk the friendships. I say for me that's complicated, because obviously that's the choice I've made in my life and it's allowed me to have really close friendships, I mean that's what I’ve prioritized. Chris says yes, but your boundaries are too rigid, one-size-fits-all. I say but I don't know where they make sense and where they don't, like for example I generally have a rule that I don't have sex with anyone who I'm doing activism with. Chris says that seems like a good idea. I say but then what if those are the majority of the people who I meet who I feel some connection with? Chris says it just shouldn't be one-size-fits-all. I say but you just said it sounded like a good idea. Chris says I'm glad you're thinking about all of this, that you're opening yourself up.

I'm so glad Chris is able to say what his boundaries are without saying whether he wants to have sex with me. I don't want the importance of our physical connection to be invalidated or imbued with sadness. What matters isn’t attraction it's about making space where we can express ourselves. I'm so happy about the ways in which we interact, the ways we're making space for one another. Chris says I'm really tired, I have to go home. It's past his bedtime, suddenly it seems extra-special that we’re having this conversation even with opposite sleep schedules.

One more thing, I say -- one of the parts of my personal project of regaining a sense of sexual liberation is that I write a lot about it in my blog, because part of this process is about making myself vulnerable. I'm really excited about the writing I’m doing, and sometimes I can't tell how people are responding, I mean I'm guessing that often it seems like too much to respond to. But people write to me -- the other day, I got a letter from someone who said that I've changed the way she thinks about queerness, love and sexuality, that she’s also a sexual abuse survivor and that it’s a source of strength for her to read about how I demand accountability from my parents in all of these ways -- and that's another part of my blog, that I want to create the possibilities for other people to also express their vulnerability, and this helps me to also feel safer.

This is where both Chris and I look a little teary-eyed, I say mostly I write about myself, but I might write about this conversation and since I'm not writing it as fiction, I mean it's non-fiction it's immediately out there and I wanted to know whether you wanted me to change your name if I write about you. Chris says no, that's okay. I say well you let me know if you change your mind, and I go over to his sofa, I mean the sofa in my apartment that he’s sitting on. I sit next to him and kiss his neck and I can't tell if he’s a little more physically distant than usual or if that's just because he's tired, I'll have to remember to ask. We kiss goodbye and when Chris leaves I'm really tired like always, but relieved too and calm.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sometimes it's hard to take care of myself (thank you, Nabil)

I mean I’m at this reading where everyone's smoking and the smoke is pouring into the café because half of it is open, everyone can smoke outside. I'm sitting in the farthest corner outside but still people are smoking right next to me, I can't bring myself to ask them to move further away if they say no then I hate them so much, this takes too much energy I need to conserve. I love that Nabil immediately says Mattilda can't be around smoke, he's telling the people around us to move away -- it's so great when someone's taking care of me, someone I don't know that well it's just that he understands.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Embarrassed to be there, and ready to take advantage

I end up making it to the backroom, arriving there just before 2 a.m. after taking a shower and doing my hair I'm struck by the absurdity of my own gestures -- I mean, I don't go out at all, but here I am showing up at clubs two nights in a row like I'm some late-night ingénue. Jacob’s at the door, he gives me a really sweet hug, says you smell so good -- what is it? Oh, it's something I put on for pain -- it smells minty, right? Jacob says it's helping my pain already.

I stash all my layers in the corner by the door, then go downstairs -- they've put up a beaded curtain at the top of the staircase, I don't remember that from before. Not much is going on, though -- a few guys crouching in the dark waiting to grab it like they want it. I go back upstairs, figure I’ll cruise the bar area or dance for a few minutes but as soon as I get to the dance floor I identify an unforeseen hazard -- this huge cloud of chemical dry ice, that shit will flatten my experience for days. I practically run to the back, then back downstairs where three guys are sitting on the bench together, drinking and sort of making out while talking and at first I think it's refreshing but then I realize they're just talking to assert the fact that no one else belongs in their circle. Some guy’s following me around but I'm not really attracted to him -- sometimes what's the difference if the touch feels good, I mean I have the skills to go with the feeling -- that's what I learned from being a whore, but I don't want to always feel like I'm working.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not looking for the illusion of attraction without gaps. I know that all sex is work, I mean all sex involves work but it's tricky for me when it shifts too far in that direction if I'm not totally attracted to the guy in the first place. Maybe sometime I'll be able to use that particular skill of channeling attraction regardless of initial drive, to use that skill in my non-working sex life, but I think I need a few more years away from turning tricks. Right now I'm trying to perfect the skill of going up to the people I’m most attracted to.

So the same guys are still crouching in the shadows, plus there are three different couples hiding in corners -- I hate couples in backrooms, what I'm looking for is the charge of communal desire but here everyone's too jittery. By the stairwell is someone who looks like Jeremy, jerking some other guy off really fast. In the corner is a short guy with one of those emo caps -- the ones that are kind of like baseball caps and kind of like something from the military, I'm not sure what -- anyway, they’re the kind of sub-trend accoutrement that can suddenly get me hot, this is the guy for sure – someone’s sucking his cock, I go to the corner and the guy sucking says no thanks, we’re not looking for company. I say I'm just watching, look at the guy with the cap and he is looking back at me with a nod, damn I'm ready to grab him except I don't want to cause a scene with Ms. Possessive.

I step back and there's Jeremy, I say it's kind of quiet here tonight, and everyone's coupled off -- was that you jerking that guy off a few minutes ago? Jeremy says yeah, there's come on my hand. I think about whether I should offer to lick it off. I say you were jerking really fast. Jeremy says it's late, I should go home soon -- I have to be up at eight in the morning. This is familiar -- Jeremy always used to stay out too late and talk about getting up in the morning. I say on a Saturday? He says yeah, I'm going to a conference. What kind of conference? Teachers for Social Change. I say well at least it's something important.

I actually didn't know that Jeremy was teaching, I mean I remember that's what he wanted to do but we haven't talked in a these two years I say where are you teaching? In the South Bay. What are you teaching? High school. How is it -- do the kids listen to you? Last year I was having trouble, but this year's better -- we're reading Catcher in the Rye. I say well now you have all this, and I rub his facial hair. I'm not a big fan of facial hair, but it actually looks kind of hot on Jeremy.

He says I didn't shave all summer, drove out to Minnesota and back -- 7500 miles of driving. I say I was in Minnesota on my book tour, I took the train in the snow it was beautiful. He says I went with Greg, my new boyfriend -- I took him to meet my parents. I say how was that? He says it was great. I'm wondering if he remembers that when we were going out he once said that I wasn't the kind of boyfriend who you’d take to meet your parents. I'm nervous too, but I do want to have sex with Jeremy -- I've already thought about it. I say but you're not married, right? Right after Jeremy and I broke up, Jeremy found another boyfriend and they got married with Gavin Newsom at City Hall. No, Jeremy says -- I'm divorced.

But wait -- I'm portraying this conversation as way more straightforward than it is -- what about when I'm leaning into Jeremy's ear and pointing out the guy I'm hot for, how now he's got his clothes off, that cute little body reflecting the light in the room. Later Jeremy's pointing out the way the guy is angling backwards, I say we should go over to him. Jeremy's right, the guy’s displaying himself so we can get a view -- did he hear what I said? I can imagine his thick dick curving upwards into my throat, I mean I'm tempted to go over there and at least hug him from behind and kiss his neck, but I don't want to get in some silly fight with the other queen.

Jeremy and I move into the official backroom area -- where we were before was just the fringes. This queen grabs my dick but I'm not interested -- too fast like she's stumbling into me -- then she goes for Jeremy and he's pulling it out in seconds, so fast it might be all one movement the queen and Jeremy together. I'm watching Jeremy moan and grab the guy's head, then lean back and strike some strange pose that looks like calculated masculine indifference I don't remember that one. I lean over and say I've seen this before, then realize maybe that sounds shady so I say not that it isn't hot, and I kiss Jeremy on the neck, walk around to someone who's rubbing my dick but I'm not really attracted to him, just seeing if I can get hard I mean I think I'm having trouble because I'm already too hypoglycemic or exhausted, then this cute short guy with curly hair walks up I start kissing him then there's a tall preppy guy with facial hair walking through, I say we should make out with him. The tall guy says I think I'm in the wrong room. I say what are you looking for. He says the smoking room -- I say that's outside, and I go back to making out with the short guy, who grabs my ass and grinds against me for a moment then says you're crazy, then he turns and stumbles upstairs.

I go back to Jeremy, I say the other guy said I'm crazy, and I kiss Jeremy's neck then grab his face and we’re making out I'm feeling it, this is what I want I could do this for a while. It's charged and exciting and I whisper in Jeremy's ear: I want to suck your dick. But there's no chance, with this queen sucking so frantically there's no down time. Then the queen backs away for a second and I'm down on my knees, Jeremy's not very hard although he looks like he's enjoying it, moaning again I put his hand on the back of my neck -- the queen’s got my dick out, at least she's got talent, no teeth or anything. But then I pull away because maybe Jeremy already came, stand up and hug him, put his hand on my dick he’s jerking really fast like with that other guy now I'm finally craving something I push his head down and then he’s sucking my dick, hand under my balls I like it that his gestures hold a certain familiarity. He’s jerking then sucking then I guess I'm already ready to come even though I'm not quite hard this means it won't be totally satisfying, I mean not high-to-the-sky but also I can't help thinking about the performative aspects, I haven't come in two weeks -- I pull away and shoot for the crowd, I mean if there was a crowd but there's actually not as much come as I expected or maybe it's just dark -- the queen’s gone and Jeremy's zipping up. I say that was hot, I'm hugging Jeremy and we're making out again. He says mmm, hmmm! I say we should have sex again sometime, he says I'd be into that, then I grab his head again and we kiss goodbye.

I sit down on the bench, there's the queen with her dick out, thick and hard I say I have to rest but I can't help sucking your dick for a minute. Then I sit back on the bench, I say that was funny, I just had sex with my ex-boyfriend. The queen says Jeremy's your ex-boyfriend? Oh -- she knows Jeremy. Or maybe I heard her wrong.

At the moment it feels like it was a good idea to have sex with Jeremy, no tension it was fun I mean I actually want more. Then some guy comes over and sits between me and the queen, the queen’s got the guy’s dick out in seconds she's fast -- I put my arm around the guy and kiss him but his tongue tastes rotten, what is this rotten taste? I pull away, but then try again anyway -- he's cute, actually he looks a little bit like the guy in the corner from earlier, the one with the emo cap but this guy has the suburban curly-haired mohawk -- sometimes I'm feeling that look too but this guy's hair is gooey I like it dry better. His breath still tastes rotten.

I get up and run right into the guy who was looking for the smoking area earlier, he's still pretending that's what he’s looking for. He takes a swig out of a bottle of liquor he's got in his jacket, I say do want to make out? Then we're making out, over to the bench and it's fun -- not so charged as with Tony I mean I'm not grabbing his whole head but still we’re engaged I slide on my knees pressing up against his dick pressing against my chest but he doesn't want me to take it out, he says what's your name? Mattilda. What kind of name is that?

Oh, great -- this is when I should leave -- I already came, it's almost 3 a.m. anyway, I'm not interested in explaining my name to some drunk moron. He is cute, though -- he says the only question is my place or yours? I say where do you live? Noe Valley. Oh, that's far, I need to go to bed -- I won't sleep if I go home with you. He says that's for sure. I guess that's supposed to sound hot, but it sounds horrifying. I say why don't we exchange numbers -- I'd love to come over some other time -- but he shakes his head like that's not going to happen, some kind of rule in his head I guess. I kiss him again, the queen's back, starting to unzip this guy's pants. The guy pushes his hand away -- he seems kind of disgusted, but not in a dramatic way. But get what the queen says:

DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM -- I see you at my parties all the time, you're not coming to any of my parties anymore, I'll have you thrown out.

And then the guy looks confused, oh do I know you? His head sort of flopping over in drunken stuporland -- parties, have I been to your parties -- I can't come to any of your parties?

It's so gross -- both of them. Because now the guy looks like he's worried about offending the queen because he wants to go to the parties, but also there are racial undertones that I think the queen is working -- like she's accusing the guy, who's white, of not wanting her lips around his cock because she's black. Not that, in the segregation of gay desires, there may not be an element of truth to this, just that this queen is willing to try any tactic to shame or embarrass or coerce him to give up his meat. And there the guy is, pondering it all with a sway of his head, where am I while all of this is happening, as the queen unzips this guy’s pants and goes for the gold, the guy closes his eyes with a twisted expression on his face like a bird chirping, then he looks down with confusion or feigned confusion, I can't tell. I'm hard, he says, like a kid for the first time while someone's taking advantage.

Why am I still here -- that's what I'm thinking. I'm still here, kissing the guy on the neck until the queen takes out his dick, even in my disgust I still rub the queen's head, I ask the guy for his number. He says 911. I say I'm not calling that, walk upstairs and someone's holding an after-hours beer, she says I thought it was $5,000 but it's just a beer.

Walking home, I don't feel so good anymore. Wondering if, when the guy said 911 he was asking for help not just throwing shade. I can't help some drunk guy who can’t even deal with my name, who can’t even deal that he’s in the backroom to have sex, who's having sex with someone so he can go to her parties. That's who the backroom was filled with tonight -- guys embarrassed to be there and guys ready to take advantage. It makes sex with Jeremy seem all the more appealing, and I wonder what that means.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gender without sex

Sometimes I want gender without sex – gender that makes me feel glamorous and invincible even when I'm surrounded by disdain. I never hate myself because of my gender -- of course this took a long time. With sex I'm more confused, often there’s this sudden burst of masculinity I wonder how much is something that's part of me and how much is something I've learned from 12 years of turning tricks and longer than that cruising public sex environments. I wonder whether it matters. I wonder if I'll ever know the difference between what I want and what I want to be -- sexually, that is -- a mad explosion of lusty camaraderie or a pretty girl swept up in the heat of passion. Not that I can't be both at the same time, just that I'm not sure if I would recognize the space where this is possible. Except in those moments where it floods my senses and suddenly my body becomes this place of glamour and invincibility even when I'm surrounded by disdain, so okay it can happen from sex or gender it's just that gender is more dependable.

Sometimes gender can be more aloof, safer in that way even when it doesn't make me safer in the world except in how it allows my experience to radiate something glowing don't touch. But I want touch -- not the violence of the everyday, I mean I want to transform the everyday into something touching. I mean that in my body too often I'm lonely. In public sex spaces this loneliness couples with presence or the two alternate, sometimes just when I think I've found that perfect moment I descend into the worst crash -- mostly it's the codes of masculinity that break me, especially when I find that I'm following them maybe not in ways that everyone can see but still I'm following. This gives me something like survival maybe satisfaction occasionally bliss but rarely any beauty lasting more than a few hours. Instead I want the beauty to build until I’m filled with everything that matters.

Maybe I wouldn't be in any pain if I just wore heels all the time

I'm leaving my mother's room, and there's this huge cement step to get out, maybe 4 feet high and I'm wondering how she gets out every day. Then I'm in a bus on the highway on the top of a cliff, the bus is turning and it starts to go off the road, slightly uphill and then I can feel it’s about to go down, I'm in the front right seat and I'm wondering if I should have sat further to the back, would that have mattered? This is what falling feels like, I'm thinking probably I'm about to die, wondering how much it will hurt until I realize that just a few moments ago I was lying in bed wired so I can't really be on the bus already. So instead I think about where I want the bus to fall, into water -- no, that would still kill me -- then it's like there's this intense wind blowing me backwards I can't get it to stop I'm on the sofa hugging the special foam pillow, my sister behind me, my father behind her, that worn beige living room sofa we used to have but I guess this one's longer – I’m trying to sleep, but I'm blowing so far backwards that the seatbelt is pulling into my hips, no I can't really have a seatbelt on in bed, can I?

I check -- I do have a seatbelt on -- it hurts. This is when I'm deep asleep, because I really believe it until I wake up a bit, am I holding my legs in some terrible way? I try tensening them further, to help me relax -- that's feldenkrais -- and then there are huge vicious long-haired black dogs about to bite the bottoms of my feet with their fangs, no please no until I'm walking around in the top of an ornate black ball gown but just shimmery silver lamé bloomers below, cha-cha heels through a posh mall like one of the where I used to cruise the bathrooms when I was in high school, it was called Mazza Gallery. Today there are underwear models of all different genders, sitting at a table dressed kind of similar to me is what I think and this makes me feel comfortable. I'm walking all over Chicago in these heels, I never would've thought heels would be this comfortable -- I mean, I'm in no pain at all, maybe I wouldn't be in any pain if I just wore heels all the time -- I'm back in the full ball gown now, looking for copies of Nobody Passes with my mother who wants to buy one for my aunt but the store is sold out, she’s still scouring the shelves and I'm impatient -- they said they were sold out, that's what I'm saying. But then it turns out that someone's putting four copies on the shelf right now -- that's a good sign, it means it's selling well -- and my mother grabs them right from the bookstore employee, I'll take all four she says. Somehow I end up walking all the way back across Chicago, through the Copley Plaza sky mall in Boston, to the hotel but when I get there I realize we were supposed to take the subway, now my mother won't know where I am -- neither of us have a phone, and even if she did have a phone she wouldn't know where to call me.

The energy of our relationship

In the kitchen, Chris comes out to me, smiling and tan -- I hug him with so much force and passion he says oh you're feeling good today you have so much energy then it's like he's in my lap, my hard-on sliding under him I wonder if he feels it until I feel his too, then I'm carrying him through all these different rooms, searching for the right place to engage entirely, we’re in the theater then backstage then an elementary school lobby, everywhere I expect fear and surprise because our movement is sex and love the whole time I'm holding him but instead of fear and surprise there's applause, people are excited to see us. But what is it we're after, downstairs in the elementary school, dark and dilapidated -- handmade doors not attached right -- someone's yelling at us from a room, at first I think we should hide in the women's room because they might not expect us there but then I think we might get arrested so I go in the men's room, I mean I carry Chris on my back into the men's room, the schoolmaster is shaking the door so I come out to face her -- she wants to have us arrested. I go back up to the lobby of my elementary school which has gotten much taller and grander and more corporate, maybe it's also the entrance to a mall. I'm at the information desk. I talk to the two security guards there -- I say the schoolmaster is filing a report, that's why I thought I would go right to you. They say it's okay, just wait here, but I tell them I have to go to a show -- I'm late -- and when I get in the theater I'm not sure if I'm still carrying Chris, I look inside my backpack but it's just other bags, I take them out one by one. I was worried I'd interrupt the show but it turns out I arrive right at the end of the introduction and the director who's a friend of mine smiles in my direction as I sit down.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Crisco Savage

On the bus, I'm watching these kids interact, it's a whole group of them heading up to Haight Street to buy alcohol -- I'm guessing they're pretty young and suburban, they get excited about every tag -- what does that one say? Frisco Savage -- no, man -- is that a F or a P? Dude, were in Frisco -- it's an F.

I actually think it's Crisco Savage, that's much more clever. These kids say things like: I was bombing down the street, Sam dropped his hat and someone ran over it -- remember that time when we waited and waited for the Divisadero bus, man Divisadero is a nightmare. One guy points out another one’s pink boxers, hanging below his baggy jeans with studded belt -- hey, he's wearing pink boxers! Someone else says that's not funny. The first one says I think it's funny. Another guy, this one with a Cal sweatshirt halfway over on Nike #6 jersey, a big silver ring on one of his fingers -- a smaller silver ring on the other hand -- he says I've never worn those.

The one girl there says do you guys wear each other's underwear? The one with the Cal sweatshirt says except the boxer briefs because those are all up here and all. I'm trying to figure out if he and pink-boxers-boy boyfriends or if this is some kind of straight male bonding-type-thing. They look kind of similar, a dopey kind of soft masculinity -- the one closest to me is pale with blond hair with a little bit of facial hair, a silver hoop in his left ear, who wears only one hoop these days? He's got a Burger King crown over his baseball cap, the other one is a light-skinned black guy with glowing eyes who puts on his iPod headphones and starts shaking it -- that's my song -- "Money Success Fame Glamour" -- I watched that movie five times in three days. The girl says what movie? Party Monster.

I guess if he's grooving out to the Party Monster soundtrack, well then he must be a faggot, right? It's hard to tell because they are all talking in masculinity-inflected skater speak, and I'm looking at all their bland baggy clothes wondering when something that's kind of subculture became so brand-obsessed, simultaneously expressing disaffected angst, consumer loyalty and infantilized satisfaction.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The right times of the day for softening of features

Okay -- so I go out -- the space is interesting, like someone's big flat with a bar, there’s smoking in one room at the front but the windows are open so hopefully it's okay -- the music is that kitsch shit where it's just whatever's trendy, thrown together with the mixer but no mixing really and everyone loves it, they get especially excited about the ‘70s shit, Sylvester or the Scissor Sisters I can hardly tell. It's that computer thing where sometimes it sounds like the record’s skipping or the dj’s waxing it up, but I don't think there are any records. The music never builds, it just gets slapped together, and everyone in the room is working facial hair and something kind of ‘70s clone, mustaches and leather, with something bordering ‘80s like hightop sneakers. There's too much cologne, someone even hugs me with it on. I dance a little but not really -- I'm already hurting, why break my body for no reason? I leave as soon as I see someone light up a cigarette in the main room, right next to my coat actually -- good thing I notice just in time, rescue my fashion and run downstairs. I'm back home in under an hour, and I don't feel worse, my head is clearer at least and I take a shower to get rid of the cologne smell and any smoke residue.

But oh no, I wake up from something kind of deep into dry throat and driving headache, oh no why did I go to that bar? I should have left as soon as I saw that person smoking in the front room, why didn't I leave I should have left what was I doing there anyway -- trying to find good music and socialize, but I need to remember to take care of myself and get away if there's smoke, there's always some smoke maybe this going-to-bars thing isn't such a good idea but that's when I'm awake, during bar time and I don't want to be so fragile. Now my face is going to be dried out and I'll have dark circles under my eyes and all just to stand in a room and stare at people like there was some reason to be there. Now I'm not going to be able to go to the once-a-month place with a backroom tomorrow and then on Saturday and reading somewhere where there will be tons of smoke, they open the whole front of the place and people just stand outside blowing in. I used to smoke, aged 14 to 21 when it still seemed glamorous I knew it was terrible too but what could be better than chain-smoking stress, there was always stress to smoke with, a companion in my fingers burning lungs. Even though I usually didn't smoke more than five a day I still embraced the identity I’d get so angry if there wasn't a smoking area, what was the point of going out? I remember when I quit I was in the bathroom at this café in Boston, it was called The Other Side because it was on the other side of Mass Ave from the commodified counterculture section of the endless high-end shopping strip of Newberry Street so it pretended edginess -- worn-out sofas in the low-ceiling upstairs, thriftstore tables with vintage lamps until they renovated it into blandness and I went in the bathroom, about to take out a cigarette when suddenly I thought what am I doing, smoking’s disgusting. Of course I’d always known this -- who didn't -- but I’d never felt it.

Even after I quit, it took me two years to hang out in non-smoking sections at restaurants, it was just such a different culture I belonged to the smoking side more frantic and creative. The point of all this is to say that I understand why people light up cigarettes on crowded dance floors like nothing else matters except their posture and addiction, even as they destroy my life with a single exhale. But I can't believe I'm thinking all of this now while I'm trying to sleep, brain pumping overtime still I'm not getting up I'm not -- oh, breathing -- actually, the air is so cool and fresh today, oh I can feel it clearing out my nasal passages oh it's even cool here under the covers I love that. Yes, just keep breathing in this fresh air to clear everything out, yes.

When I wake up, I still smell smoke but the headache’s gone -- instead there's a dark sadness that I'm trying to meditate out of, until I kind of give up but when I get out of bed I feel okay. I realize the smell of smoke is somehow stuck in my nose -- maybe it's on my skin or on the hair follicles I didn't wash carefully enough in the shower. I take a wash cloth and rub it briskly from my nose to my chin and then it's true, I don't smell smoke anymore. I'm thinking about all the aspects of this bar experiment, I mean the goals -- to learn how to cruise outside of public sex environments, to get past that childhood fear that my desire will kill me I'll just have a heart attack right there, to find good music, to break my body out of the pain cycle before bed maybe. Another part is this weird thing about aging -- I'm 34, mostly I'm happy with the way I look maybe happier than ever before I mean I'm not happy with my body but I enjoy my presentation. I get neurotic, try and sit in the sun on the fire escape at the right times of the day for softening of features. I'm scared of the place of falling off everything is so precarious I'm scared of looking back with regrets now is the time for this cruising thing, I don't want regrets.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Looking out with a different view until it's time to eat and again my head feels blasted away

Did I ever tell you about the guy who lives a few doors down from Donna, the feldenkrais practitioner? The first time I saw him was when he was digging up the ground in front of his house, I didn't think much about it until he looked right up into my eyes I almost blushed. After that I've paid attention -- if the blinds aren't drawn, I look into his house and try to find him. Sometimes I see sports on a huge flatscreen tv, other times he drives up in a spotless medium green vintage Mercedes with two little girls who I'm guessing are his daughters -- these details are not very promising, but I decided I could have an affair anyway with some rich gay dad who looks me in the eyes like I matter, like I'm special, like I'm making an impact.

More recently, though, I've spotted someone who's probably his wife -- she's not as friendly, actually she won't even meet your eyes when you say hello, I know it's her because she arrives with the same daughters but a different car -- an ugly gray minivan-SUV-type thing -- then she goes into the same house and immediately draws the blinds, there are those ones made of dark wooden slats that roll up instead of just sliding up when you pull the string which doesn't totally makes sense with this fancy house but then I haven't seen the inside yet. Once I even saw them exiting together, they did look like husband and wife it was hard to tell if they liked one another. Today I'm walking up the hill and I see the guy pulling the recycling bins into the back yard, he's much skinnier than I remembered, almost delicately skinny from the back and I guess I've missed him until he comes back out, loose V-neck sweater and pants like khakis only grayer, face unshaven dark brown hair and then that smile and his eyes get big and excited, he says which house do you live in? Oh, I don't live here, I say -- I'm just visiting. I’ve stopped right in front of him, so flirtatious those eyes I'm ready for whatever is possible. He says oh, you visit a lot -- his emphasis is on visit, like it's something mischievous I'm doing and then he smiles again and moves back towards his house as I'm trying to figure out a way to introduce myself.

At Donna's, I can't help wishing I had an address nearby, I could say: come over sometime. Feldenkrais is always so many moods, from frustration to exhaustion to anger to relaxation to excitement to hope, back to exhaustion and frustration but also excitement and hope and when I leave it's like I'm walking on different feet or maybe the same feet but they’re just gliding motion evenly pressed and I even feel good while I'm getting groceries until the cab ride home and the driver’s smoking, he says something about throwing the cigarette out the window so that's what I figure he's done until I notice he's still holding it, out the window, and then I think he's thrown it out again but I realized too late that he's smoking the whole time, I mean I thought the pollution around me was the fuel tank or the exhaust or something, at least when I walk into the lobby of my building there are other chemicals to attend to: the new carpet -- I forget about the smoke, rushing to close my door so the chemicals don't get inside but I've already crashed, face flattened I'm thinking this is the crash from feldenkrais because that's how it works so fast from high to low that means time to relax and recover and let my body learn. Then I realize the exhaustion is dramatically centered in my sinuses, could it be the legacy of the cab ride and the carpet fumes so soon, why so soon?

I'm trying to remember that it's okay to collapse, what I'm thinking about is getting in bed but then I'm worried I'll have trouble sleeping later it's already almost 10 p.m. so I decide to meditate, that should be a good idea. I throw on some Laurent Garnier that I haven't listened to in a while, it kind of sounds like meditation music with the ebb and flow and running water sounds, birds too but after a while it's too much, the building techno beat just building my headache until I've kind of gotten to that place where I just watch the colors rotating and swirling around one another under my eyelids, I mean I am there and when I open my eyes all the colors are in many places at once, atoms vibrating yes I lean on the kitchen table looking out with a different view until it's time to eat and again my head feels blasted away not calm or illuminated but grinding right at the sinuses and everything else shut down. Earlier I was planning on going somewhere to see what kind of music they play, undoubtedly a scenester nightmare with djs from London but I was wondering if I might like the music, that's what I was realizing that I miss the music of going out, the rush of beats pounding through sound system into me, yes me -- hopefully not dancing too much just listening feeling the high. But now I'm not so sure -- with my sinuses blasted open and closed, open and closed -- I'm not sure it's the best idea but this headache right here isn't so great either.

Then what's going on -- it's non-stop shitting, I mean I have to rush to the bathroom five times in a row and still my stomach isn't settled. Oh, no -- it's that wired going-out edginess, wait am I going out?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fearlessness and vulnerability

One of these health shows on the radio gave me good advice, the announcer was talking about how people are so afraid of collapse, they’re always keeping themselves upright and sometimes you need to just give in otherwise you fall apart. That was really helpful when I got sick -- to remember to get back in bed, and I'm trying to take that advice into my everyday life too -- how do you recover if you never collapse? I mean I collapse all the time, but I'm always fighting it. Thinking one more thing, one more thing before I get away from the computer -- this same announcer added that when you say I'll do one more thing, one more thing before you go to bed -- that's adrenaline and it kicks in and then you can't fall asleep. That happens to me every day.

Today I wake up to the sound of metal pounding on cement, over and over and over again -- why don't I have this setting on my white noise generator? They’re installing new carpet in the hallway, I guess they figured I didn't already have a toxic overload -- there's nothing like the poison of new carpet to bring joy to the beginning of every day. Even though I'm wired and verging on panicking rage, the key is not to get out of bed anyway, I mean if I can just get past this annoyance then maybe today will be okay. Even if the sleep just lasts a few minutes, I'll still feel much better. And yes -- I finally get there, just past the border and then back again but then past again and then back again and then past, when I finally decide it's okay to look at the clock it's already 4 p.m. but I don't feel terrible, yes that's the key -- I don't feel terrible.

Lately I've been prioritizing personal writing over everything else, and it's been great -- great for my writing, at least. I mean I always have a rule that writing comes first, but sometimes that means a paragraph and then a manic overload of checking email, by the time I'm done my whole body hurts I can't do anything else. The threshold between creative engagement and overwhelm is so delicate these days, I mean I'll write for a half hour and then my whole body hurts, have to do something else until I can write again and then my whole body hurts. That's why sometimes it's useful to go out to the Nob Hill Theatre or a bar, to go out somewhere where I'm not engaging my body in the same ways as writing or editing or reading, sometimes this brings me out of pain. Then I get back home and I'm crazed to write, sometimes it's too late my brain grasping into knots, not bed yet not yet but really it's time. The adrenaline, I guess, that's the adrenaline and I want to break that pattern but also there's so much to get down first.

I want to exist in a space of fearlessness and total vulnerability, both at the same time I think that's what it means to integrate my politics and dreams and sexuality beyond that place where I feel like sexual liberation is something I did in the past and now I just want it back. I mean I want something more. I don't know when my body will stop feeling like a limitation, but I know that I can channel attraction into something that feels like choice, not just the I’m-12-and-I'm-going-to-die, no I just need to get out of here. I don't always have to pay attention only to the fear because it's more trustworthy. Instead: this attraction can be more than a dead end. I mean, it may very well be a dead end -- sometimes I'm filled with a longing so deep for someone I'm certain I'll hate, I can watch the way he enters the room, the way he treats other people around him, the way he’s dressed and the way he laughs or refuses to laugh and I think I know everything. But what I know most is my fear.

There are places where I've learned to negotiate my sexuality -- backrooms and parks and cruising areas where I know that everyone’s there for sex and that means it's okay to make the move because even if they are uncomfortable and sending mixed messages I know why they're there. It took me a long time to learn this, I mean years but that was years ago although sometimes this doesn't prevent me from walking around in circles trying to find that guy who I saw for a second but instead I froze. I mean it took me years to get past that place of freezing sometimes I still find myself all desperate with the pain of missed opportunity anyway.

Sex work is probably where I’m most confident, it's about their desire not mine I'm good at that. I mean I developed the skill to make that my desire too, to move his hands to the right places, get him off before me so I could decide. Then there's the new space which is an old one too, the bar is where I’m trying to cultivate the skill of fearlessness and vulnerability, I mean to further that skill -- something I'm already doing with writing, something that gives me so much awareness and hope sometimes I breathe in and I can feel the changes inside my chest. Somehow I believe this may change everything.

Did I ever tell you that eating oats is like eating come?

Especially when I start the oats cooking before I go to bed, put the pot in the refrigerator while I'm sleeping and when I wake up the oats are already creamy. Sometimes there's even a bitter aftertaste, but oats are much more digestible than come. I know -- come has more protein, but I've been told that protein isn't even digestible! Scientists will neither confirm or deny this rumor -- does anyone know? I'll admit I've never tried eating 2 cups of dried come, brought to a boil with 6 cups of water and a half teaspoon sea salt then simmered for an hour-and-a-half.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A window into the sky



There's that moment around 12:30 a.m. when suddenly I get a rush, this is probably part of what produces insomnia but whatever I've got to go somewhere, can't do anything around here anyway because it's too much repeated motion pain repeated motion pain I need to do something else. I want to go somewhere, but not the Nob Hill Theatre -- too much hunger and disdain, hunger as disdain. The problem with not going out for so long is that I really don't know where to go. I decide on the Powerhouse -- might as well continue my experiment. The Powerhouse actually has a backroom, but it's also the smoking area so I can’t go near it -- I'll try cruising in the front, even though I've always wondered about people in the front -- why not go in the backroom?

Walking up to the door I get that panic like what am I doing here, maybe I should turn around right now and go home. I go inside anyway and it's kind of empty, but the decor has improved since the last time I was there -- it's like a cute little club with a dance floor in the back with sort of a cage for the dj booth and porn on video monitors, I guess all that's the same really what's different are the little tables in the back unfortunately provided by Red Bull is what they say, plus the lighting is more dramatic, red and yellow with shadows. There's a hot guy working the dance floor on his own, shirt off with slim but muscley body, jeans pulled down to show his ass he's covered in sweat I mean truly dripping -- he's got these great moonwalk dance moves with little hip movements and the music's pretty good, actually. Deep house but it's got those snaps that I can't avoid, I mean if I was going out all the time I'd say these are songs I heard 10 or 15 years ago or at least that's how it feels right now I'm okay with that. The sound system is really precise or maybe it's just echoing because there's hardly anyone around, whatever the case I’m throwing some moves and moving closer to the hot sweaty guy he's not really engaging with me except he does keep moving backwards, maybe I'm supposed to start grinding I'm not sure. Then I realize I'm dancing too fast I'm going to hurt myself so I sit on the sideline, yell at the guy: you've got cute moves! And he smiles, says it's hot in here. I say you're certainly hot, don't mean it that way I mean it's true but what I mean is that he’s sweating, maybe that's what I say anyway I'm not quite sure.

Then I'm sitting against the back wall, on the porn screen there's this guy with an extremely long cock and someone who isn't taking much of it, maybe that's part of the act but I always want them to show some talent, okay? That one of the tables there's a 50-something couple, guy with long straight bleached hair brushed behind receding hairline and a black half-shirt framing his large belly, his lover's got a black baseball cap, shirt off he's leaning down to suck on the bleach blond’s nipple. I like watching these people, the small crowd is kind of diverse in terms of race and class -- middle-aged low-key leatherish guys, a few drunks about to pass out, this one dandyish fifty-something guy with a cane. Of course I'm still also watching the boy I'm hot for until he puts on his t-shirt and goes in the back, I want to follow him right away but I can't go back there with all that smoke, I know I'll regret it later.

Then I'm dancing a little more, yes it's those snaps and even the classic oompsh-oompsh beat for one song -- you know, the beat people are always making fun of house music for: Oompsh-oompsh. Oompsh-oompsh. This time I'm dancing slower but I think I hurt my back so I sit down and watch the porn, try to decide if I'm turned on until the bartender turns off the TV I'm watching, why’d he do that? I cross the room diagonally to sit next to this big muscley forty-something leatherish guy who's kind of hot, kind of clean-cut for leather maybe he's the leather side of circuit except he's really friendly. I say they turned off that screen, he says yeah that's why a moved over here I didn't want to hurt my neck. I'm trying to make small talk, figure why not talk about the porn the guy with the long dick he says he doesn't know the one I mean, but he knows he wouldn't leave it outside of his throat for that long, porn is all about the angles and that gets stressful after a while all those angles. I say how's the backroom, he says not much is going on -- there are some hot guys, but they’re really engaged in conversation, they just need someone to start things out but it's kind of rude when they’re so engaged..

I say is the guy who was dancing back there -- he says yes, you should go back there he was checking you out. I say do you think so? He says yes, he was checking you out. I say I couldn't tell -- he says will he seems kind of jittery, maybe he's tweaked. I say I would go back there, I could start it up but I can't deal with the smoke, I'm allergic. He says it's not that smoky in the back, but I understand if you're allergic -- I'm going to get a drink.

I figure I might as well check it out for a second, open the door and there he is right at the front with a few guys smoking, he's pulling on both of his own tits so I figure he's ready. I lean right up against him and rub his chest, kiss his neck. He's definitely tweaked, looks a little confused I say I missed you on the dance floor. He says BYOD, bring your and dance floor -- 4 squares of Formica. I say did you bring baby powder two, I didn't see baby powder. Or cardboard, he says -- he has an accent that I can't quite figure out, before I would have guessed whitebread US suburbs with the jeans pulled down and all, but now I'm thinking maybe Brazil. I say cardboard – that sounds difficult. He says I can do anything.

I say do you want to make out, and I lean down to kiss him. He says that's a little presumptuous. Interesting word choice. I laugh and kiss his neck again, rub his chest. I say I'm going to get away from the smoke, and I go down the few stairs to the far corner, sit on the bench and kick my legs up like a little kid, I guess he's talking about me to the guy next to him because they're both looking over so I wave. Then I go back inside

Wow, I feel so much better like I'm high -- I was right, the rejection doesn't bother me at all, but what bothers me is missing what might be an opportunity, okay I'm going to get good at this. What's interesting about a bar on Monday night I guess is that it brings such a weird crowd together, maybe I've been away from bars for long enough that now they seem intriguing. I'm talking to the dandyish middle-aged guy with a cane -- I didn't expect to go out tonight, but here I am and the bar’s about to close. He says is there anything wrong with that? He's smiling, I like his smile even though it illuminates probably 60 years of stress in his face, lubricated by alcohol. He has an interesting accent too -- maybe people in bars have accents.

I'm waving goodbye to the dj and then the bartender -- that's just the way I am, something from my years as a clubkid I guess -- the dj is friendly, but the bartender looks angry and tweaked. The dance floor diva is at the other end of the bar by the exit, he gives me a friendly enough look and says be careful. What does he mean by that? Maybe something like be safe, I've never liked that directive -- I say you be careful too, and I rub his back, his shirt is back on again.

But outside, oh this is why I go out! 2 a.m. is the most gorgeous time in San Francisco, the air billowing in foggy splendor and everything’s still except the occasional music from a bar, a few cars but just a few, guys on bikes looking tough. South of Market most of the buildings are ugly, especially now with so many new loft-style condo atrocities, the landscape is landfill-flat but the shadows from buildings and streetlights are lovely and oh the sky the sky the sky!

At home I'm wondering about that comment, be careful. At first I get hyper-processy about it -- was he saying something about my cruising technique? I mean, he was sitting in the backroom playing with his nipples, was I really being presumptuous? But actually I think he was being friendly -- then I get it, he meant be careful because obviously I was so high, right that's what people always think of me in bars: what are you on?

If you really want to know, I'm on a quest, okay? A quest for fearlessness in desire. I want my sexuality to feel beautiful and empowering and full of possibility -- it's been so many years that I've settled for a trap door rather than a window to the sky. When I was on tour for Nobody Passes, I felt so much possibility for the politics of gender and transformation, feminism and accountability, self-definition and fluidity -- now I want to bring all of that into my own sexual life also, where it also belongs.