Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pride

It’s funny when your friends tell you you’ll like someone, and then you meet that person and you’re really not sure, but you decide to go with the recommendation. So I went with Brodie to a party in Hayes Valley, a neighborhood colonized by fashion boutiques and interior design stores -- I know what you’re thinking: another party? Yes, let me tell you about another party. This was a different scene -- it was a bunch of bougie art fags trading barbs and trying to act scandalous. Or scandalized, depending on who was listening. Of course I thought of New York; I thought of New York anytime I went someplace horrible. But Hayes Valley is actually kind of trying to be New York, except it only goes on for three blocks.

Back to the Mission, where it was no longer cool to be a dyke: you could be trans, or you could call yourself queer but refuse other labels. At this point, the trans guys who inhabited stereotypical masculine traits were the ones considered the hottest. I remember watching one of these guys screaming at his femme girlfriend from across the street: hey bitch -- you skank, you skanky ho -- where do you think you’re going, you slut? She came right over, and he slapped her -- it didn’t look like a joke; people were watching like they watch abuse in public, unsure of whether to do something; their friends giggled.

The Eagle became the trendiest bar for this particular scene, and no one talked about its long history of hostility towards women, queens, people of color, and anyone perceived as feminine -- now it was queer ground zero, the best place to go to hear bands. Certain faggots whispered cautiously about whether misogyny was a required part of transitioning into masculine realness. The most daring femmes joked about testosterone: um, did somebody have too much T in their coffee today?

Soon, trans guys would start doing drag in dresses, wearing pink, identifying as fags and not just in a denim-and-leather kind of way. The conversations would get more complicated: was it okay for trans guys to identify as straight? How could one remain accountable while assimilating into male privilege? Trans guys brought their own conversations more into the public domain: of course it was possible to continue challenging hierarchical norms instead of swallowing the whole package! And: fuck that tired excuse that testosterone makes us act like macho assholes -- that’s just biological essentialism! All of this challenged my own assumptions about masculinity as everything to be avoided: what about a masculinity that was chosen, negotiated, and transformed?

But first, it seemed like there were a lot of trans guys rejecting everything they and I had learned in dyke cultures, not just the guys who wanted to pass or who now identified as straight, but also the trans guys assimilating into gay culture, what could be worse than gay culture? So, at that terrible party with ‘70s porn projected on the walls and fags in designer clothes talking about how dirty they were, but not as dirty as pussy, Brodie acted surprised when I went off on gay misogyny, not surprised that I was going off but surprised when I said it was consumed and assumed in pretty much every gay space. I wondered if, in Brodie’s hope for belonging as a trans guy, he was neglecting the obvious. Then he asked me what I was doing for pride. Pride -- was he kidding? Hiding inside my apartment -- what else was there to do?

9 comments:

Nick said...

"talking about how dirty they were, but not as dirty as pussy"

Haha! This is. So. True. Ugh.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

I know -- the world! Oh no!

And so lovely to hear from you :)

Love --
mattilda

Brina said...

Yah it is really interesting how many trans guys want you to identify as straight if you are a woman coupled with them. I'm still queer my roommate has said and that will never change.

I also am curious why people are so confused by not having a gender preference. Identifying as queer and pansexual is apparently very upsetting to a lot of people.

kayti said...

people sometimes I wonder about them

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Brina, it definitely is strange when anyone asks someone they're dating to identify in a particular way, oh no! And especially as straight -- um, didn't most of us do that before?

No gender preference, love it...

And queer and pansexual, hello!

And Kayti, I wonder about them too :)

Love --
mattilda

Nick said...

Lovely to hear from you as well! And look -- I'm home in Houston, TX!

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

The important question: is Houston ready?

Houston will be ready soon...

And to call to tell me all!

Love --
mattilda

thissouthernfaggot said...

I guess this comes from small town life, but anytime someone tells me about how great someone is, I have to wonder... If they are so great, why have I not met them before? Sometimes people just appear and thats really refreshing, but usually its just the same stale, old shit.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Oh, no -- not stale, old shit!!!

I would say that most people here I've not met -- especially now that I'm in a certain kind of self-imposed exile... I'm ready to meet new people, that's for sure!

Although this part is about when I moved back to SF at the end of 2000 -- and then I really hadn't met people!

I do know what you mean, though, about when someone says oh blah blah blah is so great you will love her -- and then... and then and then... oh, no!

Love --
mattilda