I want to tell you about what I did — and didn’t — do this past Thursday night. First off, what I did do was attend a little get-together that raised funds for the LGBT pride parade in Madison this August. It was a rather simple party, with just under a couple dozen supporters and Board of Directors membership of Madison’s LGBT community center, held in the home and garden of one of the center’s longtime supporters in one of Madison’s more cozier and aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods (lots of shade trees, narrow and winding streets, beautifully manicured yards).
How did I learn of this get-together, you ask? Well, Male Mode Me has previously provided support to the center and its parade, and I’ve been on their mailing list ever since (and happily so), receiving a couple of invitations to fundraising get-togethers held this spring/summer. I was unable to attend one (it was out of town last month), but I really wanted to attend the other. Yeah, I’m one who wants to provide good support for good causes and good organizations in any way I can.
Anyway, back to the party. It was a rather simple soiree, really. There was no elegant dining room with exquisite centerpieces on every table and exquisite cuisine on the menu. Think “garden party” instead: A simple menu of small sandwiches, pasta salads, veggie trays, and simple desserts, presented in a home and adjoining garden that was comfortable and inviting inside and out. Seriously, I would love to spend a whole summer relaxing in the flowers, shade trees, and stone paths of such a garden. The elegance of the place, I think, helped foster a soothing tone among those in attendance. Oh, I’m sure the party would not have been a rowdy shindig to begin with, but I’m one to believe the physical surroundings help foster the atmosphere and attitude of the attendees. Think of it: If you wanted to throw a party that had a quieting, respectful tone, would you want to hold it in, say, a dankly lit honky-tonk bar with neon beer signs and a mechanical bull? (Kids, ask your parents if they recall the Urban Cowboy craze.)
The simple elegant atmosphere of Thursday night’s party also helped foster the topics and tone of conversation, from topics of general importance to the LGBT community to broad politics to business and just general getting-to-know-you chit-chat. And such chit-chat can really broaden one’s mind. For example, I was drawn in to a conversation with a nice couple who talked up their devotion to progressive causes and joy of making documentaries (including one set to debut in September) and promotional films (they’ve make the subject of green burials, one you’d think would be macabre in tone, into one that leaves the viewer with positive thoughts).
While I enjoyed the early evening party, there was something I didn’t do: I didn’t dress up as Allison. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Gee, Allison, it was a LGBT-friendly atmosphere; why didn’t you dress up?” Well, two reasons: First, I had to leave work a little later than I had planned on Thursday, and that left little time for me to change out of male-mode shirt and tie and into a nice dress, makeup, and decent wig. I wanted to arrive at the party in a decent appearance and at a decent time (the soiree was only 2 hours long). So, I went back home, shed one shirt and tie for another (it was a rough day for me at work, and the less of a reminder about it, the better), and headed back out as Male Mode Me.
The other reason I didn’t go as Allison? Well… part of me didn’t want to make too much of a visual statement being all dolled up. I mean, I was in the home of someone I was unfamiliar with, surrounded by other people who I didn’t know very well. And more importantly, I was of the (correct) impression that not only was this party an elegant atmosphere but also… uh, how can I describe it? A cordial and professional atmosphere is the best way I could describe it. No, there wasn’t any literal exchange of business cards, but there were handshakes, respectful introductions, and genial conversations. Not to mention the fact that there were a couple important members of Madison’s LGBT community and straight/cisgender allies, including two well-respected members of the state legislature (one current, one former). So, yeah, I feared that going all glam as Allison (or not drag queen glam, anyway) would take away a bit of the limelight deserved of these movers and shakers and what they wanted to talk up during a brief mid-party presentation.
Still, though, a part of me does wish I had gone to that party dressed up as Allison. I mean, there was trans representation at the party, including a member of the trans support group I’ve been a part of, and dressing up as Allison would’ve been a way to support them. And I’m sure that the others in attendance would have been welcoming and supportive of my presenting my female side (or at least the one stranger to whom I mentioned my connection to the transgender/crossdresser support group that the LGBT center houses). But for at least one quiet but humid (and briefly rainy) summer Thursday evening, my desire to bring Allison out of the house was outweighed by something more important: My respect for and desire to support my brethren in Madison’s LGBT community.