Allison M.

A crossdresser's thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up

A poem: “Staring Back At You”

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Earlier this month, yours truly reviewed Queer Shorts: Spirit of Stonewall, which had its very last performance at the Bartell Theatre this afternoon.  In that review, I mentioned the backdrop Stage Q employed for this Queer Shorts edition.  It a basic setup of a black curtain bathed by projected lights from overhead.  The lights can change colors with the flip of a board switch, including the 6 colors of the LGBT rainbow.

More than the color of the curtain or the lights, there is something else about the backdrop that I found absolutely striking:  To match the “Spirit of Stonewall” theme of this last Queer Shorts, Stage Q included photos, mostly 8x10s, of various images from local and national LGBT history.  The photos were strung together in vertical arrays along the curtain, each pic about a foot apart.  You can see what I mean in the below image of the Queer Shorts cast Stage Q posted on Facebook prior to their second to last performance.

Unfortunately, that cast photo shows the curtain from a distance, so you can’t make out the photo arrays in detail.  But much like any edition of Queer Shorts had been, the pics run the gamut from local to national and serious to joyful.  There are photos of hands holding, friends embracing, couples kissing, drag artists performing, our community marching…

Oh, and let’s not leave out historic moments happening.  Of all those photos I recall from attending Spirit of Stonewall‘s premiere two weeks ago, three significant images really caught my eye:  A black-and-white shot of a crowd in front of the Stonewall Inn; another, also in monochrome, of Wisconsin governor Lee Dreyfus signing the 1982 law that prohibits discrimination based on one’s sexual identity; and a third from just this month, a view of a rainbow flag flying over the executive wing of Wisconsin’s state capitol, at the request of our current governor, Tony Evers.

Whenever I look at any photo from the past, I am always mesmerized not only by its subjects but by what may have surrounded it (i.e. the crowd surrounding the figures, the buildings in the background, what may have been happening outside the camera lens’s peripheral).  It makes me ponder what else may have been happening at the time that shutter went “click.”

That’s not to dismiss those directly in front of that camera, mind you.  They are the most important part of any photograph, especially those in the photos that adorned Queer Shorts’ curtain the past two weeks.  Just as the one-act plays that made up Spirit of Stonewall were good choices on Stage Q’s part, so too were the images behind the performers.  Each of them were a millisecond in time, but they were moments of history — our LGBT community’s history.

When I attended Queer Shorts’ premiere, I took some time during intermission and post-show (and, I admit, in between some segments) to glance or stare at those photos.  Doing so, I couldn’t help but think of those in the images and how, just maybe, they were staring back at the audience… as if they were telling us, “don’t forget us… and don’t forget what we stood up for.”

Staring Back At You

See the man, young and scared
Standing in front of blackened windows
And a speakeasy’s doors
Bathed in sepia and neon
He desires to be loved
Though not by a woman fair
With a longing for affection
He’s looking in any direction
And staring back at you

See him joined in the street
By other men just like him
Plus women, trans people, and queens
From closets, they want to exit
Through blackened windows, they smash
As they tell a disapproving world…
Respect us!  Don’t harm or shun us!
Don’t make us live false identities!
Let us live as we are, unafraid!
With anger and resistance
They stand with pride
Staring right back at you

See the man at his desk
Wearing his bright red vest
As he takes pen to paper
And tells the world
(Well, at least his state anyway)
Don’t let anyone shun you
Because of who you love
With his signature, he’s spoken
A barrier has been broken
And with a smile of respect
He stares back at you

See two happy people, smiling with glee
After a hard-earned victory they’ve seen…
Someone in a black robe proclaimed
Gender matters not
When you tie the knot
To the courthouse, this couple now moves
To fulfill their right to say
Two very beautiful words:
“I do”
Then to a camera’s shutter
Three more words they utter…
“Love is love”
While they stare back at you

See the many thousands in the street
Rainbow-hued men and women
And gender non-conforming
No longer afraid of disapproving glares
They know who they really are
Today they celebrate a happy present
And hope for wonderful futures
While remembering dark roads past
And battles that still need to be won
Under a June sun so bright
They no longer need to live lives of pretend
With pride, they smile for the camera lens
Staring right back at you

See the faces of a prideful world
No, their lives aren’t of vanity
But rather those of liberty
In their true identities
Gay, straight, bi, questioning
Or their self-dictated gender
Theirs are lives that should be well treasured
From then, to today, and forevermore
Let their light shine brighter than before
So that future generations can learn
Of their highs and lows
And victories well earned
And paid forward to them
So that they can live their own lives… freely
With a look that says, “Don’t forget us…
And live your lives with truth”
They’re staring back at you

Author: Allison M.

A part of the trans community ("cross-dresser" is the term that applies to me) who finds themselves much more expressive and somewhat more confident when presenting in a feminine persona. An admirer and supporter of those who are fashionable, fabulous, and friendly (LGBT or otherwise). Someone who tries to be witty and unique, but is not even remotely perverted or a pariah (I am a real human being, just like you). Using various writing styles on this blog to communicate thoughts and feelings concerning my life experiences, fashion sense, and the world at large (and maybe impressing my high school creative writing teacher who deservedly gave me middling grades).

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