Allison M.

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


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Somebody’s memories

Four years ago, I sung the praises of an advertisement that PFLAG Canada put out to promote and support legal marriage equality worldwide.  The ad was titled “Nobody’s Memories,” and it depicted images of what could have been:  Weddings of same-gender couples from the mid-20th century, shown as home movie footage from an “alternate universe” that gives the viewer chills with their authentic aged styles.  If you want to learn what I’m talking about, check out this blog link to take a look at it yourself; I just watched it again myself and am still struck by how powerful and moving that ad still is.

This week, a news item in the showbiz world made me recall that “Nobody’s Memories” ad and its (*sigh*) imaginary depictions of couples who just happen to be of the same gender in real love.  I’ll talk up that TV item in a bit, but while doing some research on it, I went further down the internet rabbit hole and came across this photo of an actual wedding memory that did happen:

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Photo credit: Universal Entertainment Agency via Houston Chronicle

The above photo, as confirmed in this 2014 Houston Chronicle article, is from a small ceremony that took place at Harmony Wedding Chapel in Houston in October 1972.  The groom is Antonio Molina, a shipping clerk, former high school football star, and Navy veteran.  The resplendent bride is William “Billie” Ert, a female impersonator (stage name: “Mr. Vicki Carr”) and former hairdresser.  Yes, William Ert was a male, but he had a voter registration card that listed his gender as “female.”

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A poem: “Staring Back At You”

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.

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Why we must keep going

By now, I hope you have read my previous two posts (found here and here) dedicated to the anniversary of a momentous event.  The Stonewall riots, which started 50 years ago this morning (June 28, 1969), were a significant milestone on the way toward respect and equality for those in the broad LGBT+ community.  For sure, today is a day to recognize where our community has come from, celebrate the rights we have earned, and remember the long and hard fight that connects then to now… and continues into the future.

I need to bring up that aspect because as you are fully aware of, our LGBT+ community are still facing threats, even with our well-earned victories.  For every person who waives a rainbow flag, there is another wanting to tear it from their hands.  For every pride parade ready to step off, there is a group wanting to block us or wish us out of existence.  For every same-sex couple making their relationship legal, there is a legislator (and an entire political party) seeking to deny them that right.  And for every trans person wanting to display their true colors, and desiring to show the world that they are real human beings, there are those who only see them as deviant and disgusting.

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What we have now (and wouldn’t have had without Stonewall)

One cannot… really, must not deny how significant the Stonewall riots really were.  For sure, it helped propel the broad LGBT+ civil rights movement.  But it wasn’t the first figurative match to be tossed.  Far from it, really, as there were many other actions of rebellion, large and small, against anti-LGBT bigotry that occurred before that hot night 50 years ago this morning.  (I touched on them in my previous post, which you should check out if you haven’t done so already.)

As well, one cannot go without appreciation toward all the men, women, and gender non-conforming who took stands for LGBT+ liberties before and after Stonewall.  Even if they weren’t even alive when the riots occurred, they have never been afraid to say, “We’re here, we’re queer, and we can’t suffocate in the closet!”

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Where we started

One night many years ago, in a major American city, a group of gay men and women, transgender people, and drag performers rioted at a public place.  The uprising was a reaction against police harassment toward those in the LGBT+ community, and it occurred at an establishment where those in said community frequented.  Of course, I’m talking about… an incident that occurred in May 1959 at the Cooper Do-nuts cafe on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

Yeah, you thought I was going to talk about some other major event in our history, weren’t you?  Well, while we all know about the event that occurred in New York City 50 years ago this morning (the very early hours of June 28, 1969), events such as that which occurred at that doughnut shop should not be lost to history.  Despite the 10-year time difference between them, the backgrounds between the Stonewall and Cooper Do-Nuts uprisings are equal:  They were in an era when, by law and culture (and both, in most cases), LGBT people had to live in the shadows.  And when they dared to venture into the open as their true selves (trans people especially), very few businesses welcomed in.  Cooper’s wasn’t one such business that didn’t turn them away…

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Wrong and right ways to commemorate this day

As promised, here’s the second post where I wanted to discuss Memorial Day.  Again, this is a day meant to pay tribute to those who died in service of the United States Armed Forces.  If you’ve paid your own tasteful tribute today, even if it’s as simple as offering condolences or planting an American flag on a military member’s grave, good for you… for you understand the gravity of this solemn day.

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Allison is witness to a RAID!

As I noted in my previous blog post, I’m skipping participating in the Crazylegs Classic today, mentally recuperating from a very grueling work week.  However…

At least I did take the time to do a little something for me.  Friday night, I got out of the house, hit the town, and considered a significant event that occurred way back in the past.  June 28, 1969, to be exact.

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Image source: Stage Q on Facebook

This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous Stonewall riots in New York City.  As they occurred during an era of social upheaval in the United States (the late 1960s), they are widely considered to be the catalyst of the gay liberation movement and the modern-day fight for LGBT rights and freedoms.

With the golden jubilee of Stonewall upon us, the Madison-based LGBT theater group Stage Q commissioned an original play that reenacts that important night in history.  The result was RAID! Attack on Stonewall, which ends a 7-performances-over-2-weekends run at the Bartell Theatre this afternoon. Continue reading


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A couple of spring election thoughts

A couple of thoughts that surfaced to the top of my mind the day after an important spring election.  Well, it was important here in Madison, and I’ll bring up why in a second.  If you had spring general elections where you lived, know that it was important for your locale as well, and that you exercised your right to vote.

Perhaps the most noteworthy election occurred in the city of Chicago, which in Lori Lightfoot will see only its second female mayor, not to mention its third African-American mayor. (That her opponent was also black and female made it an historic campaign.)  Lightfoot is also gay, and will become Chicago’s first openly LGBT mayor.

Lori Lightfoot’s victory is certainly noteworthy and historic in Chicago, certainly perking the spirits of her supporters and some optimism within the city’s LGBT community.  But here in Madison, we had our own significant election this week, involving the person pictured to your right.  Satya Rhodes-Conway has called Madison home for 20 years.  She served on Madison’s City Council for 6 years and had been working with a UW—Madison-based think tank when she decided to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Madison.

Satya was among 6 candidates for mayor and placed in the top two when the first round of the election was held in February.  The other person who advanced to this week’s election is perhaps best known by this moniker:  “Mayor for Life.”  No, don’t take that literally, but he did spend 22 years over 3 tenures as mayor that covered parts of five decades.  That and the fact that his viewpoints and fighting spirit matched that of most of the citizenry (progressive, radical) gave one the sense that he could be mayor for as long as he lived on this earth.

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A poem: “Stand”

Today (March 31) is the International Transgender Day of Visibility.  This is the tenth anniversary of this day, which is intended to highlight trans people of all stripes worldwide, as well as the accomplishments we’ve made and the difficulties we still face.

For sure, it’s good that in recent years the trans community has made so many positive advancements.  As well, it’s great to see positive representations of our community (the TV series Pose, for one).  These have helped foster a much-needed acceptance of us by those in the cis-gender community.

But for all our personal and collective gains, modest or otherwise, there have been equal amounts of disgust backlash toward us, especially from the extreme portions of the politically and culturally conservative corners.  Just one example is the “mission” of You Know Who and his cronies to prevent trans service members from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces.

It’s anti-trans attitudes like these that still makes the need for cis-gender allies all the more greater.  The activist Miss Major said it best in a Twitter video that went viral this week, stating that those who care for our community are “the people who need to become more visible.”  In other words, we need allies to stand up and tell the dismissive world that we’re not the pariahs the closed-minded think we are.

The following poem is inspired by TDOV; the anti-trans attitudes that sadly still linger; the need for cis-gender allies to come out from their closets, so to speak, and stand up for us; and to a lesser extent, the news this week that there will be no LGBT+ pride parade here in Madison this summer.  Again, we’re not evil or deviant.  It’s just that the rest of the world still needs to recognize that and stand to our defense.

Stand

I still need to take this stand
And remind you of who I am
I’m not what that certificate says I am
But I am still more than that

I can do so many things
Build buildings, fly planes
Or put out flames
Even run a mile in 10 minutes flat

I can be a pilot or a poet
For too long, I’ve been flat on my face
But I getting back into the race
With the help of allies who’ll be my friends

I can stand and deliver
I can serve and protect
I can fight to defend your freedoms
But Lord knows that I’m in need of them

We are one nation, indivisible
But I can’t be invisible
I’m human, can’t you see?
Why can’t you and others get get past my identity?

You only want an explanation
As to my gender identification
Why such the rush?
Does it matter to you where I flush?

I may be a guy or girl
Or somewhere in the middle
My identity shouldn’t be a riddle
Really, why can’t you see that?

I don’t blame the doctors who had to write down
That I was only one gender
The day into this world I entered
But since then, I know I don’t define as that

There’s no need for examination
I live my life not as a fabrication
I don’t need your interrogation
So put away your spotlight

Help me make this stand
Please take my hand
And let’s tell this land
That for trans rights, we must fight

Don’t wish us into a cornfield
Or put barricades before us
Be our allies, and forward let’s thrust
Across this great, yet still terrifying, land

Let’s have vision of persistence
Against those who still deny and resist us
Remind them that we’re not just trans, but also human
And always and forever part of our Maker’s plan

So, please take my hand
And together, you and I
We’ll make this stand


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Oscar, Oscar, Oscar…

Time to fire up that recognizable theme music and… oh, wait, this isn’t supposed to be about Felix Unger disdainfully looking at his roommate’s pig sty of an apartment?  Okay then, sorry. [sound of record needle scratching]  Yeah, this is about last weekend’s big event, the 91st Academy Awards.  And, yes, I’m late to the “pile on the Oscars” party.  In my defense, I’m still trying to shake off a very long, grueling, and stressful work week, so please give me some slack.

Anyway, it goes without saying that the Academy Awards are the most scrutinized entertainment awards show on the planet.  Even just hearing the word “Oscars” makes a human being consider at least one of three Oscar-related questions:  How glamorous were the celebrities on the red carpet?  Was the ceremony worth watching?  And were the actual Oscar recipients deserving?

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