Allison M.

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


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Random personal thoughts (8/18/2018 edition)

I have just enough time this Sunday morning to let you in on a couple of personal matters.  First off, I’ve put in a feeler on a potential new employment opportunity.  It’s through a different staffing agency than the one where I found my current assignment.  It’s also a temp-to-hire role.  But it also appears to be an indefinite, long-term role.  And it’s also in an industry where I spent a significant portion of my early professional life, meaning I need to move some of the industry’s terminology from the back to the front of my memory if I get this role.

But at the very least, if nothing pans out there or anyplace else, I do have my current assignment to fall back on.  As much as I’m not happy there and have struggled sometimes, the managers I work under seem to be pleased with my work.  Well, at least pleased enough to indicate they’d like to keep me on past September 1 and work some special projects.  While that’s nice, and I’m grateful, I’m not sure if it will be a full-time role.  And let’s just say that it’s not easy having just part-time employment while living in a city as expensive as Madison.

This afternoon, at least, I get to put all those work worries aside and get dressed up.  And for good reason, as today is Madison’s LGBT+ celebration, OutReach Magic Festival.  As I noted back in the spring, city regulations, logistics, and lingering resentment from last year prompted event organizers to eschew from having a parade downtown up State Street, and instead have a picnic/festival event at Warner Park on the northeast side of town.  The setup is meant to help bring the various groups within the pride acronym together, something our community needs right now and will hopefully benefit from.  The bad news, however, is that somebody has been praying for rain.  As I write this, there’s a loud storm moving through town, and a chance of rain exists late during the event.  Ugh!

Hopefully, everyone will stay dry at Magic Festival.  Myself especially, as I will be lugging around a fancy camera while dodging raindrops.  See, yours truly will be volunteering as Allison at the event.  Little Ol’ Do-Gooder Me wanted to help out in any way.  Despite my signing up relatively late (I did so after a volunteer orientation), spots were still available, and I added my femme name to the list as an event photographer.  I’m planning to arrive early enough to not only drink in the event and get a lay of the land, but also to get the ground rules on photographing the event, one of which I’ve learned about already — get consent before taking someone’s picture.  It will be a great thrill to not only lend a hand to what will hopefully be a great event, but to also help document it for posterity.


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Allison’s forty-tenth birthday

The way the calendar works, one’s birthday doesn’t always fall on the same day of the week every year.  So it is with my birthday, which the past few years fell on a work day.  Luckily, this year my 50th birthday fell on a Saturday.  And when my family texted me yesterday to bid me their good wishes, they wondered what I would be doing during the day.  A natural question, what with my 50th falling on a weekend.  I told them I wouldn’t be doing anything big, just relaxing at home.

Oh, boy, was I lying like a dog.

Past-the-knee knit dress & birthday ribbon

That’s yours truly posing for the camera early Saturday evening at one of the more popular restaurants in the Madison area, The Great Dane.  The dress is literally brand new, as well as a birthday present to myself.  Earlier in the day, I made a quick bee line for errands and stopped off at Forever 21 in West Towne Mall to treat myself to not only a new stylish addition to my wardrobe, but also something that will fit me comfortably and not show a lot of leg (I didn’t have enough time for me to shave them, and I’ll explain why in a moment).

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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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Trying to keep a “million dollar” look in place

As I’ve mentioned more than once on this blog, Ragstock has been one of my go-to stores to find clothing items that are unique, edgy, daring, retro-themed… and more than a few times all of those at once.  About that retro vein, Ragstock is known for stocking lots of vintage clothing, whether it would be current designs inspired by looks of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, or something that looks as if it came straight out of those decades.

At their State Street location here in Madison, Ragstock has a “seriously retro” (my term) section where they keep all of their metallic lycra/lamé clothing, along with vintage-style clothing and accessories that would go well with them.  For the most part, I think, Ragstock considers that section as a “costume” area, in that not everyone will go around every day looking like a Blues Brother or a disco queen or a prom queen.

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Queer Shorts rocks my world… one last time

Okay, now that you’ve seen how cute I looked last Friday night (June 14), let’s give some praise to the reason I went out in the first place…

Last Friday was a well-needed day off from my work assignment.  Having that day off would be serendipitous for me, as I put in a little bit of walking in the morning, a little bit of shopping at midday… and a little bit of theater in the evening.

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Poster art for Queer Shorts: Spirit of Stonewall (image source here)

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, or at least an aficionado of Madison’s theater community, you’re probably familiar with Stage Q, a theater group dedicated to advancing the creative voices and stories of LGBTQ+ people here in Madison.  For the past 14 years, Stage Q’s cornerstone event has been Queer Shorts, a collection of queer-oriented (naturally) one-act plays, each united by a certain theme every year (e.g. love, remembrance).

This year, the golden anniversary of the Stonewall riots are the inspiration for Queer Shorts: Spirit of Stonewall, which had its premiere staging last Friday and will run on weekends through the end of this month.  That closing weekend is serendipitous, in that it coincides with the actual anniversary of that fateful early morning of June 28, 1969.

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Allison rocks Queer Shorts

Friday night (June 14) was the premiere showing of Stage Q’s Queer Shorts: Spirit of Stonewall.  For the regular readers of this blog, or at least those familiar to Madison’s theater community, Stage Q is a live theater group committed to lifting the voices, talents, and stories of those in the LGBT+ community and our allies.  Queer Shorts is an annual showcase of LGBT-themed one-act plays and has been the cornerstone event of each of Stage Q’s seasons since the first edition in 2006.

Each year, Queer Shorts has had a theme.  This year’s edition, which runs through June 29, takes inspiration from the triumphs and difficulties the LGBT+ community has faced since the Stonewall riots of June 1969.  The plays, which I’ll analyze further in my next post, have tones that range from funny to poignant, joyful to serious (and very dramatic in one instance).  But they all reflect how far our community has come, where we are today, and how we still must overcome fear and prejudice while being unafraid to live as our true selves.

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