Last weekend was the third weekend of August, one in which Madison’s LGBT+ community celebrates and puts on a show. Normally, that would have included a parade up State Street and a rally around the Capitol Square. This year, however, thanks to city ordinances, police department demands, and organizational logistics, event organizers went back to the future, as it were…
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.
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).
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.
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.
The other day, with a thunderstorm ruining my plans to venture out en femme, I decided instead to head down to my building’s basement. It’s obviously not the most glamorous locale in my building, let alone the world, but the pale color of the concrete walls that help keep our apartments upright are a nice background for a fashion shoot.
And just what am I wearing here? Well, let’s start off with the skirt. Back at Christmastime, I received a nice gift card from Kohl’s department stores. With the $40 on that card burning a big hole in my wallet by the time spring rolled around, I figured it would be a nice way to help build the summertime portion of my feminine wardrobe. Luckily, I found a perfect addition in this navy blue Apt. 9 maxi-skirt.
This Easter weekend will find me traveling out of town for my family’s holiday to-do. Naturally, that rules out any chance for me to dress up as Allison and meet up with the CD/TG support I’m a part of. But at least I had the chance to do so the past two weekends, including a Saturday meeting we had two weeks ago.
If you’ve ever perused that feed to the right of your screen, you’ve discovered that I am indeed on Flickr. And once or twice on this blog, I’ve opined of how Flickr can be a nice avenue to show off one’s outer beauty.
Whenever it’s the last week of a year, I find myself looking at the calendar on the wall, noticing the dwindling dates of December, and asking myself, egads, where has this year gone?
The gravity of knowing that one year is about to give way to another makes one think of all that’s to come with the new calendar on the wall as well as, naturally, all that occurred while the old calendar was posted. And a lot happened in 2018, including something you probably know by now if you’re a frequent reader of this blog: My having to depart my previous place of employment and eventually finding the current temp-to-hire assignment I call my new income source.
But rather than bore you with another post of the professional journey Male Mode Me took in 2018, or for that matter any other issues that popped up in my life this year, I want to lift my cup of kindness yet for one of the more enjoyable days of my previous 365 that should not be forgot. At the end of September, I joined up with a Flickr friend and fellow male-to-female crossdresser. The two of us first got together a few years ago at my apartment, at my invitation. Back in the fall, my friend put out the call for someone to join her for an afternoon at her place, which she would have all to herself. (Her wife doesn’t mind her dressing up but wants no part of it.)
My Flickr friend and I spent the few hours of that late afternoon trying on outfits, conversing (despite my not being a brilliant conversationalist), and just enjoying that “girl time.” And, yes, we took pictures. It was just these past few days that I finally got around to going through the photos from that afternoon. First was this pic of yours truly in a leopard print dress and trusty leather belt you probably saw before on here:
And this dress I found earlier in September at St Vincent de Paul. Yes, there are diamond shaped studs along the lower halves of the sleeves and above the hemline. And, yes, it was love at first sight when I saw it, especially considering the fact that it’s in my size (8).
And here’s me in another item I found at St Vincent de Paul, a tank top all glittery in front-panel sequins. I pair it here with a patent leather mini skirt I found at Forever 21.
But the best photo of yours truly from that late afternoon was one of the last pictures my friend and I took.
Yes, you’ve seen this “me” shirt I found in the Macy’s markdown racks back in March. But the suit? I had just bought this Who What Wear pantsuit earlier that very day before my dress-up rendezvous. A few days earlier, I had actually noticed this suit on the rack at Target but didn’t think of purchasing it then. After that, however, I thought about how my femme side deserves to have a professional look. I mean, an endless stream of wigs and leather skirts isn’t enough sustenance for a crossdresser.
So when you look at me in this suit, you’re not just looking a crossdresser. You’re looking at a human being who in 2018 went through the sadness of losing one job; regained pride in finding new employment; and for one Saturday afternoon, put aside the worries of the outside world and took the time to be… well, me.
It’s this day of meeting up with someone and dressing up for the camera that is one of the better moments I will want to remember 2018 for. Yeah, the steep slopes and rough seas of this year will linger in the back of my mind, but my glass will be raised in honor of the good moments and good people I spent them with.
Here’s hoping when you raise your own glass at midnight tonight (or earlier if you like to turn in early on New Year’s Eve as I do), you’ll have your own happy moments and good friends you’ll remember from 2018. Thanks for reading, and may you all have a happy and safe 2019.
Back in September 2017, I posed for a professional photographer for the first time, doing so before the camera of Katie Berry at Smoketree Photography. Three months later (December 2017), Katie, her partner, and their friends in the Everyday Gay Holiday art studio/collective on Atwood Avenue threw a holiday get-together for their friends in the LGBT+ community — a “HOLIgay” party. While I’m not a party person, I jumped at the chance to doll myself up, snack on some food, and mingle with other LGBT+ people from the Madison community.
Being the photographer that she is, Katie set up a corner in the studio to let the partygoers use her fancy camera and snap a few free selfies in front of a festive “toyland/horse/holiday/winter wonderland” setting. Not wanting to pass up a photo opportunity while looking fabulous, I took the remote and snapped a few photos. There I was in red hair, soft sweater, and patent vinyl Forever 21 skirt, and Katie’s remote clicker in hand, smiling and being all beautiful for the camera. (Oh, the Santa hat was among the available props in the studio.)
Yes, I hear you from a mile away. “Yes, Allison,” you’re telling me, “we don’t mind you telling about what’s going on in your life and what you’re digging. But we just want to see new photos of you.” Okay, you got your wish.
One Saturday back in may of this year, I attended a regular meeting of the CD/TG support group I’m a part of. On most Saturdays after our meetings, our group meets up at some restaurant in the Madison area to break bread, literally and figuratively. On this particular Saturday, we had dinner at Short Stack Eatery, a LGBT-friendly restaurant I’ve talked about here and here and will eventually devote a full post to sometime soon (the food and atmosphere are that good there).