Okay, I promised some stuff I had left over from but didn’t have room in my last post about the 2018 OutReach Pride Parade & Rally that occurred last Sunday (August 19). Unlike that previous post, I promise I won’t even bring up the controversy that surrounded the parade this year. Nope, this will be all positive. The first thing is that though some of the same socialists who despised the police being at pride also despised the presence of corporate sponsorship (no, I’m not gonna get any darker than that in this post), there was, without mistake, a sincere presence of businesses who wanted to show their support of the LGBT+ community. Just as with the charities, non-profit organizations, and church and advocacy groups that also populated the parade, they made it known that they truly support our community and do not venture to discriminate against us. That they also do so with their checkbooks and accountants through their sponsorship of Pride does not (and should not) hurt, no matter what your level of disdain of the corporate world. And, yes, sometimes I do think this world has gotten all-corporate, if you know what I mean. Still, I do understand the necessity of having a benevolent, philanthropic sponsor offering cash. Continue reading
It’s been a full week, one that’s been somewhat busy and very wet, since the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally, but I’m finally ready to share with you some of my experience. As I’ve mentioned here and here, this year’s parade and rally was held under an ugly shadow, not from any rain clouds but under the specter of controversy. A loud contingent from Madison’s LGBT+ community raised a ruckus over the presence of the Madison Police Department at the parade, with some threatening to stage a counter-protest. In the end, parade organizers withdrew the applications of LGBT+ employee resource groups from MPD and UW—Madison Police as well as the Dane County Sheriff. Members from those groups could (and did) march in the parade, but had to do so unarmed and out of uniform. (Side note: The Madison Fire Department decided to withdraw one of their engines from the parade in sympathy to the boys in blue; it was MFD’s decision.) While OutReach’s move to formally eliminate the police entries upset some parade supporters and still likely upset some protesters (especially since the parade permit still required MPD to provide security), the parade and rally (**SPOILER ALERT**) went off without a hitch and without any rabble-rousers causing disruptions.
This is the Sunday morning of the OutReach Pride Parade/Rally here in Madison. Later this afternoon, members of the LGBT+ community will march proudly down State Street and celebrate our hard-fought freedom to live as our true selves.
But as you may have guessed from my previous two posts, this pride weekend in Madison isn’t quite the lovey dovey moment it should be. This year’s OutReach Pride theme is “Stand up! Speak out! Fight back!” However, it’s been an inward fight rather than an outward one against those who shun our community. And it’s clearly more than an issue of whether the cops can march in the parade or whether said cops are willing to listen. At the risk of airing out private conversations, there’s been a bit of resentment within the trans/CD support group I’m a part of. Well, at least there is an issue within the private Facebook page our group utilizes. The same people who raised valid issues about the police presence in the parade and how said police treat trans and queer persons of color are also challenging us to embrace that very same TQPOC community. And while it’s not like a civil war in our group, the boisterous comments in our Facebook page over the past week-plus — heck, within the past 24 hours — sure make it feel like one.
So, peoples, what did you do Friday evening? I went to the theater.
Yeah, Male Mode Me took in a show Friday night. And, yeah, I was tempted to get all dolled up as Allison, but a tight time frame after the end of my work day prevented that. Still, I wanted to take in a show and support queer-oriented theater.
Friday was the second-to-last staging of “Queer Shorts: Unity.” Every year since 2006, Stage Q, the Madison-based LGBT-oriented theater company, has presented a showcase of short plays, usually 5 to 10 minutes in length and culled from a nationwide call for submissions, that showcase LGBT themes, characters, performers, and writers. Continue reading
It’s almost midway through the month of June and I’m way late into acknowledging the fact that this is Pride Month! This, of course, is the month we in the LGBT community celebrate our community as a whole, display our true selves at various events, acknowledge the many figures and allies from around the world who have helped pave positive avenues for us as a community and as human beings, and to remember those in our community who left us too soon and who have handed us the (rainbow-colored) torch to hold high into the future.
I make that note of remembrance at the end of that paragraph in part to acknowledge this sad fact: Two years ago this morning, 49 members of our proud LGBT community lost their lives in a truly senseless act of terror at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was heartbreaking to hear the news then. It’s just as heartbreaking to remember it now. And it’s still necessary to remember the lives lost, for they dared to celebrate who they were and their deaths inspire us to stay resilient in the face of those who still desire to keep our community under their thumbs or out of sight entirely.
Despite the tragedies and difficulties and obstacles we still face as a community, it’s still important to celebrate who we are. More importantly, we still need to celebrate how far we’ve come together… and, boy oh boy, we have come a long way, with positive representations in many types of media and with the assistance of a supportive generation who isn’t too quick to judge by sexual or gender identity, unlike the older, more conservative generations who only see us as a “sin” Our community is talented, and we are deservedly valued and recognized for our positive contributions to society, no matter what letter of the acronym we fall under.
Not all of us will have the right and privilege to celebrate Pride Month this month. Indeed, Green Bay (my old city of residence) will have their own pride celebration next month, while we in Madison will have our annual pride event in August. But wherever you are and whenever you have the chance to do so, don’t be afraid to let your own rainbow shine. Happy Pride Month, everyone!
Time to highlight a couple of LGBT-themed advertisements that have been released this spring. Well, they’re lesbian-themed advertisements if you must be specific, but I imagine others in the LGBT+ spectrum might find something they’ll relate to in these ads. The first was released last month in Great Britain for Malteasers, a malted-milk-covered-in-chocolate candy (think Whoppers, my fellow Americans). The Malteasers ad I’ll highlight here features a quartet of women at some café or break area or whatever. One of the four, whose name is Sarah… well, I’ll let her tell her concern.
As I write this (Friday evening in Wisconsin), polls have been closed for a few hours in the Republic of Ireland, where citizens voted on a proposal that would amend the country’s constitution and allow its parliament (the Oireachtas) to relax the country’s strict laws against abortion. Today’s vote comes three years after voters approved an amendment to permit marriage between two people “without distinction as to their sex”; it was also that same year that legislation passed allowing transgender citizens in Ireland to freely request a change in legal gender identification on government documents.
If early exit polls are any indication, today’s proposal will be approved by a sizeable margin of voters, just as the marriage equality amendment passed by a wide margin in 2015. For a country where religiously conservative viewpoints have long held influence on society and laws, it’s sure seems that progressive attitudes are starting to take root in Ireland in the past 20 years or so. But don’t think that Ireland had been a country where everyone had to strictly follow the edicts the Roman Catholic Church would pass down every Sunday regarding, say, what people should think, who people could love, or how people could express themselves. On the contrary, for the Irish are a pretty progressive lot; it’s just that the laws of Ireland have taken some time to catch up to that fact.
It’s Saturday morning as I write this and I didn’t have any plans initially to add a new blog post today. The reason is that today is International Transgender Day of Visibility. For those of you still unaware of this day, TDOV is meant to celebrate trans people of all stripes, their accomplishments and well being; highlight the blockades of discrimination the worldwide trans community has faced and continue to withstand; and recognize those in our community and our allies who have continued the fight against trans discrimination. If you’re wondering, yes, I have plans to venture out and be visible on this TDOV. For starters, the trans/CD support group I’m part of has a meeting this afternoon, after which some of us will enjoy dinner at a nearby restaurant. Then, should time permit, I’m hoping to take part in a freeform open mic event at Mother Fool’s on Williamson Street.
So, yeah, my female side has a busy day ahead of her, and it’ll need to start with a long, hot shower to cleanse off this downer of a month for me professionally. Still, I needed to share some thoughts on this Trans Day of Visibility on here because… well, it’s Trans Day of Visibility. First, I want to share with you a blog post written this morning by someone I follow on WordPress who like me identifies as a crossdresser and member of the trans community, Hannah. Her thoughts (and I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing them here) include the following:
“I fully believe that each time we leave the house and interact with people in the real world we have an opportunity and an obligation to show others that transpeople live in the community and not just in Hollywood. It’s a chance to show others, whether it’s the cashier at the mall, the barista at Starbucks or someone we pass in the store that we really exist, that we are real people and hopefully not as different as some might think we are.”
That paragraph from Hannah (and, again, those were her words, so credit goes to her for expressing them) really struck a chord in me. For several years, Allison had been safely(?) ensconced in the online environment, venturing out into the real world only a couple of times, and only in a supportive environment, before hiding back home. But in the past year-plus, I have stepped out of my all-too-crowded closet and have been visible. Sure, most of that visibility has been in the friendly confines of a support group, but it has also been in public environments. Whatever the place and the circumstances, I have found that… I am visible.
When I step out of the house all dolled up… I am visible.
When I take that drive to and from that very supportive support group… I am visible.
When I’m still dolled up and I make a pit stop at the grocery store to or from the meeting, even if it’s just to pick up that gallon of milk or pint of ice cream I’ve been meaning to buy but hadn’t gotten around to doing so in male mode… I am visible.
When I’m at the McDonald’s drive-thru window after the support meeting to pick up a quick bite to eat, all because I didn’t eat before the meeting… I am visible.
When I’m enjoying a post-meeting dinner with my fellow trans sisters and brothers… we are visible.
When I’m marching en femme with my trans sisters and brothers, or joining other LGBT+ people in a pride parade or celebratory banquet… we are visible.
When I’m celebrating other trans people of any stripe, as well as any supportive cis ally or anyone in the broad LGBT+ community… I am visible.
When I get over my nerves about public speaking and present my poetry in person to a receptive audience… I am visible.
When I’m posting my own pictures, telling my own stories, expressing my own thoughts, or celebrating my own accomplishments (even if it’s just online)… it’s not a sign that I am vain. On the contrary, it’s just me being visible.
Also, when I’m telling my own stories, and my trans sisters and brothers do the same… we’re standing up to those who wish to shun us into a dark corner so that we’re never seen again. Nope, we’re staying strong and visible.
When the clerk at the supermarket walks past me and can’t help but say, “I love your outfit,” or that cashier at the McDonald’s window compliments me on my makeup or hair or outfit (and, yes, they have happened to me)… I am blushing over receiving a good word, and I am thankful that I am visible.
When someone online also compliments me on how beautiful they think I am… I’m just as thankful for their kind words as the fact that I am visible.
When someone gives me constructive criticism with their compliments… well, it’s words that I take to heart (though I try not to let those words pierce my heart), as their words are advice I should heed to present myself better in the future. Whatever their words, though, it’s a moment that makes me glad I am visible.
And when someone who is not ready to come out to their family and friends — regardless of whether they’re gay or or bisexual or cis-gender or trans or gender non-conforming — and gains inspiration from how I present myself… well, first, I sympathize with them because I am not entirely out to the rest of the world (my family and work colleagues do not know about Allison). But then I tell them that if or when they’re ready to do so, they will have more support then they thought they’d get, for there will be supportive avenues online and in their community. It makes me thankful that I am visible enough to provide that support, and hopeful that when they are good and ready, they will live as their own, true selves… and become visible.
From myself to the countless fellow LGBT+ people around the world, specifically those in the broad transgender community and fellow crossdressers like myself, thank you for your own inspiring stories and displays of being yourselves. Just as I may inspire future generations to be themselves, you’ve inspired me to be comfortable with both my male and female sides, and to express both sides to the supportive and accepting corners of Madison, Wisconsin, and the world. Thank you for being visible, because you’ve inspired me to be visible as well. Happy Transgender Day of Visibility to you all.
A little admission: I have never really had any sort of a bucket list. You know what I’m talking about, the list of items and activities you feel you absolutely, positively need to do before you (*ahem*) shove off this mortal coil. I’ve never had the urge to see an exotic locale (Canada is good enough for me), nor have I desired to parachute from a plane (I hate heights). Nope, for better or worse, I’ve been rather modest about the figurative heights I want to shoot for in my life.
That’s not to say that I don’t have things I would love to do as Allison before I expire, not minding too much if I will never get the chance to do them. I already have presented my femme side in public several times in the past year alone, including marching in a pride parade and performing my poetry. I have also longed to get a professional makeover and pose for the camera afterwards.
Well, back in September 2017, I didn’t get a professional makeover. But I did pose for a professional photographer.
Last September, I learned on Facebook about a “LGBTQ Photo Pop-Up” event here in Madison. The event was set up by Caitlin, who runs her own photography business called Smoketree Photography. As Caitlin communicated on the event’s Facebook entry, the rationale for the event was this: Intentionally or otherwise, a LGBT+ person can be put in an uncomfortable situation when working with photographers who come from a background that can be considered “traditional.” Their subjects and events are usually heteronormal in nature (e.g. man-and-wife weddings, proms, etc.), and their mindset can be heteronormal as well. This can result in photos that don’t reflect how their LGBT+ client see themselves as. Caitlin and her “pop-up” event sought to alleviate any such discomfort and create a safe environment for their subjects.
A question for you: Have you watched any of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games at this point? Yeah, you knew I was going to ask you about the Olympics, what with the title of this post, the logo to your right, and the “BOOM! Boom! Buh-BOOM! Boom!” coming out of your TV set. Since Pyeongchang, South Korea is now in the second half of its Olympic fortnight, I thought I’d highlight some interesting notes about I’ve watched and read about the Olympics.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of these Games that I’ve noticed and taken a routing interest in is the performances of LGBT athletes in Pyeongchang. This article from The Advocate gives a nice summation of the performances by out athletes up to this point, but I’ll do a quick summary of what are perhaps the two most noteworthy feats, both of which happen to be in figure skating. First, there was out skier Eric Radford of Canada, who with skating partner Meagan Duhamel were part of the gold medal winners in the team competition and later won bronze in the pairs competition. It’s a bummer that both Eric and Meagan are retiring from competitive skating, but they are certainly going out on a high note.