While I wrack my brain over how to write my next big post (okay, it might not be that big), I want to make note of something that almost escaped my mind: Today is Spirit Day, which has been held the third Thursday of October every year since 2010. It’s a day set aside for LGBTQ awareness and support, and was initially created in the wake of bullying and suicide incidents among gay youth. Spirit Day is meant to honor the LGBT youth who, sadly, felt taking their own lives was the only option to end their hurt, and also to tell the LGBT youth of today who are bullied that there are those who are very supportive (the color purple is prominently used to deliver that message).
Just a couple quick thoughts to share on this Sunday afternoon. First, as I noted in my post from Friday morning, I did indeed stay away completely from Twitter all day Friday. I did so as a show of support to the “#WomenBoycottTwitter” protest meant to highlight Twitter’s inequities in applying discipline in matters of harassment and safety among its users, especially in situations where women on Twitter were being harassed and Twitter did little or nothing to punish the misogynistic men that freely hurled the abuse.
So, how did it feel, you’re asking? For me, of course, it felt somewhat liberating to be away from the 140-character universe. Rather than read and scroll ad infinitum through my Twitter timeline (both my female and male accounts), instead I checked out my Facebook accounts. Since joining Facebook this year, I’ve been rather conservative in my use of that platform (i.e. usually visiting it once or twice a day). But on Friday, Facebook served as a nice substitute. So did, Instagram, which Male Mode Me has an account on. The nice thing about Instagram is that it lets the pictures do the talking, and just like one of those fidget spinners (the big fad of 2017), the photos can be so soothing, especially when it’s a nature or broad landscape photo. Ahhh…
Let’s start off this post with a quick comic book analogy, and before you think I’m a sci-fi/comic book geek, I’m not; it’s just that I read a quick blurb about this character a long while ago and felt they were apropos for this post: In the DC Comics Universe, there is a character by the name of Luornu Durgo, a strange visitor from another planet (whoops, wrong character) where the natives had the ability to split themselves into three identical bodies at will. Luornu Durgo used that that ability to overwhelm and fight evil forces, earning her the nickname “Triplicate Girl.”
Now, I imagine that Luornu Durgo could have used that multiplication ability to do other things… like, say, straighten up her house before guests came over to visit. Or… I dunno, appear in three totally separate places at once. Last week Friday, I had not one, not two, but three separate commitments occupying my entire day from pre-dawn to well past sunset. Thankfully, I didn’t have to be there all at the same time, but just the same, I felt like I had that multiplying superpower. Just call me [*insert powerful superhero music here*] Triplicate Person!
It’s Wednesday as I finish this post, and while I try to process my long weekend out of town and my return from work afterwards (a topic for a forthcoming post, I promise), let’s devote this post to the big weekend I had exactly one weekend previous — Saturday the 23rd of September, to be exact. As you can tell from this post’s title, I did indeed perform poetry as Allison once again. But was it my second performance or my third? Well, I guess some clarification is in order: The first time I performed in front of a mic was during a poetry event at Mother Fool’s back in early July. A few weeks after that, on the last Saturday night of July to be exact, I was actually back at Mother Fool’s, though not to read poetry. Instead, since it wasn’t exclusively a night of poetry, I did a little bit of freeform spoken word storytelling about how I first found that sack of women’s clothing.
Saturday the 23rd, however, was all about the poetry. And instead of Mother Fool’s, we did our thing at another coffee house in town. (I’ll get to the significance of the “we” later.) The business in question is Cargo Coffee, a locally- and family-owned coffee shop that has two locations here in Madison, one on the south side and the one we performed at on East Washington Avenue, a few blocks northeast of the State Capitol. Cargo Coffee’s East Wash location is part of a major redevelopment that’s been occurring on the avenue the past several years (well, it’s happening throughout Madison but it definitely applies to East Wash): Older, smaller, and generally decrepit buildings, ones that housed businesses ranging from repair shops to an automobile dealership, have been replaced by more modern buildings and shops (including restaurants, a swank hotel, and a supermarket) and condominiums and luxury apartments that cost a pretty penny. And the redevelopment isn’t done yet: A new music venue is under construction just kitty corner from Cargo Coffee; further up the avenue, a separate redevelopment is turning a long-empty and neglected plot of land into a mix of apartments, shops, and a UW Health clinic.
Just a brief post to contemplate something important for me: This entire month of September has been and will be quite a busy one, both in my professional and familial matters. So it was only this week that I reflected on a very important step in my life: Fifteen years ago on Labor Day weekend, I made the big move from Green Bay to the Madison area. And 15 years ago this week, I joined my place of employment.
During this busy schedule of mine, and that of my supervisor who is based in another office away from Madison, we took the time to commemorate my 15-year work anniversary this week. It was a very modest celebration, really: Just me (since I’m the only one on my team actually working in Madison); my current supervisor, who made a quick midday drive up to Madison (and brought balloons!); and, as my personally chosen guest, the person who was my first supervisor 15 years ago and who I remain close with professionally, all enjoying lunch and conversation at the Panera Bread next door from my office.
Though I might have mentioned this once or twice on here previously, I’ll mention it again right now: The past few years, I, in male mode, have done volunteer work with children. Yep, I’ve made visits to elementary schools here in the Madison area to help teach young children (mostly 2nd graders but some appearances with 1st and 3rd graders and even one kindergarten class) some general, friendly lessons about the importance of work and money.
Take note of the words “in male mode” in that last paragraph. For one, while I do feel more expressive as Allison than I do as Male Mode Me, I won’t go so far as to display Allison in front of a class of impressionable elementary school children. And it’s not necessarily because I’m representing a very reputable educational organization who takes the conduct of their volunteers seriously. No, part of the reason is that I’m best working with a script, whether it be a folder full of poetry as Allison or a volunteer’s manual as Male Mode Me. Take that script away from me and I begin to hem and haw and stammer and stutter, which doesn’t impress any audience of any age. And before you ask, no, I can’t even improvise my way out of a paper bag.
While there have been two good things that occurred in my personal life this August (my high school class reunion, my marching in the pride parade), there was one situation that really bummed me out. Now that I’m slowly putting it behind me, I will start my explanation of said situation by highlighting a change you may have noticed this month: My Gravatar profile description. You know, the one listed under my smiling face you see on the right of your compute screen. (Uh, you are reading this on a computer screen, right?) Here is how that profile previously read:
Take note of the first three sentences in that description: “Full-time middle-aged male. Long-time overworked office drone. Part-time female fashion plate.” A witty and rather innocuous way to describe myself… or so I thought. The thoughts of those three sentences, or at least how a very important gatekeeper interpreted them, prevented me from taking part in the perfect venue to showcase my poetry skills (such as they are).
Last weekend, I finally had the opportunity — and more importantly, the courage — to do what I had long hoped to do: March as Allison in a LGBT pride parade.
Sunday was the day of the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally (the above logo is from the event website). As you may recall my telling you in this post about last year’s parade, the event has been put on since 2014 by OutReach, which is the LGBT community resource and support center here in Madison. As it has since 2015, the parade and rally was held downtown, with the parade going up State Street and circling Capitol Square before ending at a rally point where State Street meets the square. The OutReach Pride Parade & Rally has grown each year since its establishment. In fact, this year organizers had to cut off the number of registered parade entrants at 77, needing to do so since there was just no room for more.
Happy weekend, peoples! I’m writing this post on a “tape-delay” Friday evening; hopefully, if the WordPress settings are accurate, this will be delivered to you first thing Saturday morning. Why am I writing this on Friday night and posting it on Saturday morning? Well, I’m going to be very busy not just Saturday morning but all weekend; I’ll talk my to-do list in a moment.
First, though, I want to tell you about a celebration occurring southeast of Madison, in a place called Walworth County. It’s just over 102,000 in population; it’s mostly though not entirely rural; it’s generally conservative in culture; and it’s home to the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, the Alpine Valley resort and music theater, and the vacation spot Lake Geneva. And on Saturday, it will hold its first ever LGBT “pride fair,” conducted from 10AM to 3PM on the Chamber of Commerce grounds in the county seat of Elkhorn.
While recently writing about my online and social media lives, it occurred to me that I should bring up, in a separate post, another risk one encounters when venturing into the World Wide Whatever: Deception. Or, I’ll go ahead and say it, downright intentional fakery.
In the earlier of those two posts, I discussed my need to add a digital image of myself to my online accounts. Before buying a digital camera, I resorted to using an anonymous-looking cartoon avatar for my representation on Yahoo! The day I uploaded the very first digital image of myself en femme is an important day for me, as it confirmed to the world that, yes, Allison M. was and is a real, living, breathing human being. Sadly, the online crossdressing world is full of people who willfully misrepresent themselves. I’m not talking about people who fill their Flickr accounts with photos of beautiful women (trans or otherwise) and specifically say that they the types of women they admire and would love to emulate. No, I’m talking about people who’d post a photo of Cindy Crawford online and say they look exactly like her. Or someone who’d Photoshop their own face on the body of Cindy Crawford and claim it’s them. Or someone who’d not only do all of that or something similar but also fictionalize a backstory… all for the sake of deceiving others in the online world.