If you’re in the Baltimore area come out for the many shows, workshops, and fabulousnesses of The International Drag King Extravaganza XXII, Gender Justice! If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the blur of pink and sparkles running around doing four shows, three workshops, and a ton of organizing stuff. Its gonna be a super hardcore blast and you should come!
Come out if you’re in the Columbus/Ohio/8 hour drive area for the show!
If you’re in the Oakland Area, come out TONIGHT for a fantastic Femme Show!
And come see me and other awesome femmes doing cool stuff all weekend at Femme 2010!
I tried working out some intro about my experiences as a performer to go along with this post, but I feel the performance speaks for itself. It is a commentary on my own experience fighting the Gender Identity Disorder system and trying to access autonomous transitional care through both medical and governmental systems. Unfortunately the video is a little bleached out, but there is another one coming soon hopefully!
One thing I didn’t expect from this number is the emotional toll it takes. I knew I was going to have to spew my emotional guts out on stage but what I didn’t think about was how I was going to get those guts out or how I was gonna push them back in when I was done. In order to get myself where I needed to be I had to think about all the things I have pushed down over the years in order to deal with life as a genderqueer trans person. All the things that we as a community have to ignore in order to function: oppression, isolation, pathologization, powerlessness, marginalization… The memories of screaming nights, crying loneliness and frustration on what I couldn’t change but wanted to – my identity, and wanted to change but couldn’t – my body… doctors telling me how I wasn’t normal, how I was wrong… Pain that I have dulled so much with work and righteousness that when I brought it up to the surface again it was like I had forgotten what my life felt like. And then still recognizing that things really aren’t much different now, I have just learned to cope better.
When the show was over I was a little in shock. All and all, the dressing room is a good a place as any for breakdowns and build ups, and with that I want to give a special shout out to my fellow troupe members in The Black Mondays for being so amazing and supportive. Amazingly enough, putting my self out on stage like that was not as terrifying as I thought it would be. I think the fabulous outfits helped, plus oh my god, my shoes, did you see the shoes?? So fucking fabulous.
And MWGQ will also be presenting several workshops at the the next day at the 3rd Annual TransOhio Transgender & Ally Symposium OSU Student Union!
Just returned from a fantastic journey to Canada for Toronto Pride. I was invited by the awesome troupe the Royal Renegades of Columbus to perform with them and our friends Ceci My Playmate and Her Dollies the at the festival. It was a ton of fun. I was the EMCEE for the majority of the show which was a special treat. There were so many young people in the audience, it was adorable. That is the best thing about Pride, seeing all the kids and young folks come out, all excited and beaming – before they get bitter and jaded like the rest of us. lol
I’ve never been one to go nuts over rainbows and Pride, but I have to admit the way Toronto handles it is an experience. It wasn’t the size alone (with was staggering) that was amazing, but more so the way the city responded to Pride. In Toronto, Pride is treated like any other holiday. Stores in the main shopping drag of the city hung rainbow flags and ‘gay’ themed store displays. Now, I realize that its all corporate consumerism, but even with that it was strange to be so… normalized. There’s little chance of any mall in Cincinnati having store after store with queer themes. People wouldn’t go to them out of protest, but in Toronto people don’t think twice. The Pride parade was also televised live in full as well as evening coverage; it was even on the weather.
Clothing store near Easton Center, downtown Toronto — Pride on Toronto’s weather
Granted, Canada is arguably one of the most liberal, queer-friendly countries in the world and Toronto is its largest, (and most liberal) city, so talking about how queer friendly it is may seem redundant. Even so, its not something this Midwestern boy is used to. I wonder if it is like San Francisco Pride,or New York, or D.C., but even there I don’t know if Pride is on the weather. I can’t even put my finger on the feelings surrounding it because its something I’ve never experienced on this scale.
I was hoping to see tons of transfolk at Pride, but sadly I didn’t. I missed the Trans March by a day, I guess after the march all the trans folk didn’t want to come out (maybe they were too tired, ba dum ching!) I saw a couple older women, but I couldn’t even spot any folks that could be either lesbians or transguys but you can’t tell. It was surprising and disappointing… I asked around, but to no avail. I’m curious as to what the trans community is like there now. All I could find out was that the guys and gals were pretty separated, and most transmasculine folks seemed to be younger and have ‘different interests’ from the women. Sound familiar? Eh, well, guess I’ll have to go back and look some more.
The visibility and normalization, if you will, of Toronto Pride left me thinking about my own recent experiences with Cincinnati Pride and the controversy of accessibility and inclusion. Toronto seemed to do a good job with family-friendly and youth-specific spaces, as well as safe spaces for various parts of our community including the disabled, trans and gqs, and POCs. There was also a pretty prominent international presence in the parade which was awesome. I am certain that all Prides have their issues, but as a literal foreigner I wasn’t savvy to them. It made me think about the attempts of sanitizing Cincy Pride, and further reiterated my feelings on the issue. From what I could tell from being present in the festival, working with volunteers, and attending events, Toronto’s way of managing Pride was very community run and community focused. There was a surprising lack of corporate ads etc with a plethora of community groups and locally run industry (even the city transportation services were in the parade). Maybe a good idea for Midwest communities would be to have community marches. The Toronto Dyke March grossed 200,000 – which I learned from the news coverage about it. Of course, a big place like Toronto has the resources and people power for such a thing which stresses how a city with low community resources can raise all the money it wants for pride, but without a supported people all you’ll end up with is a shell of a festival with low representation and even lower involvement.
As for an update on Cincinnati Pride workings, there isn’t much of one. After a brief period of motion and success the opposition seems to be stonewalling us, so we must push on and keep up the work until some sort of resolution and be accomplished. Maybe one day Cincy pride can manage something like Toronto (to scale) but we haven’t gotten there yet.
Columbus Pride was this past weekend- one of the largest prides in the Midwest. To start out the weekend I semi-butched it up with the troupe at the Royal Renegades’ annual pride drag show at Wall Street.
[image: four drag king performers looking at the camera, all dressed in white shirts with black coats, looking cool]
The show was a fantastic time, but it reminded me how different Pride – and its spaces, scenes, and people are compared to every other time of year. Maybe folks think of Pride as a way to give a dose of gayness to the rest of the world, to remind them we are here. But out of sight, out of mind. Maybe its just me airing my activist baggage, but I can’t help but get angry during Pride. I look around and see people so excited to be queer, having all this “pride” but try to get a thousand volunteers for something in October, or get people out for an event in February, good-fucking-luck. Its like Queer Pride is seasonal or as needed. What good is a parade to promote community visibility if afterward the majority of the community disappears again, back to their homes to hibernate until next year when its again time to wear rainbows and get drunk in public?
Pride is great because it is like we own the world for a day, all the communities that make up the mass that is greater queer community out and about. But it doesn’t last. The next day and I went in search of brunch (naturally, queers love brunch), but I was afraid to go anywhere. Once again I was thrust back into being aware of my outcast standing. As things are now, pride is the one opportunity I have to be in my own state, my own local community, and not stick out like a nail waiting to get hit. I like pride for that reason, its an opportunity to relax and feel like I’m in a visible community that understands me… but I’m still not. Just like every year, I met several people who didn’t know what I was and when I told them I was a transguy they didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Its hard to feel included when people still don’t think I even exist. I don’t bother explaining because I think that of all days, I should not have to be an educator at Pride. I just want to have fun too. When I express my impatience, I’m seen as hateful or irrational. I’m supposed to support organizations that are taking their time on trans education. I’m supposed to be proud of a queer community that still doesn’t recognize me. I’m supposed to think its great that our parade is reduced to corporate shills and advertisements instead of education and action.
This past weekend, The Black Mondays drag troupe celebrated our four year anniversary! It was a fantastic show with a great crowd. Its hard to believe its been four years since I was an awkward “Jammie JAC” in my bunny slippers, boxers, and home-made kimono robe collecting tips at the troupe’s 2nd show ever. Lol, yes, that is how I got started in drag; collecting tips in my underwear and bunny slippers. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
[image: JAC with brown hair, brown eyes bowing to an audience, partly holding open a red robe with a white tank top showing underneath and brown and white bunny slippers]
Blast from the past! Drag in Cincinnati has become such a different scene from what it was back then; back when shows were selling out the bar, and the bar next door. Practicing in tiny kitchens and boiling living rooms on the west side, or in the old dive dyke bar until 8am, watching our recorded routines huddled around the the tiny screen of a bulky 1990s camcorder – where now with my Flip camera we record practices and then watch them full screen on a computer a few minutes later. (I don’t know if you can fully appreciate how amazing that is, but trust me it is – hence I randomly put it in this post.) And JAC McFaggin’, the Euro-star who wanted so badly to be a badass king now turned genderfucking crossdresser embracing his gayness – a totally unexpected development, but I couldn’t be more pleased.
The Troupe performing at BullFishes Bar, 2006
[image: group of drag king and femme performers circled on stage, boys are in black and white, femme one in white dress singing with two in black corsets and poofy colored skirts]
I am excited to see where the next years will take us in our drag exploits. In the meantime, and speaking of technology, enjoy some fabulous videos! I unexpectedly undertook choreographing “Confessions” from Glee two weeks before the show (which I wasn’t thrilled about, and otherwise would not work with Glee material). Never heard the song, didn’t know a thing about it. We did it as a boys number and I even surprised myself at the butchness of the moves, which in the end I myself still didn’t execute butchly which was expected. Notice all the fists! Masculine! RAWR! More videos to the show can be found at The Black Monday’s YouTube Channel.
Videos under the cut!