Mini-documentary about getting my name legally changed in rural Ohio: May, 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.
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!
That’s right, in her new book Laura talks about how she not only thinks that queer people have every right to get married, but that abortion is a viable need for society, both for medical and “other reasons.”
Just imagine if she had been more outspoken during the actual presidency of G.W.Bush. What would that have looked like? I seems like she didn’t speak up out of some sort of respect for her husband, but what did it cost the nation? Imagine all those anti-choice, homophobia Bush supporters being shown that a lady like Laura, the wife of their favorite president, supported the issues they hated. It would of been an amazing educational opportunity, and they couldn’t just write her off like they can now. “She isn’t 1st lady anymore, who cares if she’s gone off the deep end of SATAN!”
Still, I think it is great that she came out with it. I’ll admit, I’m a little obsessed with this right now, I mean can you imagine the implications? This is significant because of her visibility. She never was quite as insane or evil as Sarah Palin, but back in my baby radical days, Laura was a force to be reckoned with. I hope that people will pay attention and see her as a model of where you can be a conservative, religious old white lady, and still not be crazy oppressive. Now I wanna know more about her politics… maybe we can make her a poster girl for our issues and throw her at our opposition, she speaks their language, she can be our interpreter…. or maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Laura, you probably won’t be doing much else for us, but maybe you will…. I will keep an eye out.
On Sunday Fox aired a Family Guy episode in honor of Mother’s Day. In the episode, Quagmire’s father comes out as a transwoman named Ida. The show follows Ida coming out and the subsequent reactions where she is repeatedly torn apart by appallingly transphobic remarks from nearly the entire cast. GLAAD is all over it, and prominent queer blogs like Bilerico are talking it up really well. And while everyone is quick to say THIS IS BAD, I feel there is a lot not being said about why this is such a problem, the complex attempts at support, and the deep the oppression this episode exemplifies.
I will admit it, I have been a major Family Guy fan; I’ve seen every episode dozens of times. And since I am a fan, what sucked almost as much as dealing with the episode was my expectation that it would finally force me to boycott Family Guy (and I’d do it too, fan or not).
Some background: I am very familiar with the methodology of the series, and the arguments against it. The biggest case against the show is that it is unfailingly offensive, and it is. Some argue that it is ok because the show attacks everyone. I DO NOT think is a viable argument. The show attacks everyone who is already dis-empowered, but rarely, if ever, do you see any episodes talking about how fucked up white privilege is or how misogyny is a major theme in the show. Even with this, I liked the show because like the shows that came before it (i.e. The Simpsons, South Park, Married with Children,) I can appreciate the irony. The purpose of the problematic stuff is to highlight reality, and in this hell-trap of oppression sometimes laughter is good medicine. Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson are NOT intended to be heroes or idols. They are a mirror of what the USA is at its worst and in that awareness we are to laugh at them and not be like them. Yes, I realize not everyone reads the show like I do, and I am sure the producers milk the uneducated demographic without trying to change it, but sometimes I just want to say “Fuck the bigoted idiots who take it seriously, I want a smart laugh.” But as seasons progress that has gotten harder and harder to say about Family Guy…
Family Guy has progressed past social commentary. The show’s creator and writer, Seth MacFarlane, frequently goes too far, and this transphobic episode is one of those times. I am positive the guy is absorbed in white male privilege and regardless of his decent politics and good intentions, he’s still a rich white-male jackass poking fun at unrepresented groups in whatever way he and his writers can imagine we, the minority, are like. After Elton’s Brent Hartinger highlights some good points about Seth MacFarlane’s statement saying that he:
“…can safely say that the transsexual community will be very, very happy with the “Quagmire” episode… It’s probably the most sympathetic portrayal of a transexual character that has ever been on television, dare I say.”
Now, I agree with Hartinger that MacFarlane is most likely an idiot. But honestly, Ida herself is a decent representation of a transwoman. Aside from her saintliness in receiving discriminatory remarks from EVERYONE and a‘trapped in the wrong body’ description, Ida actually presents a pretty positive (or at least not negative) representation. Ida describes thinking about transitioning her whole life and at one point she says a very empowering statement: “I’m changing my future, not my past” which is not the common representation of trans folk, especially by non-transfolk. The show even recognizes that being trans is not the same thing as gay. Ida’s son Quagmire’s reaction is also non-offensive. He reacts realistically, torn emotionally between his own concept of his father, his personal masculine hang-ups and lack of education about trans identity, and his desire to please his father. And though he is clearly upset, he never says or does anything out of line and continually shows his love and concern for his parent. In the end, Quagmire supports Ida, saying he loves her and wants her to be happy. He is the only character in the show who does this, or demonstrates any other form of acceptance of Ida’s trans identity.
But though the episode created a positive trans character, it but normalized the attacks on her. The rest of the cast has repetitive transphobic dialogue that is so offensive it was nothing else but horrifying. It is hard believe anyone could say this episode is sympathetic, or indeed close to anything but monstrous.
I’d like to give a shout out to Emily Wunderlich of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, the winner of the Campus Pride and OUTmedia’s BQBQ contest. Congrats!
I am a Hanson fan, old school. Yeah, I thought Taylor (the middle one) was a girl originally, but I though Zac (the little one) was hella cute. The summer “Mmmbop” came out I was 13, and it was quite the adventurous time. My sister and I ate, slept, and breathed Hanson. We taped every TV appearance and watched them on loop and we knew every lyric to every song they ever wrote, sang, or sat next to. We recorded our lives everyday as an ongoing video message for us to send to Hanson so they could get to know us. We saw them live in huge stadiums of screaming girls, twice, which furnished some of my favorite adventures of my childhood. In fact some of my favorite moments in my childhood were results of my sister and I bonding through Hanson fandom.
When I was 17 my best friend and I saw Hanson perform again, this time in the much smaller Taft theater in downtown Cincinnati. We rushed the stage and I totally shook Taylor’s hand. It was a crowing achievement in my life. When I was 19 I MET Hanson after they performed in the even smaller venue, Bogarts. Turns out Taylor is the only one with a good personality. He was kind and attentive to fans, friendly and warm. When I met Issac for the 1st time, a sexually empowered 17 year old virgin that I had been standing with said she wanted to make out with him. He said with a smile “Um, there is a word for girls like that and it starts with an S.” So that wasn’t cool at all, super misogynistic. Then I met Zac, my favorite, and I asked if I could kiss him on the cheek. He squinted his eyes and said, “No, sorry.” like I was asking for his virginity or something. Pissh, burn on me. And I was cute too, so WTF? I guess I should respect him as a human who doesn’t want random creeper girls kissing him, but no, I’m not gonna go that way. I’m gonna stick with it being about ME. And then the next time I met Hanson, when I was 20, Zac didn’t even come out to meet the fans so my show poster to this day is missing an autograph. (ITS ALL ABOUT ME!)
Clearly, they felt bad about theses incidents and wanted to make up for it (its five years late, but I’m willing to overlook it). Taylor turned to his brothers and said, “Hey Ike, Zac, I’m think we should make a music video with dance moves that are so gay and so awkward that NO ONE on this earth would ever doubt that they were made specifically for JAC McFaggin’.” This is what they came up with.
That’s right, this video is nothing but a gift for me (notice the cowbell? That was for me too). Their music career? The rest of the world? Irrelevant. This is all for me. But because I am nice, I will continue to allow Hanson to share the joyful ridiculousness of this video. Your Welcome.
DID YOU SEE how gay Zac’s jump was at the very end? His feet were at his ass. That’s how I jump, and I am pretty fucking gay. And clearly Issac did not get the same dance gene that Taylor and Zac have, even to where, apparently, he had to get cut out of the shot at the end. And I don’t wanna be ‘that guy’, but the Motown borrowings were just a little weird to me. I know they were raised on Motown and get a lot of inspiration from that (every good fan has Hanson’s history memorized), and that is why its there, but I donno… I will have to get more opinions on this. I feel there is something to be said for aspiring towards the music they love so much. And did you see Zac in that leather jacket? I WISH I had a chest like that, shit. That was sexy. I wasn’t down with Taylor’s shadowy facial-hair… but he has such a cute face its enough to make up for it. Plus Taylor is pretty fabulous in general, you can tell he’s totally rockin’ it the whole video. I really wish the Hansons were queer. Can you even imagine how out of control that would be?
[image: JAC with brown hair and brown eyes, looking into the camera with mouth open. Holding open a red shirt revealing a black Hanson t-shirt]
Me in 2006 – and yes I still have this shirt, and yes I still wear it, and yes I still think the Hansons are hot. And apparently they have an activist side to them focusing on HIV/AIDS in Africa. Shit, who knew? Good for you, Hanson. I wonder how they feel about queers. UPDATE: Zac interviewed by the Advocate, holy shit! Yay! Now I can like them minus guilt cause they aren’t homophobes! He does say “chooses” in reference to sexuality, but it might just be semantics.
And I want to give a shout out to my beloved sister who gave me a heads up about this video. You’re the best. I haven’t heard any new Hanson music since 2007 (reference myspace blog) so I guess I should get back into it and see what other treasures are awaiting me. Keep an eye out for this number coming to a drag show near you. Oh and Black Mondays, get ready, cause I’m gonna need some back up dancers.
STV Productions analyzes a recent anti-choice campaign where race is used as a method of “proving” that abortion is a conspiracy set out to kill babies. Just a thought, if they wanted to inform the public of the racist plot on killing black babies, maybe they should of created an ad campaign that wasn’t racist. Last time I checked, all humans are the SAME species. Black people are Homo Sapiens too, folks. FYI. Plus its just plain fucked up to talk about a child as if they were a tiger or a panda. Not that I don’t give props to tigers and pandas, but WTF? Its playing directly off of the historical exoticism of people of color as animalistic and “primitive,” which in sad reality does make it more likely for white people to take an interest. Its like the SPCA billboards for adopting cute, wide-eyed baby animals, except this time its baby humans…
x-posted : Amplify Your Voice
Featuring the MadKings, Drag King Rebellion, Davina DeVille, and yours truly as JAC McFaggin’
By Youtube’s Nomming. who are you, Nomming?? Thank you!