Exploring Gender and Queerness

Amateur Drag Race 2014

I was honored to be asked to be a coach for the Amateur Drag Race 2014. First of all, the drag race was where I started a year ago. I was excited to see the newest amateur drag queens and kings and also to have a small piece in helping them develop their personal drag persona. My love for drag has a long history into my early adulthood even before I was out of the closet as a lesbian, butch, gender variant, and now drag king. Drag’s gender bending nature combined with music, creativity, and strong heart has kept me passionate about drag for many years.

In my personal drag experience I started at the drag race in order to explore the idea of being a drag king myself. I was in the race last year and I learned so much. I learned about how to dress, how to interact with my audience, and how to get their attention. I made a bunch of great friends also entertainers of all sorts. My performances led me to other places like being adopted into the DeAire family and performing at all sorts of family shows. I am part of a cast at a bi-monthly show that includes great benefits and even better friends. I have been invited as a guest performer at many shows in the area. I have been in 3 competitions and won 2 of them. I have the title of Mr. State Street 2014 and Mr. Lancaster PA Pride 2014. I am the first alternate for Mr. Hope 2014.  The amateur drag race was a launching point for my drag persona, Izzy Ahee.

Now I have the opportunity to give back to a wonderful opportunity for new performers. I have been given the opportunity to help guide the newest kings and queens in the Central PA area. I was so happy to encourage two new drag kings to be part of the drag race. As I returned to the drag race, this time as a coach, it felt a little like being home. I get to see my drag mother, drag wife, great drag queen friends, and get to know the newest talent. Behind stage is fun and becoming a really great place for both kings and queens. Lots of cooperation and less competition, keeping it fun and educational for all of us.

The first week I was coach for Robyn Innocence and Maxwell Treats. Robyn Innocence has been so exciting to work with for the past 6-7 months and we have had many fun times together. I witnessed Robyn’s first experience and have been by her side for many of them. This time I got to support her in her search for the perfect performance and runway dress. I was so happy when she finally got me the pictures and I was confident in her ability to deliver the Spanish version of Frozen. I almost cried as she performed on stage and I was so proud. I feel more like a big brother than a nephew to Robyn but our family is special for many reasons.

Maxwell Treats had me inspired to stand and cheer! His performance of “Rebel Rebel” was amazing and it totally floored me. I was so proud of him and can’t wait to see what he does next. I was happy to show him a few tricks about make-up, packing, and facial hair.

Both of them had great attitudes about the competition and drag in general. They are helpful to other performers and have a back stage presence that is welcoming and fun. I am so happy to have supported them in their win!

I was also so happy to do a performance with my drag wife, Belladona. Of course we did something totally freaky “I Fink you Freaky” by DiAntwood. It was my first time doing techno rap and it was certainly a challenge. Those lyrics were tough to grasp and I didn’t perfect them in a week but the performance and live snake seem to make up for my lack of perfection in the lyrics.

Overall the drag race is proving to be so much fun as a coach, even more fun than it was a performer. My nerves were so out of hand in the competition that as a coach they are largely lessened, making the drag race tons of fun! If you live in the area I strongly suggest coming out to the show because the entire show is packed with excellent entertainment!

Every Sunda

Stallions Club in Harrisburg, PA

This was not my first Pride festival by any means but was certainly the first time I had experienced a Pride Festival from the point of view of Drag King. For many many years though my favorite part of any Pride Festival has been the Drag Queens. I went out of my way to see their shows out of love for the art. So this year serving as King of Pride in Lancaster, PA was an honor and exciting all at the same time.

My nerves had my heart pounding most of the day and I know by days end I was a hot mess in nerves. This was my largest event and there were many people. I know I wasn’t the only performer with anxiety, its not an easy thing to do. Drag takes major bravery and passion for the art of gender bending. Of course there is the normal nerves about performing in front of many people but there was also other things. There have been many men killed for wearing a dress and many womyn raped for appearing masculine. We break societies rules in front of a public audience. We dance around and laugh at the gender construct knowing that someone is likely very uncomfortable about it. By simply performing we make ourselves a target. I think for many of us its the scariest part of Pride and I know it crossed my mind more than once. I am sure the Queens struggled with the same thoughts and fears, somehow we all moved past it and had a successful show.

The best part was all the varieties of people interested in trying drag. Drag is such an opener of doors for people. It helps them explore the other side of gender allowing for the exploration of it full time or just as a performer. Do we want to honor our masculine side some of the time or do we want to have it be who we are. I spoke to young transmen about how this will help them feel more confident in their decision to transition, since it is irreversible. Then I spoke to young ladies that identified as femme but were told silly things like they are too girly for it. Have you seen some of the Queens that do this? Truck Drivers wear dresses so get over your dam gender roles now! Gender is a social construct and regardless of how you dress or what genitalia you have it does not apply if you choose to dismiss the social construct. Drag is a form of dismissing social constructs. Then there were young gender variant people that are questioning their gender and Drag provides the perfect place to do so. I had a fantastic time having conversations about drag and what it means to people.

All 4 of my numbers went off without a huge hitch. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” By Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was tons of fun. I managed to lai 11 people in less than 4 minutes….what a fun accomplishment. Then I did “Happy” by William Pharrell which can be imagined to be a large hit and very popular. I thought it was great fun to make everyone laugh and dance. My third number was a deep song for me at this time “Smooth” by Santanna has a special place in my heart. The best part was to make the girls blush and feel special.

The finale’ was my Pride though, absolutely. I was so nervous about this song. I had asked a bunch of queens to support me in the song and since no one answered…I wondered if anyone would support me. Then I decided to have faith in the music and in my ability to bring people together. I began to spread my word around the festival, asking them to join us on stage at the end. The song I chose was “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer – a very political song with passionate words about unity. Many years Drag queens and queers of all kinds have been waiting on the world to change. It all started in little bars in dark alleys and now look at us under the sun of the day in a public park! Truly this performance not only involved the queens but everyone that chose to participate with their hearts. Many people sat upon that stage and we all shared in our PRIDE!

 

 

This was my third and final pageant for 2014 and I hesitated to take it on. After State Street Contest and The Hope Pageant plus my summer adventures I wasn’t sure I could squeeze it in. But I really wanted to be part of the Pride drag scene, last year it was the most interesting part of the entire festival. I wanted to run for Central PA Pride here in Harrisburg but I was already committed at other events on the same date as the pageant. So for 2014 I decided to grab the next closest town, Lancaster, PA. So preparing the pageant was much simpler this time and with limited funds we had to simplify a lot of things. First we had plenty of experience with what was expected and taking care of all of the details.

First I had to have a photo, a face shot, as it was described in the packet. I had a great friend Derek Gamble stop over one day and take some photos of me with my “face on”. His creative juices got to flowing and the next thing you know we had the perfect shot and an idea for mixed coloring. The photo itself was black and white but the rainbow tie was left in color- bringing a very kingly prideful type king to the picture.

Then at the pageant I was so excited to meet the other kings. I prefer a more cooperative competition myself and I notice most kings do better overall in them. They are more likely to bring their best to the stage and really shine, plus its more fun that way. I know that the State Street Contest had the feeling of cooperative competition that made it so much fun! I love to help the other kings and sharing is the only way I know how to be comfortable. I like to encourage everyone’s personal best in their own style and thats for kings and queens alike. Will Getter was a very interesting king since he had been performing at his church’s drag show for years. He had a great attitude and was full curiosity. Shane Bradley was a king that I had been trying to help before the pageant. The pageant was his very first performance – he is certainly brave. His beard looked really good and he has the perfect body to be a sexy half naked type king. I really hope to see both of them at the Lancaster, PA Pride Drag Show.

The first time the judges see you, other than in that photo, is for what they label “presentation” – Its not judged but they remind you that this is the first impression to the judges. I don’t really know too much about the scoring and all that hodge podge but I guess that statement implies we need to impress the judges. Weeks before hand I had spent a lot of time thinking about Izzy as a King and frankly I wanted to be sure that I brought my heart to the stage. My heart is big and I don’t want it to get lost in the shenanigans. I want to prove that there is a time and place for everything – bondage scenes, dicks in boxes and then other times for tap dancing & noble kings. I just don’t want to always be in any box, I did that the last performer I put together. This time I wanted to include a bit of everything – but most of all I love to make people smile. Whether you are laughing at my dick in a box, my pointy ears, or my silly hat – when you see Izzy I want you to smile. So in this idea about this performer I wanted to be sure I brought my heart to the stage as well as my nobility and honor to the queens. There were colors attached to kings and queens, kings were black – queens were pink. I wore black and pink for presentation, as well as a flashy pin. I felt like I brought to stage a king whom I could be proud of.

Then we had formal along with on-stage question. Again I wore a black tux and a pink comberbone and bow tie. I think I was ok on the mic, at least that wasn’t the hardest part. Moving my body and listening intently to a queen with a thick spanish accent were bigger challenges. My question was “What advice did you get when you first started drag? How does it help you today?” I answered simply that the advice I had gotten was to “have fun” – Drag is an art – a creative outlet and expression of a part of each of us. Most of us are just regular people and we are just doing this for the fun, the art, and the expression of something inside. So to wrap my brain around that its just for fun completely changed my attitude about a lot of things, such as the cooperative competition. Let’s all bring our personal best and make it about the art, not who wins! Anyway as I spoke about this I looked out in the crowd and realized pageants are really about the “drag community” choosing their favorite. Most of the audience were drag performers or involved in the community in some way. So they fully understood what I was trying to say.

Then it was time  for the talent. I had two songs mixed “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons mixed with “Save the World” by Swedish House Mafia that were mixed by a guy on facebook called “Cuntalicious Rex” He is also a drag queen, just not local, and was able to mix something that makes “drag” sense. I needed it to portray that the world was awful and polluted – the apocolypse type feeling. Then I was gonna “save the world” by uniting us all. He mixed it perfectly and within the time frame given. So I wanted to do a sort of costume change from radioactive to Save the world. Radioactive was green and grungy with the led lights and raver gloves I was able to really have a good time with it. Then when I removed my cape to a rainbow shirt and my gloves went from neon green to neon rainbow it brought a completely different feel to the audience. It really spoke in volumes about diversity, unity, and love – some of my major values. A noble strong king was born.

Then when it was time I was crowned by drag grandmother, Whitley Nycole DeAire and the former Pride queen 2013 Minaj A Twa. Winning the crown was fun and the crown itself is really gorgeous. I feel like I earned it – I worked really hard to honor the art of drag. My costume for the talent is depicted in the pictures below and we worked hard to be sure this entire talent really showed the world my heart and intentions. I am truly honored and humbled by the crown. I feel honored to represent the King of Pride at the Lancaster, PA Pride event this summer and look forward to a similar honor when I appear at the Central PA Pride event in Harrisburg in July.

 

Noticing the Balance

Recently I am having a short break from drag meanwhile I dive into my other interests in life such as alternative spiritual practices, intentional fires, drum & dance circles, nature, organic sustainable gardening, and festivals of all sorts. Everything is completely different for me than last spring and early summer. One of the biggest differences is that I noticed the emergence of my feminine, as if I pulled a bunch of weeds from around her and she is filling in. I feel, honestly, more balanced. As if the ability to express my masculinity has allowed for me to have a more stable feeling of balance. I feel like I have one foot in each gender expression. Which allows for the androgynous to emerge, the neither. It seems to be how I reach that feeling of androgynous is to be sure both have a strong outlet.

When I was a mother of a young boy and a wife to a husband I felt off balance and I knew it – I just didn’t know the path. I just began to weed the path like the patient virgo I am and upon it I discovered that I was not simply a mother and I no longer wanted to be a wife. I had so much more to me and my masculinity often threw temper tantrums. I pursued my desires for other womyn and was given the space to begin to discover my masculinity. When I got into drag I was given a stage, a place and an outlet to express what is masculine for me. Its like an honoring of our internal masculine.

Then as I learned from the strongest womyn I know how to handle large fires with gorgeous presentation. How to enjoy each moments beauty and to find it, no matter what is going on around you. Then I began to notice my plants this spring and mugwort, a very feminine medicinal herb, got my attention. We had a dance and I honored my internal monthly cycle that reminds me of my inner femininity. I talk about it here in my Butch Journey’s Blog. Then I simply allowed her space with no fears about how others will feel about my gender expression. At this point in my life it no longer matters. I don’t care how you see my gender or its expression – you are welcome to your own interpretation, I would love to hear all about it.

As for me I am simply androgynous at this time, finding neither gender present. Interestingly, I feel balanced. It’s a good feeling.

Hobbit @ PA Faerie Festival

What is gender?

As for drag, although I have been supporting shows for years in various ways, I am very new as a Drag King myself. A reminder that my first public performance was August 2013 at the Amateur Drag Race in Harrisburg, PA. I did one at a private party at my house about 2 months prior for a group of women.  Most performers have been at this for a year or more, I remind myself that this is all very new to me.

The reason I chose to participate in this competition was for one simple reason, I personally suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies. I have a life-time of stories of being bullied from being kicked almost to death on a city street at 8 years old to being bullied at work. I insist that not only can we be healed from depression and suicidal tendencies but we can also stop bullying. I don’t like to say “never” but it will be awfully hard to change my mind about these subjects as far as them being permanent and an acceptable part of human nature. Human’s can be kind to each other and the abuse CAN stop among us. I am not the only one that thinks so and many expressions of this idea have emerged. The Foundation for Hope is an example of that idea. Hence the drive to compete, even though I am so new at this whole Drag King thing. Also I don’t really enjoy competition as much as I love cooperation. I know many lesbians like this, its not unusual in the lesbian culture.

Anyway the first part of the competition was the personal interview. The packet welcomed us to arrive as chose to present “professional” to the judges. For me, professional means WOMYN, and when I say WOMYN I mean that woman that makes everyone part on a city street. A powerful professional strong WOMYN with a mission. That’s exactly how I presented myself. Gender means nothing to me. Plus the whole fun and art of drag is the gender bending part, well and the outrageous part. I love genderbending because its comfortable for me and makes more sense than sticking in a gender box. I DO NOT CHOOSE a gender. Plus, powerful women are sexy.  The interview itself was easy for me… especially if your asking me questions about my passion. I have no issues being on a soap box, my issue is stepping down. I feel so strongly and passionately about things I am constantly trying to tame my emotional reaction to things. But this interview was the TIME & PLACE for all that passion to pour forward. It did and I won this category.

The next part was creative costume, The Hobbit. I chose to do a Hobbit type of costume in honor of a young man that I was a youth leader for. Creative, intelligent, and he looked like a hobbit. Not on purpose just by his build, body hair, hair, and he hated shoes. During his youth he was bullied, ignored and underestimated. Since I had similar experiences in my youth I befriended him and we together we had a kinship that carries into his young adult years today. He truly embraces his Hobbit today, he has a job as a Hobbit innkeeper. So actually I did him, not the Hobbit, but most people wouldn’t know the difference. Plus all the things that make me weird in my everyday life are a lot like the Hobbit. My eating habits, my fear but love for travel, my bravery, love for trees and hills, and my desire for a hobbit house has a deep place in my heart. Plus I love to host my friends at my home. I have a lot of Hobbit traits I could just sit here and list for you. But truly I love my Hobbit costume even if my legs are sticky for a week afterwards.

 

Then the next portion was formal, my least favorite. I have never been good at politics or anything proper, I always am annoyed at the fakeness. If just feels fake to me, hence why I added my own style. I added a top hat and my father’s hand carved antique cane. Frankly I thought it was pretty good but a few mistakes were made, likely cause our hearts just isn’t into it. But next time we will be more careful. My comberbond was messed up and I am not totally sure about how to walk as a modeling proper male. I will get it next time, it was a lesson for us.

Next was the talent of course. I did a song called “Embers” by Owl City – which actually has more meaning than just the message in the song itself. Embers is about me spinning fire this summer. I learned to spin fire and this winter I have accumulated everything I need to take a spiritual journey with fire. It sits beneath my computer now awaiting my first beltaine fire. I spun my flags which are simply a less “dangerous” form of poi than fire and frankly I think it was pretty dam cool. Along with an amazing wig from my Drag granma Whitley Nycole DeAire. It was amazing but I made a few mistakes likely because I just love spinning poi so much and looked up a lot, which likely lead the judges to think I didn’t know the words. I know the words to that song so well I don’t have to think about it, they flew out of me like the flags spun around me. But I was caught in what my soul needed at that point. After 10 hours of a room full of competitors I needed me time and those flags do that for me. They gave me exactly what I needed, an outlet. Except it wasn’t the “time or place” for it.

 

 

I lost the pageant by 7 our of 1000 points. Seems like strange luck to me, odd even. But for me it is just a clear message from the universe. Embrace your Mr State Street – show the world your goofball – make the world laugh. Don’t keep him hidden. I love comedians because I love to laugh, laughter can help me get out of a depression. Sex is also part of Mr State Street, at least for me, and frankly sex positivity is another passion of mine. Sex positivity is important in our world because removing the shame from sex can empower humans to heal sex offenders of all kinds, therefore healing a lot of depression, suicidal tendencies, and bullying.  Sex positivity is powerful, it IS part of our human nature. “Sex is part of nature, I go along with nature.” Marilyn Monroe – and I am not the only one that thinks so. Buck Angel is my sex positive and gender hero!

 

 

State Street 2014

State St. Crowns

State St. Crowns

There were many reasons I chose to enter the State Street contest . First of all it was for a good cause, Black & White Party, which helps people with AIDS with living expenses. Second of all the rules were loose and sometimes I think rules are created in order to control people. I’m not always behind control. Also, it seems to be a place that drag queens and kings could express some of their deepest darkest ideas without being shunned or punished for them. As the community discovered I was running for state Street there was a question of what sort of reputation State Street might give someone. Of course I questioned this so-called “reputation”. I presented the idea that there is a time and a place for everything. If we don’t provide these outlets for people we will only hide them and feel shame for them.  If we feel shame for our dark ideas then we are only left with more shame and guilt for being who we are. Dark ideas are meant to come out and show that everyone has a dark side. Although you don’t have to act on that dark side all of the time and hurt others intentionally or unintentionally. You can still recognize it and have a healthy outlet for these dark places. I am so happy I entered the State Street contest.

Interestingly as my first pageant I was surprised to find that there was less songs to choose. Actually it was more  about costumes. Costumes and makeup are not exactly my strength which is why my wonderful creative partner, Arial, helps me with this. It also gives her a fantastic outlet for creativity. Together we create Izzy Ahee.

So the first costume was “trash your favorite celebrity”. I chose Elton John because he IS one of my favorite celebrities and frankly its rare to see him made fun of. Second, I thought well a gay community will recognize him immediately AND will enjoy the absurdity of it.  Also I had his costume readily available. I wanted to show Elton John doing a “Nelly bottom” walk of shame in his drinking days. I implied all sorts of things with a jock strap, magnum condoms, and a wine bottle strapped for insertion. I implied a bit of kink and a size queen. I also had a great pair of black dress pants that have a broken zipper and I wanted to put them to use, and this was perfect. The crowd pointed and whispered in each others ears that I was “Elton John” so I knew they got it right away.  Check out the video below, I am dead last in all of these.

The next category was “Walmart Realness”. At first I struggled with this because I don’t shop at Walmart and its not my flavor of comedy. But after looking through some of the photos about this topic I found something I not only had on hand but could have fun doing. A redneck, belly hanging out, cowboy hat, and screwed up teeth. In my real life I am having dental work and currently have a temporary tooth that can be removed from the front. The photos and video don’t do it justice, but it certainly added that little touch. It was interesting that a drag queen had recently stated how some people were making fun of her for her dental issues and I spoke up as support for her. Telling her I also was having dental work. The next day my creative partner asked me, “Would taking your tooth out for the redneck be too embarrassing?” and I immediately responded with a NO! Simply because I wanted to show that we can take our most embarrassing flaws and bring them to the floor for laughter. Why is it funny? Because its an absurd version of our flaws, laughing at our flaws is simply a good outlet. So I presented my two biggest flaws a large floppy belly and a missing front tooth. Then I added a mullet and my cowboy gear and was sure to have beer on my breath.

State Street 2014, Walmart Realness

State Street 2014, Walmart Realness

The next category of costume was “Night-In wear” What would “you wear for a night in with a client” said the description on the contestant packet. I thought about this one a lot and thought, well that depends on my mood and the client. Since I had brought the nelly bottom and the manly redneck already I choose to jump into another type of man. I chose the perverted playful type – still sexy but in a sort of cute Superman type of way. We also had to answer a question by the judges and sell shots to the crowd in these outfits, so I wanted something comfortable. I also decided to wear the most important part for “night-in” – I pitched a “tent” in my pants. It made the piece so “State Street” which for me was a great “dirty joke” type drag.

Then of course was the talent, which certainly brought out my dark side. One of my favorite things about drag, particularly State Street, is the lack of limitations. There is only the local laws to follow but otherwise you can shock the crowd all you want. I love to shock people, its my dirty little secret. I think its what drives me to be so out of the box, drag is a great outlet for my shocking habits. Also, a big part of my masculinity is my domination. I have had many experiences in BDSM. Even before I came out I prefered the more masculine style of domination over dominatrix. I use BDSM as an outlet for my “control issues”. We all have problems and the secret to overcoming them is finding a healthy outlet for them. I believe BDSM provides a healthy outlet for many people. This number was not only sexual in nature but it also crossed some interesting lines for the local crowd. I shocked them and loved every minute of it. I chose a song based on its lyrics and feel of the music. I did “The Bondage Song” by London After Midnight – a well known goth song. There was major issues with getting someone lined up to do this for me. Finally I ended up using a drag queen friend known as Hollywould, about 20 minutes before the talent began. Interestingly, that is a nickname I still use from long ago. I use it at my real job with the elderly, it helps them remember my name. So this Drag Queens name was my girl nickname from almost 10 years prior. Thank goodness I had another good friend in the audience to jump out and join in on the fun. The other 5-6 people that promised to participate were unavailable for various reasons. I do suspect that what I did in this talent made a lot of the locals very uncomfortable, even though I thought it was pretty tame.

Turns out that I won that night! I was honored to win the contest with my cardboard burger king crown and rhinestone Pimp cup. I was Mr State Street. I was so proud of my acceptance song for good reason, it is one of my favorite songs regardless of who sings it. The lyrics are an all time favorite and it was my nod to all the classic drag queens out there that have done “Sweet Dreams”. The song is just awesome in a lot of ways and I adore Marilyn Manson.

The best part about winning for me was simple. My absolute favorite queen, Belladonna, won with me. Belladonna and I have done several duets together and every single time we have a great time. Our chemistry is fantastic and its comfortable for us. She always brings darkness to the stage and her talent number was completely over the top. I wish I could have seen it live but I was behind stage getting dressed for my talent, that’s the trouble with working with your favorite performers. Fortunately, we won together and together we will “work the corners”. I am proud to win with my fellow queen and look forward to our year as Mr. & Ms. State Street…oh we have some great duets in the bag to bring out.

Ms. & Mr State Street

Belladonna & Izzy Ahee – State Street 2014

Here is a video of the winners being announced!

Queer History

Sometimes when I think about queer history I realize how old I am, what I have seen and witnessed unfold. As a young child I remember my mother’s best friend got a divorce. I was close friends with her son and we were very close while his parents divorced. I remember him telling me that his father was a fag. There were sometimes in the quiet places in the huge cluttered house he lived in that he would tell me about how it really felt for him. I remember sitting in a small room, just larger than a walk in closet that was waist deep in clothes packed on the floor. We used it like a big cushion and bounced around the room together. At some point we would run out of breath or bang heads together and find ourselves laying on the clothes laughing or crying. He told me he was scared and he didn’t understand why his parents couldn’t stay together. He explained to me that his father liked men now. His father dressed like a woman, now. Other times when his big brother was around he would say the same mean things his big brother would say about the situation. Things like “faggot” – “cock sucker” – “faery” and consistently refer to him dressing as a woman as something that meant he was lesser of a man. I remember riding in the car to pick up my friend from his fathers and some sort of drama happened with his father in a dress, a blond wig and high heels. I remember the image perfectly. That was about 1980. He died 5 years later of AIDS.

As I grew up I was exposed to many sides of gay, my mother talked clearly about gay men and cross dressers. We were friends with another family that the father of the family went to the boardwalk with us in drag. I remember it fondly and from then on noticed the drag queens in the Rehoboth Beach, DE area every single summer I lived there. I watched the area fold into a queer beach, never was I offended. I felt safe at Rehoboth, more safe then my winter home in Wilmington, DE. I had a youth group leader that was gay. I remember when my mother informed me because she thought I had a crush on him, actually he was more like a brother. In reality I had a crush on the woman that ran the group at his side, but no one ever knew that. I cried at her funeral years later.

When my son was born I always swore I would never close doors about being gay and since both of his parents were bisexual, it seemed absurd. I raised  him as he was. I never hesitated to buy him an easy bake oven. I supported him when he played with my high heels and boas. When he came out with a dress and pranced himself around the house, I never once did anything but encourage his antics. As he aged I allowed him to watch Queer as Folk even though it was sexual because I thought “Well I would rather him see sex than killing people.” He was not aloud to play “Grand Theft Auto” until his manhood ceremony at age 13.  I reached out to a group of gay men known as the Radical Faeries and told them I wanted gay men in my son’s life. They fostered him like the uncles he needed. He made a lifetime of connections he will never lose. He was equally influenced by heterosexuals as he was by homosexuals or queers in general. Today he is straight…..I proved it you can’t catch gay!

Today as I truly live the queer life I always dreamed of I talk to other queers about their experiences. I love to listen to stories about their lives. Stories from gay men that share about stonewall, gay bars, and back rooms. I hear stories from older butches about their lives as Drag Kings, before there was a name for it. Stories about passing as a man so that you could be safe and visa/versa.

A story about a bar out in the middle of nowhere was fascinating. My primary partner, Arial, tells me about this place as being her first gay bar. She said how one side was all womyn and the other side was all men. But the most fascinating piece was that it was out in the middle of nowhere, in a barn. I heard this story 8 years ago, and have heard about it many times through the years. So when I was invited to perform at this exact venue there was no hesitation for either of us.

I performed at Altlands Ranch and truly enjoyed the places rich queer history. It was certainly a barn and very country – but still had a queer feel to it. I loved the stage and dance floor it was perfect for performing and the dance floor made it easy to interact with the crowd. The crowd was very masculine and I mean that exactly. There seemed to be a lot of very bear/tops like men – so this is where all the tops hang out. As is normal in Central PA there were more men than womyn. I enjoyed the guys and loved stirring up the crowd. The few ladies I met along with the Roller Derby team were all tons of fun! It was truly a night of fun, dancing, laughing, and great history. Thank you to Altlands for making safe space, before it was cool to make it! (Read Altlands History)

Historic Queer Bar

They created safe space, before it was cool to make safe space

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