I never had anal sex.

I can imagine the gasps, the stares, and the bewilderment that such a statement might cause. Most girls could make that same statement and no one would bat an eye-lash. But no, that's not the case for me. I don't get off that easy. I have to think of a reason why I haven't had anal sex. I have to explain myself. They pester me for an explanation because I'm not a normal woman; a transsexual woman.

It's just one of those burdens a transsexual woman has to bear that a non-transsexual woman does not. But the real burden isn't the two minutes it takes to explain myself and my reasons. The real burden of being an out transsexual are the assumptions that naturally come with the word "transsexual".

As an out transsexual, even if I believe myself to be fully accepted as a woman, I am still faced on a regular basis with bogus assumptions made by the people around me. Perhaps they assume that I have a lot of sex. So I find myself having to create excuses and reasons why I have only been penetrated by my husband… knowing full well a biological female would never have to explain such a common thing.

It extends to my husband. He's found himself assuring family members that he is a heterosexual and that his marriage is legal. Even as recently as last week when he was on the Howard Stern show, he had to correct misconceptions about his sexual orientation. The husband of a biological female would never have to defend his sexual orientation.

Sometimes, someone is more informed than the average citizen. Sometimes they have seen Dr. Phil talk about transsexuals or perhaps seen Oprah interview a depressed pre-transition teen. Yet they still have bogus assumptions. When I say I feel good about my body, these slightly more informed inquisitors will regard my assertion with suspicion.

How could a transsexual, who hates her body so much she has to have expensive surgeries, actually be happy? How could she like her body? How could she be mentally stable? How could she like herself? Isn't she supposed to feel depressed? Aren't they supposed to deserve sympathy? Don't they all feel trapped in their bodies?

It can be so tiring to constantly correct people’s assumptions. It can be so frustrating to interact with those who use stereotypes as their roadmap. Yet I believe it is unavoidable.

If I decide not to tell someone I am a transsexual, then they will see me more for what I am. I'm just a woman who is married to a guy. I'm a woman not that much different from any other. Yet they will still have bogus assumptions.

They will assume that I was born female. They will assume I have a period. They will assume that my lack of parenthood is by choice. And they will continue to assume many inaccurate things about me, only I won't have the opportunity to correct those assumptions.

In the end, I can’t avoid facing bogus assumptions such as “All transsexual women have had anal sex.” I can’t avoid the assumption, but at least I can take the time to correct it.

talkingtranny is host of the show, The Talking Tranny

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Dear Fannie,

I’m a 23 year old gay man living in Portland with my boyfriend/partner (I can’t figure out when you start calling your significant other your ‘partner’) of 3 years. We’ve been together for what seems like ages and we get a long great. But my bf/partner keeps on bringing up the prospect of getting “married.” I intentionally use LARGE air quotes with that. I’m not really feeling the whole marriage thing. I mean, I’m committed to my bf/partner, I’m not planning on leaving any time soon…but the whole project of getting married just makes me uncomfortable. Am I being an irrational, self-hating gay?

Pre-nuptial in Portland

Oooh… the big M word. It can send even the butchest straight man running for the hills. It’s made a lot of people miserable, some happy, and historically oppressed a full half of society. Now, while it seems that every gay and his fairy godmother wants to get married (I’m going to side-step the cheap gay wedding planner jokes), it’s interesting to remember that this posh hip brand of gay marriage is a relatively new idea as far as queer activists go. Hard-core queer activists at the beginning of the Gay liberation movement pushed for a radical queering of society, and gay marriage was the opposite of that goal.

Marriage, for many in the feminist/queer theory camp, is an elaborate and efficient way for the state to regulate sexual relationships of its constituency. The purpose of marriage (in this Machiavellian, secular view) is explicitly for A) the maintenance of a patriarchal heterosexual family structure, and B) the continued production of children (read: labor). The State achieves this by limiting marriage to one man and (usually) one woman. Marriage confers benefits, privileges, and protections to carefully selected cohorts of the populations (namely monogamous heterosexual couples intending for child rearing), but at the same time damages any kind of familial structure that is contrary to or weakens that patriarchal heterosexual society.

This is why queer activists in the 70s considered gay marriage to be a step backwards for queers. By buying into the institution that systematicly disadvantages non-traditional families, queers who opt-in for gay marriage become this “homonormative,” tamed, manageable, respectable, and mute gay and lesbian community (please note exclusion of bi and trans people). We should be advocating for the expansion of the rights that marriage confers onto any number and combination of consenting adults that wish to form a household, rather than creating a loophole that lets a few more people into an exclusive and limited club.

Now, that I’m done ranting on “gay marriage,” onto your question! Pre-nup… now, given that you live in Portland, Oregon… you actually can’t get “married.” Oregon recently amended its constitution to refuse to give gays and lesbians marriage rights. So, what it sounds like is that your bf/partner basically wants to throw a big fat gay wedding. There’s nothing wrong with that. I encourage that. As much of a raging feminist that I am, I encourage people to celebrate their commitments to each other. But I get the feeling why you feel “uncomfortable” around this whole issue of walking down the aisle is because it all feels a little jinxy.

To borrow from my patron gay saint, Dan Savage, having a Big Gay Wedding to celebrate your Big Gay Love is just asking for karmic trouble. Think of how many of those gay celebrities who made a big splash about their big gay loves quickly had their seemingly perfect relationships fall to shambles. Two words: Lance Bass. Not convinced? Mere months after proclaiming her lesbianism and her devotion to her girlfriend, Ellen and her belle broke up. The list goes on and on.

But if your bf/partner must ABSOLUTELY have his Big Fat Gay Wedding, I’d just concede. For there is little that can stand in the way of a queen and her wedding gown. I would let him revel in the joy of picking out the decorations and plan for your wedding. Just be there to pull on the reins and keep this ceremony under control. And please… for the love of God, don’t buy a frozen wedding cake. ‘Cause that’s just tacky.

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Camp (pt. II)

Jamie and Tom headed out to the field behind arts and crafts to smoke after dinner. They took a golf cart out there, which wasn’t really necessary. It wasn’t far at all, but they wanted to get high and fuck around out with the cart out there in the fields.

They pulled up behind the crudely painted brown building—nothing more than a large shack really—where they sat in the idling cart. For some reason, she felt sadder than she had in days. During Amanda’s funeral she was strangely detached, but tonight her sadness caught up with her. Tom turned the golf cart off and put his legs up. He took a bag out of his pocket and began to pack a bowl.

“You look so serious,” he said quietly. She was looking thoughtfully at the small path in between the woods and the building. It was the only way to get to the spot they were sitting by foot.

“Do you think we should go farther out? We’re pretty close to camp here. Sometimes the CIT’s come back here to make out.”

“Wink, wink” he said, laughing. There was very little that Tom took seriously, and thus there was little that scared him.

“Yeah I guess you’re right. It’s just our jobs I guess.” She smiled, and took the bowl from him. They both sat quietly. It was growing dark and she shivered. The chill brought with it the recollection of the past few days. “I have got to break up with him,” she said with finality, as if it was the conclusion to a long discussion.
He shook his head and propped the bowl in one of the golf cart’s cup holders. He had a habit of rubbing his pointer finger and thumb together when he was thoughtful. He didn’t say anything. Anyway, they both knew what his opinion was.

“I know it. I know I do.” She felt herself start to get upset. She looked at Tom seriously. “It’s just that I wanted him for so long. He was always the person I wanted to be with.”

Tom didn’t know what to say so he sighed and began to pack another bowl. He didn’t like to have this kind of earnest conversation, not even with someone he liked as much as Jamie. She always wanted to talk about serious things, which was one of the reasons why they usually smoked pot. It made her talk less, and him talk more.
Finally he said casually, “Jamie, I dunno. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone could feel that way about him.”

She gave him an angry look and then dropped her head. “Can you please not make a joke?” She was already too high and so upset about everything that she felt like crying. He started to apologize but she continued. “Seriously, Tom don’t be mean, I can’t take it right now. Jesus, I didn’t even cry at Amanda’s fucking funeral, what is this shit?” She angrily pushed her fists against the front of the cart. “Goddammit, I hate this shit.”

Seeing her so upset softened him up. He really liked Jamie, she was the one good girl friend he really had. He rested his elbows on his knees and hunched over, deep in thought. “Go on,” he said seriously.

“I dunno Tom, I know you’re right.” She was crying fully now. “You do know that I never was one of these girls? I’m not one of these tragic Lifetime girls who doesn’t know what the fuck is good for her.”

“Nobody thinks that Jamie.”

“Oh come on. I know what they think.”

“I don’t know about that Jamie,” he said slowly. “Seriously, I don’t think anyone judges you. Everyone likes you. You’re Jamie,” he said with a smile.

“The idiot.” She laughed bitterly.

He picked up the bowl, lit it, and pulled hard.

“You know he didn’t pick up his phone. After he knew Amanda died. After I had gone home. I called him and he didn’t pick up the phone. And he didn’t call me back. And then he acted like nothing had happened.”

“Maybe he didn’t know that you called.”

“I left a message. And you know the other day, the day I got back, he tried to say something to me about something that had happened last summer, about Andrew. He asked me if I had broken up with Andrew before we got together.”

“What?” Tom sat up straight.

“Seriously Tom—the day I got back from my friend’s fucking funeral. The day I got back, he basically fucking accused me of—Jesus I don’t even know what the hell he was trying to accuse me of. He’s the one who tried to get with me when I was dating someone else. Then he goes off on me wanting to make sure that I was actually single when I started seeing him.”

“Alright Jaim—you gotta’ relax. He’s a dumbass.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “You have to relax. You have to. You should dump him if that’s really how you feel.”
She paused, looking for answers. “So you think I should dump him?”

“I dunno Jaim, it’s you’re life. But if you’re that unhappy, then yeah, I guess.” He put the bowl down. It was almost totally dark now.

“I’ve had a terrible week. I’m just sad about Amanda.”

He shrugged. “He is a dick. You should dump him. But don’t stress about it tonight. You’re not going to see him till Saturday really, isn’t that what he said.” He laughed, in spite of himself. “You can dump him at Jackson’s party. It will be sweet.”

She rubbed her eyes. “I guess you’re right. I guess I’ve really made my decision.”

Her face fell. “I know it’s stupid but I just really liked the idea of being with him.”

“You do know this is Josh Synder we’re talking about, right?”

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+ news +

The just go AWAY,
the festivities continue,
and the holy cow! for the week.

It's also worth noting that we have a new guest contributor stating this week. Woohoo!

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Remember when you were a kid and you saw a bunch of ants crawling along the sidewalk in a perfect single file line? Remember running your finger through the line and the ants would scatter, conjuring up memories of the time you pooped your pants at camp and everyone scrambled to get away like you were a Jew in a Catholic Church? Yeah.

Eventually, the ants meander back to the same path and continue on their merry way. Why, you ask? Simple. The forager leaves little beads of pheromones for the others to follow and after being deterred, they find they way back to the path. Similar, in essence, to the trail of pre-cum that guy in the backroom returns to after being slapped around by a rough looking dude in the back alley. Or that girl who consistently packs her Saab full of belongings night after night, just in case this time it’s The One.

What the hell am I getting at? We are like the ants: slaves to our patterns. We walk along and no matter how far and how often we stray from our invisible path, we always end up returning to the same old shit.

Men are still having trouble in the grocery store it seems. Even though a man is now more likely than ever to grace the grocery stores with his presence, he will still exhibit your obvious male traits: giving up on pursuits, looking for shortcuts, valuing efficiency and convenience over quality or savings. Other traits might include: not asking for directions (if you have a father, you know what that’s like) and tunnel vision (if you have breasts and have spoken to a straight man, you know what that looks like, too.) Essentially, we are like lost little lambs left to the slaughter, meandering through the aisles in search of the Tide detergent, and only the Tide detergent because that’s what I always use and that’s all I want and there are too many choices and I don’t really know what the difference between Colorfast and Bleach Alternative because I wash all my clothes in one wash anyway and no, I don’t need any help because that would be emasculating and forget it I might as well just leave. “Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?” Nah, we like it this way.

Police are still doing their jobs it seems. A recently busted global pedophile ring can attest. The police cleverly nabbed the worthless fuckheads by infiltrating an internet chat room and posing undercover as, well, pedophiles. Needless to say, when you’re swapping live videos of month old children being sexually abused, and that’s clearly your thing, you probably aren’t being all that censored about it when you should be. You should be suppressing the urge and getting help. (There are few things that I look down upon. Raping babies might top the list. Political vegetarianism and ironic facial hair are close seconds.) In an age where “Googling” someone has become a necessary step in meeting a sweet Dom/Sub, we should all be a little more aware of our actions. So watch your back and break that cycle. Cause no matter what you do, someone is watching you. Oh yeah, by the way, the pedophile in charge has been sentenced to remain in prison until “no longer a threat to children.” Uhm, guys…?

So, in attempts to break the mold of the usual entry, I’m going to leave you with this: Take a look at these photos, choose your side, then read this. Which one are you?

See? No matter how you cut it, even if you want to step away from your patterns and be a unique individual, it would really help the rest of us out if you just picked a box. And if you don’t, we’ll do it for you.

One more thing: True fact! If you shine a magnifying glass on some ants, they stop returning! In fact, some would say they stop moving altogether…
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Back to the States

It's so strange being back here (I'm visiting home [the U.S.] for a few weeks) for a number of obvious reasons, but also for so many of the little differences in my life in Zacatecas that I had started taking for granted. They don’t have tortillas with every meal here in the States; the majority of people begin their day before 9:00 a.m.; there are not corner stores every 1/2 mile; going to the movies is way too expensive; people assume that you were born here, that you speak English, and when you don't fit into these categories…people are really thrown off and can have very interesting reactions.

Then there's the whole fact that I feel I have lost every ounce of sexiness on the plane ride over the border. It's as if everyone is so terrified of being offensive or inappropriate that even a glance here or there of appreciation is beyond the acceptable limit. Now, I'm not out there looking for turning heads on every corner or even a Friday night date (might prove uncomfortable with my partner at my side), but what I do think lacks every now and then is a general acceptance of natural attraction, appreciation of others’ attraction, and just a little more warmth between the people. Interestingly enough, I have noticed that in both Mexico and the States, when women find other women attractive it’s not as big of a deal to make public such feelings.

Oh, and back in Mexico my partner always feels the need to walk on the outside when we walk down the street on the sidewalk together. Now, it’s hard to understand his inclination outside of a place where something like this is an integral part of the culture, but it is understood that if you are walking down the street with the woman on the outside (open to the street), it’s and open invitation to yell out with those famous cat calls I refer to so frequently. So anyway, my partner unconsciously is always on the outside. I’ll admit, I’ve let my irritation and anger dissolve into understanding and general ambivalence. But here, in the States, not once has my partner even made a move for the outside. It’s just a different feel here.

People are so afraid to be warm. Friendly, kind, outgoing, if you want, but really it's just a matter of acknowledging other people around you, saying a few words in the 7-11, or smiling as you cross walking in and out of the metro station. I can remember after moving down to Mexico for the first time, I would meet people and literally after five minutes, they would be inviting me to stay with them and their family in their hometown. A very common thing to do in Mexico, all parts of the country, is to describe your own house as someone else's. For example, the following could be a common convo:

Person A: "Hey! It's good to see you again! How are you today?
Person B: "So great. How are you? You look really nice today.
Person A: "Oh thanks! Hey, I can't remember, where did you say you live again?"
Person B: "Oh really close. It's on Rayon Ave. Just go to the end of the street and right there you'll see your house!

It's tough to really get the feel without the Spanish language, the warm tone of the voice, and the…mariachi music in the background (did you pick up on the sarcastic stereotype right there? Tricky, I know), but it's just a simple example.

I think I also had grown accustomed to the engraved gender roles that are ever-present way down south but for some reason they don’t' freak me out as much anymore. It's all your experiences, ya know? Education, people, you know, things you've seen. When something becomes commonplace, and you have a stronger understanding about where people are coming from, where that behavior is coming from, you don't fear it as much. Not gonna lie, I see it to be refreshing and yet terrifying at the same time.

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So, I was forwarded this question that was answered by their resident advice columnist, the "Cruise Director" on the trés classy website, Manhunt. The response was so profoundly sexist and femme-phobic I simply had to offer some counter-advice.

I'm 18, have a nice body, cute butt, and all that, but nobody on Manhunt hits me up. I think what's causing all the ignores is my femininity. I'm kind of femme, yes, and it probably shows in my pics. I have long hair, too, and I think that adds to the rejection. I'm not a tranny or a cross dresser, I just happen to be not as masculine as some other guys. And with everyone wanting "hot masculine muscle jocks…" well, my question is, what am I supposed to do? I'm kind of lonely and it depresses me that most guys don't find guys like me attractive (except the very old sugar daddies). Sometimes I just wanna chop off all my hair and live in a gym just so I can have some male contact, but I don't want to compromise who I am. Help!
-- Pretty but Lonely

PBL, first off, please disregard everything "Cruise Director" said in his column. Being a femme guy is one of the wonderful gifts that queerness offers. Not saying that straight guys can't be femme, but heterosexual masculinity is steeped in machismo. Gay men, by virtue of their sexual orientation which defies gender expectations, have more wiggle room in terms of restrictive gendered behavior. This is very evident when we take into consideration early formation of modern queer male identity in North America.

The first half of the 20th century marked one of the first times in recent history where homosexual men were able to come together and love openly. It's interesting to note how the only men who were considered queer by society-at-large were the femme men who were the receptive partners in anal sex. Sexually dominant partners were considered "trade" and typically were butch, masculine, and were considered by society to be within the realm of acceptable male behavior. It was their gender performances that made men queer, not who they had sex with. If we think of gender performances of gay men, in this light, can we really call the str8-acting, femme-hating "hot masculine muscle jocks" to be truly queer?

I’m not saying that all gay guys who act butch are internalized-homophobes or that all femme guys are champions of queer gender performance. (I am a little bit.) But I believe that a big factor in this push for the exclusive valorization of the macho masculine man in the gay male community is largely driven by misogyny. After all, gay men make the best patriarchs; thank you, Plato.

Now, you say that all the men that you meet on Manhunt are only interested in "hot masculine muscle jocks.” One important thing to realize is that the sample of men who are on Manhunt isn’t necessarily indicative of all gay men. Even the name “Manhunt” suggests that the hot muscle jocks who are trolling online for their next hook up are looking for men in every hegemonic understanding of the word. Guys who are obsessed with their own masculinity and can only find other butcher masculine guys attractive are missing out. Missing out on you and your fabulously hot self, and on the gender liberation that queer sexuality can afford. My suggestion to you, PBL, is to ditch the Manhunt and try meeting guys in an environment that isn’t so misogynist/femme-phobic/repressed.

Where you ask? There are plenty of venues to meet people. The night life scene is an obvious choice, but there are plenty of other ways. Try volunteering for a queer organization, go to an event at the local Queer Center… basically go to where gays flock and you’re bound to meet someone. One thing that “Cruise Director” and I agree on is that it doesn’t hurt to be more aggressive in terms of pursuing guys. If you find someone attractive, let the person know! What’s the worse that can happen? He’ll say no. Just put on your stiff upper lip and give him a good ol’ diva snap. You’re too good for him anyway.

send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com!
Also, enjoy the following from our lovely friends from the Village People.

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Hate crimes

Too many people die because prejudice and fear take such deep hold of individuals, and because society repeatedly sends the message that it does not care equally about all its members.

The appalling police (non)response in this case has many of us thinking about hate crimes legislation. Whatever your feelings about taking into account motivation when sentencing a criminal, this case suggests another reason to sometimes give federal authorities jurisdiction for local crimes. As much as we need to trust our police officers to investigate impartially—whether the victim is an investment banker or a sex worker, a white person or a person of color, etc—can we always trust them to do so? Putting the FBI in charge of cases where bias runs deepest ensures full and fair treatment of these cases, but does it also suggest, even allow, that partiality and bias to exist within our local law enforcement agencies?

I do not know whether hate crimes legislation is the best way to go. I do know, however, that hate crimes legislation already exists in various forms, and discrepancies within those forms ought to be addressed. Hate crime statistics are gathered where the victims’ actual or perceived race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation partially or wholly motivates the criminal. Based on 1968 law, the FBI is authorized to investigate hate crimes based on race, religion and ethnic origin. At present, “limitations in federal statutes prevent the FBI from investigating crimes of bias motivated solely by gender, disability, or sexual orientation.” (source) HR 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) sponsored by John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), would extend that investigational authority to crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity. (Note that this would include misogyny and misandry, not just hatred of folks who are transgender or gender variant)

Will hate crimes one day expand to include other broad categories of people? Class and socioeconomic status? Profession? Criminal status? Age? How can the FBI recognize the compounded, interactive status of these identity groups in hate crimes (the confusion between perceived gender performance and sexual orientation being only one very obvious example) What differentiates personal hatred from the manifestation of societal hate? It seems to me that hate crimes legislation seeks, in part, to affirm that society does care about the lives of even those with controversial identities or affiliations. At the same time, it calls out (confirms) these sources of difference and dispute.

It is a time to be sad and concerned. Yet we draw strength from the positive responses, by individuals and society, to these devastating tragedies. From productive legal responses to the increasing creation of and popularity of films telling the true stories of our losses and bringing to light the very human suffering involved (award-winning Boys Don’t Cry and Lifetime TV’s A Girl Like Me: the Gwen Araujo Story both come to mind).

Least we think, however, that all transfolk tales are stories of victimization and abuse. I leave you with a few reminders. Popular films do not solely mourn our losses, but they also celebrate our lives and proclaim our victories with comedy, family drama and documentary. A few examples from 90s through today The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, The Birdcage, Transamerica, and TransGeneration. Bit by bit, we are becoming more whole and real in our onscreen gender representations.

Last fall Kim Coco Iwamoto became the transgender person with the highest-ranking elected office in the USA. Her post to the Hawaii Board of Education is particularly nifty when you consider Americans’ tendency to be especially protective of their children and especially confrontational around said children’s education. However, while Kim Coco is out and proud to her friends and family, the issue was not raised publicly during her campaign and has only created a media stir since. Stay tuned to continuing reactions as she serves the education system in this role. Here Hawaiians have a great opportunity to be welcoming and affirming pioneers. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t see a repeat of the 1990s when the people responded to a Hawaiian Supreme Court declaration—that limiting marriage to opposite sex couples is sex discrimination—by amending their constitution.

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The Bachelor

I’d be the worst person ever to be on The Bachelor; I’ve never understood being able to date more than one guy at the same time. As forced and awkward as going on a date with one person can already be, I can’t imagine juggling several men all at once: it’d be like trying to fit a single peg into lots of different holes at the same time.

This is not to say that I don’t keep my options open when I’m not focused on pursuing someone specific. There’s a difference between (a) targeting a potential mate that has proven to hold some sort of interest and (b) evaluating the potential of various men from afar. In the latter situation, once I can whittle down my choices to a finalist, I can shift gears to the comfortable position of Monogamous Dater, coasting as far as I can with the lucky guy who manages to avoid elimination. But only time, of course, can tell whether I’ve found a real winner or not; as on The Bachelor, winning the show does not necessarily mean winning a marriage proposal—or even a week’s worth of dates.

Unfortunately for me, having a singular, compelling interest is a rarity. More likely, my evaluation radar is in constant use, identifying not only people that I find to be possible interests, but also people for whom I am on the radar (whether I want to be on there or not). That “radar” setting is where I find myself now. The non-profit organization for which I work holds a summer-long institute that hires over 140 of its current staff members (myself included) to live and work with 750 recent college graduates or job-switchers training to be its new members. We’re all housed in the same college dormitory, and thus, college hormones are also intact; this place is a buffet of socially-conscious young professional-types that are ripe for poaching. Needless to say, my radar is on overdrive, and I’ve found a handful of cute guys—both on staff and in training—that I’d like to get to know a little better.

In such a frenzied setting, people pair up pretty quickly. At a baseball game I attended tonight, I noticed that the two hottest gay guys at the institute were already flirting with one another. I realized quickly that even if I had people on my radar, the only people who would matter in the end were the people who were also scanning me—unless I give the guys on my radar a reason to scan me. Until I can scrounge up the courage or strategy to approach those folks, though, I don’t mind considering two guys who’ve shown interest in me, and I’ve got to decide if either of them are worthy enough to be in the Monogamous Dater passenger seat:

“Mark” - Late-twenties, early-thirties supervisor of a bus company’s motor pool. Average-looking (which is fine with me). Latino. Retiring military man who has served both in Iraq and Afghanistan. My job entails the planning, organizing, and operating of special events and transportation for the entire summer venture, and at a meeting I attended with him, I noticed a few subtle advances he was making: he gave me his personal cell phone number instead of his work phone, he sprinkled our usually business-focused emails and phone calls with thoughts and questions about places to hang out, previous jobs and upbringings, weekend plans, and so on. The kicker: he said that he was planning to go to a local coffee shop this weekend, and he was going to give me a call beforehand to see if I wanted to join him. I’m wary about crossing the professional line we’ve built, but if I’m not busy, I will probably take him up on his offer.

“Travis” – Mid-to-late thirties, if not older. Actor part-time, blue-collar other-time. Nice guy who I worked with on a charity fundraiser last year. I’m more on his radar than he is on mine, partially because he has a head of graying hair. At the time we met, he had an also-twenty-something Asian boyfriend, but word got around anyway that if he weren’t taken, he would have tried moving for me. It was a flattering comment at the time, but because he was attached, I just took it as playful. Last week, he called me offering me a small role at another charitable function, and I took him up on it; when we met to discuss some of the details, it came up that he had broken up with his boyfriend in January, and now he’s moving on. At the event itself, he chatted me up more than the other friend with whom he attended, and afterwards, he said that we should grab coffee some time this week. Despite the age difference (the trait of his that worries me the most), I probably will—only because he’s such a nice guy.

Both guys are mature. Both are pretty average-looking. I wouldn’t say either was perfect—neither fits the attribute of being close to my age or decidedly cute. But if I’m going to even attempt being The Bachelor, juggling a couple of guys here and there, then by all means—I cannot settle with age and appearance as my only two methods of evaluation before elimination. Personality’s gotta count. And the purpose of dating anyway is to dig for chemistry and the possibility for depth. Superficiality and concern are, I think, okay for now.

So, with that attitude—“for now”—let the games begin.

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+ news +

The sigh of relief,
gays in Colombia,
and the tragic and infuriating for the week.

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While the former might be a fitting title for my latest opus, it doesn’t hold a candle (nor a lighter, flashlight, or road flare) to a gem I saw this week at the Montreal Fringe Festival: “…And God Created Woman”. When asked to give a review of this multimedia-modern-dance bonanza, I reached the root of my disdain in two words: pretentious and clichéd.

Now, I’m going to do my best not to rant, but to set the scene I must summarize this piece as two leotard-clad figures representing the ‘oppression’ faced by women, people of colour, queer people, and other less clearly defined ‘minorities’. Sounds inoffensive, at best, but the problem was really in the intensely regurgitated approach. For example, a man and a woman doing a dance to represent “Hey, Wife, get me some cigarettes!” appears strikingly similar to a 6th grade drama piece, especially when set over simplistic and unattractive electronic music.

So, having made my point about the overall badness of the show, the fact remains that it is still art. I am not of the opinion that one can deem things artistic or not, but my opinion does dictate that this show completely blew, unlike the rest of the Fringe which is possibly the coolest thing since plastic-coated ice cubes. But, to its credit, at least this piece got me thinking past that of my angry reviews; what is the future of activist art in a culture with so much anti-oppression theory?

I found myself frustrated walking out of this show, deciding it must be a catch-22: anyone who left feeling inspired was probably learning ‘new’ things (racism is bad, sexism is real, etc.) and anyone else was probably feeling annoyed at wasting 30 minutes watching a live-action after-school special. Now besides the “how did you not already know racism was bad?!” exclamation, there is the lingering feeling that maybe it’s all been said as far as activism in art…. Could this be?

One of the lowest points of the performance was when the female dancer donned a silk sheet in the style of a burqa and did a ‘middle-eastern style’ dance to try and somehow represent muslim women’s oppression. Why is it that we make the statement “Woman in Afghanistan are oppressed” (a statement made verbally in the show) and do not dissect it? Is there nothing left to say? Oppression is individual and widespread. There are as many stories as there are people, so boiling it all down to a burqa and a pair of gyrating hips was, to me, offensively simplistic and emblematic of the kind of racism these artists were trying to fight. If you ask me, lifting the burqa is not the job of art, but telling the story beneath it is.

The only answer I can come up with, which is surely one of many, is that we need to be telling these stories (and hopefully setting them to better music) instead of making blanket statements about oppression with no depth. It a crime to simplify someone’s experience just like it’s a crime to submit him or her to social erasure. A woman wrestling with a man for a job is not enough to explain their existence, and a woman putting on a silk sheet is not indicative of muslim women as a whole.


What do you think the future of activism in art is? Write to me at gee.alibee@gmail.com or comment to tell me!

Please, please, please, don’t confuse this piece with the Vadim film by the same name!

Also, please, please, please do attend the Montreal Fringe Festival or check out your local fringe! It’s international, and all kinds of awesome!

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Say my name.

I was talking recently with a friend of mine over a beer – we were comparing our college experiences. I went to a moderate-to-conservative private college in the south; she went to a famously open-minded private college in New England. Environment doesn’t always play a factor in one’s decision to identify deviantly, so to speak, but in my case I think it did. I was wound up so tightly that I needed to be in an community that pushed me out of the closet; I needed to be in an inflexible environment that disallowed any kind of identity that wasn’t completely In or completely Out.

But what I really want to talk about is the moment of truth, the moment I not only realized but the moment that I accepted. The point of no return. Here’s how I unraveled:

My first year at college was a nightmare, and it was mostly my fault. I was quiet, anxious, and afraid of being called out. I was afraid of being noticed for fear that someone might see parts of me I wasn’t comfortable baring. The combination of my own inflexibility with the general social inflexibility of my college created a bit of a psychological time bomb in my head. I chose to deal with my unhappiness at college through complete disbelief: everything was fine, and everything will be better when I transfer, everything will be better after I graduate.

The problem is, for whatever reason, the gays on campus found me. Over the matter of a semester and a half, I befriended the gays on campus, curious as to why they all managed to introduce themselves to me. They were the only real friends I had. Little did I know that by being so aggressive and friendly, they planted a seed deep in my brain – they introduced to me a new identity that somehow managed to get by, to live happily despite all the pressure on them to cease to exist. But I refused to go out and socialize with them; I refused to take another step across the diving board into what I considered a self-abating spiral of masculinity, into non-heterosexuality.

As the first year rolled into second semester, my friendships with the campus gays grew, and my perception of the community shifted to a more positive lens. I started to help with campus LGBT activism as a straight ally, collecting signatures for petitions I’d advertise in classes where I felt comfortable.

Now here’s where I’ve been leading – my meeting with Dr. Jones, esteemed professor of southern literature. After she encouraged me to make an announcement to my classmates about one of our petitions, I met with her privately to discuss my thoughts on a thesis I was developing for a paper. But she didn’t really want to talk about my paper.

“I really admire all the work you’re doing; I can’t even imagine the struggles you must have endured during just your short time here.”

I smiled blankly and nodded, confused.

“I mean, I myself studied at schools in the south, but there were still vibrant, encouraging communities for gay and lesbian students.”

I still smiled blankly and nodded, but my insides screamed horror. I was trapped.

“So, as a gay student, have you found your experience here to be as dreadful as I hear it can be?”

And with that question, with that presumption of my identity, I had been given a choice. Until this moment I had not considered for even a second that I was gay; it just wasn’t an option. But here, so innocently, Dr. Jones – a gracefully aged woman, looking at me with empathetic, concerned brown eyes – called on me to reidentify.

Something happened. It was entirely impulsive, like a twig snapping under someone’s weight. In those few seconds before speaking, I didn’t think about consequences. I wanted to finally be able to communicate with someone and feel comfortable and know that they felt comfortable, too. I wanted so desperately to really talk with her. I just wanted for one small moment – one small moment in the anxious existence I constructed around myself – to breathe.

And then, as I felt my lips begin to whisper, I exhaled:

“…it hasn’t been too bad.”

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The Move (pt. II)

Sarah called three times in a week, and they kept missing each other. Angela had a feeling that something was terribly wrong, but when she finally got in touch Sarah excitedly told of her acceptance to UCLA. Angela was standing in front of a sushi restaurant where she was supposed to meet Paul for lunch when she got the call. She leaned against the glass window of he restaurant, searching through her purse for her cigarettes.

She was delighted to hear about Sarah’s acceptance, although it didn’t surprise her in the least. When Sarah asked her what was new on her end, she had nothing to say. She started to talk about a Harvard extension school sculpture class that she had just signed up for.

“You sound distracted. Are you driving?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t have my car out here,” she said evenly. “My purse is a black hole. I can’t find my cigarettes.”

“Maybe you should quit.”

Angela humphed. “Maybe.”

Sarah paused for a moment. “So how is the move going?”

Angela laughed. “Oh it’s good. It’s really good actually. I do wish Paul would shut up about my smoking. I think he never really realized how much I smoke before we lived together. Other than that, everything’s great with us.”

“How are your parents?” Sarah asked quietly.

“Well, my dad is not great in general. Although lately he’s been okay. Honestly I haven’t talked to him in a week, I need to focus on trying to get a job and stuff.”

“How’s your mom doing?”


“I feel like because this has been going on so long I forget what’s going on with them and I don’t want you to think I don’t care.”

“I know. But you know, I don’t expect people to be tuned into it. Paul is though and I think that’s what really matters. He’s looking out for me. You don’t have to worry.”

“Have you made any girl friends there?”

“No—only this professor’s wife. She’s young though, only twenty-six and she has a fucking kid. Anyway, I had a drink with just her one night at a bar.”

“That’s cool.”

“Well—it’s was the weirdest fucking thing in the universe. But yeah, she’s cool. We talked about J.Crew dresses mostly.”

Just as she was taking a particularly satisfying drag of her cigarette Paul turned the corner and ruined it.

“Hey baby,” he said loudly, not realizing she was on the phone. She pointed to her ear. Paul reached over to take the cigarette out of her mouth and she gave him a hateful look and dodged his reach. “I just wanted to kiss you hello,” he said.

“I know, I know, it is weird,” she said, responding to something Sarah was telling her. “Hey babe, I gotta run. Paul just got here and he only has a quick lunch break before going back to work.”

“Oh right, I forgot what time it was there.” Sarah said. “Okay, well give me a call soon. I miss you Ang.”

“I miss you too. Congrats so much about med school. Although I knew you would do it. But still. I will. Okay, you too. Bye bye.” She exhaled and closed her phone. “I’m sorry Paul but you shouldn’t just reach for someone’s cigarette, even if it’s me. It’s fucking rude.”

“You’re right. Honestly, I was not going to throw it out, I just wanted to kiss you hello and you didn’t have enough hands.”

She had to fight the urge to say ‘whatever’. “Okay, well I just feel that you make too big of an issue about this. At some point you’re going to have to accept that I smoke.”

“Wait a minute,” he said slowly. “I’ve just said hello to you, what are you upset about?”

She was about to lie and say that Sarah had been ragging her about smoking but she stopped herself. “Paul, I just feel like you have to accept that I smoke. You’re right this is out of the blue and I’m sorry to just go crazy on a street corner, but you have been bugging me about this since we moved in. I get that you don’t want me to die.”

“You know you have a fucking history of cancer in your family Angela. I just don’t understand how you can smoke when you see all that your family’s been through because of it.”

“I agree. I hate myself about it. But it’s not going to stop right now, so I really feel that you need not to hate me about it too. Can’t you just get over it for a little while?" A hiccup of mirthless laughter escaped from him. “I’m going to quit in the spring. I just need to get a job and deal with my life and stuff. You know moving in together is a huge deal for me.”

“I know.” He looked down. “Angela, I’m not trying to be hard on you. And this isn’t about anything else. And I won’t bother you any more after today.” He paused.

“Just say what you want to say,” she said quietly.

“But you shouldn’t just use stress as an excuse,” he said sorrowfully, as though it pained him. “You know—everything stresses you out. Not that you don’t have real reason to be in pain right now. But I don’t think smoking helps anything.”

He looked up at her. “Are you done?” She asked. She had a brusqueness at times that he found simultaneously appealing and disappointing. Things were never clear cut until she wanted them to be, and then they were.


“Okay. You’re right about everything you said Paul. I’m sorry I’ve been a huge pain in the ass lately.”

He couldn’t disagree with her. But he rubbed her back to be kind.

“It will be better when I get a job and I’m not this disaffected pseudo house-wife any more.” He knodded. “And I really appreciate you letting up about the smoking.”

“Let’s get some food.”

She reached up and put her hands on either side of his face. “Are you mad?”

“No,” he patted her lightly on the butt twice, and said, “but I gotta’ eat quick if I’m going to get back in time.”

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I’m irked. I’m irked in a way that is hard to describe. I’m irked in a way that feels like being eternally trapped in some nightmarish musical hell. (No judgment calls made here on musicals or those that like them. But for the most part, they suck ass.) I’m irked in a way that can only be put into song.

“The baby is going out with the bathwater.

But what gives? Red and swollen from yo’ diaper rash.

The world is the baby, people are the rash (or the diaper that caused the rash which caused the baby to cry and it makes sense ‘cause the people/diaper gets shit on by the man but either way it’s really fucking annoying cause she won’t shut the fuck up so we might as well let go of her.)

It’s like like like watching the short bus drift off a cliff.


One more time!”

If this has yet to be a significant clarification of my mood for those of you reading, let’s just get to the quick and dirty: People are rejects.

We managed to somehow spew forth from the womb only to multiply and unleash a torrential downpour of nutters and vagrants onto this sweet sweet earth. Why can’t everything be a Planet Earth episode where we exist in our natural habitats and have Sigourney Weaver narrate our simple day-to-day actions? (If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it.) So, all said and done, what kind of creature features am I referring to?

After all the controversy about “bug chasers” in Rollingstone magazine, out comes this: Some Dutch gay bandits have been gang raping men and infecting them with the HIV because “it excited them.” Read: GHB is good for the soul. (Date rape! Sublime!) I had always pictured gay bandits to resemble My Little Pony more than , say, the Punisher. Oops. Although after considering their means of attack, you know those little ponies were some underhanded fuckers. Nice to your face but the minute you turn your back, you get trampled. And butt raped. At least the Pun had the decency to penetrate you face to face with a semi-automatic.

What saddens me more is that “the case has deeply unsettled the Netherlands, and caused it to cast a hard look at its easygoing views on sex…” Time and time again we are educated/imbued with the notion that aggravated rape is not sex, that rape is first and foremost, an act of violence. So when the case is as clear as day, why are we even considering the possibility that sexual freedom was partially responsible for a (self-) hate crime? The victims were VICTIMS. Sure, they went to a sex party to engage in some man loving but they probably weren’t expecting an extended invitation to that big homo orgy in the sky. (HIV, mind you, is not a death sentence. For those with sufficient healthcare.)

These gay banditos injected vials of blood into the unconscious victim. The premise might have been sex but the after dinner entertainment was a narcotic-laced drink and a syringe full of poison. The last time I checked my sex sessions never came with that added bonus. Well, the vanilla ones at least. (Poz blood, mind you, is not poison. Unless intentionally forced upon you.) And so, when the sex part of the crime is nary more than a lure for a greater, twisted plan, how are we still grouping the sex and the rape together?

If we don’t continue to make a conscious effort to differentiate between the two, compounded with more harebrained acts that will inevitably crop up, soon enough, we will be strapped into a Chrysler without brakes called “sexual censorship.” The words “Missionary for Life” will be the battle cry for the Religious Right, emblazoned on Abercrombie ads as witty t-shirt slogans.

Hell, to a point, the world would be simpler if we were just a bunch of sexless wonders but where would the fun go? And when you can’t get off the way you want to, what new potentially harmful acts will we be forced to delve into? In fact, is that not what the Dutch gang was experiencing to begin with? How much sexual censorship has already invaded our collective social consciousness?

Now, I’m more than aware that there are always radically opposing views especially when it comes to the hot button issues (and I know mine is nothing original) but sometimes things are just wrong. It was a despicable act. It should not have happened. However, no matter how cut and dry, it’s hard to pinpoint the real motive. Was it an act of revenge, of anger, of malice? When perhaps in playing the victim, you submit to the urge to claim your own. Sadly, all of this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. News isn’t news if it’s not news at all, is it?

The only thing I have to hold on to now is this creature. It’s new and shiny. I feel like I might have run across it on one of my last trips. Although who can really be sure? I was a little preoccupied screaming at the grass for stealing the 53 cents in my pocket. Damn it all.

Sigourney, what’s a guy to do?

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Dear Fannie,

I'm a 19 year old gay male living in one of those gay meccas in the city. My question I guess is pretty simple. I've just started to date and one thing I can't really figure out is… who pays? I know that with straight folk it's easier because the guy is supposed to pay and all, but with two men? Also, I tend to date older guys. I'm a poor student getting by on loans, is it wrong of me to expect them to pay considering how they have an income?

Miserly in Manhattan

Miserly, welcome to the world of queer dating. You've identified that awkward dance for the wallet that queer people dating often have. We've been ingrained with patriarchal expectations of romance models which include a providing male and a suppliant female. The big problem is that people try and import those relationship structures on queer relationships rather than question the validity of that model. Having one partner repeatedly pay for all of the dating expenses is unfair and unhealthy, straight or not.

You also mention that you date older men. I understand the temptation to use their relative success or income level to be an excuse for expecting them to pay for your date. But if you want your date to take you seriously, then act like his peer… not his child. Stepping up and paying for your half of a meal, or your own movie ticket is a good way to say that you're an adult.

You mention that you are living off of student loans. If you can't afford to go to the five star restaurant you're used to having your date pay for, than don't go to that restaurant. Suggest low cost activities instead, like taking a walk in the park, renting a movie (note: universal code for "let's make out"), or cooking together (a great way to eat well and cheap. Plus the playful dance around the kitchen can be a form of foreplay in of itself).

There's nothing wrong if your higher income date wants to treat you both to a night on the town once in a while. But be sure to live within your own means. If your dating life begins to an escapist project from your own money issues, you face the danger of being in a relationship not only with your boyfriend… but his wallet as well. And I'll tell you this: there are few people out there who want to be dated for their money.

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I don’t remember much from my high school economics class, but I do recall that the basic principles of supply and demand follow an inverse relationship: if supply is high, demand will be low; if supply is low, demand will be high.

Is this true of love, dating, and attraction? If it were so easy to understand and find The One, maybe people wouldn't be so interested in its existence and implications. The truth is, however, that we’re living at a time in which divorces outnumber marriages and the number of hook-ups a person has surpasses the number of days in his longest relationship. Real relationships—committed, meaningful, and lengthy—seem to be few and far between, and this lack of connection makes me wonder: is this why I’m in love with love?

I’m searching for it all the time, evaluating potential mates at work, in workshops, through friends, and even online with strangers whose only provable commonality with me is that they have access to the internet. Some might say my relationship with love is head over heels, infatuated, and obsessed. When I find someone who’s interested in me, I’m quick to make a judgment—either I know there is absolutely no chemistry, or I jump ahead and imagine what our future might be like. It’s all or nothing, the possibility of The One or no possibility at all. Rarely do I travel the middle road, dating folks to find out more about them; rather than waiting for or forcing a spark on one, two, or three dates, I want immediacy, to glimpse that there is already a magical spark there, ready for time to fan it into a fire. That, to me, is chemistry. That, to me, is a hint of some greater potential.

This automaticity of a connection that I seek is symptomatic of my hopeless romantic side—whether it’s desperation or relentlessness that drives my pursuit, I can’t tell. I certainly hope it’s the latter, though, and I’ve got my justifications based in economics:

1. Given that most of the world follows heterosexuality as its norm, my “supply” of gay men is lower than the supply of straight women I might delve into as a heterosexual.

2. Given that homosexuality is not usually a marked trait (that is, visible to others) via physical characteristic, dress, or non-stigmatized behavior (heterosexuals holding hands vs. homosexuals holding hands), the gay men that I know for sure are gay is in even lower supply.

Add to that the appeal and perpetuation of the Alpha White Gay Male stereotype (in its in-shape Abercrombie and Fitch or in-style D&G options), and that leaves me—a gay Asian male—as a hopeless romantic, demandingly sifting through a low supply of out gay men who are more likely to find non-minorities attractive anyway. Great. Just my luck.

Any economics majors with insight on how to break the system?

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+ news +

The nifty,
the latest in the trans agenda,
and the so five years ago for the week.

And in case any of you have forgotten, She is returning this coming week:

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