Last night was very much a repeat of the preceding Saturday night, except that it involved gin and tonics and champagne martinis instead of red wine. There was more than booze and the great food we made ourselves: we end our evenings with writing exercises, and once we are too far gone for writing, conversations that last long after we should be tottering our drunk asses to bed.
The conversations ranged from the ridiculous to the profound. At some point I relayed something I had read years ago, in the liner notes of an album put out by the band, the Butchies. They were a queercore punk band out of Durham, North Carolina, and all three members were lesbian. (Side note: their debut album is brilliantly entitled, “Are We Not Femme?”) In the liner notes I’m referring to, they made the bold statement that every time we come out, every time we hold hands or kiss in public, it is tantamount to an act of rebellion. I’ll say that again: coming out and being openly queer is an act of rebellion.
This came to mind last night, following a long day, indeed a year of revelations similar to this one. I started, after my birthday in October to challenge myself to a different sort of relationship not only with myself, but my self in the world around me; I was redefining my acts of rebellion.
I am one of those people who, since birth, stands out. I look different. That’s the only way to describe it. I just look different. Over several decades of constantly being watched in public, stared at, gawked at, and assaulted, I had built myself a very large, very dense shell. I have gone through my life trying to be as invisible as possible, to walk as fast as possible, and just get where I was going with few interruptions…and hopefully no catcalls or reminders from passersby that I am, quite obviously, a fag. After this last birthday, that habit is on the chopping block.
I have always worn the clothes that make me comfortable and show off the goods nicely. I am adding to that showing off the goods nicely habit, and not infringing on myself for wearing shirts the way I wore the one I did yesterday (which involved a buttons down, a a tying technique, and one button). Thusly prepared, said button down catches on the breeze, floats out and reveals these abs I work so hard for. In my opinion, there is a sad lack of fitness in America these days, and maybe people just need some first hand inspiration to get up, work out, and make a goddamn salad. I am comfortable this way, and if a straight man with two spare tires can walk around shirtless, wearing athletic shorts, and white tube socks jammed into sandals, then I can safely say, this is much less offensive.
Second habit on the chopping block: self judgment. There is no mirror any longer that can tell me the things mirrors have always told me. Well, let’s face it, the mirror has never told me anything, I have spoken for the mirror with my own criticism. I have looked myself over, saying things so terrible I wouldn’t say them George W. Bush. I am finding, at least once a day, something beautiful to acknowledge. I have detractors and assholes saying horrible things to me without seeking them out; I will not bring the ugliness of the outside world into my home, into my bathroom mirror, where I must confront the rest of my life already. The medicine is now a shrine, not my vanity, but my appreciation for a great many blessings I am fortunate to have received. Let the haters drag nasty names with them to the mirror in the morning. This is my revolution: as we approach Independence Day, I renew these vows made between myself and I. I acknowledge the grace to have been born of a good gene pool, and I will not wear armor down the streets any longer–it keeps my shirt from floating up in the wind.
I’ve heard it a million times, and I’ve said it more than that: if you can’t love yourself, how can anyone else? That axiom is finally starting to sink in.