Friday, 6 March 2015

Gender and Boundaries

I've just finished reading this article in Dazed and Confused called Can science remove gender boundaries completely? It's a really interesting how gender definitions are becoming much more fluid and that perhaps in the future the humans will define and differentiate in different ways. I'm not sure if scientific advances can affect cultural stigma though, if anything there's a change it can deepen people's reservations about trans people, because the confusion or terms and elaborate medical procedures can be alienating. Obviously it's extremely unfortunate that people can have so much hate and fear for people, particularly when trans people  can grow up hating and fearing the exact same things in themselves.

Trans culture can be so alienating to people outside of it (new word: cis people, that's people whose biological gender is the gender with which they align themselves, so very basically non-trans people), but as I've gotten involved in queer events and drag nights I've seen that the community is extremely welcoming regardless of gender/sexual orientation. My experiences in this world have been extremely tentative, because I feel being a heterosexual cis human I almost have the weight of decades of homophobia on my shoulders, "straight-guilt" if you will. I grew up in an extremely conservative town, I remember a gay friend of my mum telling me a story of when he was a teenager being bottled in the street and left essentially for dead (he still has a mighty scar on the top of his head). Maybe, because in the same way all women have experienced some form of sexism ranging from the extremely minor to terrifying and major, LGBT people have had the stress of violence or ignorance, and it almost stands as a badge of honour, or a membership card, which I don't have. In a lot of ways I've been very lucky and sheltered all my life, so I wonder when I meet queens at shows, what can I bring to the table?

 I think some people from my home town still struggle with the idea of drag, purely out of ignorance, when some of them met my friend dressed as Deirdre (a very powerful alter-ego, not to be messed with), there were some very shocked faces, but as far as I know no unsavoury comments, thankfully. It's just funny because it seems so normal to me now, perhaps if I had never left Farnham I would be just as reserved and awkward when introduced to this scene. I've seen this friends entire journey into drag from earlier this year when he dressed for the first time for a party me and my flatmates held. Ironically it was a group of straight housemates that opened this door for him, and last night he had his debut performance at a pub in Hoxton. It was so impressive and I am so incredibly proud to have been a part of it, I can't imagine myself doing something like that ever. At the same time he was surrounded by supportive people and welcoming (if sassy) strangers. Also performing were some of the weirdest drag acts I've ever seen, there was a bearded crowd-surfing Courtney love, and a tribute to Fifth Element involved three condoms filled with blue liquid exploding in brutal imitation fellatio style. But two women performed on the night as well, and the attitude of the crowd and the judges remained the exact same. One woman performed with two men and I really enjoyed it, it was like a mad reinvention of The Supremes or something.

I remember meeting a queen in the toilets of a pub on my birthday, and she told me it was her first night out in drag. The vulnerability of her really struck me but she seemed so happy and looked fantastic. I think the two things that I'd take most from my observations would be bravery and community. It's strange how revealing it can be to dress so extravagantly.

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