another reading

This time of a short story that deals with jealousy, insecurity, and a big, fat, white zit while visiting – what else – West Hollywood. This is a modified version of this post.

Graduate Reading Series at St. Mary’s College of California. Introduction by Michael Caligaris (Creative Nonfiction Writing MFA candidate of 2014).

Ex-bashing included.

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dealing with microaggression

When I was a kid, I love, love, love comic books. Being feminine and gay, I worshipped Wonder Woman and Catwoman and Poison Ivy and Shadow Cat and Supergirl and BlackCat and Sorceress and the likes. As I grew older, the feminist in me learned that comic books are sexist. Now, I can’t even watch Justice League without being appalled. Also, I’m going to shout out a big fuck you to Jim Balent for destroying Catwoman by overly sexualizing her. May a homosexual bite your cock off.

The same thing goes for Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. I used to like it, but then I realized that the Rromani people in the movie are depicted as thieves and con artists. I can’t say that all Rromanis are saintly, but surely not all of them are bad.

Nowadays, there are people, like the owner of this Tumblr, who take time singling out people who use the term “gypsy” on Tumblr to reblog their “gypsy”-tagged post and set the record straight (that “gypsy” is actually a derogatory term, much like “fag” and “retard” and “nigger” and that “gypsies” don’t wear long skirts or live freely in moving houses, that “gypsies” are actually still largely thought of as thieves and therefore persecuted). I don’t know how I feel about this Tumblr blog. I mean, I’m pretty sure the owner is doing a service to Rromani people, yet I feel like her approach is sometimes very subjective. For example, the Tumblr blog started out as a site that called out what is and isn’t belly dance (hence the name), and the owner apparently thinks this is belly dance. So in my eyes, the blog has lost credibility.

Yet, like a freak accident or a horror movie, I still check it from time to time, if only just to see how stupid people can get. One thing led to another, and I found this Tumblr. Hoo, boy. Talk about microaggression.

First of all, using Tumblr to do long blog posts bug the glitter out of me. I mean, really. Tumblr is meant as a microblogging platform, to reblog quotes, reblog pictures. This blogging and reblogging and adding stuff on the reblogging and how the entries become truncated or look like a long chain of Re: Re: RE: re: RE: Re e-mails, they’re just not easy on my eyes (and brain).

I don’t really care when you call people out to show them they’re using derogatory terms, hopefully out of ignorance, and not because their purpose is to troll. It’s a good thing. Even if you think you’re God’s (or whoever deity’s) gift to enlighten people. Until you’re tired and think that no one listens. Good for you. Heck, if it were up to me, I’d punch the daylight out of people who use the term “fag” or “retard”.

I don’t even care when you show that everyone is against you. Because, hey, no good deed goes unpunished, right?

But I take offence when you start bullying people. Correct me if I’m wrong here, and I’m chalking the (probable) mistake to my dislike for Tumblr’s reblog/reply lay-out, but here’s the gist (the original blog post was deleted):

A Tumblr blogger wrote that (the eras) 40’s and 50’s were so cute and then another blogger replied, “Not for black people”. And well, you can read what MyJourneyMyThoughts’ reply is (it’s the one in white).

I wanted to scream. There’s a great line from Devil Wears Prada (the movie) when Andrea is freaking out and Emily says, “You know, I rarely say this to people who… aren’t me, but you have got to calm down. Bloody hell.”

Bloody hell indeed. Okay I need to calm down.

Okay, I’m calm (and very turned on). Thank you, Stanley Tucci.

Now, there’s microaggression and then there’s totally missing the point (which is a logical fallacy).

I wear Indian jewelry. I wear Pakistani jewelry. I’m from Indonesia and I wear Indonesian jewelry and the famous Indonesian Batik. I love the Egyptian assuit. All of these countries are famous for the persecution of homosexuals, extreme and fanatic muslims, and the raping of women. I’m gay and a feminist. Do I go around trolling every goddamn Indian/Pakistani/Indonesian/Egyptian jewelry/fabric website and remind them about the atrocity the people of said countries have done to women and gays? Nope.

Do I go trolling around comic book forums bashing Stan Lee and calling him sexist for creating Stripperella?

Do I feel compelled to do those things? Sometimes. But I sure as hell wouldn’t because I’d be missing the point and doing (puny) cyberbullying.

Like another poster said, I doubt that the original Tumblr post was meant to describe the time when black people were still being persecuted and murdered in the US. I mean, the 1920s was such a good era for fashion, but the Nazi was also going around killing people. 

There’s also a post on said Tumblr of Kurt Cobain’s photo with a kitten on his thigh. The caption says: “Kurt Cobain + cats = perfection”. I love cats and probably end up living (or dying) in a house full of cats, but I’m restraining myself from commenting on that post that Kurt Cobain was a heroin addict and committed suicide (so he’s not exactly your definition of “perfection”, although when cats are involved…).

As a belly dancer, specifically a Tribal belly dancer, I know I’m doing what some call cultural appropriation. This term “cultural appropriator” is somewhat derogatory to people. Well, at least to me. I equate it with ignorance, with not knowing any better, and not wanting to learn. In the belly dance world, there is another word that’s also derogatory and yet still being thrown around. That word is “gypsy”. There are many dance troupes out there, whom I sincerely respect, that use the word as part of their troupe name.

Let me be honest. I never cared about the word “gypsy”. I never associated it with free spirit, not even with belly dance. Sure, there’s the “Gypsy Skirt“, and I help perpetuate the stereotype that the Rromanis (that’s the official, non-derogatory term for people widely described as gypsies) women wear that kind of skirt. You know, the flowy, circlular, multi-layered, 10 to 25 yard skirts.

Since we’re defending the Rromanis, people should know that Rroma culture is homophobic. Although, again, probably there are some Rromanis who are more tolerant, but still. Oh, and the Tumblr blogger is a self-professed queer woman.

My point is, if you scrutinize and find a fault in every single little thing (thus being microaggressive), then you won’t find beauty, and your life will just be horrible.

genderfuck: go ahead, call him a whore

My last post about Genderfuck received so many hits (measly by Huffington Post’s standard, but encouragingly many by mine). It took me a while to find out who shared the link and why I kept getting visitors from Facebook. I wanted to know what the comments were because I was kind of bummed to notice that one commenter (as correct as she was) got hung up on my unclear sense of sarcasm. Anyway, I did some research and found out that my entry got plugged on TransAdvocate’s Facebook page. Yay!

However, I discovered two things about myself. The first one is something really new and shocking, the second one… eh, I’ve always been suspicious of it.

First, as delusional as I am, apparently I’m not ready to be a celebrity. I’m not ready to be in the spotlight, because I want to make sure everyone’s happy with what I do/write/say. I was so intent on finding out who shared my entry on Facebook and the moment I found it, I regretted reading the comments. Sure, I got many Likes, but still. Now I think I know how Miley Cyrus some celebrities feel when they just want to say, “Fuck it, I don’t need to make anyone happy.” Problem is, I’m not there yet. I’m not that powerful yet. But then again, nobody can make everyone happy, not Jesus, definitely not Muhammad, not even Gandhi (ask some of the Brits), heck, not even Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter.

Second, I can be really unclear when I’m trying to communicate. Public speaking is not my forte (I managed to fake my way through three and a half years of being a PR executive), but I’ve spent two years and going on three learning to write (and edit and revise). This is a blog, yes, but I still would like it to reflect my writing skills. (I guess it sort of does, meaning I’m a crappy writer.)

What I mean is, based on the comments on TransAdvocate’s Facebook page, I realized that some people misinterpreted I was being unclear about my intention of calling men whores, skanks, bitches, sluts. One person says it’s misogynistic.

Well, guess what? It’s misogynistic only if you think it is.

If you call a girl jerk or douchebag, will it have the same feel as bitch or skank or slut? Hell, no. Why? Because “jerk” and “douchebag” are supposedly bad words to describe men. So you “elevate” women to “men” status (by calling them a word for men) and then drop them a notch because the man-word is a bad man-word. 

When you call a man bitch or slut, you “downgrade” that man to “woman” status (by calling him a word associated with women) and then drop him even further down a notch because the woman-word is a bad woman-word.

The question is, why does a word have to be aimed at women only? Or at men only?

By calling a man bitch or skank or whore or slut or calling a woman jerk or douchebag, you aren’t practicing misogyny or misandry, you’re trying to gender-neutralize the word.

And yes, by all means, if you want to go around saying/typing “That’s so gay” to all great, funny, witty videos/photos/articles, go ahead. But “retarded” is where I draw the line. See, with “gay”, it’s the same case as a man-word or a woman-word. The negative connotation of the word “gay” is that it’s something disgusting or stupid and that can easily be countermeasured (Anderson Cooper is definitely not stupid, Zachary Quinto is definitely not disgusting, Ellen Degeneres is perhaps one of the smartest, wittiest people on Earth, so are the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race such as Pandora Boxx and Alaska Thunderfuck, and these people can fight back).

However, with “retarded”, the so-called “retards” can’t fight back. They can’t reclaim the word. It’s an unfair fight for them. I know I’m treading shark-infested water here, but it is what it is. Black people call each other “nigger”. I tell my friends, “You’re such a fag,” and use it as a term of endearment. Yet when a non-black person uses the N-word to call a black person, it becomes offensive.

My point is, don’t use “nigger” unless you’re a black man talking to another black man who’s your friend (or someone of another race that’s been accepted into the crowd, you know, like Eminem, or Jake Sully); don’t use “gay” unless you’re gay or a fag hag and talking to a gay man who’s also your friend; and don’t use “retarded” unless you’re intellectually disabled and talking to another intellectually disabled person.

Eminem being slutty. And you think Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears are “bad influence for younger generation”? Uh, their songs don’t bash gay people.

I’m going to end this entry with this really awesome line from Ian McEwan’s Cement Garden.

This line is used by an entertainer I used to like in a song whose video shows awesome Genderfucking.

can you suck my big black dick?

I found this scrap of paper as I was rummaging through the front pocket of my gym bag.

There was no phone number, no e-mail. I can’t remember sitting or standing at BART station or train or MUNI station or train or bus next to a black man who looked like he had a big black dick.

I keep thinking: it was such a missed opportunity. I never tried a big black dick. Anyone willing?

can you suck my big black dick

zenne dancer: but is it really belly dance?

I am somehow adverse to gay movies. I don’t watch Queer as Folk, I don’t watch Dante’s Cove (haha, softcore porn, anyone?), I don’t watch Milk, I don’t watch Happy Together, heck, I don’t even watch Brokeback Mountain nor Naked Boys Singing nor Cloud Atlas (although technically it’s not a gay movie) and Boys Don’t Cry bored me to tears. I also don’t watch Glee or Sex in the City and I think Will & Grace is not funny. That being said, I love The Hours and Kinky Boots. And To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. And Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And RuPaul’s Starrbooty. 

Zenne DancerWhat can I say, I’ve always loved showbiz. And speaking of which, as a small-time belly dancer, this particular Turkish / German movie intrigued me, and ever since news of it came out last year (or in 2011?) I’d been searching for it. A few days ago I finally found it and well, here’s the review.

Zenne is based on a true story of honor killing of one Ahmet Yildiz on a summer night of 2008. The suspect is his own father who cannot accept his son’s homosexuality, and Yildiz’s father is still at large.

Aside from bad acting from Giovanni Arvaneh (who played Daniel Bert the German photographer), everyone else is stellar in this movie. And I love Demir Demirkan’s version of Erik Satie’s Gnossienne no. 1.

I’ve never been to Turkey. A few years ago, when Mom and I planned on going there, two bombs went off in Istanbul. So we visited Italy and Greece instead. Then the uprising happened (and is still happening), so good for them for being fed up with the government but I really, really want to go, so bad for me because the situation is probably unpredictable as of right now.

My point is, I don’t know what Turkey is like, but Zenne is set in Istanbul and many parts are presented in the movie. There are some chic parts of the city and there are some poorer parts. This diversity is also evident in the way different families view homosexuality. The family of Can (the dancer, played by Kerem Can) loves him to death, even the guy who’s having a relationship with Can’s aunt. Well, Can’s brother (played by the oh so sexy Tolga Tekin) is a bully, but that’s probably because he’s burnt out from the war. We’ll discuss this later. Meanwhile, Ahmet’s (played brilliantly by Erkan Avci) parents are portrayed as being unable to accept their gay son while Ahmet’s sister (also played brilliantly by Esme Madra) loves Ahmet.

L-R: Can (the dancer), Ahmet, and Daniel (the photographer).

L-R: Can (the dancer), Ahmet, and Daniel (the photographer).

Can’s father died in the war, and well, his brother has post-war stress. Can’s mother and aunt don’t want him to go to war so he has to stay indoors during day time to avoid ID checks.

Daniel the photographer meets Can at a gay club where Can dances. Daniel wants to photograph Can in costume. Ahmet is present when Daniel meets Can for the second time and then for the third time, and well, love blooms. Daniel, being German (developed country that recognizes homosexual rights) fear for Ahmet’s life and wants to take Ahmet with him to Bavaria. However, both Can and Ahmet have to go to the military post first to claim their homosexuality so they don’t have to be enlisted.

Can and Ahmet, so chic!

Can and Ahmet, so chic!

So how exactly does one claim one’s homosexuality and escape conscription? Easy! Just bring evidence (photos) of being fucked by another guy. Ahmet and Daniel go off to get busy while Can finds someone else. Can waxes Ahmet’s hairy back and dresses him up and puts makeup on him as they go to the military post and tells Ahmet to tell the examiners that he’s also a zenne (dancer). Their plan works, Can and Ahmet don’t have to enlist. 

However, Ahmet left his sex photos in his car, and the private detective paid by Ahmet’s father to stalk him discovers the photos and gives them to Ahmet’s father as proof of Ahmet’s homosexuality. Ahmet says goodbye to Can, then goes to Daniel to leave for Bavaria. Ahmet never arrives. He’s shot to death on the pavement.

Isn’t it scarily amazing how one can escape from one type of death and yet the thing that enables such escape leads one to another type of death?

The thing that really gets me is how Daniel (again, he’s from Germany, a developed nation) forces Ahmet to just tell his parents that he’s gay, repeatedly asking what can possibly go wrong, they are his parents and they love him and will accept him. Oh, Lord. Talk about ignorance. This is why I think people from countries with advanced laws concerning human rights live in glass bubble. I envy them, while at the same time I’m sorry for their ignorance.

Daniel with Ahmet.

Daniel with Ahmet.

At one time, after he’s done photography children in a poor district, Daniel says to Ahmet, “You should’ve seen those children. They’re smiling and laughing. There’s hope in their eyes.”

To which Ahmet replies, “No, they’re smiling and laughing because you give them chocolate.”

That’s right. You don’t know how it is to be stuck in a third-world country where gays are prosecuted and women have minimal rights. You come here for your project, to win prizes and money and then you go home and the people you’ve met become nothing but distant memories and you pray for them for a short while (if you still pray), and then you go on with your life.

At least Daniel wants to bring Ahmet back to Bavaria and give him a better life.

I don't think belly dancers wear this kind of costume. Well, probably some dancers at Tribal Fest do.

I don’t think belly dancers wear this kind of costume. Well, probably some dancers at Total Fuckery Tribal Fest do.

Finally, one thing that bothers me is that this story hinges on the appeal of male belly dancer. I don’t know. I’ve been a belly dance student since 2008 and I don’t think Can does belly dance. When Daniel meets Can for the first time, he says he’s interested in male belly dancer and that he wants to photograph Can in costume. So I assume that’s what people think belly dancing is?

I know, I know, who am I to say what belly dancing is or isn’t? Well, I have a belly dance blog, and I usually review belly dance movies there and there’s a reason I’m not posting my review of Zenne Dancer on my belly dance blog.

Oh and by the way, as usual: here’s a sexy image.

Cihan (Tolga Tekin) showing Ahmet what they do in the military. Mmmhmm. Sign me up!

Cihan (Tolga Tekin) showing Ahmet what they do in the military. Mmmhmm. Sign me up for the next war!