lambda literary reading

It was an absolute honor to be selected as one of the Fellowship recipients at this year’s Lambda Literary Foundations Writers Retreat. Here’s a piece about why we need gay clubs in Indonesia. 

 

Advertisements

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: why feminine gay men are awesome and why slut-shaming should stop

Oh haaaayyy.

Can you believe this? Two posts, two long posts, in one day. One day! Must be the New Year spirit. Let’s see how long this lasts. I posted thirty two entries in August 2013 (I think they are mostly haikus). August only has thirty one days, so that must mean I wrote two entries on one day.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about why feminine gay men are awesome (hence the title: the girlie show: why feminine gay men are awesome; I’ll get to the next point, which is slut shaming, right after this one, in fact, the two points are going to organically merge. You’ll find out later).

There are some douchebags out there who flat out refuse to meet gays that are “fat (or) Asian (or) feminine.” Well, I might as well be three of them now that I’m eating like crazy and can no longer wear size 4 girl clothes (I’m a six now. WHICH IS THE NEW FOURTEEN).

To be honest, those douchebags are sometimes really hot. I mean, my type hot. But then again, I’ve a very diverse taste in men. So, I whine like a little bitch, saying, “Whyyy? I’ll suck your cock good. I’m a good cock sucker. Reference available upon request.” And then move on to the next victim.

When I was sixteen, my gay friend (who was around my age at that time) said, “You know why you don’t have a boyfriend? Because you’re such a girl. I bet that if you act more masculine, you’ll have a boyfriend in no time.” We stopped being friends after that.

Then fourteen fucking years later (Oh fuck, I just sorta gave away my age), a guy sent me a message on Adam4Adam. Here’s a little disclaimer: I did write “Why is it so hard to find a nice top? Is it because normally tops are mostly doucheys and or intellectually challenged?”

To which he replied:

“Of course it’s hard for you to find a top. You’re girlish. You’re a dude. Stop acting like a girl.”

Before I could reply, he’d blocked my profile. Coward.

This may not be apparent in more developed countries like the US or Europe (excluding Turkey), but in Indonesia, feminine guys are easy to spot. We can’t hide. I mean, sure, there are some really oblivious relatives who asked me when I’d get married (to which I’d usually reply, “I don’t think it’s legal yet.” It’s a hit or miss joke). In Indonesia, “straight-acting” gay guys can lead a life of lies. Heck, even a guy who makes me look like Stallone (Sylvester, not Jackie) compared to him, can get married to a poor girl somewhere in the village and settle. Perhaps not happily, but without fear of getting discovered.

My point is, feminine gays are the ones who get bullied more often. Every beating we get, every spit, every nasty word makes us stronger. This is why I’m getting so angry every time someone equates the word “sissy” to “coward”.

I know perhaps Nicole Kidman’s Stepford Wives got Razzie nominations or something (it’s rated 27% on RottenTomatoes.com), but I love that movie. At one point, the men try to change Richard, sweet, sweet, bitchy, loud, effeminate, Richard to a manlier man. This change is supported by Richard’s partner, Jerry. Apparently, no one wants gay men to be stereotypically bitchy, loud, and effeminate. 

Well guess what, that’s because the bitchy, loud, and effeminate gay men are the ones who stand out. We’re the visible ones. While the “straight-looking” ones can hide, the feminine ones most of the times can’t.

While we’re on the subject of stereotyping, I guess now the gay stereotype is butch, straight-acting, and gym buff without the slightest lisp. I don’t think anyone is complaining, because that’s how men are supposed to behave.

Well, I ain’t gonna behave like that. I ain’t gonna hide.

I know why many men can’t stand us. I know many men can’t stand my high-pitched, trebly voice, my girlish demeanor, my bitchiness. This is why I’m doing all of those. This is why I’m walking around with my eyeliner and my limp wrists and my tight ass jeans and my knee-high girl boots and old-woman jewelry, shaking my hips to Vogue and Suddenly I See and lipsynching to Natural Woman at the bus stop.

So for 2014, if you haven’t already, try to do something that’s stereotypically not for your gender (I’m not saying sex, which is more of a biological term while gender is a state of mind). Call a guy a skank instead of a douchebag. Other terms you can use for guys include whore, bitch, slut. See how he likes it. Ladies, take a hint from Mean Girls and stop the slut shaming.

I know this is a stretch, and perhaps you guys can make out the connection between effeminate gay men and drag queens, but this is worth knowing. The Stonewall Riot, the very riot that helped propelled the campaign that made USA this gay friendly (although still two steps behind Canada and the Netherlands) involved drag queens. Also read this, this, and this. If you’re looking for a more “balanced” diet, you may want to read this

(Guys, seriously, I thought I didn’t have to tell you that I was being sarcastic about this whole balanced thing. Seriously, I’m not claiming I was there during the riot, but I’m sure drag queens were involved. Everyone knows how fierce drag queens are. I mean, really. A girly gay man like me not being supportive of drag queens? And really, I linked FOUR articles that support drag queens’ presence at Stonewall Riot and ONLY ONE that doesn’t. Doesn’t that mean anything? So before anyone gets all worked up, once again, the “balanced diet” thing is sarcasm).

And finally. Here. Here’s to 2014. Again.

Yeah, I totally made this one. Ferrealz.

Yeah, I totally made this one. Ferrealz.

ADDENDUM: My hit counter has gone bonkers over this post. I think it’s all over Facebook (well, “all over” is an overstatement), and yet only TWO comments (one of which is my reply)? I can’t see your “Like” (if you “Like” it) or your comment on your friend’s Facebook link, so by all means, please type your comment here. You can use your Facebook account to log in to WordPress and give comments on this blog post. I promise I won’t stalk you.

opium

I was busy ranting mumbling talking doing a monologue about religion to one of my friends when I discovered that:

All religions that were created to give hope and beautiful empty promises to those who are poor (therefore powerless and helpless and downtrodden) are most likely to be successful. Why? Because the majority of people are poor (therefore powerless and helpless and downtrodden) and need some sort of hope that everything’s going to be okay and that the minority (oppressors (rich people)) will get what they deserve in the afterlife.

Then these people rise against the kings and rulers and powerful figures because God wants them (Jews vs. Egyptians, Jews vs. the Canaanites, Jews vs. pretty much everyone, early Christians against Romans, early Christians against Jews, Muhammadean Islam vs. Jews, Muhammadean Islam vs. Arab Pagans) and overthrow the thrones.

And then, these people elect someone (a war general, a prophet, a representation of God), who, backed by God (“God hath spoken through me,” or something like that) strategically destroys other religions by vandalizing idols, appropriating temples, killing and or proselytizing “unbelievers” or generally making their lives miserable (like early Islam and the tax for being non-Islam or non-convert or non-Arab), thus asserting power and restarting the whole cycle of the powerful and the oppressed, without knowing it.

What can I say. Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.

So I thought I had this crazy (whee!) brilliant epiphany, then my friend said, “Exactly! That’s what Marx said!”

And then I thought, “Fuck! Bitch stole my idea!”

Mmmhmm, daddy. Or gramps?

Mmmhmm, daddy. Or gramps?

Tangential thought #1: It came to me that I learned about Marxism and his idea that religion is the opiate of the masses when I was senior high. My memory about it is somewhat vague, possibly due to the fact that my sociology teacher that time was a really, really hot daddy-type whose chest hair used to peek out of his shirt and whose bulges were all in the right places (I vividly remember those dark indigo pants. Sigh). Every time he talked about the goddamn revolution, I just wanted him to do all sorts of nasty stuff to me.

Tangential thought #2: Damn, I couldn’t remember his full name nor find his picture on Facebook!

Not-so-Tangential thought: Obviously this theory doesn’t work with gays and transgendered, because we’re the minority. Which makes me question this: The ratio of female to male in this world isn’t really that steep (100 women to 101 men) , so why the huge discrimination against women everywhere?

Somewhat-related thought: This. Gotta love the new pope.

so-and-so enters dressed as a girl

Here, come closer. Let me tell you a story.

Have you heard of drag queens? Yes. Of course you have. They’ve been with us for a long time now. You can find them in ancient lores and tales, reliefs and real life. The Romans, the Arabs, the Greeks, the Hindis, all great and not-so-great nations have men who dress as women and sing and dance and recite poems and jokes and make people laugh and cry and laugh again. Do you you know what “drag” stands for”? See this post’s title. So thank you, Shakespeare, whoever you are, for coining the word “drag”.

Now then, have you heard of Islam? Oh, absolutely. Well, I am not here to criticize Islam or muslims. Who am I to do so? It is true that I’ve spent all my life being persecuted by it and other religions, but I digress. What I’m trying to say is that Islam does not like men dressing up as women, and vice versa. What I’m trying to say is that Islam does not like women. Period. Especially her period. Period.

What if I told you that Indonesia had the biggest muslim population in the world? Oh, but it’s true.

Now what if I told you that there are drag queens in Indonesia? Not just in Bali, where Islam’s mighty claws cannot rip and tear them to pieces, but in places like Yogyakarta, where its Sultan called International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Intersex Association (ILGA) unethical and denied its right to hold a conference. Yes. In Indonesia, where even ILGA’s website is blocked, like a porn site, a smut site, an illegal site. Yes. In Indonesia, where protection of sexual-orientation is not recognized and homosexuality and cross-dressing are still considered deviations. Illnesses.

Yet nothing can stop these showgirls from shaving their face, from tucking between their legs. With their paddings and their stockings and their leggings and their heels and their rouge and powder and fake eyelashes and cream and bronzer and gilded microphones.

Nothing can stop these showgirls from receiving adoration from women, men, those who are both, and those who do not want to be either.

Nothing can stop these showgirls from being what they are, for being ahead of their time, for being brave, for being both frank and Francine. For defying death in a country whose main religion still condones stoning and cutting off hands and legs.

Nothing can stop these showgirls from coming, basking in the spotlight, and leaving a trail of glitter.

And that’s all they really ever want. Now go spread the word.

The drag queens of Oyot Godhong Cabaret Show at Mirota Batik / House of Raminten, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photos by yours truly.

The drag queens of Oyot Godhong Cabaret Show at Mirota Batik / House of Raminten, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photos by yours truly.

Indonesia, a country overrun by Islamic idiots.

Indonesia, a country overrun by Islamic idiots. Happy Ramadan and Eid.

***

Inspired by the Anachronism Prompt from the Daily Post.