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. 

 

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.

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.

first comes pride, then comes marriage

Several months ago, my friends in the United States changed their Facebook profile photos. Some were different, but they had the same element: a pink equal sign on a stark red background. They were challenging the US Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that at that moment barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex civil union. 

On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional. It also destroyed the Californian Prop-8. My friends in San Francisco posted photos of people marching in front of the city hall. The city hall itself were bathed in rainbow lights. Rainbow, the symbol of homosexuals. My heart wept and I did something unheard of: I deactivated my Facebook account for a while.

Then three weeks ago, Thailand began its talks of legalizing same-sex marriage. Vietnam followed suit. I also learned that apparently, Singapore had already held two gay pride marches. My heart wept again.

Everywhere I see, the world is changing. From different parts of the planet came news of victory for my people, the homosexuals. Yet from other parts, these news were tainted with whispers of abuse and persecutions and murders. Some were new, others were reminders of unsolved cases.

It seems to me, however, that Indonesia shall remain unchanged. We are the savages who refuse to abandon our warring ways and instead strive to keep our traditions isolated and intact, free from foreign influences.

As I am writing this post, my fellow countrymen who are muslims are celebrating their victory. They have won against temptation during the month of Ramadan. From my house, I can hear prayers from a nearby mosque and the ceaseless sounds of fireworks that frighten my cats.

As I am writing this post, the website of Arus Pelangi (an Indonesian group fighting for the rights of LGBT community) has apparently been hacked. It now features pictures of ketupat – a packed-rice dumpling synonymous to Eid al-Fitr celebration – and the words Happy Eid al-Fitr, please forgive my wrongdoings. The hacker even inserted a sound effect as it now features the Takbir chant.

Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, there is no other deity but Allah. Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, and all praise goes to Allah. 

My heart weeps.

It weeps the same way it did when I heard about the victory against DOMA, about Thailand and Vietnam and their visible fight for legalizing same-sex marriage, about Singapore and its gay pride marches.

It weeps because I know that no matter how people say that impossibility does not exist, it exists here in Indonesia, where homosexuals and the transgendered have been denied their rights to live free of fear.

For you see, celebrating pride, a stepping stone towards recognizing the rights of homosexuals and the transgendered, means showing our existence, showing us as a part of the country, as tax-paying citizens, and most importantly, as humans.

If you say that Indonesia has many other problems that she has to solve first, that means you are denying our existence as humans. You are writing us off as lower-class creatures, as those who are not worthy of your time and energy. As those who need to wait, wait, wait, until other issues get mended, get fixed. But more problems will rise, and you will tell us to wait yet again.

My muslim fellow countrymen are celebrating their victory. They might remember that centuries ago when they were the minority, their own people were persecuted, and now that they are victorious, now that they are powerful, they are doing the same to us.

My heart weeps as it longs for the day that I, an Indonesian homosexual, will too be victorious and recognized as a human who has the right to live and love and celebrate life and love without fear.

Screen capture from Arus Pelangi's website on the even of Eid al-Fitr (August 7, 2013)

Screen capture from Arus Pelangi’s website on the even of Eid al-Fitr (August 7, 2013)

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.

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Inspired by the Anachronism Prompt from the Daily Post.