February 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
I’ve been in Adelaide, South Australia for two weeks now. I have been ramping up the femininity as I get more comfortable and settled in this alien environment.
I am told every now and then that I am brave. I’m really not. There is, as I often say, a detailed risk assessment that takes place when I decide what to wear. When I stayed here last year I was in a hotel in the CBD* and so didn’t venture out of the city centre while trannied up. This time I am in the suburbs (which, incidentally, is the best word to say in a New York accent…) and as such slightly further out of my comfort zone.
The reaction here is hugely split across gender lines. The women here seem to really like it. (By which I mainly mean those involved in the Fringe. The ‘civilian’ women have largely kept quiet on the issue.) And the men range from discomfort to outright hostility. The opinions of those men not involved in the Fringe have been thrusted on me quite clearly… Last Friday was particularly hard – it was a big night in the town and there were a lot of groups of hyper-blokey men around. And frankly I got a lot of hassle.
My thinking is “it’s a fucking fringe arts festival. Of COURSE you’re gonna see unusual people,” but the vehemence of the comments and shouts and so forth makes it hard to simply disparage the perpetrators. Yes they are pricks and not worth thinking about, but at the same time there seem to be a fuck of a lot of them here…
Even among the men involved in shows the reaction has been much less open minded than I am used to. I’ve not had real aggression from anyone, but a real discomfort is hard to miss, and the level of misapprehention and stupid questions are pretty frequent.
Usually my reaction to that sort of thing would be to retreat into the closet / background / gender normative clothing, but that’s because I am usually in a different town the next day and the story can change. I’m here for another two or three weeks. I need to be me. So I will.
So I have been thinking about the reasons for the reaction. The first is a simple closed-mindedness. People in this city don’t see people like me in real life ever. For all its charms (and I really love it here) this country lacks Britain’s fondness for eccentrics and its open-mindedness.
Secondly, there is a general masculinity in Australian culture. It’s heavily sports based, and there seems to be a legacy from the colonial days of a kind of rugged practicality. As a result, a lot of the women here dress more masculine than I do! So when I cross-dress it’s not just adopting a feminine identity – it’s a particular end of the spectrum of what women here wear.
Another thing about this city is it’s really closely governed. There are rules about everything. You have to cross the road at lights, cyclists must wear helmets. Booze is more tightly controlled, bars have signs saying ‘no visible tattoos, no mohawks, no rat tails’. It is the city of churches. We clocked a woman at a cabaret show the other day fingering her rosary when a tranny act was on. (That is the most elegant double entendre ever.) Church and state have a big part in people’s lives. You do as you’re told.
There is a flip side to all this. There is a contrasting element to the culture, which is a kind of live-and-let-live “fair enough mate, do what you need to do” attitude. People here are more honest and straightforward. So they may ask awkward questions, but they won’t hide their disdain behind a veil of politeness. So at least I know where I stand.
So it’s an interesting and not always comfortable experience. I’m not gonna let it change what I wear. Fuck ’em. They’ll just have to open their minds a little bit and learn that there are more ways of living than they can ever imagine.
*hehe! Remember that from geography? They really have them here!
February 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
I am in Australia. It is too hot for make-up and I forgot my awesome grey dress and couldn’t find my black heels. So, probably mainly gonna be not cross-dressing for the next few days…
Oh fuck it. Just a bit of make-up. And a skirt. Maybe.
February 10, 2011 § 7 Comments
My parents don’t like me cross-dressing.
The annoying thing is, I kind of thought they were cool with it. They’ve seen what it is I wear, they’ve seen my show about it and we’ve had half a dozen late-night conversations in which I really thought I’d got them to understand and accept the whole reason behind what I like to wear.
Their attitude entirely explains why I was so scared to tell anyone about my desire to dress feminine for the first 19 years of my life. I was brought up with a very rigid idea of gender roles. Not that they were particularly strict – they were just born in the 40s, so they have their generation’s worldview.
Now, I’m a 31 year old man. Why should I give a shit what my parents think? Well, I should say at this point that I really like my parents. I’ve never felt the need to rebel against them in the way people expect alternative types do. I see them quite a lot, and I have made a point of getting them used to me in make-up, so that I can wear what I like when I visit them. I just regret the fact that after 12 years I haven’t managed to talk them into getting it. Which makes me feel pretty pessimistic about the chances of creating a wider acceptance. If people who love me unconditionally can’t make the effort to get it, why should I expect other people to do so?
Their un-acceptance shows itself in different ways. Sometimes little comments, sometimes an obvious disinterest in discussing the issue, sometimes saying the phrase ‘I don’t really like it, to be totally honest’. And they read the Daily Mail. So, you know, they’re basically subjecting themselves to Nazi propaganda on a daily basis.
The irony here of course is that it’s all their fault.
Whether nature or nurture, it’s either their genes or the way they brought me up that caused my brain to do this to me.
When I was very young my mum painted my nails a couple of times. I absolutely do not consider this a cause of my transvestism, but what I find interesting is that my very young age somehow made this socially acceptable. Very soon after that it became clear that it wasn’t appropriate, because I was a boy. I played almost exclusively with girls up until I was about 4, despite having 2 older brothers. I dressed in my next-door neighbour’s clothes a few times too. Again, it was play and I was very young. Soon I internalised the societal rules and learned to keep quiet about my desires.
Things are starting to change a little bit. My success in comedy is helping a lot. Essentially, being liked by people ‘despite’ being a gender-mong shows at least it’s not as big a deal as perhaps they fear. And a recent development may change everything. My mum’s friend has a son who is clearly gender dysphoric. All of a sudden my weird thing is being seen as a bit more common and also potentially useful.
After that we’ll address my veganism…
February 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
Okay, so I have decided it is time for my promo materials to have me cross-dressed in them. I’m doing TWO shoots for this year’s press stuff. One is with Steve Brown, who did my moody Occult Comedian shoot. That’ll be for my poster and flyers. Probably going for my female metalhead look in that. (Band shirt, bullet belt etc.) Then next week I’m doing a kind of OTT fashion shoot, with dresses and heels and stuff. That is going to be silly, silly fun.
Back to the normal programme next time. And then possibly some pictures…