Fringe Benefits

This is the final post in my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

A joke: What do you do with knotted hose? You let the kinks out.

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Man in the Iron Masc

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

When I was six or seven, my aunt gave me a copy of The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas. It’s part of his D’Artagnan saga, most notably begun as the Three Musketeers. It’s a novel of historical adventure, with a political twist–not quite satire, but enough criticism it probably played a role in catalyzing the French Revolution.

The version I was given, however, was adapted for children. I never read it.

The book sat on my bookshelves for ages, and I probably still have it somewhere, stored away in a box in a closet probably, but because it was a gift, something given to me, I always felt obligated to read it. The intrigue was always present, if my interest in reading it was not: Who was this man? And why did he wear a mask made of iron?

The historical figure we may never know, but the fiction is a story all its own.

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Breaking the Binary

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

“Male or female?” The form is generic–it could be anything–but the question is as particular as it could get. Just two options. No room for black or white or grey. Just male or female. Or. The “either” is implied; the “both” is inconceivable.

For me, it doesn’t matter. I check the first box (because, after all, the male box always goes first) and carry on with my day without giving it a second thought. That’s because the sex I was assigned at birth is the sex I identify with. It’s a privilege often taken for granted, that when the doctor overseeing my birth wrote “male” on my birth certificate, it ended up describing me pretty well. Just like how the magazine printed on cheap newspaper in the checkout aisle looked at my birth date, said I’m a Gemini, and then stuck me in a box forever. Thankfully, that descriptor ended up pretty on point, too.

But all that means is I’m just one of the lucky ones.

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TERF Wars

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

It’s a logical dilemma, I told my friend Cole. We’ve been friends for over a decade–we met in an online writers forum and though we’ve never met in person, I consider Cole one of my closest friends. When you share your writing with someone, an intimacy develops that rivals romance, and Cole has not only shared but inspired my stories.

Cole is also trans, and while I was investigating transgender issues more deeply and hitting mental blocks of my own to better understand trans experiences, Cole was kind enough to let me lean into the discomfort and talk about the hard things.

Cole has also given me permission to share some of the words we exchanged, for which I’m especially grateful: Not only did their words help me understand things more deeply, they also said them far more eloquently than I ever could.

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Battle Lines

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

It’s raining today. The sky was overcast all morning as I nurtured a throbbing hangover. Last night was my first gay wedding. Well, it wasn’t my wedding, but of all the weddings I’ve been to, this was the first same-sex affair. It was a delight. The grooms hosted an amazing party, with delicious cupcakes and a well-stocked bar at a local staple of the “gay district” in Milwaukee, and two local drag queens performed. It was beautiful.

It was, in a word, progress.

There’s a reason why this was my first gay wedding: Up until a few years ago, same-sex marriage was still illegal in most of the country. But through advocacy and activism, through raising our shared voices and not just waiting for legislators to give equality, but facing the courts and demanding it, this battle was won.

But this battle, big as it was, is just a single front in a much larger, ongoing war.

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Queer Capitalism

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

The streets shine with rainbows. Pride flags wave in the wind, snapping back and forth in a sudden gale. LED screens flash in scrolling letters, “HAPPY PRIDE MONTH! <3 <3”

And yet, standing at the street corner, turning around to take in all the colors, I’m not smitten by feelings of inclusion, but concerned that I’m being commercialized.

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Screwed at a Festival

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

I wrote about sex, but I didn’t write about what I wanted to write about: I got distracted by a different conversation–still a conversation that needed to be had, but not the conversation I had intended. The topic evolved naturally, and I knew despite its conclusion, I wasn’t finished yet. Once wasn’t enough. We’d need a second encounter.

Maybe you noticed it, too? I (hopefully) hooked readers by quoting people who think Pride parades and whatnot have become too sexual–but then I didn’t speak about Pride any further. And since last weekend was Pridefest in Milwaukee (and it was a busy weekend), I feel more compelled than ever to talk about it.

Because, well, let’s say I got screwed at the festival. Just not like you think.

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Sex Sex Sex Yeah

This post is part of my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

“Pride is too sexual,” I hear them whispering. “I’d never take my kids to that.”

Or maybe the age-old classic: “Not in front of the children!”

So queerness–at least being gay or bi or lesbian–is reduced to being purely about love, and sex is a side subject that everyone skirts around because, well, children. But let’s all remember one critical fact: those children? Made by sex.

So let’s talk about sex.

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A Rose by Any Other Name

This post kicks off my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

We all know Shakespeare. We all know Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps not the first illicit love, but surely the most notorious. MacBeth gave us witches, and Hamlet gave us unanswerable questions, “To be or not to be?” and Romeo and Juliet gave us words.

Words, however, should not be underestimated.

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Legends and Legacy

For nearly 18 years, Tolkien has been my literary idol. His words are lyrical and intellectual and as poetic as prose can be with neither rhyme nor meter. His stories are epic and astounding, digging deep into the nature of temptation and good and evil and capturing the heart and hardships of medieval adventure, swords and sorcery. His trilogy has become the standard by which all fantasy trilogies are judged, and it’s to his level of exquisite storytelling that I have long since aspired to achieve.

And I’ve realized now that while his tales may stand the test of time, and may be the most classic of all fantasy stories, not all within his tomes should live so long.

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