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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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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On Being ManKind

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a Kickstarter campaign for a collection of books called Being ManKind–an intentional lapse of grammatical convention. The series tries to break free of gendered norms and stereotypes, the toxic masculinity we’ve all come to hate.

I’ve been wanting to write about why I support the project and why I think you should, too, but it’s been busy. So much of the last few weeks has gone straight into dealing with that kind of gender bias (in the classroom) that I haven’t had a second to write.

Now there’s little more than sixteen hours to go, and to be successfully funded, it needs to bring in about a thousand dollars every hour until it ends.

So, sure, there’ll be an ask at the end, but there’s (kinda) a story until we get there, too.

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Three Myths of Marriage

Today marks the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling in the U.S. v Windsor, which struck down the section of DOMA that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. I can easily recall sitting in the same chair I’m sitting in now, waiting for the decision to be announced. It was such a hopeful moment, and with the victories we’ve gained since then, equality seems closer than ever before.

However, there’s a movement within the LGBT community that’s tainting this cause for celebration and making me angry: As equal marriage advances in the country one vote and one verdict at a time, there’s a small but growing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals complaining about the heteronormativity of marriage–that is to say, they claim, the institution of marriage is a construct of straight culture.

And therefore, they go on, we should have no part in it.

But this thinking makes me mad. So very, very mad.

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The Insinuation of Expectations

In a recent interview, Debora Spar–president of Barnard College and author of the new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection–stepped forward to make the claim I’ve been saying a long time: To advance women, we need to include men.

That itself is a fantastic topic for discussion, but more so I want to point out something else President Spar said–something that blatantly stands against her ideas of inclusion.

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Why All Men Are Stupid

Women can multitask, park their cars better, and ask for direction–but the sorry male species can’t do a damn thing. It’s a beautiful world where you grow up with low expectations, isn’t it? A standard of male success is dying without going to jail. Poor women. They actually have to do something to be successful.

At least, that’s what I’ve always been told.

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Enough about Art

Did I tell you about that time I went to something called Art Outside the Box? It was one of the kick-off events here at N.C. State’s homecoming and it was a gathering of artists and non-artists who wanted to try their hands at art. It was amazing! I got to eat free food (every college kid’s dream in life), I got to turn recycled paper into a pumpkin, hold hands with clay between our palms, walk through an art museum, and turn a rod of glass into a brilliant glass bead. I got to spend the afternoon trying new things–and it was amazing.

But isn’t that enough? I mean, it’s only “art” after all. Right?

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