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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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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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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Five Fast Facts About HIV

In a recent interview, Charlie Sheen disclosed his HIV+ status. I think it takes a lot of courage to do this because, despite science to the contrary, the disease is still stigmatized, both socially and legally, in ways that it shouldn’t be. However, I have to reprimand the reporter for asking questions such as, “Have you knowingly, or even unknowingly, transmitted the disease? Have you ever had unprotected sex since your diagnosis? Have you told each of your partners about your status before sexual intercourse? What risky behaviors did you pursue? And do you know how you contracted the disease?” These are invasive questions that, to me, are just as bad as asking a trans person about genitals and surgery, or maybe even worse.

So let me just say a fast few things about sex, safety, and HIV.

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Don’t Feed the Trolls

There’s a heinous demonstration on campus today that asserts abortion is genocide and compares it to events like the Holocaust and the expulsion of Native Americans from their homelands. All of this, of course, is coupled with graphic images that are neither scientifically accurate nor representative of abortion.

So naturally, there are a number of students protesting the demonstration. No matter the motivation of the protestors, they accept the right of this other organization to free speech, but object to the way it delivers its message–a manner that’s so reprehensible I refuse to even mention their name.

This same group was on campus last year, and I protested against them. This year I’m unable to protest, but at least I can lend my support in other ways.

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Dialectic

It’s the patch of fabric scratching a patch of skin that’s agonizing and incestuous but you can’t get enough.

It’s biting the side of your mouth with your back teeth, the sting of flesh splitting, the intrigue of electricity pulsing in your skin, the sweet discharge of ferrous blood onto your tongue.

It’s the first few breaths after orgasm, lungs empty, yearning, muscles locked in place and paralyzed, every inhalation aromatic and awe-some: you’re smelling oxygen for the very first time.

I’ve been in a mood lately, fostering new views, melding old ones: Creation is destruction, there is attraction in repulsion, beauty exists in the most ugly and painful things.

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