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Friday, May 24, 2013

Erasing the T out of LGBT

Erasing the T out of LGBT

This topic is going to be a sticky one so, cats and kittens buckle up.

With June sneaking up on us, I am pretty much aware that Pride coming up fast. Already the Stonewall Union has ads, banners are hung up in Columbus’ Short North, and people are buying their tickets and marching. It’s this time of the year I earn my ‘queer’ points, and march with TransOhio and volunteer at their booth. It’s also when I pal around with my trans* friends and catch up with them talking about all sorts of shit and it is the only group of people at Pride I can feel myself around.

I am usually thrown aside by everyone else at Pride.

The thing is, Pride these days isn’t for queers but for hetros that walk into Goodale Park, like the way we go to the zoo. Many of them are ‘allies’ in the loosest sense, but most of them just go to Pride to ‘have fun’. I personally hate it but my opinions are mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. My biggest problem is the goddamn intersectionality that gets eaten up like first graders on chocolate cake. First off, being trans* doesn’t make you queer. You can be straight and trans*, you can have hetro privilege and trans I am aware of this. On the other hand that only happens when you start passing as a hetro couple. For me it is the other way around. I have straight privilege now, but when I turn fuzzy and fat I am well prepared for the volley of “faggot” I am going to get if I cuddle the SO in public. The SO, probably isn’t ready as he think he is for it. Which brings me up to another point, you can be gay, lesbian, asexual, wtfsexual and trans* and yet no one actually fucking realizes this. If I out myself as trans they are going assume my girlfriend is around here somewhere and they will invalidate my gayness if out myself as gay first same quandary only my gender is removed. Rinse and repeat. This happens a lot because people forget that trans* is a gender status and one that fits with every flavor of ‘rainbow’. So that is one way I am ‘erased’. 

It gets weirder as I feel uncomfortable in gay bars, gay men will immediately assume that I am a woman ergo this isn’t my ‘place’. In womyn’s and trans* groups, I find often that my silicon junk is being ripped off and throw into the trash. I am assumed to be the ‘right’ kind of man because I don’t benefit from the patriarchy right now and my passing status is iffy. But what about my brothers that are passing well? Gods know that if my friend B walked into this group he would be turned away because he would be assumed to be cis. Which is incredibly problematic and honestly gross, but not surprising. I would be treated with the same sort of exclusion if I started passing well. Trans women get a similar treatment, only it’s inverted. More interesting enough , every time the issue of birth control gets throw up in an argument, I am the only one that reminds the cis ladies that trans*men need BC access too. Because hey, much to everyone shock, trans*men can get pregnant. T doesn’t always shut down the hen-house. 

Let me bring something else up, Gay marriage. Is a trans* issue. Too all the baby queers out there with your rainbow rubber bracelets and legalize gay shirts. You can thank a trans woman for that. The whole gay rights thing you know, Stonewall was started by drag queens and trans women. The whole ‘gay marriage’ was trans issue long before it became a queer issue. Yet, we’re being written out of our own history. Gay rights has been getting paler, and more cis-flavored every year and it’s a damn shame. I see more people wearing ‘equal sign’ merchandise without realize that HRC does to poor, black or trans* people. 

Yet I still march at Pride. Mostly for the rights I probably never get because the gay lobbyists are still trying to shove the T out of the acronym. I will still get more transphobia from gay men and lesbian women than I do from cis people as I go clubbing or drinking or hanging out with my gay or trans* friends. I will feel erased from history every step I take at Goodale. But I march so my trans* friends have support of another brother, so they can kiss their lover proudly and unbashly, I pass out flyers so trans* people have another resource. I go to Pride to not wave my rainbow flag, but to wave my pink, blue and white flag. Let’s just remember here, we don’t have a ‘trans* pride’ day. We have day in the year called “Trans* day of Remembrance” it’s not happy day. Its sobering reminder of the countless of lives that died because they dared to be themselves, that week in November is the day we educate the public and try to turn back the tide of trans* people that are dying every day. Going to Pride to me is knowing that despite the storm around me, there is a rainbow at the end.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It’s been a while since I did a ‘Tikaani’ post. So why the hell not.
I have been doing some re-examining on Tikaani’s sexuality and gender identity and it’s been pretty interesting and over frustrating. I am one of those kooky folks that see my muses having some sort of free will and usually have habit of telling me things that they want to tell me rather than me wanting to know. So I usually get a lot of interesting tibits useless info…like Tikaani not liking the color orange. 

He and Mai should hang out.

But his sexuality was a giant unknown and mostly I just throw darts at it until something sticks. For a while I thought he was rather ‘meh’ sexual. Like sex was ok to him but it wasn’t important or something he sought. But Tikaani has always been a sensory seeker. I mean when he was younger he wasn’t fond of touch until he was bit older. So now he enjoys cuddling, touching, and kissing. Those things, but actual intercourse didn’t matter. Until I started exploring a long-term relationship he has within the current canon of him being a shaman of the Northern Watertribe and him being in relationship with a deaf shaman and him learning a form of pidgin sign. It occurred he was pretty fucking kinky and totally ok with sex as a general note and that ‘sex’ to him wasn’t the same as it is to others. 


The more I prodded and pushed on him growing up and falling in love and dealing with people and relationships it became pretty clear that Tikaani was bisexual and homo-romantic. It seems he prefers courting men only because feels rather awkward around women. Tikaani is terrified at the thought of fathering anything. So eventually he sticks with courting men, only to avoid knocking someone up. He is pretty anxious around children. However he adored his second-cousin Uluu, despite being rather reactive around him as an infant and generally he gives most babies a wide berth. His partner on the other hand at one point desired children but relented to simply raising Uluu and staying at Tikaani’s side. 

Tikaani’s gender was also something of a mystery. Granted, he doesn’t care what pronouns you use, and he will probably use ‘boy’ in most circumstances but something jumped out of me as I continued to re-explore him. He was probably nongendered. Or rather apathetic to his gender, it was something that didn’t occur to me after working on him from sometime that his gender wasn’t important to him and that he will take on any role in the lodge. It’s something that I am still working on, but it’s pretty clear that he is not cis at all. 

Exploring a developed character can be enlightening and rewarding it’s also parallels real life, not everything you know about a person stays the same, everything can be dynamic and changing and it’s important to recognize that. It something to consider when you found our your friend is gay and your read him a straight (or hetronormative) when your friend is trans* and you read him as cis, or autistic and you read him as allistic. As someone that spent years writing Tikaani and discovering this strange muse of mind, I find it enjoyable to learn new things that I once thought it was obvious and right in front of me. Learning new things about old friends should have the same kind of joy.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On the context of 'Broken'

On the context of ‘Brokenness”

I never liked the word ‘broken’ to describe anyone. Not because ‘no one is broken’ but because it’s so flat and incomplete of a word. It has no form, or context. The word tells me nothing, because what exactly is broken and why are people so offended by it? In regards to disability, people think that ‘broken’ limits, dehumanizes and restructures a person around their disability ignoring the good and the positive skills they have. Yet when you do look at the good and positive you also need to balance it. It’s one the many reasons I feel like bringing this up and using some of the character I write with in my fiction. One that many already have known, for this essay, instead of Tikaani as my avatar pseudo-person its, Chiko my airbender original character which I think fits a bit better.

One of the most frustrating about disability narratives in fiction, is the idea that for the story’s arch to be completed the person with a disability must A) Accept his disability or B) learn to defeat it and be comparatively normal and like everyone else. Both are rather half-ass and shoddy endings, but most of these are written by able bodied people who never had a disability or that experience so they are just contextualizing as someone that woke up disabled than someone born with one. It’s one of the reasons I like Toph from Avatar. She is born blind so her narrative is not about her blindness but people’s perception and her ability to surpass that. In some way, Toph is broken, but her brokenness is not her disability but whole experience of being patronized and coddled by her parents, of her constantly having to match up to her sighted peers and putting walls among people because she is afraid of being seen as weak. With that all in context, she is a broken character. Brokenness is not about disability, it’s about social perception of worth, of value and reclaiming that word not as a flaw but as a paradigm. Brokenness should be part of the character’s narrative; it shouldn’t be a hurdle for the person to get over, because frankly, it never actually happens in real life. 

Chiko’s narrative is being used because I use Tikaani a lot his narrative isn’t about accepting and deal with a sudden disability but social stigma and moving against it. Chiko on the other hand has to deal with much in short time. For those that don’t follow the show or know the canon, this might be confusing and there is a special interest blurb about the show somewhere so you can do your own research. Yet, for those that are aware, the show brings up the fact that a race of people (Air Nomads) have been wiped out, Chiko is one of them and he and his family survives. Barely. His missing left arm is reminder of that massacre at his temple and it does haunt him. He does have phantom pains, he does deal with nightmares and flash backs and all that crap. His missing arm is a point of grief of him. The thing I want to bring up with Chiko, is that his narrative isn’t about his missing arm though it does feel like that, but honestly about his frustration of constantly being jarred around and dealing with a massive war. It’s about growing up on the battlefield and about being considered an outsider but not because of his limb but because of his social context. Chiko does seem himself as ‘broken’ but not in the idea that it’s because of his missing arm, but because he is considered unworthy to live, that he isn’t meant to be here and to him, surviving while others died, isn’t fair. He doesn’t get closure or sort of respite. His brokenness, his hurt, doesn’t go away if he gets a prosthesis or finds a stable home, the war will still be there and people will still die. Giving a disabled person an accommodation or a tool, doesn’t make their brokenness go away. Chiko’s value isn’t undermined by his brokenness, his love for his brothers and his willingness to never submit isn’t challenged by it. Over all, he isn’t less of a person for being ‘broken’. 

Which is I suppose the crux of the argument really. Tikaani isn’t less of a person, neither is Chiko neither am I. Brokenness doesn’t minimalize a person. Which is why next to ‘broken’ I hate the word ‘different’. People think that broken is a word that strips a person’s self and negates them but different doesn’t do that. I don’t believe that. Calling someone different, doesn’t negate that they are broken but accentuates it. It’s still isolating, negative and othering. Calling Tikaani ‘different’ doesn’t remove the fact he lives in a universe where his humanity is always in question, where is feared a shadow of a person and one that gambles with spirits. Saying that Chiko is different, doesn’t negate his missing arm. His nightmares or the fact his people are dying and being systematically killed (So much for Avatar being a ‘children’s’ show) and watching his whole world being set on literal fire. So I cringe when able bodied people saying that I am “differently abled’ thinking that my humanity isn’t questions or the alienation I feel evaporated by well-meaning sympathy. It doesn’t help. It doesn’t make me feel any less included. I don’t want to downplay either of my characters stories because I wouldn’t want mine negated for the sake of the comfort of abled people. I don’t believe calling me ‘broken’ strips me. No more than calling me different or special. I am either. I am just a wild satyr, an organic android, a bard with no song. 

I want people to see the brokenness and love it. Because it is a part of me it’s not separate thing. It is me.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Monster That I Am

art work by Lucy Dreir aka Thug of my 'satyr-sona' Kalypso.

After spending about 5 years in disability right and identity politics, I have learned that I stopped caring about language and personal labels. What people call themselves is none of my business what they reclaim isn’t my problem until it comes one. But I guess this is a commentary on a word that I took offense to that now I want to actually redirect and reclaim. 

For those that have seen my art, I draw a lot of satyrs and fauns. I have bit of an attachment to them and other fae like creatures. I have made pair of satyr dolls (Santos and his mate Krysanthe which found loving homes when I raffled them off at Beltane) and I working on a third one and I have project in mine for a centaur doll. I don’t know when this attachment started or if this is a special interest but I’ve always filled my pages up with fauns and satyrs, dragon people, snake people and various kinds of nonhumans. I write about them and their lives in my stories as well. To me their lives are more interesting than any of the humans I write or draw. In some way I have appropriated my character’s nonhuman identities in regards to myself. I know that this is probably a response to the years of abuse and marginalization in which my humanness has been taken from me. As an autistic, I’ve been pretty much been swamped by the “changeling’ label and I’ve discussed ‘changeling culture ‘(the idea that our children has been taken by anthromorphed disabilities and we need to ‘free’ them from it) at length and frankly this isn’t a re-hashing of old news. In some way I took that label of ‘monster’ of ‘nonhuman’ and I embraced that metaphor. If I am not human to you, then a monster I’ll be. 

This is not to say that I am not human at all or that I don’t deserve to be treated like one. If there is an ongoing theme with my nonhuman characters, is that they don’t asked to be treated like a human, to subvert what makes them a merman, satyr, dragon folk or whatever. But rather for people to accept that difference, as valid as their humanness and that their satyrness isn’t something that needs to be tamed in order to live among human society but instead, for it be recognized that it’s ok. That it is alright to be something other than human. Granted, authors have been waxing identity politics with using fantasy races, aliens and robots or whatever, as a metaphor for race, gender, sexuality or…whatever. But in regards to that, I’ve noticed it’s always the human being the protagonist. He or she is face with the racism and oppression as someone that benefits from an unfair system and it’s about her or him realizing it and undoing it. It’s rarely about the nonhuman dealing with the unfair system and the expectations forced on him through it and when it is, there is the human acting as the audience avatar or translator. I never found that necessary really. I don’t need a normal person translating my autistic or transgender experiences to a cis or allistic person. This satyr doesn’t need to explain himself or why he does the things does, to you or anyone else. 

When I was working  on “Drinking the Styx, “ I wanted to make sure there were no humans in my story as part of the main cast that cast was going to satyrs and their experience didn’t need to be translated or explained away by humans or human sidekicks. I wanted to be clear that Hermes isn’t a human it’s one of the reasons I spent so long drawing him and his design. I wanted his eyes to be alien and strange, to be hard to relate to at first but eventually you see him with all of his satyrness, daddy issues and problems with mental illness. I shouldn’t have to soften him, maybe him less goatish for my readers. I don’t compromise. 

It’s the same reason I refuse to make Tikaani completely verbal, it’s the same reason I don’t always submit to the idea that I need to wear my ‘mask’ in order to be valued. I should be valued even when I am flapping, shrieking or talking to you plainly. My worth shouldn’t be based on how functional I am or how well I pass. Yet, it is. My identity as a ‘monster’ is measure how well I can hide my fangs, my horns, my long floppy ears any everything about me. It’s how well I can make eye contact, how well I speak, how articulate I can be, how well I can follow verbal cues (when I can’t process them very well) how well I can sacrifice myself for someone with little respect for my own needs. Those are things that people want from me, from others. 

When I do pass, I am seen as ‘over coming’ that I am ‘rising above’ something .  My disability mainly, no one actually realizes how much work it is and many autistics have explained this. But I want to continue to make it clear on how aggravating it is to pass, even when in spaces it’s ok to flap. Because in the end someone is going to see your fox tails and or goat eyes and jump twenty feet in the air and go “Wait! You’re not human!?”  I don’t see my disability as something to be compromised to make you feel better; I don’t see people being friends with a goat man like me, like it’s an act of charity. You’re not a better person for not starting at my horns or hooves. You don’t get good karma cookies for not mentioning that I am walking on my toes or chirping.
It’s being a decent human being, to a decent satyr.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dreaming in Cerulean (Art Post)

I haven't done one of these in forever.

Saving Oneself

This is sort of a response post on a couple blog posts that I read recently.

Being disillusioned is rather painful. Nothing quite like having the wool over your eyes and rug pulled out from under you. For me that is what happened as an activist. I found out one day, I wasn’t as amazing I as I thought I was and out of frustration and disappointment, I lost myself in burn out and apathy. I guess this is a word of warning to my brothers and sisters who are disability activists. Fighting the fight for rights and inclusion, for equal status and for remaining human; it’s pretty much an uphill battle, and one that doesn’t seem to have a real outcome. So it’s why I felt like writing this, because I need to make something clear.
I am not a hero for being an activist. I didn’t go into this for heroics.
But I guess I need to explain why I went into activism and why burn out and being jaded can be so easy.
I guess what started as a venture in community turned out to be a romp through social-ethics and identity politics. I didn’t plan to be an activist, to write blog posts, to go to senators, to talk at summits to march at protests. It wasn’t in my purview. Yet I manage to do all those things and I loved it, because I had the image in my mind that I was boldly doing great things, for everyone, that I was changing the world. That I was…being a hero.  That my friend was the first step on the road of a cliff into the hell of burn-out.
First, I didn’t pace myself. I threw on more projects, I tacked on more lectures I talked to everyone educated everyone with no chance for myself to breath. I got tired easy, but I kept soldiering on. Because I told myself I was making a difference. I never knew I was burning the wick at both ends that I was getting more and more exhausted and overwhelmed and that protesting publicly was traumatic. I just kept working, kept trucking along with my normal job and drowned myself in policy and social-commentary. I kept thinking that progress was happening that I was doing a good thing.
But I wasn’t watching where I was going, and I burst into flames. Jaded cynicism and apathy seem to ooze out of wreckage that was me a year ago. I wrote about it on my blog, I commented on it and I left activism I was done with the verbal abuse from parents. I was done with the public backlash; I was done with ASAN abandoning my pale pagan ass out to dry. I just had it. So when the smoke cleared I was left with a pretty real result.
I wasn’t saving anyone, I wasn’t anyone’s hero. I was a train wreck that everyone watched burn.
You don’t go into activism to be a hero, you may change and impact people, you might start a chain of events that will eventually change a law or a social belief. But it never happens quickly and there is more dead-ends and road blocks than breakthroughs. You will find out that people that you loved and were loyal to you, will stab you in the back. You will find out that people you respected turn out to be monsters. You will go up hill and fall down like Sisyphus. Everything will become a pain, a chore and startling example of human hivemind and group think. You will start to hate it. Activism is often thankless and void of gratitude. But an activist knows this, and still presses on. It with this wisdom that I realized I am only a hero for myself. That I need to take care of my needs before everyone elses.  I have to see where I am in the scope of things, where I am going and if my goals match what I am trying to do with my life personally. I got to step back, and take care of myself before I burn again.
Now at round too, with disability activism, I am better prepared, I am not a hero for trying to get back on the saddle. Just a human being who wants more, who seeks the better of people, I don’t want to save anyone anymore. Just myself.