I have never felt more accepted and validated than when I watched a drag show this past weekend. I’ve never been to a drag show before. Coming from Stevensville, Montana, the opportunities have been slender. For those of you who don’t know where Stevensville is—that’s okay. No one else does either. But yes, my writerly inspiration for the week is definitely the show and I have a few reasons.
You guys are familiar with SHADOW and Lord Caden. I LOVE that ms. It’s the book of my heart, and I’m currently working on its sequel. But that’s not my only WIP. I’m also working on a YA contemporary (romanceish/kinda thriller . . . haven’t quite established the genre label) called SOME KIND OF QUEER.
Okay. We’re about to get personal again. Are you ready?
Are you sure?
I’ve mentioned being genderqueer before, but it’s been in passing and I know many people don’t actually know what it means. It’s kind of an umbrella term, really, for people who identify outside of the man/woman gender binary. (The Wiki on this is surprisingly accurate. Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer) Therefore the word “genderqueer” means different things to different people, and my experience is just one version.
To me, being genderqueer means that I have a female body and mentally, I’m gender fluid. Yes, that’s a thing. Some days I identify as a girl, sometimes as a guy, and sometimes as neither. I prefer male pronouns, but very few people know that. My fiance does, and he’s wonderful and respects me and my wishes. People at work don’t because, well, if I corrected every customer who tossed out a casual, “Thank you, ma’am,” my day would be much longer and far more confusing for the (mostly) elderly patrons of our small-town bakery.
And my most family doesn’t (well, they might now) for a plethora of reasons, but I’ll just tell you they’re the type of people who’d tell me that “genderqueer” isn’t a thing and that I’m clearly a woman. Certain family members have actually said this to me.
Which is actually why I’ve been a but uninspired lately. I started working on SOME KIND OF QUEER because I wanted to show genderqueer kids they aren’t alone (see YA Romance rant). It’s about a genderqueer kid in the middle of figuring out what genderqueer means—while going through high school, falling in love, the whole bit. And also catching a Saw-esque murderer. It’s a complicated process and to be honest, it kind of blows. Because YES I want you to call me “he” but I also want to wear makeup and wear a dress to Winter Formal but I’d rather not use the women’s bathroom . . .
Check out this video at some point. It’s hilarious and completely truthful.
Anyway, I’m writing this and I started to wonder how it would be received (never a good idea). I know that there are people out there who won’t like it just because of what it is. But I started to worry that no one would understand and I worried that even the LGBT community wouldn’t like it because, like I said, this is only one experience of being genderqueer. So the writing kind of trailed off and I haven’t worked on it in a couple weeks.
Because I felt invalidated. Other people in my life have made me feel like my experience isn’t real. I know, I know; it isn’t other people’s job to make me feel validated. However, if everyone suddenly started calling you by the wrong pronouns and looked at you like you were crazy every time you tried to correct them, you might start to break down a little too.
So I’m feeling not-so-hot and we go to this drag show. I am so nervous—head spinning, palms sweating—and I walk through the door. Two drag queen converge upon me. “I LOVE your hair.” One turns to the other. “Oh my God, I just want the lipstick!” No pronouns in sight. They didn’t assume anything.
We sit down and I’m looking around the crowd and I turn to my fiance and say, “Ginger, there are people here who look like me.” He started laughing because it was true. A quarter of the audience were short-haired, semi-feminine, semi-masculine, super glammed out people I couldn’t put a gender label on if I wanted to. And I didn’t want to.
The show itself was lovely—sexy and hilarious. When I got home, I couldn’t wait to start writing again. I felt accepted, like I had people who understood me. Like the time I got on Twitter and found a bunch of other crazy writer-types. (Love you).
So, yeah. That was my inspirational experience. 😀