i’ve been wanting to write but I’ve been second guessing myself. i guess i should just get into it. otherwise, it’s all just un-erotic foreplay.
my friend Shana Elizabeth Dowdeswell died last week. She was 23. Last night I didn’t sleep but I didn’t want to write either. Most of the posts from last year are about my best friend’s death. This wasn’t the same thing. Shana wasn’t my best friend. She was a fucking adorable, wild n crazy, sweetheart I worked on a movie with once. That turned into me running into her every weekend two summers ago along the hot n sweaty cross streets of the Lower East Side. God this girl, she was a burst of sunbeams morphed into lines of body on body ecstasy sliding into a nap the way someone who’s still kind of child can nap. Does this make sense? Like fuck I just texted this girl last week and she told me she was excited to see me soon and then boom, she’s fucking dead. I called her in the ICU and spoke to her nurse twice from my business trip and was told that she was going to make it and then i’m on a place and in the air and then I land and she’s dead. And no one knows why and I’m on the outskirts, none of her friends know me…we just made movies together. We just found each other on hot summer nights. We just just just…used…to…know and love each other.
rest in peace shana.
On dapperness and being unafraid
tuesday night I walked home still wearing my tie. Maybe that’s not a big deal to you but it was for me. Usually, –and i hate to admit this– i take off my tie when walking home at night. it’s a safety measure. fuck, just this once maybe you could pass this on to your boyfriends or their super conservative brothers but i get the meanest looks sometimes. tell them it’s ok. tell them to leave us alone. they don’t own dapper. i swear, it’s not me being paranoid. it’s real life. it’s the reason my mother tells me to be careful and means it with her whole heart when and if she catches me heading out into the world dressed in men’s clothing or queered up in genderless clothes. men, cis-men, whatever, some of them give me the meanest looks. it’s not just looks. i’ve had men glare at me, push their bodies close to mine while staring like they wanted to kill me. i’ve had men pull on my ties and mutter ‘disgusting’ under their breaths. i’ve had those men follow me for a block or two until they’ve either changed their minds or just decided to go home. and what am i supposed to do? run home n tell momma? cry? feel weird? be thankful? mostly, i just act like it’s not happening. i act like i’m the over-sensitive, ultra-paranoid queer that i’ve been told i am. forget all that. the other night I KEPT MY TIE ON. i kept my tie on. i wasn’t scared. it was a pink tie and maybe that made it ok? but something else felt different…more like, what are you really gonna do, sir? motherfucker? cuz whether i’m wearing a tie or not, if you’d like to harass, hurt, maim, murder or walk on by me, the choice is yours. But damn it felt good to keep that tie on. It felt good for the lady and her daughter to compliment my MOC outfit on the train. It felt good for that little babygirl to grab my pink tie. It felt good to be in my skin. I walked home unscathed. I walked home and felt like maybe I’ll just keep my ties on for now and forever.
On the absolute joy of a Dapper community
You’ve got to be kidding me. As I write this, “Tell your girlfriend” aka the Autostraddle theme song by Robyn pops on my spotify. The world and the universe are gayer than the gayest gay that ever gayed.
Is it ok to say that when I hear this song my eyes mist up? That sometimes maybe I just cry cuz I think of all of you internet weirdos in real life and how much you embrace me and make me feel loved and like I have a right to exist on this planet? Like I don’t have to be anything but myself to be worth it. That my eyes water cuz my mom knows that Autostraddle and A-camp pretty much saved my life? and that she mentions you guys and the site when she talks about how much happier I am and and and MY MOM MENTIONS AUTOSTRADDLE! Damn, I need to stop cuz I’m crying and I’ve just cried so much and I need to stop.
Back to dapper, fuck, ok let’s talk about me crying again, shall we. So so so, Autostraddle has an unofficial A-camp FB group and these adorable homos have been posting pics of themselves for the month of december. The picture contest was titled: Dapper a Day.
So why was I crying again? Because THIS SHIT IS SO REAL. Like, fuck maybe ya’ll live too safe or maybe ya’ll just don’t get it, but for queers to dress queer and live out loud is so damn powerful. It’s more powerful than I would have ever imagined. For a long time, I just wished I was dead and I wished I would love wearing dresses and I wished, I wished and then to see all of you in bowties and button downs…and so beautiful and dapper. all of the tears. like everything. like all of the feelings i’d shut away since high school just flowed out of me. i wanted to hug you. I wanted to keep you safe. dressing in “men’s clothes” is SO FUCKING BRAVE for queer women or queer people. cis-straight-men that are assholes want to kick our ass for even attempting to co-opt their gear and their power. these fearless autostraddle queers stepped forward and posted their pics looking dapper as hell and i fell in love with all of them. also, i regained my sense of pride. this is stepping with bravery. this is giving all of the rights fucks.
but but seriously this isn’t just fashion. this is life. i wonder, do these queers wear this shit outside of the confines of their bedrooms and iPhones? I think so. I think they do. I know I do. And I know that there’s always a second breath I take before I step outside of my door and face the world not looking like every other woman on the train and looking like the awesome crazy queermo I am. So these homos and their fresh to death outfits make me so so very proud.
so i lump all of these things together: shana’s death, dapperness and feeling empowered because this is life. none of it ever happens when we’re ready. i might write lists and make lesson plans but this life….it doesn’t care. it just flows. so i’m learning to flow with it. i’ve decided to open a space in my heart for death. i know enough people living crazy enough lives where I’ve decided that random deaths need a place. So now, I’m ready kind of…where the act of dying or the suddeness of a death will be a part of life and not something that needs to shock me. What will shock me is the loss of that particular person. That should always be the point and trust me there is a difference. if you don’t get it yet, then you will. i promise.
also, i promise to stay dapper in however that manifests in me. whether it’s haviland in dapper drag or me getting a puppy & buying it some black n white Adidas, i need to just let this fly and dive and breathe along my skin.
kade wrote a thing about MOC bodies that stilled my heart. i live in pieces of her writing and am glad for the spaces that are just my own. sometimes sex means don’t touch me. sometimes it means let me do all the things and sometimes it doesn’t mean anything.
a final song: