I've been thinking a lot about my relationship to beauty--specifically beautiful women. It's been a bit of an experiment, really. As I've been easing back into the dating world these last six months or so, I've noticed my responses to women who find me attractive, or vice versa, seem stuck somewhere in awkward adolescence. It's made me curious about the "oh gosh darn it miss" vibe I sometimes give off, as well as how beauty is determined from the vantage point of a woman who loves woman.
Scene 1: We're in the club, some great summer banger is playing, maybe "No Letting Go," most likely, "Boom Boom Pow" and you know how the gays do, one hand up in the air, sexy hips shaking, a little peek of the hip bones...nice. So a fly Nicaraguan shortie approaches me, kicks a bit of game and I am smiling, whispering in her ear, letting her hands slide down to grasps each hip, encouraging her to explore...but of course, I'm looking at the other ladies, feeling there is something missing, something more, someone who when I see her, I will know...
The next day I reflected on my tension and lack of casualness at the West Village/Chelsea club. It's not like I really think I will meet the love of my life out at the club, but there's a certain level of posturing and manufactured desire that nightclubs are designed to produce. and silly, sometimes adolescent me falls for it.
Scene 2: I'm walking down Myrtle Avenue, on my way to the organic health food store and an older West Indian gentleman stops me to tell me how fine and chocolate-y I am. He relates, in his gorgeous, lilting accent, how he told his friend I ride a bike to "look as fine and sexy as ya do." I told him, "no, I do yoga," and we proceeded to talk about his daughter's (who is older than me!) yoga studio in the 'hood. He was delightful, we speak every time we see one another, and I felt really happy about our interaction.
It took me a long time to relate to compliments and attention from men. Sometimes I was intimated, sometimes I would be enraged or feel oppressed, other times, I was simply baffled ("can't they see how GAY I am??"), and still other times, I manipulated and lead them on in order to feel good about myself--in order to feel confident with women. Now, I feel grateful. Physical beauty is a gift. I know being someone who is considered attractive makes my life easier. I know my ability to pass makes my life easier. I am no longer so arrogant or ungrateful as to dismiss genuine attempts to be kind to me, or get my attention, or to be seen by me. I know what it feels like to want to be seen and I know how to handle dudes who get out of line.
I was never the pretty one in elementary, middle or high school. It wasn't until college that I really came into my own. As a matter of fact, It wasn't until I started experimenting with my gender presentation that I started to feel "beautiful." I'm not sure how that worked, but somehow, when I wore my ridiculously large JNCO jeans and skater sneakers, schoolboy sweater and matching Giants cap, I felt beautiful. I also felt protected. My body wasn't on display, yet it was in a way. I was alluding to what was underneath through an unisex fashion sense. At that time, I identified as a "girl fag," feeling like my femininity was exaggerated, playful, fierce and diva-like, just like the gay men who I loved growing up had taught me. But I didn't feel my femininity was embodied, and certainly not biological.
Lately, I've been playing with drag: One day I was doing high femme diva bitch during the summer (let me tell you, I was hit on by some strange parts of the NYC demographic); next was schoolboy realness (omg! I was so cute with my backpack, khaki shorts, polo shirt and glasses); and lately I've been feeling sporty femme 80's retro--big high tops, fat laces, neon colors, tight jeans and tight shirts. There is something being liberated in me that I haven't totally formulated or conceptualized, I am simply experiencing it with a tremendous amount of excitement and energy. being queer for me, has always been incredibly complex, but it's always been honest. I feel as though, for a time, I moved away from being queerly fierce, as though there was something juvenile about that, something undignified and regressive. I've found that my queerness thrives mostly when I am free to experiment with how I want to be in the world, when I am not blindly falling into the trappings of hetero- or homonormativity.
So, I'm just observing: how am I when I'm kicking it to women? Is my confidence or sense or worth swayed by who's interested in me? Am I really that shallow? I have to say though, I'm having the more genuine fun then I've had in years.
school boy realness