Like Maybe I Can Camouflage Into the Bed

"Assimilate My Purse," Maximumrocknroll, January 2008

Thoughts on feminism and faggotry

I'm fond of saying that most faggots wouldn't know feminism if you hit them over the head with it, but usually this isn't as funny as it sounds. So often it means that my sex life stays separate from my politics, the gestures of passion don't grow impassioned. I’m trying to create a space where the rigor of politics builds desire into something I can finally imagine. Unfortunately, I can't necessarily say that I've seen politicized people treat one another better, but I want to know what it would mean to build a culture of possibility.

I'm trying to talk about faggotry and feminism, how they intersect so clearly in my life but elsewhere they’re rings around one another. Feminism taught me to politicize every choice, including the ways in which I claim desire. I want to say that faggotry taught me to claim desire, including the ways in which I politicize every choice. Just because that sounds symmetrical. It would make things easier.

Kids on the playground called me faggot way before I knew that I had choices. I mean boys -- it's boys who called me faggot. Years before I knew what it meant, at least the cocksucking part, and then years more before I realized they didn't know about the cocksucking part they just knew I wasn't going to become a man if I didn't play by their rules. I hated them, and I hated their rules.

When I realized that it was gender they were seeing not desire, that little boys are monsters because of their parents and the cultures that makes them enact violence in order to access power -- when I realized these things, that's when I realized I needed to be a faggot in order to fight. I mean flame. That it was the only way they wouldn't win.

This was feminism: I was claiming a space outside in order to break apart their rules. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I claimed freak, right? Because I wanted to scare people into giving me my own space. I wanted to inspire kids beaten down still showing a spark not to care about everyone else. I would never have used the word kids -- we were already 14, 15, right? Anyway, that was after I decided to cook my own meals, do my own dishes because I saw the way this was required of my mother.

No need to track whether I was a feminist before a freak, a freak before queer, queer before faggot. I know this all took a while, that each layer makes the other, that none of this prepared me for the relentless dehumanization in gay male sexual spaces. Gay was never an identity I embraced, someone on the street would say are you gay? No, darling, I would say -- I'm a faggot.

The problem with gay male sexual spaces is that they’re almost like some homophobe on the street, demanding your adherence to the worst norms of masculinity unless you want your head bashed in I mean a blowjob. And feminist spaces, where the energy is so high the standards bright and glowing but I look around for faggots and I can count them on my fingers, sometimes just one hand.

Now you know I can't tell

Yes, I'm back at the Nob Hill Theatre. The guy at the front counter says hello like I was just there yesterday, the problem is that even though it's been a month and it still feels that way. Walking around in circles thinking I should leave now I really should leave now I've been here too long I should leave now. I don't like disco, but here it's the best part, another place where dancing would make everything so much better.

You want to know about the porn: Dutch boys barebacking -- that one's okay until they start to look too skinny and anxious, piled one next to the other in fucking pairs, probably a brothel importing fresh Eastern Europeans. Then there’s big-budget LA mainstream porn, puffed-up guys with insanely big dicks, is that really -- and no, really? My favorite is two guys cruising on an airplane, one of them is jerking off and the other guy’s looking anxiously over his shoulder at the supposed other passengers, his girlfriend asleep between them but then I accidentally switch to some guy wrapped in latex, whimpering, and when I'm back the two guys on the plane are naked in another row of seats where are the other passengers it's not exciting any more.

Back in the hallway, there's this hot guy who always reminds me of someone who worked with me 15 years ago at Harold's Newsstand just a few blocks away -- that guy, Mervin I think was his name -- no, Melvin -- he showed me his Blow Buddies card and said I'm bisexual. This other Melvin is always here, brooding with a hat, a little bit of facial hair barely perceptible. I've never seen him hook up with anyone. Back in a room, I watch someone's fingers at the glory hole -- I'm not into him, but I can see how fingers softly brushing a hole can become alluring, no matter who they belong to. After I'm about to leave for the 35th time, standing in the hallway grabbing my hard-on through my pants this guy walks by he looks excited. He's kind of cute -- bald head, I like bald heads, the early years of middle age, on the clubby side of preppy -- mainstream gay circa 1995, I don't mind that look. I let him beckon me into a room and then it all leads up to those physical gestures of his cock hardening in my throat until he’s about to leave the room, says he's going to take a break. I love breaks, but doesn't he know the place is about to close? I say hold my balls, and then I shoot onto the seat, I say I hope someone sits there. I don't really mean that, it's just that the guy looks sort of scandalized -- girl, don't worry it's vinyl.

I walk outside and this guy does a double-take, turns around and says well you're certainly a faggot, a faggot with a circus for pants you're a faggot if I've ever seen a faggot. I want to shrug it off but it's kind of annoying he's so close I'm laughing, that's what I do in situations like this. His tweaker friend with his shirt open keeps walking, I look at this guy he looks a little bit like Melvin -- similar height, kind of short, big eyes soft round face, maybe Latino or South Asian kind of cute I mean is he flirting with me or bashing me? All of his gestures are reading straight but he says where are you going. I say I don't know. He says I'm going somewhere to do drugs. His eyes bugging in and out and he's swaying, the guy across the street is yelling I took care of you, this guy says no I took care of you -- and the tweaker’s already grumbling from a block away but maybe still waiting.

This guy is touching the front of my pants -- why are you in such a good mood -- you’re a mess your fly’s open, are you a stripper here? I'm laughing, zipping my fly. I say it won't last that long, I'll get home and I'll be depressed. He says or were you just having fun? I grab him playfully and kiss the back of his neck, it's true I am in a good mood -- sometimes touching someone else, even if he's not that engaged, is enough to make me feel hyper-present and playful. This guy sort of turns around and then I kiss his neck from the front too. He says what are you on?

I'm trying to remember if I used to ask people that when I was on drugs, I guess it's true that everyone else seems really really high. I'm laughing and this guy says oh -- everything, what do you mean what am I on – everything! The tweaker is yelling from the distance, this guy yells back GO AWAY. I say who's that tweaker? This guy says I'm gonna hit you in the head, and he holds two plastic bottles in the air, I step back. I say what's that? He says silicon -- I say what are you going to do with silicon? He says I work at Lucas Films, I'm gonna hit you in the head -- go away.

I start walking downhill and maybe he has friends who show up and they're pointing in my direction and laughing, I'm not sure. I'm in the mood where everything is fun really, especially the deserted streets and I'm wondering if maybe that guy thought I was crazy because I was flirting with him after he kept calling me faggot. I guess that was kind of crazy, but you already know I can't tell. I'm walking slowly to appreciate the few minutes I have before exhaustion, until I'm at the bus stop looking at those terrible digital displays they've installed that tell you how long you have to wait but it's always longer: this one says next bus in 72 minutes.

Like maybe I can camouflage into the bed

This is what's happening, just as I'm about to fall back asleep except it's like there’s fabric wrapped around my neck someone's choking me I'm pretty sure there's just empty space with a blanket far away but I want to check it's so uncomfortable. I move my hands there, across not right at the center too scary. No fabric, just skin. Then I'm awake again, thinking I shouldn't have checked because I knew there wasn't any fabric but it's hard to fall asleep when it's like someone -- my father -- is squeezing it all shut, the place for panic.

Everything’s stacked against this particular night of sleep: the guy's orgasm next door, then his tv vibrating the walls, his phone conversation at least the white noise generator blocks out the details except my brain planning everything else. Whenever I get deep enough then I wake up and when I get out of bed there’s extra sadness between my eyes. I'm touching my neck softly just to see, it's okay except at the center, what happens at the center is that everything stops my breathing my body moves back squeezes shut everything tight and still like maybe I can camouflage into the bed and they won't know I'm there.