Tiresias Shrugged

A couple of months ago, I joined a bunch of Facebook groups for gender-nonconforming individuals. If you’d asked me at the time why I was doing this, I would not have been able to give you a clear answer, other than maybe mumbling something about being an ally. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why I was doing it either, other than I really, really wanted the other group members to like me. And, for the most part — barring an incident where I made an unfortunate joke about helicopters that was deemed not okay (long story) — they did. And that made me happy, and that was enough.

Anyway, one day I was driving to a pizza place on my lunch break and (ironically) singing along to This Is Me, and idly wondering why the opinions of a faceless horde of non-binary social media adherents mattered so much to me. And that’s when world-weary Inner Me, tasked once again with the impossible mission of saving me from myself, seized the opportunity and spoke the fuck up:

It’s because you’re non-binary, pootieheart.

“… Oh,” I replied.

And so I ate some Italian food and went back to the office, and sat through a staff meeting, and I listened to financial advisers argue about annuities and investment strategies, all while having a grand mal gender identity crisis, because I am a fucking multi-tasker.

Fun Fact: When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a girl. I played with dolls and wore my pajama bottoms on my head so that I could have long hair, and I wasn’t particularly drawn to traditional “boy” toys or activities (with the exception of Transformers, which I guess shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, really). My parents, Lord love ’em, did their best to gently but firmly steer me in the male direction, and by adulthood, I had concluded that it was all just an early manifestation of my sexual orientation, as understood by a pre-schooler: I liked boys, so therefore I must be girl. And even though I was bullied as a child for effeminacy, as a grownup I was perceived as masculine by other gay men, so I didn’t really question my identity any further. I mean, yeah, sometimes I still wanted to be a girl, but didn’t all gay guys play with dolls when they were kids? And want to wear makeup? And actually have to put effort into presenting as male and sometimes wish they’d been born in a different body? I mean, we’ve all been there, amirite?

I used to go to this men’s AA meeting, and I remember somebody once sharing about how, before he quit drinking, he identified as a guy, but when he got sober, he was able to see himself as a man. I really latched onto that. It was easy to call myself a guy, dude, bloke, etc., even if the concept of true manhood always seemed somehow unattainable. But hey, if all I had to do was stay sober and learn to be responsible, I too would one day be manly. And so I stayed sober, and I learned to be moderately responsible, and I patiently waited for that feeling of cohesive manliness to kick in.

It never did. And here we are.

I do need to own that embracing a non-binary gender feels a little appropriative. Like, I’ve never experienced full-blown gender dysphoria, so identifying as something other than a cisgender male equates to co-opting somebody else’s struggle — although this might be a holdover from my years in the Neo-pagan community, where More Persecuted Than Thou is a competitive sport. And, as I’ve poked my head into online gender-variant communities, there is certainly some of that to be found. (“I’m a hieracosexual, tyranogender-rex unicorn, and I am very oppressed.”) But I also found people who were like, “I’m sort of male, but not really,” and “I’m comfortable with my sexual orientation and don’t feel the need to transition, but I also don’t click with being a man.” And it was a huge relief to read these things, not only because I related to them so closely, but because other people were like, “Welcome! What you’re experiencing is legitimate, and there’s totally a word for it.”

demiguy_pride-flag
The Demiguy Pride Flag: because no flag, no country.

The word, as it turned out, was demiguy: “a gender identity describing someone who partially, but not wholly, identifies as a man, boy or otherwise masculine, regardless of their assigned gender at birth.” And I love that there’s a word for it, because if they don’t have to name it after me, then I’m not the only one going through it. And I also love that I no longer have to feel like a failure for not achieving a state of 100% manly-man, because I’m simply not 100% man. And I was never meant to be.

Maybe, had I been raised in a more hands-off, wahoo environment, I would’ve gone full genderqueer by high school and landed in an entirely different life of self-acceptance. And maybe, by the time I’m in my sixties, I’ll have thrown off all social conditioning and become a fey, androgynous creature in a brocade kaftan and showstopping eye makeup, doling out sage advice and love potions to those who come a-calling. For now, though, and despite the technical term for whatever the hell I am apparently being agenderflux, I’m settling into the demiguy label. It feels like an old pair of jeans. I’m comfortable wearing it.

So… hi. I’m a demiguy. My pronouns are he/him or they/them. My rising sign is Cancer. And you know what else? No matter what direction my gender decides to take, I will always be a unicorn.

DemiUnicorn

Whoever Thinks It Kinks It

Customer 1: “Hey, can I ask you something?”

Me: “Sure.”

Customer 1: “Someone told me that all these colors mean something. Is that true?”

Me: “Well, the color of a given piece of leather doesn’t real-”

Customer 2: “HE NEEDS YELLOW.”

Me: “… ly mean anything. The only time color indicates something spec-”

Customer 2: “HE’S YELLOW.”

Me: “… ific is if you’re flagging a colored hanky, which would signi-”

Customer 2: “TELL HIM WHAT YELLOW MEANS.”

Me: “… fy your personal kink or fetish. For example, your friend here is into piss play, so he flags yellow.”

Customer 2: “Wait… what?”

Me: “You’re into piss play. That’s what yellow means.”

Customer 2: “I would never…”

Me: “It’s okay, dude. I don’t judge.”

Customer 2: “I’M NOT INTO PISS PLAY.”

Me: “Then maybe you should learn more about the Hanky Code, because if the only color you’re able to talk about is yellow, I am naturally going to assume that you want to get peed on.”

[extended silence]

Customer 2: “I… would like to learn the other colors, please.”

Customer 1: [quietly, to me]Thank you.”

And that’s how I protect and preserve sacred traditions of my people. The Sentinelese are moments away from accepting me as a cultural attaché.

Criminal Mindless

Customer 1: [over his shoulder to Customer 2, who’s walking into the store behind him] “Hey, this is the place where you stole all that shi–”

[He turns and sees me behind the counter.]

Me: “Hi.”

Customer 1: “…”

Customer 2: “Uh… that was actually in Atlanta.”

And then he took Customer 1 on a tour of the shop and pointed out every product that he definitely legitimately purchased from us using money. I appreciate that he seems to have turned his life around, but on the off chance any fetishwear salespeople from Georgia are reading this, I can totally ID the guy who stole all your shit.

Building Barns from Bottom to Top

Customer: “Hello! I’d like a bottle of poppers, please.”

Me: “Well, we don’t sell poppers, but we do carry a fine selection of solvents and polish removers.”

Customer: “Oh. That’s right! I forgot. Okay. Um… I would like… a bottle of… furniture cleaner?”

The moral of this story is that if I ever start my own solvent company, I’m going to call it Amish Pride. Our signature scents will be Walnut, Maple, and Rumspringa.

Age Before Electric Youth

[A conversation between myself and my Misfits brother Noah.]

Noah: “What do you think of my outfit in this picture? I feel like it’s quintessentially my style, but it’s not getting the reactions I expected.”

Me: “Hmm. It looks like the Devil showed up to claim Debbie Gibson’s soul and decided to make fun of her clothes first.”

Noah: “I… don’t know who Debbie Gibson is.”

Me: “I know.”

Noah wouldn’t give me the picture to post here, but trust me when I say that anyone not wearing polymer horns over a pork pie hat is missing out on the fashion trend of the century. Plus it’s a more accessible, family-friendly look than the gas mask and platform boots he wears to bartending nights. I’m just saying the boy is versatile in more ways than one.

And “foyer” rhymes with “Baphomet.” Language is weird.

Robert and I knew we weren’t properly equipped to deconstruct all the details of the Noodles & Beef horror show, which is why, on last night’s Facets of Leather, we brought in professional smart person Ty Lerman to help us get our brains around the situation. Oh, and speaking of horror, we debuted an exciting new segment — tentatively titled “This Week in Impotent Rage” — which was basically just ten minutes of me ranting about the Satanic Temple suing Netflix. Probably not my finest moment, but at least I processed my feelings honestly. I’m sure Ty approved.

The unsinkable Orin Slade also graced us with another amazing photo collage, this one serving as an effective reminder that I really need to pay more attention to what I say on the radio:

OrinSlade11.11.18

Robert handled the music selections this month, and he thoughtfully included the following homage, which is currently enjoying an unexpected renaissance in the Houston Leather Community. I hope it gives you as much pause as it did a bunch of drunk gay men when Carlisle snuck it onto the Ripcord jukebox.

The secret ingredient is love. Or a prescription-strength antihistamine. One of those.

How to give me an anxiety attack in three easy steps:

1) Be my dad.

2) Call me on my cell phone in the middle of the day to confirm that I can’t take personal calls at work, and to double-check that you should only try to reach me on my cell in the case of a life-threatening emergency.

3) Repeat as necessary, or until desired results are achieved.

In related news, did you know that Advil PM can have the same effect on the human brain as Xanax? I can’t remember where I read that, although according to WebMD, long-term use of diphenhydramine (the active agent in both Advil PM and Benadryl) is linked to memory loss and dementia. Awesome. I won’t know what day it is, but I won’t be sneezing or panicking, I can tell you that much.

ETA: WebMD also says I have shirt cancer. Thoughts and prayers, please.