Stampdown

[A conversation between myself and my sponsor, which occurred while I was notarizing some documents for him.]

Me: “So I was having lunch with this guy the other day…”

Sponsor: “Was it a date?”

Me: “Oh, Lord, no. He’s profoundly not my type.”

Sponsor: “Profoundly? So he’s emotionally available and lives in the same city as you and has a job?”

Me: [death glare]

Sponsor: [cackling with glee] “I mean, who else gets to say shit like that to you?”

You know what my biggest fear is? That my sponsor is going to somehow stumble into a Misfits business meeting and be like, “Wow! An entire brotherhood of people who say shit like that to you! Count me in!” And then I’ll have to leave the leather community and become a Presbyterian minister or something.

The next time he asks me to notarize stuff, I’m going to write “I don’t know her” across the signature line.

DJ MRA

A local queer MC put a call out on Facebook last night, requesting that gay male disc jockeys, drag queens, entertainers, singers and poets contact her regarding an upcoming event she’s hosting. The immediate responses, of course, came from straight men who were like, “ZOMG I’M NOT GAY BUT I’M AWESOME PLEASE PLEASE HIRE ME.” The MC thanked them for their interest but clarified that it’s an LGBTQ+ event with a focus on LGBTQ+ performers, and, to their credit, the straight dudes understood… except for one special guy, who had an all-out-Alice meltdown over the unbearable discrimination of it all.

His initial comments were intrusive and inappropriate (“Why they gotta be gay? Do they have to have sex?”), but at least fairly mellow. However, when he still got no for an answer, the shit fit commenced in force — and once he realized that everyone was ignoring his apoplexy, he resorted to mocking the gay community for its “disgusting, destructive, dehumanizing hypocrisy.”

Needless to say, he didn’t get the gig. And while the MC patiently went through the thread and deleted his posts, all I could do was sit back and think, “Wow. It’s the phantom penis all over again.”

Gather ’round, my loyal Marjorettes. It’s story time.

Several years ago, a friend and I decided to start a social group for gay male Pagans in the Houston area. We wanted to gauge interest before planning anything, so we posted a message in a Yahoo! group (remember those?) to see if there were any other gay guys around who might want to participate. A couple did, which was nifty, but the majority of replies we received were from heterosexuals, divided right down the gender line.

The female respondents declared themselves “hag fags” [Ed. note: They meant “fag hags,” which is, y’know, almost but not quite as offensive] and announced that they would be joining us, regardless of whether or not we wanted them there. We stated that once the group got off the ground we’d maybe open things up a bit, but for now we really wanted to create a space for gay men, and the women clapped back by patting us on our little heads (it’s so cute when we try to think for ourselves, apparently), and reiterating demands for dates and times. The straight men, on the other hand, denounced us as exclusionary: They would never be caught dead at a gay event, mind you, but the fact that we weren’t inviting them in the first place meant that we were oppressing them. I stopped paying attention when one of them started ranting about gay v. straight water fountains.

At the height of the fracas, a cishet woman — let’s call her Viola — informed us that we were required to grant her admittance, because she was a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. We did our best to explain that, no, that did not actually make her a gay man, and Viola replied that yes, in fact it did, because she had (I swear to the Gods I’m not making this up) an invisible, “phantom limb” penis. And oh, it got her into all sorts of trouble, that penis did. Because (direct quote) you know how gay men are. Thinking with their dicks or whatever. Like she does. With her mighty ghost phallus.

On that note, allow me to relate a true story of a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.

Back in college, my friend Kathleen sat a few of us down to let us know that she was transgender and would be transitioning to male. In return, we let her know that we’d already figured that out, on account of her unusually large collection of books on gender reassignment, and the fact that she’d been living as a man for the past year and a half. So Kathleen became George, and then he fell in love with a cis gay man, and they’ve been together ever since. And the rest of us were like, “We’re confused, but you’re happy, so it’s all good.” And I wore a leg harness to their wedding.

So, in review…

George: “I was assigned female at birth, but I am actually male, and I went through several intense, physical and mental ordeals to be true to myself and comfortable in my own skin.”

Viola: “I am capitalizing on my hetero privilege to take what I want from minorities.”

A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

I get having an identity discordant with one’s anatomical and/or biological makeup. Really, I do, because a) I’m a demiguy, and b) I know way too many Furries. Selfhood is polymorphic, The End. But if owning that identify means contributing to the marginalization of the community to which you claim to belong, then honestly, you’re a much bigger part of the problem than you’d like to believe.

PS: I told the MC that I used to do a lot of spokenword poetry. Should I be asked to play a part, I promise to showcase something a little less on the money than The Night My Dick Put Out the Lights in Georgia.

Let’s Go to Whamhalla with the Sun on Our Faces

Most of this month’s Facets of Leather was dedicated to seasonal music, including a festive array of inappropriate holiday songs and a guerrilla transmission of Wham’s Last Christmas. Our sincerest apologies to any listeners who assumed we would take the high road and not use our radio show to mow down everyone playing Whamaggedon, but in our defense, we honestly thought you knew us a little better than that.

In related news, we also had a spirited discussion on the controversy surrounding “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” (Me: “While the lyrics are tongue-in-cheek when placed in historical context, from a greater perspective they highlight serious issues within a culture that prohibits women from sexual expression but encourages men to disregard boundaries.” Robert: “It’s just kind of a sucky song.”) Robert sent me the following parody early this morning, and while I have learned not to regret the past, I wish on all that is holy that he’d found it before we went on the air, because it is sheer freaking genius.

Our long-distance groupie Orin Slade was indisposed this weekend, and he unfortunately did not have a chance to create a summary meme. However, I received a package from him a few days ago, and the handmade ornament inside kicks the ass of any Internet imagery out there:

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Frosty the Misfit was a jolly, happy soul.
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Frosty flags fuchsia and is not fucking around. Assume the position, pig.

I do believe lil’ Frosty’s going to fit right in with my collection of Krampus memorabilia. It’s legit like two Christmases this year.

Not even the pipe cleaners. Especially not even the pipe cleaners.

Customer: “So you’ve got some pretty serious competition these days.”

Me: “Oh?”

Customer: “Yes. You can get all of this at Walmart.” [he opens his arms wide, indicating all of this.]

Me: “Ah.”

Customer: “Yep, all of this.” [He notices a set of sounding rods in one of the display cases.] “Even these! You can find these at Walmart now.”

Okay. I will freely admit that Walmart does sell colored bandanas, which may well cut into our hanky sales — in fact, I have a navy blue hanky from Walmart that sports a cunning gray stripe down the middle. And I will also own that I have not ventured very far into Walmart’s website, so for all I know, they sell harnesses. Or at the very least handy leather straps that can be fashioned into one.

That said… guys, please don’t stick anything you find at Walmart into your urethra. Even if it looks kind of soundy. I don’t ask for much, but I am going to make a stand on this issue. Thank you in advance for your compliance.

Two Preppies, One Pocket

Preppy 1: “Hello! What is the Hanky Code color for scat?”

Me: “Brown.”

Preppy 1: [gesturing to the preppy next to him] “Excellent. He’d like one brown hanky, please.”

Preppy 2: “No, I would not.”

Preppy 1: “Yes, you would. You said you were interested, so you need the hanky.”

Preppy 2: “I said I was curious. I don’t need the hanky.”

Preppy 1: “Get over yourself and own your scat fetish.”

Preppy 2: “I’m not owning ANYTHING, and THANKS FOR CALLING ME OUT IN PUBLIC.”

Me:
giphy

Preppy 1: “You need to be more like me. I always flag.” [He catwalks across the store, strikes a pose, and glances over his shoulder like a starlet on the red carpet, pulling up his shirt just enough to expose the orange hanky in his back pocket.] “See?”

Preppy 2: “What does orange mean?”

Me: “It means–”

Preppy 1: “It means always on the lookout.”

Me: “… Okay, sure. Why not?”

Preppy 2: “Well, that’s great. But I’m still not buying a brown hanky.”

Preppy 1: “Ugh. FINE.” [then, to me] “I am very sorry we wasted your time.”

Me: [scribbling notes] “I promise you did not waste my time at all.”

And the funny thing is, orange actually means “anything, anytime, anywhere,” although there’s debate about placement: Some people maintain that orange on the right says, “just looking, not interested,” while others interpret it as, “bottom in any situation.” I myself fall into the latter camp, and as such, I truly hope these two can set aside their differences and reinforce the strained bonds of their friendship by getting pooped on together. I would happily provide them with matching cups to commemorate the event. And also maybe some baby wipes.

Circuit Breaker

Customer: “Those little electrical boxes you sell in your main store are great, but they need to have multiple switches, so that you can control more than one device at a time.”

Me: “Oh. Well, I appreciate the feedback.”

Customer: “Yeah. You’ve gotta crank it all the way up for your butt plug to get, like, BLAAAAARGH.” [He shakes violently for effect.] “But then it’s way too intense for your nipples. You know?”

Me: “…”

Customer: “But that’s just me. That’s just my opinion.”

An ex-boyfriend of mine used to work at Barnes and Noble, and he was always going on about the intimate nature of his job. He’d be like, “A woman came in today and bought a book on coping with divorce! Man, it can be pretty unnerving to learn so much about people when you’re just trying to help them.” While I hold no resentments over that particular relationship, it is nice to know that there’s no way in hell he could handle my life.

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 attempt experiments with cosmetics? 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.”

Demiboyflag
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.