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Queer, Witchy

Colleen

https://www.instagram.com/leoraalida/
From the deck-in-progress The Resilient Tarot by Leora Effinger-Weintraub.

Colleen Cook, May 26, 1968 – July 8, 2019
A dear member of my Pagan and queer communities. Their dance with cancer was long and complex, and they danced it as fiercely as they could until the very end.
Requiescat in punk.

Queer, Yarncraft

The Vest

I get misgendered a lot. As an afab* person with an aesthetic I call “middle femme” (because it makes me sound like a lady Hobbit), most people who don’t know me identify me as a woman.

I know that this comes with vast privilege. Dominant culture’s ability to quickly and easily put me into one of the societally acceptable gender boxes, even if it’s not where I go, allows me a level of safety and ease that my more obviously gender-transgressing siblings, especially those who are also people of color and/or visibly disabled, do not share. Whenever I can, I use that privilege to speak and act in support of those who do not share it.

But this misgendering (or gendering, in my case) also carries isolation and invisibility. Not being identifiable as nonbinary by other members of the trans/nonbinary/gender-nonconforming community is incredibly lonely. Sometimes not being believed as nonbinary by other members of the community is heartbreaking.

It’s also cranky-making, because it feeds into a dominant culture myth, unfortunately creeping its tendrils into the queer community, that nonbinary looks a certain way: rail-thin, flat-chested, and narrow-hipped (which my short, round, descended-from-Ashkenazi-Jews-and-Welsh-farmers body will never be), wearing “unisex” clothes, which often look suspiciously like men’s clothes with muted color palettes, no pockets, and high prices. In my heart of hearts I reject that myth, but by doing so, am I perpetuating my own invisibility?

I’m often caught on the horns of two equally strong, equally aggravating impulses. I want to shave exactly half my hair, replace exactly half my wardrobe with clothes from the men’s section, and be so aggressively uncategorizable that even I wouldn’t know what gender box to put me in if we met on the street, in order to be a visible support and sibling to other nonbinary/gnc folks. And I want to keep on as I have been, promoting my fierce belief that nonbinary identity is rooted first and foremost in gender experience and only secondarily in gender expression, and that I don’t have to change myself in radical, costly, and often unhealthy ways to conform to dominant culture’s fatphobic, androcentric, Ziggy-Stardust-wannabe stereotype of what nonbinary looks like.

So, anyway, I made a vest.

It’s based on Janine Myska’s Aloha Vest crochet pattern, which I found on Ravelry. Everyone else I’ve seen has made it in a single color, but the pattern and means of construction make it well-suited to be crocheted in the colors of the agender flag: two stripes each of white, gray, and black around a central stripe of green. It took me forfreakingever, because I’m a slow and easily distracted crocheter, but I finally finished it this weekend.

Photo of a crocheted vest hanging in front of a white window curtain. The vest has one central dark green stripe surrounded by two stripes each of white, gray, and black: the colors, more or less, of the agender pride flag

Except that even here I messed up. The green yarn I had was much darker than I remembered it being: not the cheerful chartreuse of the agender flag, but a deep forest green the yarn company named “Dark Thyme” (man, I hear ya). Which means that my vest, which was meant to be both a bit of queer oomph for myself** and a subtle identifier for other agender folks, is instead just a stripey vest.

In a way, it is an awkward and all-too-fitting metaphor for my own gender identity. I, and those closest to me, recognize and honor me as an agender person. Everyone else sees a woman in a vest. That invisibility and misunderstanding hurts sometimes, but in the end, know who I am, and maybe that’s all that matters.

*assigned female at birth, meaning that when I was plucked from my mother’s womb, somebody looked at my genitals and said, “Yup, that’s a girl.”
**all my crochet projects are also acts of magic, but that’s a post for another time.
Uncategorized

Kind Birthyear to Me

Yesterday was my birthday. It was an up and down kind of day. Leora and I spent a few hours with friends at the Como Park Conservatory, and then lunch out, which were nice. But the conservatory had been a fallback because predicted thunderstorms put the kibosh on spending the morning morel foraging, and the weather left me enervated for the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t even talk to my parents, because I was feeling a strong need not to interact with any more people for the day. And it wasn’t great, but it was kind of nice to think, It’s okay; it’s my birthday. I can do that.

A couple weeks ago, this conversation happened in my Instagram messages:

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TRANSCRIPT:

Me: As usual at this time of year, trying to balance wanting to squeeze as much adventure as possible into my birthday (the 18th) with wondering why I put so much pressure on a single day of the year.
J: Aren’t we humans silly creatures
Me: What would life be like, I sometimes wonder, if I were as kind to myself every day of the year as I am on my birthday?
J: Oh try it I triple dog dare you 

I’ve been thinking about that ever since. What would my life be like if I were as kind to myself every day as I am on my birthday? I don’t mean as indulgent. Birthdays for me often mean certain food, money, and time management choices that I wouldn’t even want to replicate the other 364 days a year. But I do usually treat myself with more kindness. I allow myself to express strong personal opinions and make definitive decisions without worrying that they’re going to disappoint someone. I forgive myself if things on the to-do list don’t get to-done. I listen to my body, even when my heart and mind still want to go go go! Even when the day doesn’t go the way I’d hoped, I still usually feel good about things in general, because I let myself feel good about myself.

Then May 19th rolls around, and I go right back to being indecisive and self-critical. It sucks.

So for this, The Year of Being 41, I’m going to try it. I’m going to (endeavor to) spend an entire year really being nice to myself. I don’t know how it’ll go. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even entirely clear on what it looks like. But I’m going to try it. The world is full of unkindness; the least I can do is not replicate that behavior in myself to myself. 

Wish me luck!

be_kind
heART Postcard ~~ Kindness, by Gemma Grace. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Witchy

Atheist Pagan Panel redux

At Paganicon 2019, I had the honor of sitting on a panel on Atheist Paganism, alongside organizer/moderator Kay Lara Schoenwetter, Godless Paganism editor John Halstead, and local Pagan luminary, thinker, writer, and raconteur Steven Posch. Kay sent us questions beforehand, and like any good public speaker with anxiety, I wrote out and relentlessly practiced my answers beforehand. Then the panel actually happened. The conversation went in different directions; I forgot to say things I wanted and said things I hadn’t planned to; we skipped questions and added others as the discussion led us.

But by gum, I answered these questions, and it seems a shame to let that go to waste. So here they are, the answers I would have given to the questions we were sent, if the outer world ran as smoothly as the one in my head.

Continue reading “Atheist Pagan Panel redux”

Queer, Theater-Related

I’m Never Going to Earth Again

Sixty plays. Nine playwrights. Seven performers. Ninety minutes. One wild ride.

This past weekend, Gadfly Theater Productions opened their latest show, I’m Never Going to Earth Again: 60 Queer Plays in 90 Queer Minutes. As the title implies, it’s a madcap night of one- and two-minute plays penned by a team of nine queer writers. One of which was me.

I have no words for what a delightful experience this show has been. From our earliest writers’ meeting to a dazzling opening night, watching the show come together has been magical in a way I’ve never entirely seen before. Having so much overlap between cast and writers has created a level of connection to the work and each other not often found in most “normal” theater productions.

And here’s what’s been the most precious to me: because all the writers are queer, no single one of us was expected to “represent the queer experience” (in six pages or less). We were all encouraged to write about what truly mattered to us, even if it didn’t appear, at first blush, to have anything to do with queer identity. We wrote about gods and strained family relations, about racism, classism, fatphobia, gentrification, religion, environmental degradation, coming out, breaking up, and being superheroes. Taken together, we all represented the queer experience.

And what an experience it is.

*

I’m Never Going to Earth Again is written by Jex Arzayus, Manny Elliott, Zealot Hamm, Ming Hsu, Kassia Lisinski, Jada Pulley, Gabriela Santiago, Cassandra Snow, and yours truly. It is performed by Jex Arzayus, Manny Elliott, Zealot Hamm, Ming Hsu, Jada Pulley, Joey Ripley, and Lyssa Sparrow. It is directed by Cassandra Snow.

It’s playing at Strike Theater in northeast Minneapolis. You have four more chances to see it!