Before Angela Lansbury told women they were partly to blame for sexual assault, she helped me with my imposter syndrome.
I talked to several smart, artistic, and wonderful inked-up queers in my life about what inspired their body art.
I was a newly minted queer and everything I knew about queerness was rooted in coming out. I’d heard about the relief that came with coming out from everybody. If TV was to be believed, I would feel free even as my parents stopped looking me in the eye.
I changed. But it was a gradual process, in the way a forest becomes stone. Petrified forest of a body.
Depression is not forever because it always ends, and depression is forever because it always comes back. It won’t work if I only want to stay on the days when my brain breaks through the muck. Turn Out The Lights is a meditation on wanting to stay on the very worst days.
“I watched her zip up her white dress in the mirror; I watched her cross and uncross her legs; I watched her, and my friends watched her, and in the movie we were watching the other characters, men and women, watched her. I hated her so much, and so purely, with such satisfaction. I couldn’t look away.”
My nails may contribute to the erasure of my queer identity, but they represent a departure from following other people’s rules — and instead listening to my own voice.
It’s where I keep my most precious treasures.
Straight fanfiction? I don’t know her.
Fitting into Los Angeles wasn’t going to happen for me. Or so I thought, until I stopped trying.
“Four-and-a-half minutes was all it took to throw me back into this huge river of feeling, and it was exhilarating and rewarding and made me feel light and warm in a place that had been cold and damp for a long time.”
My vagina and I get along most of the time. We know our routines, the things each of us like (orgasms and panty-free nights) and the things we don’t (periods and hard fingering meant to be pleasure inducing) but occasionally one of us fails each other.
“It became a running joke between my partners and I, that I was both too stigmatized and too famous to get my needs met.”
“I’m a Nice Person — I have one of those irrepressibly pleasant faces that makes people want to sit next to me on public transportation — but I can be nice and angry, I can be smart and angry, and I can be worth listening to and angry.”
What followed was absolute chaos. Pure, unadulterated terror. Those haunted house reaction pictures at the moment of surprise come to life. Girls were shoving each other out of the way but where we were running was unclear. Off the earth? Possibly.
Finally I got to be unapologetically queer amongst this familia that came together in the face of rejection from the homes we came from or by the systems that governed us in the US/Mexico border community that is the Rio Grande Valley.
“I feel as if I am filled to the brim, fit to spill, with how much I love her and how much I resent being a secret. It makes me feel invisible and alone but I stand by her. I stand by her until I can’t anymore. When we break up, I am more determined than ever to come out to my father.”
“It took watching I Don’t Wanna Be A Boy to show me that the negative attitudes towards trans women have always been pervasive in society, that from 1994 to 2016 there hasn’t been much change in how society views us. But it also taught me that we share a sisterhood of sorts. No matter what time and what place, trans women of color are connected by our similar experiences.”
“There is nothing I love more than sharing a deafeningly silent, poignant moment with 300 other audience members; grinning wide through a rousing musical number that makes me want to stand and cheer; or tearing up at a matinee with the gray-haired woman seated beside me.”
It’s lovely and strange how a song can cast light on memories of people you haven’t thought about in years, can press urgently on that soft sad spot we carry for our past.