Blake, the Up and Coming Artist

                        portrait of me, doing a breathing treatment

Recently in one of my support groups for trans folks, a young artist had posted examples of their work and was offering to do portraits of other members. By the time I got to the thread they already had at least fifty responses, or so it seemed. I didn’t really have any expectations, because so many portraits would be an overwhelming amount of work.  I hesitated but have been struggling with seeing myself in a positive light lately so I went ahead and dropped that selfie and let them know that I thought they were quite talented, and would love to feature them here on my blog. 

They said yes obviously because here we are, and to my great delight offered to do a portrait for me as well. Oh gosh. I was a little nervous, I won’t lie. What would I look like through someone else’s eyes?  The answer to that question ended up being, completely awesome. It was powerful and moving when I saw that picture of myself for the first time. A picture without the filter of my personal baggage. Wow. 

But that’s enough about me, and my experience. Let’s talk about Blake. Blake is a passionate, young, queer artist of color living in Florida. Some of the reoccurring themes in their art work include explorations of gender fluidity, self expression, and realism versus  surrealism. Blake, who is clearly an artist on several different levels is also a jazz vocalist, choreographer, and is passionate about social justice. 

When I spoke to Blake they were drawing my portrait and attempting to explain this stranger’s face to their ever curious toddler age cousins. The tenderness and good humor with which they related the conversation immediately won me over. (I’m a sucker for a cute toddler story) 

 “Hi my little cousins keep asking about you (2 and 6) what pronouns should I use?” they asked, “They keep looking at your picture, they are very interested in you… I just said that’s a person and they said, like me? I said yes, and they said, oh ok…. I love little kids”*

One thing they said that really resonated with me so strongly, that I find myself thinking about still was their saying,”…That’s one of the reasons I posted asking if people wanted pics, people deserve to be drawn! Nobody draws people like us and we’re BEAUTIFUL!!!”

 Thanks for the reminder Blake, sometimes I forget how true that is. We are beautiful, and we deserve to feel that way. 

Powerful. 

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If you would like to follow or support Blake in their artistic endeavors you can follow them on Instagram @fromasterflex, Tumblr: thefromasterflex.tumblr.com, or become a patron via Patreon

You can also support them by donating PayPal with the note “for Blake”
*messenger dialog edited for clarity and minor typos

Ageism in Radical Queer Communities

Guest post By Rhizome Syndrigast Coelacanth Flourishing

​This is from a thread I participated in earlier this year where folx had allowed  a uncritiqued ageism to reign over me:
“Folx use Elder as a label for all older/aging folx they encounter should rethink that.
The word is loaded with, yes, cultural significance, that is never unpacked in terms of expectations for folx who have that label affixed to their existences.
Most folx who have this label affixed to who they are, have often already accepted it as construct, never having realized there was space to question or even refuse it.
I refuse it.

I challenge it.

I am not interested in having the label and any accompanying, unspecified, coercive expectations that might or might not come with the word affixed to my existence.
If we’re radically unpacking ageism, Elder uncritically used as a term, has no place in this thread.
I don’t need you to keep my words in mind.
I need you to hear me saying using Elder as a general word for all older or aging folx without their permission, given that Elder comes with a whole whack load of historical, cultural and social significance, is oppressive.
Where and when possible unless you’re already dealing with folx who you know have accepted/embraced the term, you really should ask.
I don’t like being referred to as Elder by random qt folx who do not share precisely what they mean when they use this term in relation to me. 
I don’t like not being asked if I’d like to have the weight of their need, hopes and expectations attached to my existence, to my place among young/er politicized folx, to my sexuality, to my resistance work.
Elder, when used by high profile up and coming folx in community can also be a competitive, patronizing death sentence.
I have never been so insulted by the tones of folx I’ve been attempting to engage with as I have felt in this thread.
The perception of who older or aging people are is completely infused with faux gentle, condescending tones that say “hush, hush dear older person. don’t work yourself up into a lather over this. it isn’t good for your heart. here’s your rocker and your knitting.”
Radical anti-ageism is probably not ever going to be a thing because so many marginalized folx who are older are struggling for daily basic survival.
This does not mean that folx who are younger and generally politicized get to uncritically assume a particular power relation/social dynamic. ”

If you learned from and/or appreciate this post. You can pay Rhizome for their labor via PayPal with the email rhizomesyndrigastflourishing@gmail.com

Fluid Mom

Today I have a special guest post from my dear friend and talented artist, Caro, on the intersections of personal, gender, and parental identities. This is a topic that is most dear to my heart and experience. I know that this beautifully, vulnerable comic really spoke to my parenting life, I’m sure it will speak to many others as well.

fluidmom1fluidmom2fluidmom3fluidmom4

 

Caro Fréchette is a Canadian sequential artist and author. They have published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels, five novels, and one non-fiction book on writing. They were the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazine Histoires à boire debout.
You can follow their online comic Some Assembly Required on Tapastic: https://tapastic.com/series/Some-Assembly-Required1 
 
Get in touch:
Twitter: @CaroFrechette1

Taking One For the Queers: How to Be a Gentleman Goddess

One of my goals here besides community building inside chronic illness and non binary transgender communities, is specifically lifting up the voices of the further marginalized within those communities. To that end today is an exceedingly special day. A guest post by my dear friend, the most excellently talented, Michon Neal. You can find more of hir work in the cuilverse. -Selissa

Oh boy.

So, there’s this thing you learn in studying queer history about the ways doctors like to change bodies to conform to the sexual binary that we’ve all been taught exists (but is actually more wibbly wobbly sexy wexy). And it has to do specifically with making female genitalia look…appropriate. Becauseeveryone was so frightened that lesbians would be able to penetrate one another and therefore wouldn’t need men.

Go ahead. Laugh all you want. But people are still strange about female desire and expression today. Just bring up female ejaculation and watch them squirm.

Anyway, there are actually some fairly large clitorises out there. So large that they used to cut them down to size. Some of them are a couple inches long. Sometimes it starts off small and then increases in size after a piercing or after starting testosterone. They all tend to look like very small penises (which makes sense, considering how the human body forms in utero).

It took me years to stop dreading removing my pants to reveal my overly large clitoris. It protrudes, sticking straight out instead of being nested and pointing down. It never draws all the way within the clitoral hood. I literally have a one-inch intact penis down there. That expands to about two inches when I’m aroused. It’s not very thick-only about a half inch around-or at least not as thick as some of the others I’ve seen that are large.

But it’s big enough to be able to do some things few human beings can. First, it’s big enough to pierce safely. An actual clitoral piercing-as opposed to a hood or labial piercing-is very, very rare. Second, it’s big enough for, ah, penetration (can you tell I’m so nervous talking about this?).

Being genderqueer, this actually works well for me. Sometimes I wish it was bigger (doesn’t every man?) and I fret over whether I’m giving my partner any actual pleasure. I also fret over whether straight partners are put off by it.

But actually, they all seem to love it. For some, it’s even a fetish.

Fantastic! As I’ve learned to make peace with my illness-riddled body over the years, I’ve come to consider myself a gentleman goddess (combine those two looks and you have my personality/style).

So how does this work? Well, my male half is usually referred to as Zack. He doesn’t have as many sex partners as Michon, but he loves to play. And he really enjoys anal. Sometimes my partner gender swaps and plays female for me or simply remains male while I’m Zack, with or without me penetrating his anus.

There are several possibilities with me as male or female, dominating or not:

  1. I can dock with their foreskin/penetrate their vagina
  2. I can pretend their testicles are breasts/use their breasts
  3. I can have them give me a blow job
  4. I can bend them over and take my pleasure

I can’t describe how exciting and fulfilling it is to feel myself inside another person. Obviously deep penetration isn’t possible, but we’re so mentally, emotionally, and sexually in sync that it doesn’t even matter. One of the benefits is that I don’t have to worry too much about being gentle and doing damage to internal organs. I also don’t have to worry about my internal organs if I’m having pain from one of my conditions.

And the best thing is that after Zack is satisfied, I can lay down and morph back into Michon, who loves being devoured by someone’s mouth and tongue. I get to dance in both worlds, fulfilling and expressing my masculinity and femininity, my wholeness.

It’s why I laugh when straight men treat me like a woman; they don’t realize how often it’s Zack sitting there and how incredibly gay it feels. It’s also one of the things that allows me to see through their bullshit; I notice the signs when they only want to fuck me.

I have the best of all worlds in some ways. I’m able to be male, female, neither, and both sexually. I can have gay sex, lesbian sex, queer sex, and boring sex. Just kidding; I’ve never had boring sex.

In other ways it’s the worst. Parts of me get erased when someone only sees me as one or the other. And black men in particular are more wary of letting their guard down. Because anal usually means gay in our culture. And gay is the worst thing you can be besides female.

Add female domination into the mix and you’re completely upsetting the natural order. Black culture is so obsessed with “men lead, women follow” that there’s often not much discussion about our shared humanity.

Where those of other races tend to be willing to be penetrated sooner, or know for sure it’s not their thing, I’ve found that black men tend to take years to unpack the collective baggage. Toxic masculinity hits black men particularly hard, even for those who are gay.

The black gay men I’ve known (none of which would want to sleep with me because I wasn’t assigned male at birth) have tried to balance their orientation with their Christianity. Often, this leaves them bifurcated and stunted.

Black sexuality, in many ways, has been poisoned for so long that it tends to be destructive rather than constructive, divisive rather than conducive, empty rather than full.

On top of that, queer sex isn’t often discussed, no matter what race you belong to. And many queer people don’t much like putting their sex lives out there to be scrutinized because we already get enough shit. For years, I kept my kinky and queer desires contained in my books.

But I think there’s a real opportunity for the sexes and genders to explore gender play, or to express their gender sexually in a better way, or simply to have better sex.

But only if we queers speak up about what we want and actually do. Until then, I’ll be sharing my own adventures as your friendly sadistic gentleman goddess. Watch this space.

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Michón Neal is Black (with Irish and Cherokee thrown in to fuck things up further), autistic, aromantic, noetisexual, demisexual/asexual, polyamorous, Relationship Anarchist, autodidact, relationship fluid, disabled, single parent, in poverty, kinky switch/Dom/me, assigned female at birth, synesthetic, intersex, genderqueer, Army brat, survivor of several forms of abuse, left-handed, singleish, and pansexual. Though ze majored in Brain and Mind Studies, hir addiction to learning means ze has researched many different disciplines. Ze spends the majority of hir time presently engaging in fleshing out the many corners of the cuilverse, running Postmodern Woman, and writing and speaking for Everyday Feminism.