What It Feels Like For A Faggot

What It Feels Like For A Faggot

This morning I rolled into my regular cafe (in Virginia), as I do everyday, and I put my stuff down next to the really tall model-hot guy with the chiseled face and head full of hair who I always see. The second I get in, a little girl maybe around 8 years old pointed directly at me.

“Daddy, is that a boy or a girl?” she asked, genuinely uncertain.

Not like I don’t draw attention to myself anyway but I was sort of embarrassed because she was literally pointing directly at me in front of the whole coffee shop. Everyone could hear her.

The dad, probably never having dealt with this exact situation before, tried to massage the awkward situation. I didn’t say anything because I wanted to see what the dad would say.

“He’s a man, sweetie” he says. I’m not paying either of them any attention. I sort of just flash a giant smile their way.

“Really? How come he has a purse?” she goes, still pointing and in total disbelief.

She thinks this is a purse? It is like the least purse-y of my actual purses. Girl, bye.

“It’s not really a purse, honey. It’s, I don’t know, some kind of satchel” is what I hear the dad say.

BUT ACTUALLY IT’S YVES SAINT LAURENT.

The takeaway from the whole situation, though, is where on earth do gender norms and other prejudices come from? Clearly the little girl meant no harm. Where do we learn how to do gender the “right” way? At home? Or is it natural?

The thing is, I’ve always been gender non-conforming and I’ve dealt with this almost everyday my whole life, only with grown-ups and people who should know better. Kids have a hard time keeping their mouths shut and they just say the darndest things. But they’re just kids, so you let stuff slide.

What It Feels Like For A Faggot

Grown ups, though, are a different story. “Faggot” used to be my first name. Fag, fag, fag. But that’s hilarious, because in college I hooked up with a closeted bro who knew I was a fag and asked me to be “less fabulous” when I came to his dorm room so nobody would suspect anything. You know, as if having a boy come into your room at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night isn’t already a dead giveaway. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called a fag or been laughed off the streets or was denied dates because I didn’t meet the exact masculinity specifications or been pointed at or made to feel second class because I sometimes enjoy a nice pair of sequin pants or whatever.

The truth is, nobody likes an effeminate guy or even a gender non-conforming guy, not even gay dudes. I’m not even effeminate. Gay dudes are often all about masculinity and appearing as bro-like and non-detectable as possible. Open up Grindr right now and count how many hundreds of profiles say “Masc 4 Masc” etc. I dress weird sometimes because I find all of that so boring. Plaid shirts, flip flops, and khakis. Those are our options. Yawn.

So what if I wear stiletto, a leopard pant, a dangly earring, a feather boa, or carry a fringe purse? I don’t want to be a girl. I am not transgendered. I am not a transvestite. I don’t wear makeup. I’m not even having an identity crisis.

This is about the cultural politics of fashion and the different ways we are allowed to express ourselves. “Allowed” is the key word. It’s sort of stupid when you really break it down. How is it that what someone else is wearing is so offensive to you that you feel the need to point or laugh or make them feel like less of a person? How does that work?

Style is everything to me. It’s the way I express myself, the way I connect to the world. I know my life would be a hell of a lot easier if I just gave up and threw away all of my fabulous pieces and started wearing football jerseys and baseball caps — which I would only do IF I was wearing stilettos but no pants. Then it’s fabulous. But I don’t want to do that, just like any guys out there reading this probably don’t want to take a walk in my PVC pants or spiked Jeffrey Campbell’s.

I have to admit, though, that sometimes the power and promise of normalcy and just fitting in is really seductive. Sometimes you just want things to be easy. Sometimes you want to roll through life without people saying mean things to you, no matter their age.

I’m just different. And if that makes me a faggot in someone’s eyes, then so be it. TC mark

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