Tuesday, April 13, 2010

paternity pulsations

I went swimming last night. I had attempted to arrange it as an All Bodies Swim, setting a time + place + putting it out to the masses. I hung out and waited for other friends to join me. No one appeared, so I entered the pool. I have stopped wearing a top in the swimming pool over the last couple months. I figure beard trumps boobs, and the rest of my body sort of leans to freak already, so I may as well enjoy the ability to breathe while in the water. Moving my shoulders and arms moving freely in water is incredible. I wish for all people to know the joy that I experience through this. But lot's of my friends don't swim, haven't been in the water in years. They don't have anything to wear, their bodies don't get exposed to the level expected in swimming pools except, for some- with lovers, after building trust, coming to agreements, and in a completely negotiated environment. And some even less, but I need to float. It grounds me, it allows me to stretch, get my blood pumping and my head relaxed.
Last night I went swimming at a pool that I love. It seems as if it were designed by a bunch of gender revolutionaries and family minded individuals and (dis)Ability activists, all teamed up. The UNIVERSAL changing area is the main changing area of the place, it's made up of sections of stall/shower combo units, unplumbed changing stalls, accessible shower stalls, banks of lockers and open showers. It is open to the pool, and the first option when entering the facility. Gender neutral is the default. So I entered, switched from my carharts into my neon orange patterned shorts I just got from Value Village, showered off, stashed my stuff and entered the pool. I know that people look at me. I don't let that take too much of my attention. I think about what I would like to do, hot tub (WITH A RAMP INTO IT!!), big pool for diving and laps, giant pool with warm water and a current channel, waterslide... so many choices!!! I enter the crowded steam knowing how many eyes are on me.
The pools, all of them, were filled with babies. And dads. Every way I looked there were dad's and kids. I have been suffering from a very serious case of baby fever lately. I think about being pregnant all day every day. I count in increments of 9 months, I think about what I could wear, where I could go. I wonder if I would feel comfortable to go swimming in public while visibly pregnant. Would I feel safe? I feel like I have heard enough people say, and write online, about how they'd kill a pregnant man if they saw him, to save the baby from having such a horrid life. To have a parent who wants you THAT bad, horrid indeed. I will be an amazing father. It won't happen by accident, I don't often enough find myself in "oops, oh we may have been too drunk and I don't even know ... ahh, maybe we should have some tests done" types of situations to warrant fear. Now is not a good time. I have no money, I am not in a place to bring a baby into. I don't have room for a baby. My team hasn't committed, we haven't sorted out the details. But when it does happen it will be amazing. I will be a wonderful father. I saw the pools full of cute, obviously sperm producing men, I watched how they interacted with their kids. I watched how they interacted with me, and about me. Kids always smile at me. Maybe they know I am fun. Maybe I am the coolest grown up in the pool cause I'm wearing neon and have a twirly mustache. But regardless, kids look at me, they talk to me, they chuckle with me. And being a grown man, alone in the pool, playing like a child, walking with a limp, wearing neon and with a mustache and tits. Apparently my current look lies between a kid's fun and a grown up's creepy.
These things all combined with my eyes, red with chlorine, making it look like I am higher than I am. I lay in the warm water pool with an inflatable ball on my belly. Holding it and floating face up. I am sure that my facial expression was plastered with impregnation, morning sickness, growth, cramps, stretching, pains, confusion, feeling like I would need to have a buddy to the pool. I asked my doctor what kind of time she's recommend being off of T before trying to get pregnant. She agrees that all ducks are not in a row, half reminding me that I still need to confirm or deny my connective issues before I can know how safe it is. Or if I have some genetic , "weird and wonderful thing" (how the resident repetitively described genetics) that I may or may not want to risk passing on. She says it might take 6 months for cycles to return and my body to become a non-toxic baby zone.
As the ducks line up they say, no, not now, not yet. But ducks build nests before laying eggs. Perhaps that is really what this is all about, I must begin collecting sticks.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

husbands and husbands and wives and wives

Husbands and Husbands

While chatting about the plans for this upcoming summer with my mom, I became aware that this is a summer of weddings. I guess we all come across them, at a certain age, or in certain economic climates, or whatever the variables are that lead people to throw the party and tie the knot. This year is one of those years for me.
The conversation sidetracked to talking about a friend of my mom's whose son is heading the prop 8 campaign out of LA. Him and his team are working to get gay marriage on the ballot in California for 2012. This will hopefully give them enough time to get people on board for returning the right to marry to all in California, since that was revoked with the passing of Prop 8. They had initially intended to have it go to ballot this year, but have it fail would shut it down for too long if not ever. The religious right has put some serious backing into "protecting marriage" and "family values" (see my post Walking home for my thoughts on family values) They have so much behind them that it will take 2 years for even such a celebrity backed campaign to have enough mass to confidently make it through the polls in California. It seems preposterous to me, cause this is a wedding year. And like every other wedding that I have attended in my adult life, and probably will, they are all queer.
The first wedding is 2 friends, who my mom described in this conversation, as probably the gayest couple she's ever met. Transfabulous fags, the wedding will be chock full of slutty femmes, genderfucked princesses of all genders and lots of unicorns. And their families. Their co-workers, their community, gay, straight and otherwise.
The second wedding is my sisters. My sister and her fiancee are another type of gay wedding. It had never crossed my sisters mind that her wedding couldn't just happen anywhere, or that any old preacher wouldn't perform the ceremony. My sister hardly thinks about her gayness. Doesn't have a rooted history or relationship with the queer community. She's just a "normal" guy marrying her young femme lover. At a sailor themed wedding, with my family, so again, very gay.
The third wedding I have on the books is another type all together. They may pass as straight, their wedding may even be "straight" in the sense that perhaps folks there, not knowing that the groom is trans will not see the queerness (except of course in the guest list). Even this wedding, with the couple that appears straight wouldn't be happening in California this summer. At least not for 2 or more years. When trans people are restricted the ability to change all of their legal documents they remain under marriage legislation that doesn't seem that it should have anything to do with them. And seriously, even if a wedding or relationship appears straight, when we get behind closed doors something about getting down with trans folks is always going to be queer.
(that's my take- and know that not all trans people agree, but really- straight men aren't gonna do me [unless wasted or not really straight], straight ladies aren't always too sure about it [although often convinced after]- I can't possibly imagine how (or why) I could ever have straight sex in this trans body.)
I don't know how I feel about having my relationships legitimized by the state. I imagine that it won't be something I will ever feel entirely included in, being poly as well as queer, but I would like to know that my friends and family can do it if they want to. When the groom in the 3rd wedding was hospitalized a couple of years ago, we were all seated in the waiting room all night, and into the morning. Not being able to get reports on the status of his condition, not being able to visit, because we weren't his "family". We were the ones who drove him there, checked him in, and slept in the emergency room waiting area all night until we could take him home, to care for him. We cooked for him, we drove him to his appointments. We looked after each other. That's my understanding of family. And if his getting married allows at least one of his chosen family the access to be there with him when he's ill then I think its a good thing. If my sister's wedding allows my sister in law a chance to have a family she lost when coming out and losing her own, I welcome her with open arms into mine. If my faggy tranny friends in the prairies can buy a home together, get a mortgage and legal ties around sharing their lives, then I think its a good thing. If you want or need state legitimization of your love, your family, then you should have it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I live in a community that has roots in a bar. I exist in a community that is drowning. In a greater society where alcohol is a generally acceptable substance of choice, the queer community is sure to not be left out. Many important historical and social events of our people have happened in bars, over pitchers and martinis. I would like to attempt to re-write my future.

Being sober is an exception to the norm. Something that is often called into question, challenged and misunderstood. Not unlike my gender, sexual orientation and associated politics, many people that I meet for the first time (and some who I have known for years) cannot understand a conscious decision to not participate in the consumption of alcohol. People ask me daily, why the limp, why the cane, why the dress, why the stache, why the ginger ale? These are questions that depending on the day, the mood, the amount that have already been asked may or may not get answers. But for the sake of clarity, let me answer the last one.

I have "quit drinking" a few times in my life. When I hear other people talk about addiction, talk about the first time they experienced that certain substance and what it did to them, it makes me think of my early experiences drinking. The first time I was drunk was at a cast + crew after show party. A house full of actors, dancers and fellow stage tech nerds. A 4 pack of mike's hard. My pupils dilating with each breath. My parents picking me up too early. Sitting awake, and drunk, in bed weighing out if I could climb out the window, down the roof, and walk across town before the party was dry. 15. My parents made wine, and I found my way into the boxes of it. I created a fictitious club with a friend so we could have bake sales to raise vodka money in the halls at school. I couldn't get enough. About 8 years of my life (save for those points that I recognized the problem at hand and tried cold turkey sobriety for a couple months at a time) can be tracked as a somewhat blurry line from weekend to weekend. Party becomes party until they hardly distinguish themselves. Regular every day things became about drinking- I got so into drinking a cold beer in a hot shower that I would make a trip to the beer store before bathing. I would drink alone. I would encourage , nay pressure, others to keep up.

This wasn't hard. Being a freak in high school provided enough opportunity, although it hardly seemed so at the time. Being an exchange student in Denmark was a 12 month binge. Returning to Canada, coming out as queer, finding my way into the queer community, I found a whole world of people who drank as much as I did. Finding people to share breakfast Caesars with was never hard. Finding people who would play sports as long as there was beer involved: a breeze. All night dancing, late night pizza, stumbling home, with whoever became a lifestyle. Even as I started to pull back from that, party less, I noticed that every element of my life tasted a bit fermented.

In the fall I was started on heart medication. I was told that I couldn't drink much on the meds, or they wouldn't be able to do their job, keep me alive. I tried moderation. I tried having "A drink". I tried to only drink on the weekends. It wasn't working. As soon as I had "A drink", the line disappeared. It became not such a bad idea to have "just one more". So I had my last beer on my birthday. My date took me to the Pumpjack and I drank one last winter ale. I suppose the choice to quit could've been hard. Acting on it and sticking to it could've been tough. It sure hasn't been easy. But knowing that I was on a medication, intended to keep my heart going, which ran my body through the wringer, and couldn't give me any benefits when mixed with booze made it easier. After about 3 months I was taken of the meds. I seem to be doing ok, and don't need them as much as originally thought. Time is said to offer perspective. Sober time in a alcohol obsessed community sure does. I was able to see my patterns, recognize my relationship to booze. See it spill through my friends, my homes, my neighborhood. I could start again. My doctors haven't advised me against it. I have. I can see what that pattern looks like for me. I have broken up with alcohol. I even wrote a harsh break-up letter. And I know that even with time, hooking up with ex's can too easily be a quick trip into old patterns. The patterns that emerged out of my relationship to alcohol are not those which I wish to get back into.

But like the queer community, small and insular as it is, I know I cannot escape my ex's. We live in a small bubble. I must learn to live with alcohol while living without it.