|One of my color schemes.|
It looks better in natural light - honest.
I hate moving. I hate it, hate it, hate it! The only good thing about it is that packing sometimes brings you eye-to-eye with those special little things that you haven’t seen for years. I’m a huge collector of gewgaws and tchotchkes and the amount of unique crap that I have is, at moments, completely overwhelming. As I carefully wrap them, I think back on who I bought it with, what was the occasion -- misty water colored memories, and all that jazz.
I also have to admit that I was a little shocked to see my previous post made its way to the RFT. I was a little surprised that no one from the RFT contacted me about the story - they just quoted the blog. I suppose, in this day and age, that blog material is public domain.
Nevertheless, folks still responded to it. So I guess the old adage that all press is good press still holds true. Thanks to everyone who has written or called over the past two weeks. Your support was really appreciated. I’m even not that upset by my detractors because I fundamentally believe in the act of self-expression (although comparing me to John Wayne Gacy is a tad tacky and unnecessary). The issue that still burns my craw is the inconsistent admittance policy that remains at JJs. Lifting the ban for “special occasions” kinda reminds me of that scene outta Hairspray - “Negro Day is the last Thursday of the month.” That kind of “your kind/our kind” mentality is so inconsistent with the efforts the GLBT community is trying to accomplish. Or maybe I’m missing something from the your kind can’t get married debate.
Ms. Badu's old hair
Anyway, enough of talking about that farkate bar. I did see two incredible shows this weekend. Erykah Badu rocked the house Friday, as did Rufus Wainwright last night. Both artists produced shows that entertained as well as lead to moment of deep, reflective contemplation (ahem)…… But I’ll be the first to admit that the outfits at Ms. Badu’s show ratcheted up the fashion barometer to almost-bursting. Apparently, culottes, spike heels, and the shredded dress are the looks for today’s style-hungry diva.
Mr. Wainwright's wounded knight look
As for Ms. Badu – she seemed to take her fashion cue from this Halstony/Helen of Troy flowing, pleated, tan number. And her new hair was to her knees (a hair burner pal says the weave took two days and was at least $700). Another friend of mine remarked, “If I had hair that long, there’d be a cat up in there…car keys….gum…..I’d be falling over it.” Ms. Badu had no such problem – but she did seem a tad toned down from her last performance (or so I’ve been told). Granted, she is pregnant....but I really wanted to see those knee-high Parliament style-inpsired boots.
I didn’t know what to expect from Rufus Wainwright. I was surprised by how butch he looked. He has some muscles – not like porn star muscles – but he had a nice healthy look to him. He filled out his pants nicely. He was however, wearing a really tragic do-rag that he compared to “Axl Roses’s gay cousin Bob.” I think he said Axl – but you get the drift.
Oh! and they both sang real good, too. If you want a review, check out Kevin Johnson's.
The only bummer about last night is that I missed the Finale. But the news is covering Carrie’s choice like it was the freaking revolt in Haiti…oh, yeah…..they’re covering it more than the revolt in Haiti. And folks say I’m trifling.
I have long believed that gay bars are our community’s platform for self-expression. After all, it was at the Stonewall Inn 35 years ago, where drag queens took on a hostile and abusive police force and in effect launched the modern gay rights movement. It is in these same bars today, where we meet in relative comfort and safety, thanks to the progress our community has made. Unlike those New York drag queens, who were being harassed by the police for simply existing, most members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community today probably feel relatively safe in our bars and clubs. I used to feel that way, but today I feel a bit differently, due to an incident at JJ’s Clubhouse.
This past Saturday night, I joined my drag sisters and donned my wig, strapped on my heels and cinched myself into a corset to join other concerned members of the community in raising funds to support the AIDS Foundation at their costume charity ball. I had a great time. The crowd, which was comprised of numerous straight, as well as GLBT revelers, joined together for drinks, dancing and HIV/AIDS fundraising.
Folks were extraordinarily kind to me and numerous straight couples came up to me and asked if they could have their photo taken with me – they loved my costume so much. It made me feel special and welcome and appreciated for my time spent volunteering on the committee, gathering prizes, getting radio announcements donated and distributing invitations at numerous social functions, including the Mad Art Prom, where the predominantly-straight crowd was kind and generous and supportive of my costume. It felt wonderful to be received with smiles and kindness by so many strangers who, like me, felt that raising money for an AIDS organization was a worthwhile effort. After the fundraiser was over, the chair of the event asked me and a friend him to join him at JJ’s for a celebration drink. The night was young, so we set off for more fun.
Having a great time at the AIDS Foundation Saints & Sinners Ball - Photo Courtesy of Jeff at Gatsby's Ghost
I spent all of ten minutes at JJs. I walked into the main dance bar, which was comprised of a mostly-male crowd – but there were five or six women there and I promptly started dancing. Within seconds I saw a man pointing at me and screaming at a bartender. I tried to ignore the ruckus – but in the space of time it took for my friend to check his coat, three different JJ’s patrons grabbed my dress, grabbed my corset strings and pulled me backwards. I was also spun around by one man who proceeded to gyrate his crotch against me, who then grabbed me and pulled me when I tried to walk away. It’s one thing to get groped – but its another thing to be pulled and grabbed and treated with hostility – by members of my own community.
I guess the man yelling at the bartender got security – because I was then approached by a member of JJ’s staff who asked me to leave immediately. I asked him why. He said drag wasn’t allowed at JJ’s. Starting to get a little riled, I asked him if women were allowed – and he said yes, but that drag was not, and that I had to leave. I asked him where JJ’s dress club was posted and he said, “It’s just known within the community.” Well, I’ve been in drag at JJ’s before and never been asked to leave, but given the situation and the hostility from the clientele, I decided to leave without a fuss. And so did a few others who overheard what the security guard said. I later learned that JJ’s official policy is that drag is only allowed on Halloween and Fat Tuesday, but that doesn’t give me any comfort at this point. Why the disparity?
I admit to being a little perplexed by the night’s occurrences. I have seen 300 pound men wearing only jockstraps in that bar (which was a sight, for sure); I have seen men dressed as pigs – in realistic, latex pig masks (which was flat-out spooky) – at that bar; and I have seen grown men getting spanked while they get their boots licked at that bar (which was outrageous behavior, to say the least); and if that’s less offensive to the bar’s owners and their clientele than an outfit worn for an AIDS fundraiser, then so be it. I know I am not welcome there, which saddens me and upsets me because I asked my employer to donate advertising to support the St. Louis’ bear community’s annual Hibearnation event, which I, coincidentally, donated my time to design.
The offending outfit - which was mostly vinyl and plastic, by the way. Photo Courtesy of Jeff at Gatsby's Ghost
Given the time and energy I have spent working at the Vital VOICE, St. Louis' gay newspaper, the two years that I have also volunteered at KDHX to engineer St. Louis' only GLBT radio show, as well as the numerous times I have donated my money, time, energy and services to Pride, HRC, PROMO, Black Pride and most of St. Louis’ AIDS-service organizations (Doorways, EFA, Food Outreach and AIDS Foundation), I feel disappointed at how I was treated and am left asking why this happened to me?
To set aside my personal feelings, there are a few questions that I am left asking:
What is JJ’s definition of drag, anyway?
Are members of the trans-community unwelcome at JJ’s – because they’re in “drag”?
Are butch dykes unwelcome at JJs because they’re in “men’s” clothes – and thus, “in drag”?
I understand that bars may want to enforce dress codes – but shouldn’t such restrictions be posted at the door? Why was I let in, anyway? I also understand that folks want to be able to mix with like-minded folks, but what does it say about our community that I am treated with greater kindness, acceptance and tolerance by straight people than I am by gay men?
There is a part of me that wonders if my Stonewall sisters would have accepted this kind of treatment? Part of me regrets the fact that I left without making a scene, without throwing a fit, without yelling to high heaven about a gay bar discriminating within its own ranks. What I have to admit is that I felt frightened, I felt unsafe, I felt unwelcome and I felt fear…..in a gay bar.
So much for progress.
If you have any thoughts on the matter, you can:
- Tell me what you think (privately)
- or publicly post something below.
- Tell JJ's what you think
-or Tell the Editor of the Vital VOICE what you think