Content note: This post might not make a whole lot of sense unless you really like 70’s and 80’s music and/or gender. And writing and the English language…
In my city, there are two chain-type places to go to get an average oil change within about a half-hour wait. One also sells it’s brand of oil (nationwide? internationally? not sure). The other is more of a gas station / car wash place.
For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call them:
LV – the oil specific place
SD – the gas station
I almost always go to SD because my parents give me coupons for free oil changes there, every xmas. And also because there is one on my way to / from work. About 3 years ago, I started trying LV a couple of times, but I concluded that it was too expensive, and I switched back.
I was overdue for an oil change, but I didn’t want to go to the SD in the suburb where I work, cuz I don’t really want to be seen out and about, while I am out of work for medical reasons. So I went to one in a further away suburb. I had been there once before, and it was kind of anxiety provoking (in my head, at the time).
Why? Because the style was Drive Thru, as opposed to giving the mechanic your keys and sitting in a waiting room. “Drive Thru” is one of my longest lasting fears, almost bordering on a phobia before I reigned it in a few years ago. This included parking garages, anything with a “gate,” car washes, etc.
Anyway, I made it through no problem, but I was noticing all these little “masculine touches” / masculine underlying communications, body language, etc. Stuff that’s barely worth paying attention to. Stuff I generally am not around because normally I’d be sitting in a waiting room. An example would be a giant truck in line honking, just because he(?) wanted to get an attendant to come over ahead of time for some reason. (As opposed to reading signs to find out the information). These are all assumptions, of course, but I’m just saying I was in tune to things in a different way than I normally would have been. And I was the opposite of anxious.
While waiting in my car, I was listening to a mix CD that a friend gave me in our early 20’s. Before he hardly knew me. And now he’s one of my longest-lasting, solid friends here locally.
While hypo-manic currently, I’ve been spending most of my time at home organizing and cleaning and catagorize-ing things. One thing I uncovered was this mix CD, which he had titled, “A DRUM IS A THING IS A DRUM,” (all caps.) which, for me, is reminiscent of Wire’s album (one of my favorite albums ever,) “A BELL IS A CUP UNTIL IT IS STRUCK” (all caps.) The song that stood out the most, from the others was:
T-Rex – Jeepster. So GLAM / FLAMING / FLAMBOYANT!
When the CD ended, I could overhear what was playing in the garage / mechanic dock. It was:
Elton John – Benny and the Jets. SO GAY!
Anyway, I got the oil change and then went to this place that used to be called The Stereo Shop. It’s now called something like, “Digital audiophile visual environments.” I wanted to go there because there was a used cd / record store in the back of this high end Hi Fi Sound Equipment store. When I got there, I asked the guy at the front about the cd store, and he said it wasn’t there anymore. It had moved. I asked if he could write it down for me, and he did. I don’t think any music was playing in there, or if it was, I didn’t pick up on it.
Back in my car, I was listening to a station that claims it is the only station that matters (that’s their “tag line.”) A song came on that is unusual for their roster, and also happens to be a song I sing along with / almost know by heart. That would be:
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs SO GLAM!
I got to the new location, and realized they didn’t open for another 45 minutes. So I went down the road to another record store. When I walked in, what happened to be playing?
THE CARS – MOVING IN STEREO!!! In my book, it doesn’t get any more classic / fabulous than that.
I was really just browsing, not looking for anything in particular. A bunch of stuff popped out to me as “must have’s.” I got a handful of 7-inches, and a couple of records.
I’d recently started thinking I need to upgrade a few records, if I come across copies in better condition, because I am a DJ (That’s a Bowie song!), and it sucks to play crappy sounding vinyl.
Five days prior, I’d told a friend that I probably need a new copy of Culture Club’s “Colour by Numbers.” Me ‘n this record have a loooooong history together. It doesn’t get any more basic than that. Sure enough, at this record store, they had two options!!! Either:
An original, still factory sealed, for $9.99, or
An original, still with the plastic plus promo stickers saying “Grammy Nominee,” and “All New Songs!” (and then it listed 4 song titles. This one was $10 even.
I went with the one with bonus stickers!
(PS – $10 is pretty much the most I’m willing to spend on a record, and it better be pristine and/or hard to find!)
Another exciting find was:
PETE SHELLEY* – HOMOSAPIEN* (Elongated Dancepartydubmix) !!!
Anyway, back to the story: So I bought this stuff and went back to the music store I had really wanted to check out. It was small and quiet (I think he was playing music, but I have no recollection of anything playing!) and there were just a couple of older dudes coming in and out, with special requests and just to shoot the breeze. I was only there for about an hour, but I left with a HUGE HAUL. I spent more on records and cds than I ever have before (meaning within one store at one time.) Almost everything I found was $5 or under, and it was an extreme pick-through type situation. Meaning, don’t go looking for anything in particular, just start looking at everything!
I had a nice conversation with the owner while he rung things up (in a way so as not to distract him, haha, he was super methodical with his calculator and his mechanical receipt machine.) I told him he’s got lots of great obscure stuff, and I might be back within 6 months or a year or whatever. He asked me if I live here or am passing through. I said I went to his old store with my mom a lot and he then seemed to maybe remember me. I said I do live here, I’m a DJ, I like 80’s music, etc. It took him a long time to ring everything individually, so I started browsing to pass more time. Found 3 more cds to buy, and then, as a last minute thing, the “DAVID BOWIE” category within the records popped out. There were two records in there:
DIAMOND DOGS* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $15.98 and
LET’S DANCE* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $9.98
I bought Diamond Dogs because that more or less completes my Bowie On Vinyl collection (no new pressings or record store day garbage, haha.) I left Let’s Dance behind because I already have it, but, hey everybody,
LET’S DANCE, everybody, DIAMOND DOGS and BENNY AND THE JETS included! We’re all HOMOSAPIENS, we’re all JEEPSTERs, MOVING IN STEREO, sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll…
*All Capital Letters
This is, by far, the longest post I’ve ever written.
Does the song “Bye Bye Love” by The Cars have 3 F-Bombs in it? Also, are they saying, “It’s OMG Style.”???
Pete Shelley was the lead singer of original English punk-rockers, The Buzzcocks.
Another exciting find was TWO copies (one for me, one for my friend) of a pink marbled vinyl original 7″ EP by The Stranglers from 1977, one of our fave bands! They were $4.00 each. (Hugs Work!)
I’m listening to The Cars S/T debut while I write this.
If you haven’t yet, check out the music video for “Hello Again.” It’s prob on youtube or some shit.
A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a singer/songwriter from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, named Evan Westfal. He said, “Thanks for sharing your blog with the world,” and he directed me to his website where you can stream his music. He recently put out a new EP, called “Gay Pirates.” He says, “I was hearing a lot of love songs, but none of those love songs had any queer representation. I wanted a narrative that spoke to my identity as a gay man. So that is how gay pirates came to be. I describe the EP as a series of lamentations and exaltation of a very gay love.”
You can check it out here: Evan Westfal
The music is fun and catchy; the lyrics are full of stuff like coy promises and sweet deceits, treasure chests and booty, tight shirts, resiliency, and a “raging sea of hormones.” My favorite is probably the title track.
I asked him a couple of questions, because he’s got a lot going on behind the scenes, and because I was really curious what it’s like to live in Edmonton. He said,
If I had to explain Alberta to an American, I would say that, culturally, it’s the Texas of Canada. Politically Alberta is fairly conservative, and it’s also a Province that is rich in oil. A lot of our citizens are tradespeople that work on oil rigs. As for my city, Edmonton itself is a really cool city. A river valley runs through the centre of the city, it’s rich in wildlife and flora. The city has a fantastic pride centre, and lots of other queer organizations. To answer your questions regarding weather and topography, Edmonton is really cold in the winters, and really hot in the summers. You are correct, the surrounding areas are prairies.
The pride festival is really cool. Edmonton had it’s first parade in the 1990’s, and it was very small, and most of the participants wore bags over their heads to hide their identities. Flash forward to the millennium, and things have changed quite a bit. In the last few years our city hall has raised a pride flag, the Edmonton public school board was a marshall for the parade, and the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton raised the pride flag. Each year over 30’000 people attend the parade. This year the pride festival’s theme is “one pride many voices.” The festival says they’re taking strides to become more inclusive. I think this is a great approach, as pride could definitely stand to be more intersectional and welcoming.
I asked what his musical background was, and also what instruments he plays / does he collaborate? He said,
My background with music begins with my schooling. I am a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, it’s a musical theatre program in Victoria, British Columbia. I think you’ll notice some heavy influences of musical theatre in my songwriting. I then decided to focus on commercial contemporary music, I achieved that through matriculating at MacEwan University. As a musician I’ve had the opportunity to sing backing vocals for Josh Groban, to play for the opening ceremony for the Edmonton Pride Festival, I’ve performed with Opera Nuova (an Edmonton based opera company), and I’ve produced and performed in many cabarets. Right now I’m working on a music video for my song “Gay Pirates,” it should be out in a month or two. As for instrumentation, I play the piano and sing. On my track Gay Pirates, I wrote all the song, but I had some great musician’s record with me. I have to send a thank you to my drummer Julissa Bayer, guitar player Andrew Brostrom, and Bassist David Pollock.
He also mentioned that he volunteers with an outreach program called fYerfly, so I asked him to elaborate on that too:
fYrefly is a great program. The name is an initialism that stands for: fostering Youth resilience energy leadership fun leadership yeah! You might notice the Y is capitalized, that’s because youth are the most important part. fYrefly originated as a summer leadership camp for LGBTTQ2SIA+ youth between the ages of 14-24. I attended the program as a teen, and it changed my life. For the first time in my life I got to be surrounded by people like me, I got to share a sense of camaraderie, and I got to feel pure acceptance. I loved the experience so much that I spent over a decade volunteering for fYrefly. Every year it’s a treat to see the difference the camp makes for youth.
I’m just going to repeat that acronym: “fostering Youth resilience energy leadership fun leadership yeah!” Haha, I love that! Evan will be performing for the opening ceremony of the Edmonton Pride Festival, coming up on June 10th. If you’re able to get up there – I just looked it up, and for me, it’s 34 hours away, by car! It’s up there!
Also, related, here’s one of the first posts I ever wrote – an experience I had at a wedding:
Effeminate Pirate Orders Fruity Drink on Party Boat
This piece was first published in the zine, Not Trans Enough. Written by Rhiannon Robear; reprinted with permission.
One night this summer, I was at the gay club looking glam, and having a smoke break outside with my friends. A cis gay guy came up to us and started talking about trans things in that “you’re a visibly trans and/or gender non-conforming person so I’m about to lay down all my trans knowledge, thoughts, and critiques for you” kind of way (a.k.a. completely unasked/unwanted). Overall it was a real drag, and I brushed him off mostly, but then he held my hands and looked me in the eyes and said, “baby, I know you’re trying to be the belle of the ball, but the reality is you’re built like a 6 foot amazon linebacker, and you need to work that.” I was taken aback like where the fuck do you get off telling me who I am and what I should do. But as much as I hate entertaining cis-notions of what trans people are or should be, what he said was true, and deep inside me I knew I felt that and it was the first time someone told me that I could &should be a woman on my own terms.
The reality is: I’m 5’11, probably between 250-300 pounds, hairy as all hell, and I wear size 13 women’s shoes: I’m a big girl. I spent years of my life identifying as a gay man, and trying to work at accepting and loving my body & myself in a culture that taught me that being fat & being femme made me undesireable, unattractive, and inferior. It took me YEARS to be comfortable with who I am, and that process has changed me, and how I value myself – simply put: I don’t do things for other people anymore, I do things for myself.
I identified as non-binary for the past two years, and over this time, I’ve slowly began to come into myself as a woman, and I’m currently in the process of coming out as a transgender woman. It’s very exciting and liberating and I’m now out at work and am ‘test driving’ my new name and pronouns. This being said, what I am most dreading about coming out isn’t being faced with disapproval or abandonment (I am privileged with supportive family and friends), but more about those in my life forcing feminine ideals upon me when I start to identify as a woman and not strictly non-binary.
In a perfect world, would I like to wear a full face of make-up, have minimal to no body hair, have a feminine physique, and be read 100% of the time as a woman? – SURE! But the reality is, I work two jobs, I’m a full time student, and I’m involved in a couple different organizations, and I don’t have time for that. My emotional well-being is like, “you work at 8am, you don’t have time to put your face on for an hour every morning,” “you literally can’t even reach your back hair, how are you supposed to regularly keep that shaved,” etc. Luckily for me, I think that the resilience I learned as a fat & femme gay man allows me to be comfortable in my own skin regardless of others’ perceptions. I also recognize the privilege of being comfortable enough with myself & my gender to not be dysphoric to an incapacitating extent wherein I need to hold my body to a standard for public consumption.
Why yes! I AM a woman with a hairy back – if it bothers you I’ll hand you a razor and you can shave it for me! Until then please fuck off with your gendered policing and let me live my life on my terms.
Rhiannon Robear (she/her) is a 24 year old white trans woman living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is a social work student, and is involved in many different campus and community organizations devoted to trans, queer, and feminist justice. In her spare time she likes to knit, crochet, and watch tv shows. Feel free to follow her on twitter @haliqueer or email her directly email@example.com
This was a huge reservation for me, before I started testosterone. I had read enough personal accounts and spoken to enough friends that I had this somewhat common narrative in my mind: someone who is FTM was primarily attracted to women before starting hormones. Orientation then opened up / shifted, and this person now is attracted to both / all genders, or is now more attracted to men, or even exclusively attracted to men. One common idea surrounding this is that the person always was attracted to men (if even just on a subconscious level), but could not fathom being intimate with a man, while being seen as a woman. Another related idea is that the person identifies so strongly with being queer, that once he is finally perceived as a man, a new type of queer identity is now possible – one that may have been appealing all along.
OK – I’m done with the generalizing! It’s super uncomfortable for me to paint broad strokes and write about a hypothetical person in such a detached manner. I just wanted to get some initial thoughts down, some type of framework in which to plug my own narrative into. Whether these ideas are all that accurate or common is largely beside the point. The important part is that they were looming large for me. I had some serious fears about it.
While I was coming out (sort of?) as a lesbian (sort of?) in my late-teens, I was mostly just befuddled. I didn’t really understand physical and sexual attraction. I thought I was probably just a late bloomer. Now I understand that I’m probably a demisexual. Although this (somewhat recent) revelation is fascinating, I don’t feel a strong attachment to this label or a strong need to figure out my sexual orientation in all ways, shapes, and forms. It never caused me to feel much of a disconnect from others. I mean, I generally felt a lot of disconnect from others, but I didn’t look to my sexuality as a way to figure out why that was. It’s kinda, meh, for me… Fascination, and not a whole lot more. (Which is interesting because I usually love love love picking things apart! Haha.)
I’m gonna jump over a whole bunch of years and land somewhere in my late 20s. I’d been with my partner (she is a cisgender female, for the most part) for about 4 years at this point, and we were experiencing a long-term lull. We weren’t connecting. Everything felt dulled, foggy, I think for both of us (for different reasons). I was feeling more and more drawn to guys, all around me, and could not sort out whether that was because I needed to be a guy, or if it was a sexual orientation thing (again, the lack of the physical attraction part was confusing. It was more of a cerebral thing.)
I kind of decided that it was both. I fantasized about a totally different life, where I was a guy, and I was with a hypothetical guy. However, I did not want to break up with my partner. I strongly felt that the tough place we were in was circumstantial and situational, and that we could work our way through it. I wanted to work our way through it. I wondered if a big key to working our way through it was: for me to transition. I felt this heavy burden of a circuitous fear: I need to transition in order to get out of this place and improve our relationship; if I start transitioning, my gut is telling me that I will be even more drawn to guys, and I will want to end our relationship in order to pursue that.
I vividly recall, at one point, completely breaking down and telling her, while crying, that I was attracted to masculinity. She didn’t seem surprised, or threatened; she didn’t shut down. She stayed there with me, in that moment, and replied, “one of the many pitfalls of being in a queer relationship.” I appreciated that reply so much, in the moment. It felt like relief. Sometimes, I make things overly-fraught; she brings it back down to earth.
She has since elaborated that she did indeed feel the heaviness of the situation. Although we weren’t talking about all of this directly at the time, she recently told me that she knew. And that she was going to support me in transitioning (whatever that looked like to me) unconditionally, at the risk of losing me along the way. Wow.
While trying to sort that out, some life changes occurred that vastly improved things. My partner got a new job, we shifted our approach to friendships, I went back to therapy. Our relationship improved by leaps and bounds.
It was about two more years before I really found myself at that crossroads of needing to try testosterone (although I no longer planned to transition in that common-narrative way). That fear was still there. Although it felt like we had a solid foundation to work from, I worried, would things shift between my partner and me? Would I start to be drawn exclusively to men? Where would that lead us? I started testosterone anyway.
Testosterone has changed things for me, but not in those ways I feared. I’m attracted to my partner and also I’m attracted to men. Sometimes I’m attracted to women; mostly, I’m attracted to androgyny and effemininity (effeminate men). I don’t know what that all adds up to; I just call it “queer.” The nature of attraction feels a little less cerebral, and a little more physiological than before. I like that. I think I still fall under the category of demisexual, for sure, but it does feel different. My partner and I talk about all of it. None of it is threatening to her. None of it feels worrisome to me. It’s all just puzzle pieces, that, although not straightforward or common, make more sense to me than my sexuality has ever made sense before.
Dear (anonymous) Sir,
A few days ago, you asked the internet through a google search, “does my janitor who is a male like me and im a male (gay)?” And the internet took you to my blog, in the hopes it would help you find your answer. (Yes, the internet does have its own hopes and dreams!) I highly doubt you found what you were looking for, so I decided to fill in the blanks, in case you try again in the future. I will be taking some liberties and making some assumptions, in order to create a concise response. If I am off base, please, call me out!
I’m sorry to let you know, the internet cannot answer questions that are this specific to your personal experience. You can glean a whole lot of information that might help you put words to your feelings, which is super helpful. But the internet does not know your situation, does not know your janitor, and does not know anything beyond whatever it is that people write on it. Is there a chance that your janitor wrote about you on the internet? Yes, maybe. But you will not be coming upon that writing by asking in that way.
In order to learn more about this, you would have to interact in real life. Also, you may want to ask yourself instead, “Do I like my janitor, like, do I like like him? And if so, do I want to do something about it, despite potential consequences?” You might want to weigh the pros and cons. You might want to feel out the situation in more nuanced ways before jumping to conclusions or potentially propositioning him directly. You could ask for advice from people you trust and are close to. Hell, you could even anonymously ask for advice in myriads of places online (again, I’d suggest focusing on your own feelings and not your janitor’s)! But you will not come upon much success by googling it.
Equally important though, please disregard everywhere in the above paragraphs where I indulged the idea of “your” janitor. He is not your janitor. You do not own him. You may not know this, but he doesn’t actually even work for you! I am going to assume you are not his direct supervisor, and are instead someone who works in a building (as a lawyer, businessman, teacher, or some other profession where you work in a space.) And he cleans your space. You, in a way, do own that space. It is sort of “your” desk, “your” trash can, “your” chalk board, etc. That is fine. But, again, he is not “your” janitor.
Let’s go out on a limb and imagine you are his supervisor. In this case, and only this case, it could maybe be appropriate to call him your janitor. My supervisor does this – she will refer to us (the people who do work for her) as “my guys.” This has the potential of fostering a sense of camaraderie, like we are a team, and she is our leader. This could be OK. But to singularly be someone’s something, even in this context, would be strange. If you are his supervisor, I’d suggest cutting out the “my janitor.”
I’m just going to say this directly, as a janitor who cleans classrooms. I am no one’s janitor. I am employed by a school district. My salary is worked out through the annual budget, which comes from taxpayers. I am in a union; I pay a union due, and they do work on my behalf. I clean classrooms that are, spaces owned (in a way) by teachers and utilized by students. I do not work for teachers. If teachers have a problem with my work, they could go to the principal and/or my direct supervisor. The reason she is “my” supervisor is because, ideally, she has our collective best interests in mind. And because she is above me, on the power scale, and it is therefore obviously not actually owned by me. It is more appropriate. “My boss.” “My professor.” “My doctor.” “My therapist.” These are common and straightforward. “My busboy.” “My waitress.” “My maid.” “My landscaper.” This is a different story; this is slippery. Watch your step.
Not Your Janitor