Friday, October 24, 2014

A Boy for Bea*

Once, in high school, at the conclusion of a late-night dinner in Chinatown with a group of friends, I declined a ride the twelve miles home back to Rogers Park to instead wait with the last person at the restaurant: the boy on whom I at that time had a serious crush.  He would not come out as any kind of queer for another three years (but we knew, as people who don't actually understand how gender and sexuality intersect tend to do), but his continued professions of heterosexuality did not sway my affections.  I wanted him.

His mom arrived just ten minutes later, which didn't give us in total much time to talk, or fall in love, but I hoped he'd appreciate the gesture nevertheless.  Bea, he would think, although that wasn't the name with which he would have thought, that's a girl I could see myself ending up with, although that wasn't the gender with which he would have thought.

On the train home then, alone, after midnight now, I felt the air in my chest compress with everything I didn't say, then surging and swelling within, unable to burst.  How long was I to ache, to thirst, to placate my soul with hypothetical poems while the real world of romance rumbled on and brusquely without me?

My dad picked me up when I finally got to Howard—now after one in the morning.  I must have told him some small fib to explain the lateness of my return, but I've long since forgotten what.

* * *

Sometimes, I think in some ways, I haven't aged at all.  I still crave the attentions of those I cannot in rationality have; I still chase after those who have made no indication of wanting me, or have, but inconsistently, or have, but live across the country; I still can’t help conceiving of going to bed as conceding defeat.

Recently I’ve been talking with one of my trans sisters about the idea of untouchability, that for people in the transfeminine/transwoman cluster of identities who happen to love men (to debunk the common misconception, No, not all transwomen started out as submissive gay men; some, in fact, are sexually dominant, or even identify as lesbian!), the only socially acceptable space for men to love us is in the private, festishized compartments of their double-bolted apartments, or preferably (forbid we enter their homes! forbid their neighbors spy us!): ours.  Straight men cannot publicly date and love transwomen, because that would make them gay, apparently, and gay men cannot publicly date and love transwomen, because that would make them straight, supposedly, and maybe we’d have a better shot with bisexual men but do they really even exist in the first place?

Consequently, we often constitute a population of vulnerable, unloved, untouchable human beings.  The glances and words we receive on the street are the ten-foot poles that prod us, the torches and pitchforks; our gender is our leprosy.

I do not wish to imply that life is peachy and fine for people in the transmasculine/transman cluster of identities, nor for those delightfully culturally unintelligible non-binary individuals. However, in a patriarchal society where manhood is valorized more than life itself (ask any man who's ever murdered a transwoman sex worker), those of us who dare cash in our masculinity for a worse chance at capitalism and still audaciously hope for happiness are considered dangerous, considered freaks, considered mentally deranged.   And for those of us, further, who dare to also love what once we were, now threatening to bring the rest of them down with us, only ever go down ourselves, at the hands of those who, ironically, in a different time and place, we might have loved, and loved well.

* * *

Which is precisely how yesterday, in the arms of someone I never would have expected to find myself arching, blissful, ignorant of the very near future when it would definitely end but loving the fleeting present as it ephemerally passed in kisses, kissing, being kissed, my hands tracing his ribs, his hands making a home in the small of my still-arching back, loving (in a way, in the way that happens only for a short and perfect time), touching, being touched, every caress disproving the stigma of my illness, every press an admission into the realm of humanity, I felt myself for the first time in a long time becoming whole.

His mom arrived just ten minutes later, which didn’t give us in total much time to kiss, or fall in love, but I hoped he’d repeat the gesture before too long.

Sometimes, I think in some ways, I've aged just the slightest bit. Because for once, rather than the surge and swell, the inability to burst, the air in my chest dispersed with the whooshing satisfaction of actually speaking:

“I don't mean this in a weird way,” I had said, “and obviously feel free to respond however you want to, but would it be totally weird if we made out right now?”

“No,” he had said. “That would be okay.”


  1. As a bisexual man I can confirm that we do not exist. Sure, if you see us we look real, and if you talk to us we seem to hold a conversation, and since we're surrounded by other people living their daily lives it would make more sense for us to be there than not, but I can assure you we do not exist. For proof, the next time you are out in the desert, look up at the endless swirling galaxies and the massive amounts of space around you. In terms of the vastness of the universe, how can anything so small and insignificant as bisexual men be said to really exist?
    Besides, I don't think -- well, Descartes would take that proof, I suppose.

    1. (I know you're not denying our existence I just wanted to say the thing about the stars.)