Friday, December 22, 2006

The Big Reveal

I’ve been out to Hellfire last Friday and to Sly Fox on Wednesday. Hellfire was fun. The last time I went, there was so many sleazy str8 guys wearing street clothes perving on the freaks and scantily clad women that I was a little put off. This time it was much better. Zoo was a beautiful human Christmas tree!

As I’ve been out and about I’ve run into people who I haven’t chatted to much lately, who let me know they’ve been reading this blog, and liking it. It was very nice to get positive feedback, but made me feel oddly vulnerable for a few moments. I’m not under any illusions that what is published in cyberspace is private, and with my activism, outness and performance, I’ve never been someone who exists solely in the private sphere. This blog was never going to be a series of random secrets and bitching. However, I did start thinking about what drives me to be so open
and revealing of myself….

An intersex activist in Adelaide was speaking at a Feast forum on sex and gender a few years ago, and talked about how intersex people use their bodies as educational tools when giving others an insight into intersex issues. I thought about that at the time, and I feel that I use my lived experience a lot in making connections with others, increasing awareness about marginalised communities I identify with, and also as a way of offering support and shared experience for those people who have connected/similar happenings in their lives.
How public I am about my sex work/ queerness/ mental health issues is also a way of refusing stigma. I understand why many people can’t be open about these issues. They risk family and friends disowning them, possibly losing jobs or children. However, I can’t help feeling as if silence around this stuff contributes to stigma. Instead of arranging my points of marginalisation so that they fit into a closet and don’t impact on my life, I’ve arranged my life so I don’t have to be closeted. I chose to walk away from my biological family; I’ve chosen to only go for non-sex work jobs that allow me to be out about my work. I’ve tried really hard to keep my life free of bigots.

I’ve spent a lot of time challenging bigots in the public realm, like talk radio debates as an out sex worker with representatives from the Catholic Education Office in SA on sex work law reform. I don’t feel like I can do those things and be fighting the same battles with loved ones. It would just be exhausting. I need to be accepted, nurtured and celebrated in my private world in order to go into battle. I can’t be apologising for who I am, or never debriefing about a hard day, lest it reinforce a negative stereotype. I can’t be managing the embarrassment and discomfort of partners or family while I’m having things shoved up me on stage, or doing some sex positive education session at an event.

I refuse to take on the idea that depression, sex work or queerness are shameful, or need to be hidden. I feel like by my openness and normalising of these qualities must help in normalising them for others. After all, unlike heterosexuality, depression seems both normal and common…. and unlike homosexuality, depression can be cured if you seek support.

I think my approach to changing the world seems to be to imagine a world which feels safe for me and my kin, and live as if it’s already here. Sometimes this technique can hypnotise entire crowds into believing that queer dyke whores with mental health issues are the coolest people in the world. ;)
Spending your life trying desperately for safety and shying away from revealing anything sounds incredibly isolating to me. And far from avoiding stigma, for me it would be a daily reinforcement. However, I try to remember a statistic I heard many years ago – only about 4% of any community are activists. So it makes sense that not everyone has the kind of personality that embraces crusading for liberation at the expense of a truely private life.

If you stumble about Her Royal Whoreness, add a comment please. Tell me what you agree or disagree with. Interactivity is one of the joys of blogging.


wife said...

hello your royal whoreness.

i will quit lurking and make myself known! and i'll say it again, I really enjoy your blog!

I am glad I got to read about your motivations as an activist because I am not sure when we'd ever get talking about it in person (yet, somehow I just know we would).

I think you're sew right that being 'out' as anything that doesn't fit comfortably with people, is one way of confronting the stigma and eventually changing it. It can be such a risk just to be honest about who you are, but I really believe that it does make such a huge difference. It is affirming for people who may identify with you/me/us and it empowers them to re-see their own position in the world. I believe that people 'on the margins' have to reposition themselves and take the centre back and I think this is one way of doing that.

I have definitely been influenced by amazing women who take these risks, including you my dear! I woke up one morning in the middle of this year and just decided that I needed to take more risks, on everything, including identity and being honest with myself and others.

I think it's an exciting time (coz somethings just got to happen soon!) and I'm glad you're sharing your ideas and ways of coping in this world.


Ali H said...

Hey, I'm Ali, and I read your blog! I was also having a wonderful time with my hands buried in your hair the other night (you have the most beautiful hair!).
Sometimes I feel like I know you better than i actually do, because I read your blog- but then people probably think the same about me. I really do respect you & the art you offer to the world. I don't comment because I usually feel like you've got you train of thought utterly complete, so there's not much I can contribute.
I can be nothing but appreciative for another radical queer femme voice in the world. That's what I think, whenever I see you out. When you see me with those big out-of-context grins, that's what I'm thinking.
Merry Mudsummer & associated festivities,

whoretic said...

Hello Lovely Lurkers!

My aren't you both obedient? Good lesson for me on assertiveness: ask and you shall receive.

Wife, I think I felt a long time ago that being shamed into silence about any part of me would be giving power to the forces of evil(read:the right-wing) and being complicit in my own oppression. Being out and noisy feels more important for femmes, who may not be visibly read as queer.

Ali, thanks for the hair admiration. I'm not so impressed with it at the moment, it needs a trim, but I'm scared (as ever)of losing my strength. It's weird, my most identifiable features - in my case eyes and hair, often cause me the most angst. I've finally worked out that that's about insecurity with myself in general, feeling unsure about what I'm projecting into the world. I hate that as femmes we have to be smart and fabulous and also look amazing all the time. Whereas most people would settle for just smart and fabulous. Feel free to bury your hands (or any other parts) into my hair.

I should make a caviet to my invitation for all and sundry to comment. If you are the Nazi-looking guy who blogs about his bowel movements, i'd rather you didn't.

big femmey
butterfly kissses so as not to smear lipstick to you both!