Tag Archives: gloria anzaldua

I wear myself differently now

drawing of a fist, tattoed wrist, thumb over fingers, and the thumb has a long red nailThis morning is a sleep-in, catch-up-a-little-bit morning — tomorrow morning at this time I’ll be on a plane to the east coast.

Last night was wonderful dinner with a good friend for me and the Mr. — thanks, Cayenne, for the delicious meal and wonderful company!

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Here’s a Thursday prompt for you — it’s an excerpt from Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands: The New Mestiza / La Frontera (Aunt Lute Books, 1999 (orig  published in 1987), p. 19). Let yourself read through the excerpt, and then take 10 minutes or 20 and write what comes up for you — a response, a story, a gratitude, an argument:

“There was a muchacha who lived near my house. La gente del pueblo talked about her being una de las otras, “of the Others.” They said that for six months she was a woman who had a vagina that bled once a month, and that for the other six months she was a man, had a penis and she peed standing up. they called her half and half, mita’ y mita‘, neither one nor the other but a strange doubling, a deviation of nature that horrified, a work of nature inverted. But there is a magic aspect in abnormality and so-called deformity. Maimed, mad, and sexually different people were believed to posess supernatural powers by primal cultures’ magico-religious thinking. For them, abnormality was the price a person had to pay for her or his inborn extraordinary gift.

There is something compelling about being both male and female, about having an entry into both worlds. Contrary to some psychiatric tenets, half and halfs are not suffering from a confusion of sexual identity, or even from a confusion of gender. What we are suffering from is an absolute despot duality that says we are able to be only one or the other. It claims that human nature is limited and cannot evolve into something better. But I, like other queer people, am two in one body, both male and female. I am the embodiment of the heiros gamos: the coming together of opposite qualities within.

Here is my response to this prompt, written during a Monday night Write Whole workshop, right after this year’s Femme Conference:

Four years ago, in 2006, even more in 2005, I was the peacock who stood up at the microphone yesterday, the one who said, “I’ve been living as a butch for 10 years, I’m only just now letting myself explore femininity again; every time you smile at me and welcome me as a girl (as a girl), I feel blessed.” She called herself a peacock. She wore a lush full-skirted green dress and a big flower in her short hair. I never would have read her as anything other than femme.  But 5 years ago, my life echoed her story, waking up just to look in the mirror to see if my hair had grown out yet, desperate     desperate    to refind the curves I had hidden from myself during my own 10 years of butchness. My body is no different from what it was then — I weight the same, have the same shape — but I wear myself differently now. Not just the clothes: myself. I wondered, yesterday, listening to her at the Femme Conference, wondered when it happened — when, finally, I nudged on over, comfortably, to the girl side of everyday again, when I could see not fraud in the mirror, but just me. I meant to find her, the peacock, and say, Me, too. Me, too. You’ll get there — wherever you want to get. We are each of us so much more than half and half — We each, Whitman, he said it, we contain multitudes. How is it that this time I felt comfortable in my femme skin? Five years of hard work, lots of writing and tears.

And there were absolutely patient and amazing friends who walked me through and into layer after layer of girlness, the parts I wanted again and, too, the parts I didn’t want and could finally turn away from. There were the Lost Grrls, those friends from way back who’d always been ‘problematizing’ girl just in the way we lived our lives, and my first femme love, Molly, who shows me all the ways. And then all the Dirty Ink-ers, who I was nearly ashamed to tell about my ‘transition’ because our group originally (way back in the beginning) was supposed to be just for butches — and then here I was becoming one more femme in the group, leaving RR as the one butch left. They met me beautifully, with good humor and suggestions, helping me learn makeup and how, again, to walk in high heels, how to occupy space in my writing and reading as a femme. They held doors within me and themselves open, ’til I could walk through, and I’m grateful. And Kathleen, who screamed in joy with me on the phone, who explained some femme rules that I didn’t want, which reminded me that I’d have as much to wrangle with in our communities’ definitions of femme as I had with our communities’ definitions of butch Oh no: there will be no rules for my femme. Kathleen is my femme mama, she was the one I ran to and rebelled against, the one, too, I call home.

(Note: Of course, in a short write, we don’t get the chance to finish, and so I don’t include all my femme role models in this piece, who include Sarah D, Alex, Vag, Meliza, Daphne, Cindy, my mom and sister, KFW, Tara H, Carol Queen, and so many more!)

Thanks, you, for your words today — for your hard work, for the space you make, too, for your resting and rejuvenation, for your play.