Feeling more one-headed

The Zippy from 1/30/20, which I’ve been saving for the appropriate occasion, which has now materialized, as a follow-up to a note in my posting earlier today “Great progress, grave threat”:

Zippy’s crucial observation, in the first panel:

Sometimes, the two-headed dog makes me feel more one-headed!

Roughly, if you are far from (what counts as) normal, then someone who is further out than you are can make you feel almost normal.

From my progress / threat posting, with the connection to my personal life:

The thing was, as a child I realized that I was Other in every setting of my life. Even in my family; my parents were loving and incredibly supportive, but I was unlike any child they had experience of, and hugely far from their expectations. Fortunately, I was a sweet child, imaginative, forbiddingly intelligent, and creatively talented, also amiable and empathetic, and they treasured me despite their bafflement at my nature. My amiability and talents allowed me to find a place on the edges of many groups I was an Other in (though I was frequently harassed and openly despised, especially by male affiliative groups). Then and in the rest of my lfe.

Central to my Otherness was the perception (by many) that I was unmasculine. As I explained in my 8/1/20 posting “Nuancy Nancy” (about, among other things, the slur nancy boy):

The … weapon of verbal abuse used against me as a child was fairy (boy): I was able to fend off physical abuse with crazed aggression against the bullies, but the verbal abuse rained down on me pretty much constantly for years. My offense was not actual effeminacy (at the age of 8 I had a flagrantly effeminate buddy, and I understood that our ways were very different — though he did give me an early appreciation of opera; his intense enthusiasm for women’s high fashion didn’t take for me, but then you don’t expect your friends to share all your interests), but failure to conform to normative masculinity: I was nerdy and academically oriented; artistic (all that classical piano); deeply unathletic; profoundly uninterested in sports fandom; unaggressive; and given to friendships with girls.

Boys form themselves into loosely organized gangs, which enforce norms of masculinity amongst themselves; and those all-male groups continue into male associations in adolescence and adulthood. I have never been acceptable to these male groups, though I’ve sometimes been able to patch together a spot for myself off to the side, offering expertise, entertainment, or amiability.

In any case, a male who doesn’t fit these norms of masculinity is perceived as feminine — this is a binary world — and treated as “no better than a woman” (the extraordinary devaluing of women is central to the whole business), which is actually quite alarming, since fems and fags and all the rest of us deviants are living exemplars of what could happen if you don’t satisfy the requirements of the male codes.

Note: not faggy, at least in appearance, movement, facial expression, or gesture; I can easily pass for straight. Nobody picks me out on the street as a fag unless I’m displaying defiantly queer slogans or symbols (which, of course, I do a lot). So that though I’m (metaphorically) two-headed, in comparison to many of my queer brothers I’m almost one-headed.

My presentation of myself is something I carry with me from my childhod, and I am comfortable in my skin, though a fair number of my queer brothers think that it must be an act, because they believe that the natural state of queers involves at least some outwardly visible indicators of their sexuality. Surely I could at least roll my eyes, they think.

I don’t pretend to understand how men come to their presentations of self, and I don’t believe that anyone else does either, though there are some useful partial proposals around (mostly inspired by studies of the “gay voice”). But I think that everyone should realize that there are many ways — many entirely authentic ways — of being queer, and we should  celebrate that.

[Digression. My man Jacques was considerably more normatively masculine in his appearance and behavior that I was, but, entertainingly, he could wield a killer cruise face when he was looking for casual hookups with men (mostly in gyms) — something I was never any damn good at, in any context. But then it turned out that he was pretty much unable to read other men’s signals; he was forever seeing amiability and friendliness as potential signals of interest in sexual connection. He never acted on these perceptions, unless he got a blatant signal from the other guy, like the guy rubbing his crotch or licking his lips. But on our walks together in Palo Alto, he often remarked on how many gay men there were out on the street, when what he was seeing was just random guys mirroring his projected amiability and mine. Such a sweet man.]

But back to the more clearly two-headed of my brothers. As I am what I am, they are what they are, but they pay a price for it: they end up bearing the public weight of homo-hatred and threatened violence. They take the shit for the rest of us, and for that they deserve our applause, our thanks, and our support. And they often combine the passions of their lives with charm, wicked humor, and outrageous performances. Plus, I’m inclined to think that faggy guys are hot, no doubt in part because one such man sweetly gave me my first fuck and altered my life; full story in my 8/29/20 posting “Take me, please”.


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