Keisling on Trans Successes

Mara Keisling has a good – and lengthy – op-ed in The Advocate on why it’s been such a good year for trans people.

  1. more non-discrimination state and local laws
  2. white house prioritizes trans issues
  3. trans health policy improves
  4. the US & UN speak up for LGBT rights worldwide
  5. massive study on trans discrimination released
  6. improved Standards of Care
  7. all of the federal legislation introduced this congress was trans-inclusive

and that’s only a few. Go read the whole of it. As an activist/advocate of 10+ years, this is really mind-blowing progress (even if we’re all well aware there is plenty more to do).

10th Anniversary: Poses

Rufus Wainwright’s Poses turns 10 this year too, so it’s lovely to see an amazingly detailed and accurate homage to this beautiful recording.

Take, for example, the deceptively buoyant “California.” Although Wainwright’s songwriting ability has been compared to that of Joni Mitchell, this song is decidedly the opposite, in spirit, to her song of the same title. The Sunshine State, in Wainwright’s view, is hardly “home” but a freon-fueled mess hall of vapid, self-conscious poseurs (sure). There’s hardly a more damning conclusion than “Life is the longest death in California,” but what a deliciously delivered pronouncement it is: Wainwright’s specialty is the beautiful pain behind the bruise. The song’s gift lies less in its misery than in the insidious glee of its tune. If New York brings out the brooding sweep of Wainwright’s voice and lyricism, then California shellacs his melancholy and shoves it out with a bright fuck-you.

I once heard Poses described as the perfect modern penthouse apartment – especially as compared to Wainwright’s debut, which is an over-stuffed but perfectly appointed Victorian drawing room.

There is one note in “Greek Song” that to this day can make me weep when I hear it, even out of the blue: the perfect melancholy tone, a cri de coeur but beautiful. Just listen to it, the first “all” in the refrain.

If any generous soul out there would like to buy me his House of Rufus box set, please feel free.


Honestly, I understand why people are starting to turn to ’70s porn: now everyone looks like (a) a child, (b) a plucked chicken, or (3) some kind of weird sea organism.

Robert, a 25-year-old investment manager from Massachusetts, trims his pubes with an electric razor—“the kind that barbers use for shaving heads,” he says. Just as he prefers a woman to be groomed when he performs oral sex (“the less hair, the better”), he imagines girls don’t want a bush in their mouths either.

How downright egalitarian.

Still, if genitals unframed by pubic hair are your thing, this decade’s for you.

Home Again, Home Again

We’re back in Appleton after three weeks away, & I can’t tell if it feels like we’ve been gone more like 3 years or 3 minutes.

Either way: here we are again. High on my list: hot bath, laundry, sleep, cats.

Christmas Present: Radical Inclusion

This letter from local clergy in Appleton is pretty much the best Christmas present I didn’t even imagine getting:

Jesus not only preached about but a lived a message of radical inclusion. He saw God’s realm as including everyone — and especially those who were despised or downtrodden or oppressed.

That’s why we and many other Christians believe that our values are best expressed when all people and all families are treated with fairness and loving support.

It was written in response to a letter from Appleton Taxpayers United which appeared a few weeks ago, which I won’t honor by quoting. It’s lovely to read Christians who sound like Christians.

Very Merry

A very Merry Christmas Eve to you & yours tonight. I’ll be borrowing a bike and taking a ride to the beach today; later, we’ll join my other brother and (new!) sister in law for dinner.

Both Sides: Missing Appleton Too

And yes, for your snarky types who think there is no life outside of the coasts, I do miss Appleton: I love the Lawrence campus, because it’s beautiful and peaceful; I miss the big skies and stars and the clear, clear air on cold winter nights; I miss the bunnies and raccoons and geese and cormorants and songbirds that are a daily sight. I miss teaching, and I miss the students when I’m not teaching too, and I miss living in a community of intellectual community engagement.

I am also in awe of anyone who grew up outside of a city like New York and who has found a way NOT to conform in a small city like Appleton; I find maintaining my independence and artsiness really, really challenging there. I have had to change so much, and only now, back in New York, am I aware of the daily small compromises: no good bagels, no gas stoves, no good cheap Italian food or inexpensive salons for manicures, pedicures, or waxing; no radiator heat. It is often a struggle to explain that “tea” does not mean chamomile to a coffee culture. Add to that not liking beer, being professionally queer and a vegetarian, and having a conscientious objector relationship with football — let’s just say it hasn’t been a tidy landing for me, and I’m sure I’ve complained plenty. This trip home has given me at least some perspective on what kinds of ways I might try to adjust going forward, and in the meanwhile, I am more thankful for the progressive politicians, artistic friends and other displaced coasties than anyone might imagine, but especially to those who have expressed empathy while they watched me try to fit this square peg into the round hole that is Appleton.

So as much as it’s been one  of the most difficult experiences of my life, I still find life in Appleton lovely in ways I could have never imagined as a lifelong New Yorker and alt urbanite.

Tonight in Brooklyn

Tonight we’re going to see The Schmekels at Southpaw here in Brooklyn for an evening of “Hanuka Rock”. The Schmekels are “100% Trans Jews” and although what they play isn’t really klezmer, they certainly seem to have a sense of humor — “schmekel” means “small penis” in Yiddish.

So if you’re around & this is your kind of thing, feel free to say hi if you see us there.

Back in the New York Groove

After 10 days in Florida with my mom, which was amazing, we came up to Brooklyn to stay with my sister and brother in law, and in our old ‘hood, and WOW: it’s such a pleasure to be back. New Yorkers, do leave once in a while so you realize that you live in the goddamned promised land. Being back in a culture of eccentricity, creativity and non-conformity is absolutely amazing, whether that means seeing an older woman with graying braids and cropped pants and striped socks, or finding a bar on Second Avenue described thusly:

Named, designed, and destined for Downtown’s creative cognoscenti, Lit was conceived as an environment by and for everyone who does not fit in to the current all-American quality of life agenda.

Promoting de-gentrification and un-sterilized anti-chic, with comfort and class, Lit is about drinking and socializing with like-minded individuals.

The assumption that there IS a creative cognoscenti is a luxury I can’t ever take for granted again.

So today, off to see the new Almodovar and to revel in the bustling bustlingness of my amazing hometown. It does a body good.