Talking Gender with an Old Friend
Here are two special entries from 2005 and 2010. They are a bit long for the internet but hopefully you'll enjoy the ride.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
What It Feels Like For A Girl.
Men have no clue what it's like to be a biological girl/woman - well, I have a tinny speck of an idea but until the day comes when I find myself running to the bathroom to change my tampon, which something tells me it won't be anytime soon, I will never know what it feels like to be a real girl.
I'll save my dissertation on how men are clueless in the ways of women until they walk in their shoes for another time. That said, last night I had the most amazing two and a half hour talk with Christina an old friend from high school whom I hadn't talked to in over five or six years. She has become an extraordinary, wife, daughter, sister, and mother (she has two cute dogs and a cat) all while still maintaining that youthful spirit I remember knowing back in high school over eight years ago. She has gained one new thing which she lacked back in her teen years, and that is wisdom imposed through young adulthood. It's amazing how a person grows by the time they reach their mid-twenties. Anyone that can recognize their mistakes, ask for forgiveness from those they have hurt, and then turn around and appreciate the sacrifices their parents made for them gains my complete and utmost admiration and respect. They to me are the stars, the ones that should be in magazine covers, and set as role models.
I always thought women were trouble. I thought they complicate things, they talk too much, and they simply are never satisfied. In other words they are a pain in the ass. However, the older I get the more I come to understanding women and I realize that one of the reasons why I do drag is from the complete admiration I have for women. I don't want to be a woman, because as most men I'm too lazy. Also, luckily I don't have a physical dependency for them as straight men do, yet I need them in my life to teach me things men cannot.
Plus when you really think about it who would want excruciating cramps once a month? Who would want to pop out a bowling ball from their crotch? Who would want to deal with having to do their hair and make up everyday from fear of being thought of as less of a woman? Who would want to worry about being taken advantage of or raped late at night walking home alone? Who would want to always feel fat because that's what magazines tell you? Who would want to fall in love with every guy that simply thought of you as just a piece of ass? Who would want to cry themselves to sleep at night thinking that your daughter is out in the world alone where you as a mother can't protect her? No sir, I don't think I'm man enough to say that I could ever handle being a woman.
As my old high school friend Christina proved to me last night, being a woman is more than putting on lipstick and high heals, it's about being the center of life, experiencing it with all it's might and painting a beautiful picture of it for others to see and learn from it. It's no wonder we refer to this planet as "mother earth." From woman comes life, even a man's life, and the faster men understand this the quicker they'll treat their mothers, daughters, sisters, and lovers with the respect they deserve.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Gender Talk with an old friend
It had been over four years since I wrote the previous journal entry when Christina emailed me and asked if she could interview me for her gender studies course. I was on board right away, anything to help her out. Her paper was due the next day so I was a bit nervous for her, but I was confident she’d get it done on time. To me Christina was always super woman. Here is part of the transcript from our conversation.
CHRISTINA: Hello my love how are you?
ADRIAN: I’m so excited to talk to you!
CHRISTINA: Not as excited as I am.
ADRIAN: Oh Please! What’s going on? You were at a soccer game?
CHRISTINA: I was at a soccer game. I have a friend I work with who has young children. His wife had to work tonight so he had to figure out how to get one kid to one sport and another kid to another field. So we volunteered to watch one of them.
ADRIAN: How old are these kids?
CHRISTINA: One is ten and the other one is seven.
ADRIAN: Oooh, so you can’t let them loose yet?
CHRISTINA: Apparently not. Leo and I didn’t know any better. We were like, let’s just drop him off, take off and come back when we need to but… evidently people are still concerned their children might get stolen straight off the soccer field.
ADRIAN: OH MY GOD! When are these kids going to learn about strangers if you don’t set them free? You know, I was mugged when I was ten.
CHRISTINA: See well, there you go! I guess that’s what they’re afraid of. lol
ADRIAN: Yeah but it only made me stronger.
ADRIAN: And when the priest tried to touch me in my no-no-spot I was able to then say “OH NO YOU DON’T!”
CHRISTINA: Or “Just a little bit more to the left. lol
ADRIAN: Yeah that’s more accurate actually. lol
ADRIAN: So tell me about this class you are taking
CHRISTINA: …I’m taking Psychology of Gender.
ADRIAN: What is the paper you have to turn in tomorrow?
CHRISTINA: The paper has to describe a time where I witnessed someone behaving in a manner that opposed gender stereotypes. I have to discuss what were the consequences to the person as well as the others around them. Was it positive, was it negative? And how were they influenced by the people environment and society around them to do that behavior. So this is what I needed to talk to you about.
First off, you were a senior in high school when you first did Amnesia right?
ADRIAN: Correct. Yes.
CHRISTINA: It was a drag competition
ADRIAN: Yes. Student counsel held it.
CHRISTINA: What motivated you to say “I’m going to do this?”
ADRIAN: That’s a good question. I think with most things that I do, I think the motivation is always the thrill of experiencing something new in public. It’s funny because I was talking to my roommate today about facing one’s fears. We were talking earlier about skydiving. The thing with skydiving is, a lot of times when we are going to try something new [in life] it’s a lot like skydiving. We have this fear of jumping. When you are about to do something new you think of the good things and the bad things, the possible outcomes. And if you dwell too long on the bad things that could happen then you don’t do the things that you want to do [out of fear]. A lot of my past motivation to do anything new has come from the thrill of facing my fears.
Senior year [high school] I had come out to my parents – Well, I was outed first of all. Somebody called at four in the morning and said [to my parents] “your son is gay.”
CHRISTINA: I didn’t know that.
ADRIAN: Yeah, I was out in high school but when I went home I wasn’t out.
CHRISTINA: But I don’t think you hid it, I just don’t think you talked about it, right? That’s what I always assumed.
ADRIAN: In high school I was completely open. I would talk to anyone about being gay and that was fine. But when I went home I was the quiet good son who did my studies and I never brought up girls or boys or anything. It was like I was leading this double life. And then finally when somebody outted me my parents confronted me and I had to tell them that I was gay. After that it was a slow acceptance of it. My dad didn’t actually accept it for many years down the line.
I remember the Miss Thang pageant was my big statement in a sense. It was not only facing my fears of dressing up, crossing the gender line in public in front of the whole school, but I knew that doing such a bold statement in front of my parents because they went to the pageant, was going to be like…
CHRISTINA: [singing in the style of Diana Ross] “I’m coming out”
ADRIAN: lol yeah it was like a coming out party. I knew that they [my parents] had to accept me – once they saw that I was already living this life. I was out in high school for about two years before they knew. So if they saw that other people accepted me I thought it would be easier for them to accept me as well.
So when I told my mom I had entered into the pageant she was surprisingly onboard right away. She’s the one that took me dress shopping and wig shopping.
So I guess the motivation behind it was to face my fears of having my parents really truly accept me for who I was. And winning the pageant kinda made it easier. I remember my mom crying [proud tears] when I won. She was really really proud of me. My dad and my sister were there. My dad was very quiet and he didn’t say much.
I knew that if they saw their son as a winner even if he was “different” it would be easier for them to accept me. I think it helped.
It’s funny, now that I think about it, everything that I’ve done since – when I have a fear I tend to go to Amnesia to face my fear. She’s the one that’s got the balls, ironically, even though they are tucked away.
CHRISTINA: What kind of negative feedback have you ever had?
ADRIAN: Maybe I’ve been very lucky but when I’m Amnesia I can’t remember one single instance where in person I’ve had a negative reaction. When I’m her, in person, I get great feedback from people. I think it’s mostly because of her personality, the personality that comes out when I’m her. Which is very positive. She’s not the bitchy drag queen that wants to put people down. On the contrary, she just wants to make people happy in any way shape or form even if it’s having people laugh at her. In person I feel like she has a presence. She’s just trying to have fun and trying to make other people have fun.
I would say the first taste of negative feedback was when I audition for American Idol. The night after they aired my audition I went onto the American Idol website’s forums. In the forums there was a huge thread with over a thousand comments about Amnesia Sparkles kissing Simon.
I remember crying and calling my mom into the room “Mom mom come here come here.” I was really crying. The tears were not from being hurt. I wasn’t hurt about the negative comments. I was crying because I was so overwhelmed how people were fighting over my appearance on American Idol. There was a huge thread of negative comments such as “That’s disgusting,” “How can Simon let a guy kiss him,” “Did you see that Fag?” All these nasty things that are obviously expected but you know I wasn’t thinking of what kind of exposure I was getting. Then after lets say twenty nasty comments the positive comments started coming. And then there were the fights. People were defending me. People who never met me were defending me and saying things to the haters like “you wouldn’t have the balls to do what she did” and “leave her alone.” People took her presence, her appearance on the show, personally because they identify with being a little different and they felt like these negative comments were personal attacks on them.
So even though that was probably the first time I remember getting the negative feedback I still felt like it was positive in a way because people were behind me. But they were really behind themselves. They were really seeing something in Amnesia they could identify with. That alone I feel overwrote the negative comments.
CHRISTINA: How do think your behavior has been influenced by the people and environment around you? First and foremost you are in New York City which is probably more accepting environment then if you were in like Omaha Nebraska?
CHRISTINA: Do you think that a lot of the reason why you are there is because it’s such a diverse melting pot. Where it’s ok with such behavior that you’d be put down elsewhere?
ADRIAN: it’s funny because I thought about that the other day when I was watching some YouTube vloggers who are in small towns and they are like these teenage kids who are in Indiana or Omaha or somewhere and they’re gay and there is no other gay person around them. I was trying to identify with that. I asked myself “have I ever felt that way?” “Have I ever felt completely alone?”
I do remember when I first came out in high school. Our high school was pretty progressive when you think about it. Ya know for it being in South Florida in the mid to late ninties.
CHRISTINA: Well I definitely think that yes there was definitely some negative backlash obviously because you got into fights. There were people that were ignorant – I don’t even know if they were ignorant more… the weird thing was it almost seems like they didn’t do it because they wanted to do it, it’s just that they felt pressured to be a big person and do stuff that was mean. It was like, I don’t really feel this way, I don’t even have that intensity of hate but I have to prove myself and this is an easy target. This is an easy target that that is not going to hurt me back so I can easily lash out at this person so to prove myself as a badass. When in actuality you should be embarrassed that that’s your target. Go to somebody that can whip your ass, and act tough and try something then I’ll be impressed. But you’re going to try to beat on somebody who has no chance of beat up on you anyway? It didn’t feel like any of it was genuine hatetred.
ADRIAN: yeah it was like social politics.
ADRIAN: I’ve known the social politics since I was a little boy. I learned when I was in school one of the first things that I’ve learned was that if you get people to like you then you’re safe. And that’s why I think I relied a lot on my humor when I was in high school, being goofy and making people laugh because I figured if they’re laughing they are not hitting me.
So I do remember intentionally trying to make friends in high school and trying to make them laugh and like me so that if shit ever went down I wouldn’t have to fight alone. You know what I mean?
CHRISTINA: lol I get it.
ADRIAN: not that I was in a gang but I felt like my friends were my safety net. If I was good to them then hopefully if shit every went down they would be good to me and it wouldn’t be so bad. I felt safe. And I think that’s maybe why I came out and I was who I was in high school because the drama kids the chorus kids we were all very awkward and different and we had each other’s backs. It was like “don’t fuck with us, because if you fuck with one of us you fuck with all of us.” It’s a very gang mentality.
CHRISTINA: In a positive way.
ADRIAN: yeah in a positive way in the sense that you are not in a gang to cause trouble. You’re in a gang so that if trouble ever finds you know that you are not alone. I rather care about people not for selfish reasons so that people won't kill me, but because when you do care about those people you are sharing this experience [life] together. And it makes the whole journey a little bit better. I guess that’s how the environment has influenced me.
CHRISTINA: Is a great example to say that you use the persona of Amnesia to get you through things when you re scared? She’s like an alter-ego? What is she to you? She’s the one that gets you through things when you are nervous or scared? Because the person Adrian I never see as a scared individual either. He’s always kinda been strong.
ADRIAN: From the outside. Lol
CHRISTINA: lol Yeah even from the outside that’s you though. There are people who are not strong internally and not strong externally either but you get past that hump whether you are Amnesia or not. It may be easier when you are her because you are taking on this larger than life person but Adrian the person doesn’t have a problem conquering his fears either. That’ the impression I have. I mean you picked up and moved to New York, that in it of itself seems so daunting and overwhelming. So many people would be too terrified to do that but you did it. And it wasn’t Amnesia that moved you there it was Adrian that got you there. There are so many things that you have done and have conquered that are beyond impressive to me that you know, Adrian did that not necessarily Amnesia. So where I’m getting with this is: what role does Amnesia play in your life?
ADRIAN: From your perspective you see me more as being fearless but deep down inside I’m scared shitless most of the time. Lol Amnesia is my go to person , or goto personality to remind myself that I can do anything I put my mind to as long as I keep that Amnesia attitude. I’ve always said that Amnesia is a state of mind. What she represents to me is that emotional state of happiness, joy, silliness, and simply embracing whatever comes your way and making it work and having fun with it. At the end of the day life is too short. She is my constant reminder when I get myself in that rut, in that depressed state of analyzing life too much she is the complete opposite she’s like “stop thinking about it let your hair down and have fun. Once you do that, wonderful things will happen" and they have.
I thought about killing her off. Lol I thought about killing her over the years because it’s been thirteen years now since I created her. At this point she’s as much a part of me as I am a part of her. She can’t exist without me and I couldn’t really see myself living like a lot of people do, going to their nine to five jobs, and becoming these zombies and going through the motions of life and never really experiencing really high highs and really low lows because they are not allowing themselves to do that.
I think as long as I keep Amnesia alive I’ll always go back to that feeling of “Oh my God I’m ALIVE!” When you go to bed that night, after feeling like Amnesia, you are like “I did something crazy and it was worth it.” It’s about spreading that joy. Making people forget about the bad stuff. And letting them know that life is not so serious. Yeah, we are all going to die, but have a little fun while you’re here.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005