lotusWelcome! I’m Tai Quyn Kulystin, the creatrix of Purveyor of Pleasure. I am a educator, artist, occultist, harlot, and gentlefemme about town. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

I currently identify as a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and prefer the pronouns ne/nem/nir or they/them. I spend a lot of my time thinking about sacred sexuality, sacred kink, relationships, queer theory, depth psychology, sexological bodywork, and so much more. I'm in a long-term live-in relationship with my partner Onyx, and I also have a few other relationships and lovers.
Read more about this site & me→



11.03

2008

NaNoWriMo Glimpse – Anticipation

I decided to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo that is, National Novel Writing Month, which is November 1st-30th. I didn’t start right on the 1st, but this is part of what I had so far, not necessarily at the beginning, but it could be, we’ll see. I thought you all might like to read it, and I’d love any comments/critiques/criticism that you have, including telling me that it’s simply way too cliche (though it’s supposed to be a little cliche).

I need to read up on my noir fiction style, but I can always revise to add more noir-sounding phrases, but that’s the style I want to work within, partly Onyx’s idea, he’s been super into noir lately. Though, who knows, that aspect of it may end up being scrapped due to lack of ability. In any case, enjoy!

She walked into the room like she owned it, her deep red dress hugging her curves in all the right places, emphasizing her hips as she swayed toward me. She was the kind of dame you wouldn’t mind staying through the night, but she never would. I touched the cool glass of my drink to my lips, the ice clinking softly as the clear alcohol passed through my lips like water. She grinned once she saw me, sly as a cat having already caught the bird, and simply held out her hand for me to take.

She was the one who invited me here, to be part of a crowd and an atmosphere I didn’t usually partake in. I liked to stick to the shadows, preferring a fast tumble to a slow chase, but this girl was different. She had blown into my life like a brushfire, and seemed to like the chase. If she wanted a chase I’d be happy to oblige.

I tried to be cool as she led me to the dance floor, my half drunk glass abandoned on the counter I had been leaning on. Her arms were encased in black gloves up past her elbows, they looked elegant but were rubbery to the touch. A shiver ran up my spine as I touched the material. My arm slid around her waist as her head moved to rest on my shoulder, crimson lips grazing my cheek as her body molded against mine. Her hair fell down past her shoulder blades, and my hand ached to delve into the dark smooth mass of it, but I resisted for now. Each movement of her hips against me made me bite back moans that threatened to tumble from my lips, I couldn’t help but want her.

I could tell a lot of others in the room were watching us, and why wouldn’t they? Many who knew me were more surprised to see me in this setting and less so with the beautiful woman pressed against me. Those who knew her well, watched with a mixture of jealousy and smirking knowledge at what might later come to pass.

We did make a striking couple. Her in her red dress and gloves, elegant with a touch of fetish, her black heels tall, making her taller than me by a few inches. Me in a perfectly fitted three-piece suit I’d bought for this occasion: black with red pinstripes, black shirt, red tie, and a black fedora with a red band. I even had on red socks, though they were nearly impossible to see covered by my slacks and dress shoes. I knew she had a thing for suits, and for red, that much had been covered already. Though it had only been a few days since we met I could tell by the fire in her eyes that red was a color that suited her well.

Her arms were folded around my shoulders, my hands clutching her waist, knowing that if I slid them down just a few inches I would be able to feel the slope of her ass. I tried to keep my breathing steady, even as her arms wound tighter around me, her breasts crushing against my chest, inhaling the scent of her as she curled her fingers into the hair at the nape of my neck. I exhaled a heavy breath.

“Something wrong, darling?” She mused, her soft whisper against my ear sent another shiver. I growled low and she just chuckled as we danced to the soft jazz playing not far from us. She straightened in my grasp and shot me a knowing glance before taking my hand in hers and leading me out of the room.

We arrived in the bathroom before I realized where we were headed, she pushed me into the largest stall and pressed her hand against the bulge in my pants. I groaned. This was not the way I had imagined the evening would go. I was going to be smooth and charming, win her over through the night, invite her back to my place for a drink, and then make my move, instead she decided to lead me to the bathroom and unzip my pants.

I glanced down just quick enough to watch her red lips as they engulfed the length of my cock, making me throb with desire, the familiar clink of my belt buckle made me moan aloud, watching her as she watched me writhing in anticipation. I licked my lips and thrust my hips toward her, my pinstripe slacks falling around my red socks as she moved her hand under my cock to slowly insert a finger into my hot cunt, now I knew what the gloves were for, though I’d suspected all along.

10.15

2008

Identity Musings – Part 2

Continued from the post yesterday, Identity Musings – Part 1 I encourage you to read that first if you have not.

I started leaning back toward femme the last year of high school. I didn’t have any serious relationships during high school, the few queer girls I knew either had boyfriends, didn’t seem interested, or I didn’t know them, and I wasn’t attracted to boys in my high school with the exception of very few. I lost my virginity at 16, the day it was legal for me to fuck someone over 18, to a man I didn’t really know. I don’t regret it, mostly I just wanted to get that whole virginity thing out of the way, but I do sometimes forget it happened.

I’m not sure what leaned me back toward femme, and, really, in some ways I had never left it. I was a wonderful mixture of butch and femme: keeping my hair short but wearing wigs when desired, wearing any manner of clothing I felt like, skirts, dresses, pants, capris, suits. I wore a suit to my junior prom: black coat, shirt, and pants with pink tie, socks, and hair to match my date’s dress. I look back on that time and realize in some ways I had my own gender figured out better than I do now.

I had this intense desire to grow my hair out, partially so that I would actually start attracting anyone. I didn’t think I was terribly attractive, but I looked back at myself with long hair and thought maybe that was the issue. I don’t believe that’s the case, but it was one of those non-logical I-really-want-to-get-laid-or-at-least-have-some-sort-of-sexual-encounter-with-someone-to-sate-my-skin-hunger type of things, so I started growing it out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my long hair, but I miss it being short. I definitely had this “boy phase” from middle school to near the end of high school, what I thought was a butch phase, but I really do think it was a bit more than that. I wouldn’t play female roles in plays for a few years (and I was in a lot of plays), and the first one I did rather reluctantly.

I embraced that genderqueer boi inside of me so wholly, and I really was more of a boy than anything, but I was often a cross-dressing boy.

When I have expressed my confusion regarding my gender, my need to have both of these in me, I’ve had people not quite understand what the issue is, why I can’t just be “in the middle”, why I can’t be both, where the confusion is coming from. There are also people who express their own blend of masculinity and femininity when I mention it, they say that they don’t feel that pull, that they exist with a little of both and don’t understand that pull either.

If I feel like a femme, why hasn’t that been enough? If I feel butch, why hasn’t that been enough? I’ve thought multiple times that because I could be butch I should be, because we need more butches around. But then I know that wouldn’t be honest with myself.

In some ways I feel like a transsexual femme, that I used to be a boy and now I am femme. Looking back I really do see the gender trends of my life rather clearly.

I feel like I started as a boy who liked girls things, but who was a boy, we’ll call him Sebastian. I was a queer boy who liked boys and girls, even though I looked like a girl I was still a boy. I grew up to be a boy, and then I decided to change and become a femme. Then I was a femme, I embraced that femme and she felt good, we’ll call her Scarlet. Now I’m realizing that while Scarlet is as perfect as I first thought her to be, that she fits me just like she originally did when I first had that femme-epiphany-moment, that she is not enough for me. I miss Sebastian, but I don’t want to give up Scarlet, I want to be both.

The thing is I’m both boi and femme, both male and female, both masculine and feminine, both Sebastian and Scarlet, and I always will be. I’m also not a mixture of the two. I’m not somewhere in between boi and femme, I don’t have my own planet that is a mixture of the two that I orbit around, no, I am a boi and I am a femme, sometimes completely separately and sometimes at the same time, but they are always to distinct identities. I have two different planets that I orbit around, and sometimes I orbit around both and sometimes I orbit around neither.

I have suppressed Sebastian for quite a while, but he is coming back with the realization that I need both of them to be whole. I am working on regaining that. And, who knows, maybe I’ll find another personae hidden in there as well, someone completely different than Scarlet or Sebastian.

Continue the musings with part 3…

10.14

2008

Identity Musings – Part 1

I’ve been reading Pomosexuals for the last week or so, and loving it immensely. I read it while I’m on the elliptical at the gym, and I end up thinking about all these wonderful things that I would like to post about while I’m nowhere near my computer, or even paper to write ideas down with. This post has been swimming around in my head for days, thinking about how I got to the identities I embrace now.

Since gender, I think, is difficult to disentangle with sex and sexuality, I will be talking about all of those in this. It will be as much my general identity progression as it will be my gender identity progression, just focused a little more heavily on gender. Also, since this is turning out very long, it will be in two parts.

Any or all of these memories may not be entirely as they happened, as with all memories, but they are as I remember them.

I remember being younger–pre-school age, so 3 or 4–and taking a bath with my then-best-friend who was a boy, I remember us doing the “that’s weird” thing regarding each others genitals, wondering about the differences. I recall knowing the terms vagina and penis, though that may be that my brain at some point added them, and I remember remarking that my clitoris (I didn’t know what it was called at that point) was like a little penis. It’s not that I expected my clitoris to turn into a penis, or thinking that I was a boy, but I didn’t think there was much of a difference between them. Of course, I know now that they come from the same tissue, but that wasn’t exactly what I was thinking at the moment.

I remember growing up and liking dresses, while my (very 2nd wave feminist) mother did not like me liking dresses. She didn’t discourage me from wearing them exactly, but she would suggest that I did not wear them. The same goes with pink. Pink was never my favorite color (that elusive childhood obsession of a “favorite color” which changed nearly weekly), but I always have loved purple, and I think I would have liked pink sooner if it wasn’t for my mothers “yuck” reaction to it.

I remember my best friend M had a cinderella dress, and I coveted it. I remember liking to wear satiny nightgowns and have sleepovers with friends where we would play by rubbing our mounds together. I remember pretending to get married, and I would always be the preacher, rarely the bride or the groom.

I remember being girly, and I remember loving it. I was a femme, until I hit puberty, but I never “felt” female, I’m not even sure what that means. I think I mean that I didn’t really identify with being female or being a woman, though I did like girly things. I remember having “crushes” on boy celebrities that I wasn’t really attracted to, but that my friends A and T both did, and I was trying to fit in.

I remember hitting middle school and starting to wear all black when I used to wear all sorts of other colors. I came out to my then-best-friend W on the school bus before school in seventh grade, saying “I think I’m bisexual.” We talked about it, and he was cool with it, I’m not sure he quite knew what that meant. I remember having that spread around without my wishes, and then my own firm desire to spread it around.

I was sexual since sixth grade, or earlier maybe, but sixth was the first time I really started thinking about it, I had my first in fifth (October 10th–my best friend’s birthday party, it was a swimming party and I remember having to use a tampon for the first time that very first time I bled). I used to read romance novels, I read over sixty of them (I labeled them with numbers in my own OCD way), I was enamored with penetration, but lusted after the girls more than the guys. I masturbated… a lot.

When I was fourteen (though I certainly didn’t look fourteen) my older sister took me to Babeland (then Toys in Babeland) and bought me my first sex toy, a glow-in-the-dark bullet that I loved until it died (from overuse?).

I cut my hair short (about two inches) freshman year of high school. I started wearing pants more than skirts, though I still wore skirts because I’ve always loved them. I was very much a goth/punk butch fagette. I dyed my hair just about every shade of every color you can think of (ROYGBIV and more), and had all sorts of combinations, including pink with blue tips, yellow with green tips, pink and purple mixed around, red and purple, purple and white, and a very cool looking rainbow.

I was very out. I started the Gay/Straight Alliance at my High School my Junior year, and was the president that year and the next. I organized both high-school and community wide events. I worked with PFLAG and went to some of their meetings. Most people thought I was a lesbian, some of the people in my hometown still do, even though I was very out as bisexual. A friend’s lesbian mothers were surprised when she told them I was with a man.

I’ve been told that I was an inspiration to those around me, that I have helped them discover themselves and not be afraid of doing what they wanted or wearing what they wanted, because I was there to be a little more bizarre so they could go to their own personal extreme.

More of the path it took me to get here in part 2…

09.18

2008

Baby Dyke (HNT)

My card reader is still broken… I really must get another one of those! Hopefully I’ll get one tomorrow while I’m in Seattle. Since I’m leaving for Seattle, I thought I’d post this HNT of me in Seattle. This is also a long time ago, 2002, I think? All young and fresh, hence “baby dyke.” This is kind of a perfect example of my femme fagette boi blend, short hair, no make-up, a little butched up but with a corset on. I was a gender genious six years ago and didn’t know it! I’ve gotten away from my butch-ness in recent years and it’s something that is slowly coming back to me. I’ve been reconnecting with my gender map, or the road to my current orbits in the gender galaxy, and so it’s also fitting that this be the image today.

I have many posts in the works, and many toys and books to review for you all, and I have some posts automatically set to post over this weekend. I’ll be in the Seattle area until the 22nd, and then up to my home town in Alaska to see the other side of my family and my friends that are still up there. I’m hoping to have internet access most of the days, but we shall see. There’s also lots going on, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have. I’ll be back on the 1st of October, but I’m hoping posts won’t be too sporadic (does that word make anyone else think of Clueless… just me? Okay.)

So, fear not. I will have, hopefully, a new picture of me not an old one in a week, and I will still be posting, though just from a different time zone!

09.11

2008

The Butch in Me (HNT)


Click the image for a second image. Click here for the larger version.

So, the card reader for my camera is not able to be read on any of the computers in the house, meaning I need to get a new one but I have not done so yet. In lieu of a new HNT I am pulling from my stock of old photos. It took me a while to decide to actually post this, if I was brave enough to face the possible reactions or lack of reactions. It’s interesting that some aspects of myself are more vulnerable than others, and usually those I haven’t processed fully.

The second image (click the image to see) is one I added mostly for my own amusement. Looking back I’m not sure what I was going for, and I find it a laughable attempt at looking “cool” or “badass” or something like that. I was feeling rather hot at the time, I will admit.

These images I’m pulling from 2006, the pictures I took while getting ready for the Gender Bender Ball at Southern Oregon University, an event which I began during my term as President of the LGBTASU (now Gender/Sexuality Union) and which is still going on today. The shirt and tie are the same as in my Drag Quing HNT. The shirt is the one I wore to my High School’s Junior prom, accompanied by black bondage pants, the red tie I’ve had forever, as well as my terra firma harness and faithful Leo.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my boi/Syr side, and it’s something I’m going to work on developing further. Look for a post regarding that in the next few days. And, please, be gentle.

08.14

2008

Genderqueer Drag Quing HNT


Click here for the larger version.

In honor of the Femme Conference which starts tomorrow (more info at the Femme Collective site or my post a while ago) I thought I would post something gender-related. It isn’t exactly naked skin, so half-nekkid might be a little bit of a stretch, but sometimes clothes can make me more naked than nakedness ever could.

The above images (yes, there is a second image if you click on the image above) are representations of me, really a mixture of my drag king and drag queen sides, hence the title, drag quing. All of the clothing I am wearing is mine, the shirt is actually the same shirt I wore to my Junior Prom, all those years ago, though I had a different black suit (not pinstriped) and a pink tie on (which matched my date’s dress–also pink hair and pink socks to match). I love suits, both on myself and on others.

Gender is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, specifically my gender but also gender in general. Sometimes I miss the butch side of me, the side which used to be most prominent, but has now taken a back seat to my femme-ininity. I sometimes wonder where that butch went, the baby butch I was in high school has morphed into this femme identity, and sometimes I want to bring my butch back.

Recently I shaved Master’s head, and ever since I have been missing my own short hair, my own shaved head. At the same time I love the long hair that I have now, it is the longest it’s been since 8th grade, approaching where it was then, even. I have these mixed emotions about it all. It’s not like I think I have to pick butch or femme, that I have to be one or the other. I know that I settle somewhere in the middle, and that I can decide what gender I feel like expressing at any given moment, on any given day. But it is still hard to reconcile the genders within me, as society makes it difficult to be in that middle-ground.

So, this is my blending of my identities. The long red hair, red lips, red fingernails, with the black pinstripe suit and tie. You can’t tell from the way I’ve cropped it, but I also had on a fedora, a short black skirt, fishnets, and my black doc martins. Perhaps someday, once I get my tripod and a remote for my camera, I’ll show you the whole package. This is my genderqueerness, and I thought you all might like to see it.

05.09

2008

It’s denim and leather and butch wax, kid, and don’t you forget it. Unless you’re vegan.

Butch is a Noun is a book I’ve been eyeing for months, but have not actually gotten around to buying yet, by S. Bear Bergman. I found this youtube video of him reading the first chapter of the book, which is called What Butch Is, which I have been told is the best part of the book. You can even read along (or read again, or re-read or watch and then read along) with the PDF excerpt available at Bear’s site.

I am going to watch it a second time… and maybe a third and fourth and…

Along the same lines (of butch/femme) Visible: a femmethology has a call for submissions going on. It is due June 1st, and I am working on a piece for it, though I’m worried with everything going on and the trip and everything if I will be able to get it together in time. I’m hoping I will.

Some more information: “Visible: a femmethology is a forthcoming anthology about the power and complications in presenting femme as a gender and breaking the traditional meaning of feminine. It aims to showcase personal essays exploring what “femme” means to those who claim it as an identity.”

Much more information on their website

01.18

2008

Poly and My Gender Crisis

I haven’t really talked much about polyamory here. This is something I would like to talk more about, and something which Master and I need to talk about as well. He has mentioned that he would not want another slave. I think his idea of poly includes us having a third, rather than just one of us or the other having another partner, but I’m not sure. I think I would want a secondary that’s just my own, and to be a secondary to that secondary. I also like the idea of us having someone who we are both with as well, but they would also have to be a secondary, he and I would come first. I would want our secondaries to have someone else, a primary, and maybe we could be involved with them as well somehow, or not, it would depend on the person.

I’m having a slight gender crisis right now, but that’s for a different post, I think, I don’t know, maybe not? I’ve been reading Stone Butch Blues, which is amazing and something that I think everyone should read, but I identify almost too strongly with Jess. I identify with butches, and I wonder if that’s part of what makes me a femme, or if it’s because I have some butch in me. I used to be butch. I loved it. I think I would still love it, but I love my femme-ininity just as well. When I was butch I still wore skirts, and maybe that’s what I need, to cross the lines instead of just being on one side or the other, but it’s hard to be somewhat butch and mostly femme it’s easier to be somewhat femme and mostly butch, and I don’t think that’s where I am at.

I feel like, in some odd ways, that I’m passing. I’m passing for straight and passing for woman, when in reality I am neither of those things. I love women and men, and women just a little more generally, but I’m currently with a man, which means I can pass as straight in the regular world, and maybe that’s good, maybe I need to be passing in Utah. I mean, it’s fucking Utah.

People look at me and think woman, they don’t have to figure me out, and maybe I like it when they do, but how do I encorporate a little bit of butch into my femme without cutting my hair or not wearing skirts or not wearing makeup, all of which I love to do/have. Odd, really. There’s no way to be feminine and in between unless you’re male, and maybe this is why I identify so strongly with drag queens and male femininity, because it’s a femininity which can be between man and woman while being feminine, but the between man and woman while being feminine for females is nearly impossible.

I long to be butch, yet I love to be femme, so where do I fit, if anywhere? This is partially where genderqueer comes in, but I want to be both and yet can’t be, and that’s basically genderqueer, but not only… I just don’t quite fit right. This is my gender crisis. I love the gender I’ve fit into, but how do I express it without wearing a gender tag that says “I’m a gothic looking bio-female genderqueer femme drag queen, ask me how!”? Otherwise I’m just written off as “woman.” And while I’m not against woman nor do I fault others for identifying as woman it doesn’t do it for me.

I love being femme, yet I long to be butch, but I know if I was butch I would long to be femme… wouldn’t I? Did I long to be femme while I was butch, or did I just long for a woman or a man who would accept me for who I was? Why did I start growing out my hair, so I could find a lover easier? I’m not sure. I’m not sure what I want, or what I am, or what I should do. But, then, I love having this long hair, and I want to grow it out, down past my shoulders, so it touches the middle of my back. Long black hair, nice and gothy and gorgeous and amusing all at once. I cling to my campy gender, my camp femme-ininty. I love it, and yet…

I think what I really need is a woman. I need female contact and companionship, not necesarially just for sex, but someone I can love and who will love me back. I’m not sure if I could have a woman bond like that as a secondary, though. I’m not sure she could be my primary either, though, since I’m with Onyx. And I love him, and I want him, and I love being with him and being his and everything that goes along with us being us, but he’s not a woman and he doesn’t understand some of the things that pull me so hard that sometimes i fear I will burst, or break, like women and queerness.

I think my longing to be butch is just a longing for a butch, or just for a woman, because I long for and love femme-ininity as well, so I think I’m just projecting my desire to be with a woman as my desire to be a different kind of woman, or the kind of woman I would want to be with, if that makes sense at all. I just ache and covet.

note: this, being a rant, is not asking for advice, but empathy is accepted happily.

01.10

2008

Seven, Sieben, Siete, Sju

Seven quirks/habits/facts about myself. Some of this information may be known by some and not by others, so…

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1. Butch Despite my high femme appearance lately in high school I was extremely butch. I kept my hair anywhere from shaved to about 3″ long. For a long time I would only play men in plays. I shaved my head once and kept it shaved for a while. I went to my Junior prom in a black suit and fedora with pink tie, socks, and hair to match my date’s pink dress. I still don’t really feel female, I don’t feel male either, though I also wonder if someone can feel like their sex if they know that their sex and gender do not have to be correlated. I now identify as a femme drag queen, or high femme sometimes, but I still love putting on men’s suits and hiding my hair under a fedora every once in a while.

2. Hair Dye I am addicted to dying my hair. Although this has changed in the last few years as I have been growing my hair out and it is extremely damaged due to my hair dying for a while in high school I used to dye my hair about once a week. I have had nearly every color in my hair which you can think of: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, blonde, brown, redhead, black, silver, teal, turquoise, light green, dark green, light purple, dark purple, reddish purple, blueish purple, fuscia, orangey red, pinkish red, blood red/scarlet, light red, light pink, hot pink, etc. Currently my hair is black and while I love it I also miss having other colors in it but can’t because I’m not allowed to at work. Instead of dying now I wear hair falls.

3. Astrology (while I do mention this in my profile and have the filter, this is slightly different) I’ve taken quite a few classes on astrology by a (certified, I believe) astrologist. I have learned quite a lot and know (barely) how to interprate a chart and the basics of most things. Although this is true, I have trouble with interpreting a number of things, mostly that which I do not have in my chart or that which I have retrograde or etc. I can intellectually explain and understand them, but I can’t feel them like I feel other signs/planets/etc.

4. IRC I am addicted to going on IRC. This ebbs and flows as addictions do, but I love going on there. Usually I go to irc.bondage.com or irc.sexnet.org or often both. You can find me in various channels on either network. Master and I even met on IRC, on sexnet in a channel called #group-sex (back in the golden age of g-s). The majority of our relationship was developed over bondage.com, however, but we originally met on sexnet. I have made many friends this way, and though many of you know this already many of you don’t.

5. Body Modifications Though I do say this in my profile, that I am “a body-mod addict (thirty-four piercings and eight tattoos)” I do not describe those. I love body modifications in general, and I would like to apprentace as a piercer one day soon. My piercings: 19 in my ears (6 in each lobe (12), three cartilage, a rook, a traigus, and an orbital (which I count as two as it’s two holes)), three in my nose (two on one side, one on the other), my tongue, +’s in my nipples (two barbells in each), a vertical clitoral hood (vch), and six in my inner labia (three in each). My tattoos: a stylized heart on my left breast, a small cancer (zodiac) symbol on my right breast (cancer rules the breasts and stomach), a small aries (zodiac) symbol behind my left ear (aries rules the head and neck), what I like to call “lovers entwined” between my breasts, bettie page by olivia (the photo does not do it justice) “don’t tread on me” (see icon) on my right thigh, elvgren’s pinup witch on my right calf (again, photos do not do it justice), a key with heart-shaped handle on my left wrist, and a heart-shaped padlock which looks like it goes under my skin on my right wrist.

6. Musicals I love musicals. Lately my addiction is Sweeney Todd, but before that has been The Producers, Rent, and tons of others including Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn musicals, among others.

7. Vintage and Retro I love vintage and retro clothing as well as many of my idols are from earlier eras such as Mae West and Bettie Page. Also, I was into this before it became the “big thing.” I cut my hair in image of Bettie’s freshman year of high school and then cut it short again, but once I started growing it out I have had it like hers since. I used to get asked “who is that?” when I would wear tshirts or have something with her on it, now I get “did you see the movie?” This is mildly annoying.

12.08

2007

The Importance of Identity Politics and How They Have Shaped the Queer Rights Movement

Ever since the academic appearance of the concept of homosexuality in 1869 homosexuals and others with non-normative sexual orientations and non-normative genders have been studied and attempted to be defined (Faderman, 41). Many different definitions and labels have been produced to appeal to different factions of non-normative sexual identities, some of which have been taken from slurs and taunts as a means to empower them that reclaim it. Identities and labels of those who claim non-normative sexual orientations help people fit in within society as well as within groups. It is nearly impossible to escape a label in this society.

Some claim, however, that labels based on gender and sexual orientation are imprisoning, and reduce people into one state of being instead of recognizing the complexities of individuals. Through exploration of labels of the past, and examining the current evolution of labels, I shall show the importance of labels within the queer rights movement. Labels, while potentially restrictive, are a necessary catalyst for the advancing of queer rights, because by defining and choosing our labels we are then able to deconstruct and, later, abolish those labels.

When the term “homosexual” was first defined it was labeled both as a gender deviance or a sexual partner preference deviance, depending on the sexologist doing the labeling. In 1897 the label of sexual inversion was given to homosexuals by Havlock Ellis, with which he categorized homosexuals into several different and distinct categories. Ellis was ahead of his time in several ways: he was the first to attempt to categorize homosexuals into distinct classifications, and the first to talk of homosexuality as a permanent identity, which was not widely accepted until the 1920s (Ellis, 122).

“Homosexual” is seen as a clinical term, first used by scientists and psychologists, and while it has been used widely since its inception, the term was put onto those who were deemed homosexuals, not chosen by homosexuals for themselves. Pejorative terms such as fairy, fag, queer, and dyke also have questionable beginnings and lineage. Though, often the people on whom those terms were being applied chose to turn around and embrace them, disempowering their impact by wearing them proudly like a badge.

Before 1973 homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder by the American Psychological Association (APA) and was included in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) (D’Emilio 13). In 1973 it was removed from the DSM but was replaced by ego-dystonic homosexuality in 1980. Ego-dystonic homosexuality was not simply characterized by having homosexual desires, but by having unwanted homosexual desires, which were interfering with the normal heterosexual desires you were “supposed” to be having. This newer disorder of ego-dystonic homosexuality was later taken out of the DSM in 1986, and no disorders regarding homosexuality remain in the DSM today (Herek). The terms gay and lesbian have more personal resonance within the queer movement than the term homosexual because they were not developed within an academic rhetoric and are not associated with the “pathological” disorder of homosexuality.

‘Gay’ and ‘lesbian’ have no specific date of origin, but did not come into common mainstream usage until around the 1970s and the beginning of the queer rights movement (then the gay rights movement), though they had been around for many years before that. The labels for deviant sexual orientations throughout the years since the beginning of the modern gay movement have changed significantly. Starting out simply gay and lesbian, becoming broader and more inclusive with lesbian, gay, and bisexual, then gender was added into the mix with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and then come the micro labels which are in common usage today: lesbian, gay, bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, sapiosexual, transgender, transsexual, transvestite, cross-dresser, cisgender, genderqueer, gender bender, asexual, ally, queer, intersexed, intergendered, questioning, unsure, same gender loving, men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women, two-spirited, etc. The semantics of the movement are slowly moving toward using a catch-all umbrella term—queer—to encompass all of these terms and more. This progression is extremely important, in relationship to the progression of the queer movement.

Micro-identities, for the purpose of this paper, are more defined and specific, and relate to a larger, more well-known or mainstream identity. Dyke, butch, and femme are all micro-identities of lesbian identity just as fag, queen, and macho are all micro-identities of gay identity. Micro-identities have been a part of queer identities since the early 20th century when identities regarding sexual orientation became commonplace. There have always been different terms (Ellis, 22; Faderman, 59). Today individuals within the queer movement are choosing and creating micro-identities which define their own distinctive selves. People are coming up with relatively new terms such as “sapiosexual” or simply stringing a number of micro-identities together to create one identity such as “bio-female omnisexual genderqueer femme drag queen,” instead of simply choosing broad identities such as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

While identifying with a term can help to claim a part of the self, such terms can also become stifling and limiting in their definitions. The more defined and specific the label is the more restricting and imposing the label becomes. Once one claims an identity they are then often seen as only having that identity, and not given room to maneuver within or outside of it. Should someone claim a micro-identity which is slightly difficult to outwardly express, such as the example above, they are often put into categories by those who observe them which do not fit their own self-identity. By only being seen as one of potentially multiple identities a person is only seen as a fraction of themselves, or by not having their identity recognized by others, that person may be seen as someone they are not. In this society and many others there are very strict ideas of how a person is supposed to look or behave depending on their culturally perceived identity, which is extremely limiting both for people who do and do not fit into their perceived identity (Third World Gay Revolution and Gay Liberation Front 297).

The sexual orientation identities of gay and lesbian are often tangled with a gender stereotype, and there is no way to untangle them (Third World Gay Revolution and Gay Liberation Front 297). The gender identification which is stereotypically related to gays or lesbians is often that of the culturally “wrong” or “incorrect” gender, that is, masculine females for lesbians and feminine males for gay men. With the assumption of the socially correct gender comes the assumption of the socially correct sexual orientation, that is, a “real” masculine male must only be attracted to a “real” feminine female, and visa versa. When the sexual orientation is non-normative, the gender assumption is as well. However, “gender identity, being entirely artificial, has little to do with sexual orientation, this is another way gay oppression is used to keep people in line” (297). While gender deviance and non-normative sexual orientations can be linked in many people, there are also many people who have the socially correct gender presentation while still having a non-normative sexual orientation.

Foucault and other post-modernists claim that through the construction of these identities we are taught ways in which to not only police others to see if they fit into these categories, but also to police ourselves. We must consider, at every moment, what sort of presentation we are giving, if our body and mannerisms are aligning with our supposed gender or not. Because of this self-policing and the sense of permanent visibility of our selves to ourselves, to others, and to society, conformity, and specifically in this case gender conformity, is possible and also encouraged (Wilchins, 69).

Through this idea of self policing we are also able to see how gender roles and identities are socially constructed. Without the constant pressure of society to conform into these gender roles, we would all simply do as we chose. According to Foucault, there was a shift around the historical period of the Enlightenment which moved the ideas of purity and decency from simply decency of acts to decency of thoughts and desires as well, even if they were never acted upon. Since then this has permeated society, we are taught that even our thoughts must be controlled and proper, and this includes our ideas about hetero- and homosexuality as well as what gender we must express and when and where it is acceptable to act in certain ways. This idea of self-policing extends identities which are non-normative, any identity which has a stereotype associated with it, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and so on, is subject to self-policing. This is another reason for the expansion into micro identities, especially those which are not widely known or not stereotyped. Without a stereotype that we must fall into we are free to act as we choose.

What the queer rights movement is expanding toward currently is back to a generalizing term that can encompass all gender deviance and sexual orientations while still encouraging individualistic micro identities. It is the youth within the movement who are embracing the term “queer” and working toward the very post-modern idea of abolishing labels. The ideas behind the queer rights movement are becoming more post-modern in theory and activist practice. Breaking down of all the micro-labels into one overarching label of “queer” or simply saying “don’t label me,” which is another strong movement within queer youth, are both ways which the youth of today are deconstructing the idea of labels, and getting to a point of potential abolishment.

When either sexual orientation or gender identity are non-normative, the expression of these non-normative identities works on breaking down the assumed gender roles and assumed heteronormativity of our society. This is accomplished through simply the ability to have a gender identity or sexual orientation which is out of the norm and thus subversive. This confronts other’s mainstream ideas about sexuality and sexual orientation. In this way, the production of micro-identities and labeling down to a fine very specific and individualistic detail allows for not only a wider array of people to consider themselves part of this deviant sexual culture but also for a broader idea of those within the queer culture and queer rights movement. Getting down to these almost nit picky identities and dividing the community into these micro-identities allows for the community to solidify across identities and to form a major movement in which everyone is represented.

Just as in order for someone to come up with the idea of post-modernism society first had to have modernism, in order to work toward abolishing labels in the context of gender and sexual orientation identities we have to define those labels within the queer community. “As Judy Grahn said, “If anyone were allowed to fall in love with anyone, the word ‘homosexual’ wouldn’t be needed”” (Third World Gay Revolution and Gay Liberation Front 289). And so, to work towards that ideal future where these labels and terms for “alternative” and “deviant” sexual orientations are not needed, we first had to go through the process of finding those labels and painstakingly dividing ourselves into neat little categories before we are able to tear down those ideas and live without inequalities. There is a long road to go before all deviant sexual orientations and gender identities find themselves accepted by the mainstream, but labeling and deconstruction are both working toward that, just as the queer rights movement is as a whole.

Works Cited
D’emilio, John. “After Stonewall.” Queer Cultures. Ed. Deborah Carlin and Jennifer Digrazia. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004. 3-37.
Ellis, Havelock. “A More or Less Distinct Trace of Masculinity.” Engendering America: a Documentary History, 1865 to the Present. Comp. Muncy Robin and Michel Sonya. McGraw-Hill College, 1999. 122-125.
Faderman, Lillian. Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: a History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America. New York: Penguin, 1991.
Third World Gay Revolution and Gay Liberation Front. “The Imprisoning and Artificial Labels of Gay, Straight, and Bi.” Engendering America: a Documentary History, 1865 to the Present. Comp. Muncy Robin and Michel Sonya. McGraw-Hill College, 1999. 296-298.
Wilchins, Riki. Queer Theory, Gender Theory. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2004.