It’s Pride Week, my little demons! Which means color, PRIDE, dancing, drinking, celebration and gratuitous use of tu-tus.
I’m straight. Don’t get me wrong, like any responsible scientist I’ve tried. How can you form any sort of hypothesis without experimentation? But, alas my darlings, Whendy is a Cockivore.
Yeah, I totally just said that.
I’m not saying my plight is AT ALL SIMILAR to gay/transgender/transexual/pansexual/queer etc. folks of the day. I completely respect the struggles that are fought through and I mourn the soldiers that give up the fight. I am incredibly lucky to have grown up in a house with gay family members, so this was never taboo. In that arena, my parents are rad. But, as someone who is a Professional Exhibitionist I DO have to come out to people. And not everyone is accepting.
I have just returned from a long weekend in San Diego, witnessing my college roommate get married. I have a love/hate relationship with weddings. For instance, I LOVE me some open bars, but if one more person tries to force me into catching the bouquet I may seek to collapse their trachea.
For many of you who know this Whendy-bird personally, you probably know that my double-life is not something that I share with my parents. And this really seems to bother some people. As if it concerns them at all. One of my older brothers, (of which there are 3), once described me as the “Margot Tenenbaum” of our family. Yes. Secretive and with a love for copious amounts of black eye-liner.
The Hubba Hubba Goth Show, in my Alice Cooper best. Photo by Jenni Anne
It’s not important for me to have my parents support in this way. There’s plenty of things that I value and deeply love that they simply can’t/won’t support. My mother cried when she found out I have tattoos. When I pierced my lip in college, my father sent me a Hallmark card…..like someone had fucking died. They’re old and old-school, and some things are beyond their understanding and acceptance. When I feel like I can truly be myself and be given their acceptance, then I’ll fill them in on my life…..well, some of it.
I’ve always been in theatre, and I talk about “shows” all the time, they never probe deeper for whatever reason. My relationship with my parents is a work in progress. They’ve become accustomed to my love affair with fake-blood, and will come to see a Primitive Screwheads production on occasion. But they don’t sit in the front row.
Backstage at Brain-Dead Alive, photo by Katie Hellier
Which brings us back around to Bunnie’s wedding. I’ve known her family since I was 18, but we haven’t been in contact for the last 5 years or so. At her wedding, surrounded by strangers and a family whose judgements I didn’t care about I realized this was one of those tremendous moments where I could….*gasp*….be myself!! What a concept…..
Bunnie’s family wanted to know what I’d been up to lately. (Most, if not all, burlesque performers have run into judgmental/close-minded people. Many people make snap-judgments, as is the human condition: I am a Sparkly Naked Lady, therefore I must be promiscuous/lost/sinning/have low self-esteem/low morals/am sexually available/and need to stay the fuck away from their kids. )
I am a bit of a spit-fire, and usually have to struggle to keep myself from verbally bitch-slapping fuck-wits. But whenever I run into one of these intellectual oysters, I’m almost giddy with excitement. I have a chance to be an Ambassador for Sparkly Naked Boys and Girls everywhere!! I have a chance to teach and inform. That is something I feel I have in common with others who need to “come out” about themselves.
Kids, the best thing we can do is be kind, friendly and informative when judged and asked probing questions. The best thing we can do is cause them to question the assumptions they have made.
All of Bunnies immediate family was curious, but mostly I received high-fives. Some strangers were perplexed and taken aback, they cautiously asked questions and seemed thoughtful about my answers. It also may be easier to digest when the girl your talking to is in sweatpants with tangled hair, drinking beer with you at a campground.
The moral of the story? It can be terrifying to be honest about who you are, people can be insanely cruel. BUT, it takes the utmost courage to stand up and declare who you are and be prepared for possible backlash. Even when you are not applauded or accepted, you have done something incredible. You have created consciousness and curiosity. You are ensuring that Diversity gets a seat at the table. And often, and most exciting, you are inspiring others like yourself to be just as brave.
One thing my father once said, so simple and concise, has always stuck with me. I was in the 5th grade and just beginning to be tortured by mean girls, crying at home to my Pop.
“They don’t like you?” he said. “Well, to hell with ’em!”