Feminine Icons Series

Laura Dern in Wild at Heart

I loved this performance and the insane romance with Sailor. She was someone I wanted to be.

LauraDernBork-2003-pier

Bjork came to play her greatest hits at Pier 30/32 in San Francisco in 2003 and I decided to go by myself. I had never paid her much attention, I don’t know why, but it occurred to me that I should be the sort of person who liked Bjork. I went to art school, I used to be a fabulous weirdo, what the hell is wrong with me that I don’t like Bjork? So I bought several albums and got into her so I was ready for the concert. I stood alone in the crowd and her power just washed over me. The ringing chorus (…state of emergency…) from “Joga” exploded along with with pillars of fire and I felt like I was soaring. I recognized that her energy, her spirit, her art spoke to a feminine part of my heart and I reconciled that I could still be an interesting and beautiful person even if I was just a normal guy in dumb Gap clothes. I don’t know if that makes sense. I was opening a door and letting some more light in. It was really good to be alive.
Bjork_color

Sinead O’Conner Nothing Compares 2U. (Released on my birthday in 1990, fun fact I learned today.)

Her vulnerable, honest, emotionally profound performance spoke to my young, exceptionally dramatic personality. The greatest breakup song ever written came out around the same time my relationship with my art school girlfriend ended in disaster. The relationship itself did not warrant this kind of heartache, but it’s ending left me emotional and traumatized after questions about my sexuality exploded spectacularly. (More about that another time.) The song resonated for me and I always associate it with that time in my life when I began to explore and reshape my identity in the months after.

icon--sinead

Yoko Ono is one of the fiercest woman on the planet. She took a lot of shit with grace and intelligence and never stopped being herself. I always wanted a love story like that with a creative partner.

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Georgia

As a child of New Mexico, Georgia O’Keefe is someone I have long known and admired. I read her biography in high school and was inspired by her individuality, rebeliousness and deep artistic purpose. The quote is from Joan Didion’s “In Praise of Hard Women” essay.

Walk On The Wild Side

There’s this story going around about a student union at a Canadian college apologizing for playing Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side at an event. It’s being put forward as another example of leftist PC culture gone awry. Please don’t buy into it. Nobody is censoring Lou Reed.

The real worry is the way the alt-right uses something like this to divide us and further isolate the trans community from support. The right works very hard to encourage radical feminists, for instance, in their assault on trans people. And if the crazy trans people are attacking saint Lou, screw them! The headline does the job and the nuances of the topic are lost.

My first thought when I saw this was irritation at the younger generation for attacking what for some of us may as well be a liberation anthem that encouraged us to come out as well as immortalized Holly Woodlawn who should be on a postage stamp as far as I’m concerned. I’m 100% positive I shaved my legs listening to that song. It’s canon. When I was asked to do a page in the Queer Heroes Coloring Book she was my choice and the lyrics are right there in the picture.

A lot of the language in the song is out of date, of course, and I think it’s similar to older trans people using the word “tranny” and getting blowback from younger more “woke” folks. The idea that being with a trans woman is a walk on the wild side is indeed discomforting now, as is the casual “he was a she” line which kind of goes against current thinking.

What this song means to ME is different from what it means to a young person, and for that matter what it means to a transphobic bigot who finds things in the song that support their view of us as subhuman freaks. But that’s the deal with art, of course. It’s available to all to use and appropriate and you can’t control what the bad guys do with it. Ask Richard Wagner about that.

Mostly, I say cut them some slack, they are working it out. College campuses get a lot of grief for leftist PC censorship, but they are also currently cesspools of toxic 4chan masculinity and vicious transmisogyny and when we tell these kids to toughen up and deal their “widdle hurt feelings” we really don’t know what level of awful bullshit they are dealing with.

Red Car Crash

I made this painting during early recovery.When I used to speak at Overeater’s Anonymous meetings I would use a metaphor of a sports car to describe being skinny and beautiful. After being a chubby kid with a homely sense of self image I suddenly had this skinny gorgeous body. It was like being a teenager with a new license and a sports car. Too much, too fast. I promptly wrapped it around a tree and burst into flames. Or burst into fat, more like it. And then I was in hell.

The lyrics are from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’m certainly not the first trans person to find intense meaning in those songs, and I’ll accept being so “on the nose”.

Forgive me for I did not know
For I was just a boy
And you were so much more
Than any God could ever plan
More than a woman or a man
And now I understand how much I took from you

redcar

forgive