OMG hello! I'm a messy mess and haven't blogged in about four months, but I'm coming at you with a double post. Sort of. Neither of them is particularly cheery, but hopefully there's something uplifting you can take away from them.
Side note: I'm not sure how many of you regular readers (if you even exist) have noticed that I try and make every title a musical theatre lyric - because writing a blog about drag isn't gay enough - and I wanted to share this one because it is quite relevant and also Megan Mullally is glorious.
To begin with, here's a post I actually wrote on December 5th (a mere THREE months since my last post), that I probably forgot to post because it was at about two in the morning. If you've read my previous blogs you may start to see a pattern emerging. Hey ho. Here it is, in all its early-morning, exhausted, glory:
Hello. I'm sorry I haven't been keeping this updated; I recently moved to London (yay!) and also have no WiFi after three weeks (opposite of yay!). However, I'm scraping together whatever 4G I have left in my phone to bring you this blog post. It won't be a recap of what I've been up to because, by my count, I did a total of three things in September/October (Sidebar: I did see Dreamgirls a couple of weeks ago and it was glorious). No, instead it is this PSA/thought for the day:
Part and parcel of moving to London has seen me reconnect with friends who now live here, mainly from uni. This is great. However, it involves a lot of hugging and things of that ilk. I've never been one to hug, or share close contact with a broad range of people. I've never really given it much thought, and have always seen it as a facet of my hilariously prickly demeanour. Until last night.
A straight male friend of mine brushed my arm and I, instinctively, flinched. He then asked me why I was so against touching, putting his arm around me, and I couldn't answer him. Actually, I wouldn't answer him - I knew why. I told him I didn't want to tell him why, as 'I was recently sexually assaulted', the sort of showstopping and scene-stealing response younger me would have lived for, is now my reality. The sitcom of my life can't use this as a punchline, winning its star a BAFTA for the awkward comedy he's trademarked.
The truth is, I am scared of straight men. I would argue that this makes sense, somewhere down in my mammalian coding, as they pose the biggest threat to me. I am on edge when the pub I'm in is showing sports, or even across the street from a single man because, as we've learnt from history, any interaction with a straight man could realistically be my last, because of the way I walk, the way I look, or the way I linger on every 's' sound I make. I don't 'pass', and I shouldn't have to, but the fact I don't terrifies me. But the straight men I know? I'm safe with them, right?
I wish I knew. I think so, but since my experiences in Edinburgh my safety amongst straight men, let alone acceptance among them (a grail I gave up on long ago), has been called into question. Almost every touch with a straight guy, even just passing them in a crowded room, reminds me of that unnamed man in that club that I had to pass through. This doesn't happen with women or queer friends, but just recently I'm reevaluating how I've acted with them, if any of my friendly actions bring back similar memories or feelings. I've often said that through drag, I've had an insight into the way society treats women - how it both celebrates and commodifies them - and that I was lucky to be able to take the mantle off at the end of the night, and pack whatever misogyny or negativity I'd faced back into a suitcase. It's not like that any more; what I've experienced, good and bad, doesn't wipe off with the makeup.
I will admit, I was one of those people that used the word 'triggered' when I shouldn't have i.e eating porridge and remembering a play where I had to eat soup laced with oats. I regret that. Because being triggered by something isn't necessarily the panic attacks and seizures I thought it was. It can be the sheer terror of being near a friend.
I don't want to feel like this; I want to hug my friends without remembering what I want to forget. And I will get there. But for now, friends, please let us both decide how much contact we make.
I'll be back to doing the jokes soon
And I have been back to doing the jokes! I did a few new jokes at a Work-In-Progress night at The Glory, as well as the first draft of a lip-sync that evolved into my latest Lip-Sync Lollapalooza performance, this past weekend in my home turf of York. It was about Gemma Collins as a Disney Princess and it was very funny, if I say so myself. Hopefully I'll be able to share the video on my small tiny baby YouTube Channel (loadsa links in this post, it seems), so do subscribe to that to see it as soon as it's available!
Allow me to praise Lip-Sync Lollapalooza for a second. It's been York's only regular queer club night for almost two years now, and is a place where people of all and no genders and sexualities can join together, have a laugh, and enjoy being alive; a luxury we're not always afforded. It's all down to recent Twitter celebrity Crudi Dench who, alongside working tirelessly on this, and other, events, also lets me sleep on their sofa when the Lollapalooza rolls around. LSL is a place where you can be yourself (or someone completely different, if you want), watch or be a part of the best performances in North Yorkshire, and listen to dozens of the shit campy songs you used to love in 2006.
It is not a place, however, where straight men can grab your arse and think there won't be consequences.
I started receiving unsolicited sexual advances around the same time I started thinking 'yeah, I'm quite good at this drag nonsense', and it's hard for me to now separate my personal upward trajectory, and the sudden appearance of sexual assault, which is categorically what it is.
It happened to me in Edinburgh: I said nothing. It happened to me just before I performed on the main stage of York Freshers to a couple of thousand people, and I smiled at my friends and said I was fine, while trying not to cry.
It happened to me this Sunday when, about five minutes before, I had just won my fourth Lip Sync Lollapalooza, a club night that is clearly very special to me. (For the record, the final song of the meme-themed spectacular was that classic Rick Astley number, where every chorus I denied an audience member a copy of Pixar's 'Up'. It makes sense, really.)
What the offending man, who was wearing a gilet and cap inside, ON A SUNDAY, hadn't bargained for, was that I was on home turf. Lip Sync Lollapalooza takes place:
a) In a club where I have glued down my eyebrows in the upstairs strip bar, seen a naked fireman in an adjoining hen party, and been addressed and congratulated BY NAME by the actual, real-life Cheeky Girls. Most of my drag life so far has been lived there and, as its latest winner, I knew exactly where I stood.
b) In a #metoo-fuelled society. We now live in a world where we, victims of sexual assault and abuse, can shut down huge corporations, get Hollywood Blockbusters reshot, and make the covers of multi-national magazines. Rallied by the millions of victims (male, female, neither, both, black, white, trans, cis, gay straight) who have no idea I exist, I took a stand. I got that man thrown out of that club. He shouted at me both "You're a pussy!" and "You're a prick!", which was frankly the best way to describe the queerness of gender-non conforming man in a dress. A dress, which. I hasten to add, I made my bloody self and felt amazing in.
I deserved to wear that crown. I'm a god damn queen.
The #metoo campaign is phenomenal. If you're reading this and you shared your story, thank you. The empowerment a single hashtag has given me (and, I suspect, countless others) is staggering and, whilst the reasons behind its use are deplorable and disgusting, the way it's helped me confront something so ugly and so terrifying is remarkable. I still felt a tear run down from the outer corner of my eye, and I can feel more potentially coming as I write this, but it's a step. If you know me personally you might know that real, genuine pride is something I struggle to feel unashamedly, but I'm on my way to feeling that about how I took, and will continue to take, my body back.
Thank you for reading this, if you did. While you're here, here's a cheeky plug for a BIG FUCKIN THING that's happening on February 1st. Myself and the Haus of Dench are performing with actual, real life RuPaul's Drag Race Winner SASHA VELOUR, and I can't wait. Tickets are going like hot cakes so if you're London-based or want to be for this, get your tickets here. Also my family is coming so that'll be bant.