I can’t even settle on one word for “binary.” Perhaps I mean both “spectrum” and “pair.” That’s how it goes being a Queer Gemini. What can’t I sympathize with? Empathize with? Try to understand? Nothing! Has there ever been a character in book, film, etc. with whom I haven’t at least partially identified? I am not certain when I have felt the most “like myself.” I can always find my twin, staring back at me, from the other side of the teeter totter. I may be decidedly down, but there you are, up and identical, perfectly understandable, and that seems like fun, too.
I recall being a feisty, fiery young person, labeled as a little girl. I vividly remember my shock, surprise, and disbelief that any other children, given a choice, would choose to be girls. I argued and fought, sometimes physically, to prove that girls could do anything, while wishing to be a boy. I experienced and identified extremely strongly with traditional feminine struggles such as being a full human being in the face of beginning to bleed and grow boobs. I was drawn to the lips of girls whose eyes and hearts somehow mirrored my own desires. It was a giant relief to be granted freedom by feminism, lesbianism, and gender studies. The second wave of feminism released me to be any kind of female that I wanted to be. And then it was an equal release to stumble into a radical city and community that often embodied radical Queer theory, reclaiming and expanding gender roles, such as butch and femme. They let me be anything, including a boy. A whole other wave of giddy theory, allowing me to be another version of myself – to fight again, this time for full boyhood.
Full boyhood for me meant not only being girl-crazy, but boy-crazy. Wanting to mirror myself on all the different ends of the gay spectrums. And I found it. To be partnered with a Queer man was extremely liberating as a Queer, just as liberating as it had been to be a womon surrounded by womyn. All the different ways to prance in the world with short hair and painted fingernails!
“But what is drag?” I press my eyeballs into the mirror to ask. “Now how do I perform drag and what is real?”
Is “drag” me delighting in a perfectly tailored suit and tie and lip-syncing to a manly, strutting song? Or is that me being real (if quite priviledged) and drag is me in a dress, allowing my boy self to be as faggy as I’d like to be, putting on dresses and lipstick? I don’t indulge in the latter very often, as it doesn’t appeal to me as often, but does the tension between these two versions of myself in drag perhaps again highlight to all of us that all of our gender constructions are false and our preferences likely to wander?
I would like to ask all reasonable human beings to allow themselves to indulge in experiments that were not handed to them at birth, either trying on feeling pretty or handsome, probably alternately. So that it shouldn’t really matter if I am approaching a jersey cotton dress as a woman with no assumptions made about my abilities or as a dude who is confident and vulnerable enough to allow myself a tender robe. It should not be that I am my most radical self by constantly, obsessively insisting that I only be seen one way, … but it feels like a Queer failing every time I allow myself the flexibility that seems to natural to me.
I feel compelled to claim only one thing, to be all the way staunch and dig my heels in to claim my rights, community standing, and identities. I find myself explaining or hiding or not indulging in anything girlie, which is super unfortunate, as it reeks of stereotypical masculinity and gender-norming. Why can’t I be a boy who buys a dress to wear around the house as pajamas or summer heat-relief? Why can’t I be a woman who makes self-identified straight men doubt their sexual preferences when we make out? Why can’t you be a high femme who marries a man and is still rabidly Queer and attracted to plenty of women?
I just can’t ever do it. I can’t hold the line. I can’t shout “I am a boy!” and then give up on silly little trifles of femininity that feel fun on any given day, or that I want my children to experience as powerful instead of avoided. I can’t only shout “girl power!” or accept the title of “lady” without grimacing and wanting to mutter, “I can be a boy, too.” I would rejoice to wake up and magically have a male physiology, but I’m not willing to stop talking about nursing my babies or having cramps or how we shouldn’t use girls as insults, because I know what that feels like, too.
Do we always have to be adamantly fighting to embody only one new location all of the way, staunchly at one end of the gender spectrum or sexuality continuum? Can’t we allow ourselves to float all the way back and forth and just straight up advocate for health care, bathrooms, and anti-discrimination for all? When do we get to say that? Is that why we’re so radical? Because we don’t just want baby steps but massive, lefty, change? That must be it. I’m not such an outlier because I am a boy. I am extreme because I have always been a boy, and have always been a girl. Maybe I’m just a Queer Gemini, but I really can’t see any other way to be free but to be allowed to be both. Or either. Or both? Either. Both?