Fan Fiction and Homonormativity

gravitation-15

[Taken from: http://www.anime-planet.com/images/anime/covers/gravitation-15.jpg

Description: The anime’s name, Gravitation is in the top left hand corner. The image is of two male figures. The blonde man, Yuki, reads more masculine in appearance in comparison to his partner. The other figure named Shuichi, reads more feminine and has pink hair. Yuki’s arm is possessively wrapped around Shuichi’s neck who’s smiling brightly and has both of his hands wrapped around Yuki’s arm.]

I’ve been reading fan fic since I was 14 years old. I remember hearing from a friend about this website called fanfiction.net waaaaaaay back in I think it was 2004? Anyways. I found fan fiction and quickly developed an obsession. (For those who aren’t aware, fan fiction or fan fic, is a story written by fan of and about a TV show, book, movie, band, celebrity, video game, or any other kind of media. This is done as an act of love for the media and is always  unpaid work. Fan communities build community around fan fic as well as drawings, videos, music, and a host of other artistic mediums). Fan fiction was formative in the development of my sexuality and support networks. It was the first space where I felt my desires were validated and was probably the reason why I didn’t get that I was even supposed to be straight for a long time.

I developed my queer community through fandom (the places where fans congregate, often this is in cyberspace). Initially, it was through anime (Japanese animation) culture and anime fan girls who were into yaoi (a Japanese writing genre which means, “boy love” or BL). It was within anime fan culture where I first came out and received support. Yaoi and reading gay romance into stories was and still is wildly popular. I was accepted as a boy who liked boys enthusiastically by my fan girl friends. I was fortunate enough that the vast majority of my fan girl friends ended up being queer too so the space between queerness and fandom bled together. I didn’t notice any problems with the fan cultures I participated in until I reflected on my experiences many years later.

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What Undesirability Looks Like

logo-accessdenied

[Image taken from: http://access-denied.ca/img/logo-accessdenied.png

Description: a red circle with a horizontal white line cutting through it and the words, “access denied” flanking the line.]

I recently came back from a life-changing workshop with a bunch of trans women writers and I definitely learned a lot while there.

But not everything was sunshine and roses. Actually, I felt excluded, less valuable, less part of the group at times. Now reflecting on the whole experience, I realized a number of things were going on. I felt awkward being surrounded by people who I had just met and a number who already knew/were dating each other. They would split off and do their own things or hang around in their circles and I’ve always found it hard to enter conversations. My autism manifests in part as strong writing skills and obvious weaknesses in non-verbal communication. Aka, I’m good behind a computer screen, but I’m a socially awkward turtle in real life around strangers. With friends and in classrooms, I’m more an annoying chatterbox that probably talks too much.

I was also cut off from my support network because I didn’t have data in the US and didn’t have my crew to turn to. This resulted me into curling inside myself like a child in fetal position and I was just so upset that I lost the ability to speak for a bit. I can’t recall the last time I became so upset that I became non-verbal. None of this helped in making connections with the people around me. I didn’t have any friends to step in and help ease me into conversation with strangers.

I eventually got a little support from a couple people which I’m super grateful for. It definitely helped a lot. But the point of me writing is not about the people who were supportive. I’m writing this piece to draw attention to the production and creation of undesirable bodies.

Continue reading What Undesirability Looks Like

Surviving the Sarlacc

So you’re minding your own business when someone shoves you so hard that you fall down a conveniently placed pit and holyfuck, there’s a thing in the pit that vaguely looks like a vulva but with tentacles and teeth and not the fun kind! And the thing, the Sarlacc inside the pit is going to devour you as you slip precariously down the hot sand towards its hungry maw. You scramble, make some headway, but then fall down a couple feet and then there’s a tentacle wrapping around your leg pulling you closer and closer…

Sarlacc

[Taken from http://flophousepodcast.wikia.com/wiki/The_Sarlacc_Pit

Description: Luke Skywalker, the protagonist of Star Wars, is standing on a plank high above this hole in the ground. Within the hole, we see a number of tentacles and sharp teeth. The hole resembles a vulva to the author.]

That’s what it feels like most days dealing with life for me. Now mind you, I’d -love- to have genitals that have (retractable) teeth and tentacles, this is not a fun or sexy experience. I chose the Sarlacc pit as a metaphor because it’s (nerdy, an amusing mental image) a monster that is always hungry waiting to eat you. And that’s what living under settler c(r)apitalism is like. And there won’t be a Luke Skywalker to save the day. And I’d rather not have to thank some white boy for saving me. I’m not and never will be a prize to be “won”.

I’d rather be able to find a way out of the pit. Or if there’s a Luke Skywalker present, he can help pull me out, but I won’t do more than thank him for his help. If he really wants to help, once I’m free, he could teach me some of those nifty Jedi powers and can use them to take over the universe make the world a more equitable place for us all to live in.

~~~~~~~~~~

I’m fortunate enough to get to participate in the very first trans women writing retreat. They’re fundraising for many of us to attend so if you have cash, feel free to donate. As someone who’s really poor, they’re covering most of my costs so you’d be helping to pay for me.

We were asked to write a piece on why we write so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I write for my own survival. I write because if I don’t, I’ll get swallowed whole. I’ll be digested to nourish the Beast and not have a will of my own. I’ll just be nutrients. For me, writing is a life line. It’s the only thing that makes me feel like I’m doing something. When I write, at least I can control over how I represent myself. And that’s something that can’t be easily taken away from me.

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A Pride Reminder…

marsha-p-johnson

[Take from: http://shotgunseamstress.blogspot.com/2012/10/pay-it-no-mind-life-and-times-of-marsha.html

Description: a black and white photo taken probably at a rally or protest. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, is handing out pamphlets to people on the left side of the picture. The eye is equally drawn to the picture of a young black person with a curly head of hair. They’re holding up a sign that says, “Come out of [two women symbols] your ivory [two male symbols] [trans symbol] towers & into the street”.]

It’s that time of year again. Pride. Or at least it is here in Toronto. I’m of course, gearing up for Pride like a lot of people breaking out the glitter and picking out an outfit in hopes to impress the queers and friends that I’ll bump into later today. But I was reminded today that this isn’t a party.

I’m reminded once again of how so many of my friends, how many people in my community, are poor, on OW/ODSP/other forms of social assistance, and struggle to eke out an existence. Particularly my transfeminine friends, many of whom are disabled or of colour. I chose this image of Marsha P Johnson to remind everyone that it was trans women of colour sex worker who started the movement which we now know as “gay rights”. Additionally, the sign beside her is a reminder that rights isn’t about just academic theory, law, or policy, it’s about human lives, human experiences.

That being said, what are we doing to make the lives of our friends, our community better?

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I Feel Ugly

This piece is revised from a Facebook post I made. The night I wrote this, I was feeling angsty and I was hurting too much. I have no clue what set it off, but my usual chronic feeling of -part of me is missing and I need to complete it like I need to breathe, eat, or sleep-  decided to push itself to the forefront of my mind/body. I decided to work on my little rant further because other people chimed in with similar feelings. Here’s to hoping that it’ll have a little more impact now.

 

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When is Justice Just?

Major trigger warnings: I’ll be bringing up my experiences of sexual abuse as minimally as I can. Take care of yourself and read only what you’re comfortable with.

I spend a lot of time still doubting my own experiences even though I have many people affirming my experiences and vouch that I did nothing wrong. I’m afraid that by writing this, there’ll be a backlash and that my abuser will pop up at my door with a bunch of ninja lawyers or something. But I feel like this is an important topic to bring up. I know far too many people scarred  by people who are still in their lives. Cops are rarely the answer, but something must be done. Like tons of QTPOC, poor, and other marginalized folks have been saying, we need change how we do justice. We need justice that is multifacted, supports survivors, and aims towards healing instead of only incarcerating people and calling it done. Continue reading When is Justice Just?

The Legend of Green Snake

sorcererandwhitesnake3

[Taken from: http://www.californiaherps.com/films/snakefilms/SorcererAndWhiteSnake.html

Description: Two snake/human hybrids are depicted in this picture lounging in a bed of plants. Both snake/human hybrids appear to be young, Chinese women with long black hair. The green snake/human hybrid is laughing holding onto the white snake/human hybrid who is making a face.]

So! A couple months ago, I attended this series of workshops/community study called, “Through Thick and Thin” which was about fat queer women’s experiences. The culminating project for Through Thick and Thin was to make a video.

My video is a re-writing of a famous Chinese tale called the Legend of White Snake. The original story is more or less, about two snake spirits/demons named Green Snake and White Snake. White Snake falls in love with a human man named Xu Xian and eventually marries him. But shenanigans happen to try and divide their heterosexual union. Anyways. The story has numerous versions so I thought I could write my own. I felt connected to the potential queerness (femmeslash) of the story and felt it tied to my blood. Continue reading The Legend of Green Snake