To leave the realm of high seriousness for the moment… It has occurred to me that the only way for this homo to survive is to cultivate a taste for the absurd. Now, being a good homo, I already have a pretty well cultivated and, I daresay, refined sense of the absurd. My queer erotics is built around the failure of the very ideals to which I remain libidinally attached. Masculinity is one of these ideals. Maleness is another. But however much I love both masculinity and maleness, I am quickly bored by straight men (by which I mean, here, not heterosexual men, but specifically, men who play their masculinity straight). When a man seamlessly fulfills the demands of both masculinity and maleness, there is nothing left to laugh at, nothing to demean, no reason to dream. My teeth retract, and I lose interest. What I love is the thrill of gendered impossibility, the vertigo of the absurd, the tenderness of failure. That is why, however much I think I love masculinity, it is the faggot dandies, the shy boys, and the butch-appearing people with soft, expressive voices and graceful hands that really set me a dreamin. With them, I fall in love.
Displays of femininity on a masculine body are so policed in our culture, in the schoolyard, in the media. They set their perpetrator immediately apart as an object of scrutiny, suspicion, derision. They are dangerous and transgressive. So much so that they also become the object of self-policing. Sometimes, in spite of this policing into masculinity, these gestures escape irrepressibly. I am alive to this type of transgressive failure, so dangerous and so poetic. I enter into imaginary complicity with their perpetrator and victim. I want to whisper that I know his secret, that I know what it’s like. It is the overly shrill tone in a laugh, the nervous tic, the sense of drama in the turn of the head. At other times, these gstures are elaborated defiantly, with full consciousness of their hypervisibility and of the opprobrium that surrounds them. Such shocking heroism floors me.
…This is a description of my erotic imaginary. Much could be said about the transgressiveness of butch masculinity on a female body, the heroism of femmes confronting sexism full-on, the immense courage of transwomen. I admire them all. But the reason why I’m a faggot 4 faggots and not something else is that this is the particular gendered drama that moves me the most, affectively and erotically, and in a way that is very difficult to explain. This is the poetry, the romance, the danger that resonates with me, that sets off a chorus of thrills inside me, that disturbs me and turns me on.
It is always absurd, those feminine gestures on a masculine body. Inappropriate. Comical. Shameful. That scandal, that absurdity — that people inhabit and elaborate — is precisely what draws me. Is my absurdity — this female-bodied fag lusting after those who presumably are attracted to maleness — really that much greater?
Yes. My absurdity is more absurd. When a feminine gesture escapes me, it doesn’t make me a potential target for violence, it doesn’t mark me as queer.* If anything, it softens the blow of my masculinity, makes it seem more appropriate, more consonant with my female body. Yet when the feminine gesture escapes me, or when, feeling particularly irrepressible, I give it full rein, I feel shocking, dangerous, transgressive, and a little ashamed. I feel like I’m doing what I shouldn’t do, failing at the game of straight masculinity and perversely enjoying that failure, proclaiming my faggotry loud and clear, shameless. I feel like I am betraying my femaleness, my masculinity, and my presumed lesbianism all at once. And the strangest part is that this betrayal, failure, shame, and shamelessness feels good. There is an erotics to it, a pleasure in sending this coded communication to those with ears to hear it.
But then, we share an absurdity, me and those faggots I admire, and all I can do is attempt to live mine as they do theirs, with drama, sang froid, and in the end, a shrug of the shoulders, “C’est la vie”. The absurdity of queer life.
*Once, it’s true, I bought a pink silk scarf. Pink is a girl’s color. Silk is a woman’s fabric. Yet when I wore this pink silk scarf out, I felt not like a girl or a woman, but like a target for gay-bashers, rather daring and somewhat afraid. When I confessed this to a friend of mine, thinking he would say that I was absurd, he instead confirmed, “No, you look like a target for gay-bashers”. Masculinity is my armor, my safety, my power. Femininity is my shocking confession, my flag, my complicity.