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#1941

Queer Club: I Wanted To Do The Thing, So I Did The Thing! (Is this how you adult?)

A few months ago, I was lamenting the lack of local queer meetups while my fiance and I were grocery shopping. Living far from major cities like Seattle and Olympia makes it hard to take part in queer culture – being on the wrong side of a toll bridge and in a town full of old people makes it even worse. I don’t feel unwelcome in my hometown of Gig Harbor, but neither do I feel like my queerness is necessarily nurtured here. Besides the occasional Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker or the cool Safeway checker with the queer pin, it’s difficult to identify and connect with my own kind.

This wasn’t the first time I complained about being too far from the queer city hubs, and I’m sure it also wasn’t the first time my fiance suggested I start my own meetup. Here’s what made this time different: When we got home I actually did it. I sat down and made a Facebook group and invited the few local queer friends I had. I posted on Craigslist and Tumblr and Twitter. And when we went grocery shopping the next weekend, I nervously asked the Safeway checker if she wanted to come. After just a week or two, we had a total of 15 members – not bad, considering I was pulling from what is likely a small pool. The group was a nice mixture of people I knew, people who knew someone else in the group, and people who didn’t know anyone. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the results.

And then I realized I was in charge and would have to plan the first meetup, and I panicked.

Okay, not quite. But I was definitely SUPER nervous as I waited for people to arrive at that first meeting. I had a million worries buzzing in my head. What if no one came? What if no one knew what to say and it was really awkward? What if I forgot someone’s name or pronouns or didn’t have anything for a vegan to eat? What if everyone liked everyone else except for me, and they decided to kick me out of my own group? What if we just didn’t really have anything in common and the group fell apart immediately and I never tried to do anything like it ever again and became a recluse and my fiance had to cover all our windows with newspaper? You know, the usual fears of a totally normal person.

As you can probably guess, none of those things happened. The meetup went better than I could possibly have expected and people stayed until after midnight (for reference, I’m usually in bed by 8:00 PM). After our guests had left, I was too exhilarated to sleep and practically bouncing off the walls with relief and happiness. I had made a thing! That people had attended! And had liked enough to make plans for the next one (and to form a D&D group)! I couldn’t believe it. Somehow, I had managed to gather together a group of local queer folks who were all amazingly nerdy and hilarious. I liked them all. They seemed to all like each other. Was this how you made friends? Who knew it could be so easy!

I have no idea what the future holds for Queer Club – honestly, I didn’t plan past “make a Facebook group” so I’m 100% playing this by ear. It seems to be going well so far, though, and there’s already talk of attending SakuraCon together, so I’m feeling hopeful. At the very least, Queer Club is an excuse to get myself (and my fiance, who’s along for the ride) out of my antisocial comfort zone and interacting with, well, anyone. If I can help create a little network of local queer folks for attending prides and playing D&D together, even better.

We’re an open group and love meeting new people. If you live in the south Puget Sound area of Washington state, consider stopping by one of our meetups! You can find us on Facebook under the name “Gig Harbor/Kitsap Queer Club” – and no, you don’t have to live in those areas specifically. Anyone who identifies as being somehow under the queer umbrella is welcome, along with significant others of whatever definition. :)

#1940

Do you ever experience a piece of media – a book, a song, a movie – and get hit with the knowledge that this thing would have totally spoken to your younger self? That if you had experienced it at, say, sixteen or seventeen, who knows how it might have changed you?

Flashback to myself in high school, circa 2006. I hadn’t yet discovered asexuality and assumed, for all intents and purposes, that I was straight (despite having zero interest in dating). If you had asked me then why I so adamantly adored Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, and Clea Duvall in The Faculty*, I would have said it was because they were so cool, so badass, so confident. I might have said it was because I wanted to be like them in some way, or just tag along on their adventures.

Um. Yeah. I was pretty oblivious to things. In my defense, though, my peer group didn’t use labels like sapphic, homoromantic, or really anything besides the L, G, and B. I didn’t know it was possible to like girls without, well, LIKING girls, so I never analyzed the feelings I was having at the time. Even after I learned about asexuality at the age of nineteen and officially adopted the label for myself at age twenty-one, I still spent several years agonizing over what my strange attraction to girls meant. It wasn’t until I was almost twenty-six that I finally opened that door a crack – just enough to let in the girl who would become my fiance.

I say all this with a purpose, I promise. See, a couple months ago I started a local queer meetup. We happen to all be in one way or another attracted to women, so when we held a movie marathon last week, we watched sapphic movies. One of these, But I’m a Cheerleader (BIAC), was a late 1990s comedy featuring Natasha Lyonne as a closeted lesbian sent to a conversion therapy camp by her parents. It’s a very silly movie with an undercurrent of dark realism that makes the friendships and romances all the more poignant. It also, to my embarrassingly giddy surprise, features a Clea Duvall who looks exactly like her Faculty character Stokley. On whom I have had a raging crush since high school. Oh, and should I mention this is a movie where you get to watch Stokley make out with another girl? How the internet didn’t let me know this movie existed sooner, I will never know. And I will always be bitter about that. You let me down, Tumblr!

Anyway, all this is to say that the ending of the movie made me cry. Not Carol, which we watched first, oh no. BIAC made me cry. Why? Partly because the ending is so sugary sweet (a sapphic movie with a happy ending? yes please!), but also partly because I watched the whole movie thinking This came out in 1999? I could have watched this as a kid? As a confused teen who had no idea why she got so mad that Stokley wasn’t a lesbian after all? You mean I could have had an actual queer Stokley to obsess over all these years??

I mean, SERIOUSLY.

I’ve read and watched a lot of queer media since I was a teen, but none of it quite hit me like this movie did. I sincerely think that if I had watched BIAC as a teenager, I would have known ten years earlier that I was sapphic. Ten years! Ten years I could have spent learning to embrace my identity, instead of agonizing over it. Ten years I could have spent making friends with other queer people, instead of feeling unwelcome in those circles. Ten years I could possibly have spent dating and exploring my desires and boundaries. Ten years of angst and loneliness that could have been ten years of friendship and pride parades.

That thought kinda hurts, to be honest. I’m in a good place now – proudly ace and proudly sapphic – but I wasn’t for a long time. I struggled, especially in college. There are songs I can’t listen to because they’re just filled too much with that old longing. When I see queer representation in media these days, especially in shows like Legend of Korra and Steven Universe, I feel simultaneously joyful and jealous. Joyful that representation like this might save someone years of hurt; jealous because I could have used that representation, too. As a kid, I was too deeply in the closet to even think of seeking out queer media. I can’t imagine how much seeing queer relationships in “regular” media might have opened my eyes. I know being a queer kid today isn’t easy, but I’m still so happy to think that even one kid might be saved the emotional bog through which I had to wade.

*and Michelle Rodriguez and Gong Li and Fairuza Balk…

#1939

“Tangaloor, fire-bright
Flame-foot, farthest walker
Your hunter speaks
In need he walks
In need but never in fear”

– First-Walker prayer, Tailchaser’s Song

As Fritti Tailchaser spoke this prayer into the darkness of his final moments, goosebumps crept up my arms. Though ancient texts do not name Tangaloor Firefoot or his brothers as children of Kemet’s Bast, in the moment I read that passage Her presence was overwhelming. I felt compelled to memorize the prayer, should I ever need to call on Lord Tangaloor’s aid, and I have been mentally repeating it like a mantra for days. I can’t seem to let it go; its words slip over my tongue like prayer beads and bring me as much comfort.

The experience has me considering the role fiction can play in our worship, and in the wills of the gods themselves. After all, the gods speak to us in myriad ways. If we listen, we find their messages are everywhere, in forms and faces we might not expect. I think it is thus with Bast, who can be found in the religion of the felines in Tailchaser’s Song (Tad Williams) and the creation myth in The Wild Road (Gabriel King). Rereading these books as an adult, I finally recognize Bast’s purposeful influence in these stories. Their authors are extremely talented, and I don’t mean to say they couldn’t invent such a story on their own, but Her role is too obvious for me to overlook. When I mentally smack my head for not realizing the connection sooner, I hear Her gentle laughter. She made these stories come into being. She wanted them to be read. She wants them to mean something to me. They feel like scripture, like missing pieces, but I can’t yet figure out where they fit. If my thoughts seem scattered and incomplete, it’s because they are. I’m going mostly by feeling, here.

Below are the creation stories from both Tailchaser’s Song and The Wild Road. I feel compelled to preserve them somewhere, to make them available to other followers of Bast. Do with them what you will – and let me know if you feel the same power within their lines as I do. Luck dancing, friends!

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#1938

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Hers are a sorceress’ hands, all silver rings and long white fingers. The left wields a saber or a stiletto or a pistol, whichever the moment calls for. The right once held a hook, but now arm and metal have melded into something black and many-clawed. Her hands are a book of shadows made flesh; they raise whirlwinds, call forth lightning, summon rain and ravens and monstrous things from the deep. Just as easily, though, do they steer a ship or climb rigging, lower sails and raise anchors, get dirty and bloody. Her hands weren’t meant for an exile’s life – they should know only the touch of silk and velvet, they should be adorned with delicate jewels – yet they serve her admirably. With her right hand she tears the light from the sky, and with the left she raises herself up a queen of wrath and ruin.

#1937

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His are a sick man’s hands, slender and pale. In another life they might have belonged to a pianist or a violinist, but instead they belong to someone who cares not for beauty or creation. His hands prefer knives, small and sharp, though broken glass or shards of metal will do; it is the edge that counts, and speed. His hands make every movement a dance, whether lighting a cigarette or wiping blood from his mouth, and they might be beautiful if they did not seem so strangely menacing. After all, these hands remember IVs and wrist restraints, locked doors and starched sheets. These hands remember forced captivity and are ready always to attack or defend, fight or flee, to do what they must to retain precious freedom. His hands might shake with cold or ache from old wounds, but they know where and how to plunge the blade and they will be steady when the time comes.

#1936

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His are a rich man’s hands, smooth and strong. His fingers could knot a tie in the dark and discern Armani from Prada from Dolce and Gabbana with just a touch. Crystal decanters, gold watches, diamond cufflinks, his hands have held and discarded more fortunes than most will see in a lifetime. These hands served him well in the world of blue blood and white teeth, where a firm handshake might speak more clearly than words. Having left that world behind, these steady, capable hands have learned to wield a syringe with care and how to make a stranger climax in a dirty restroom. His hands never cared for the money and riches that passed through them, but they strip clothing and grasp flesh with the hungry strength of the addict. So, too, do they twist hair in misery, hurl glasses in anger, light cigarette after cigarette until the ashtray is full and the bottle is empty.

#1935

Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven
Hail Inanna, the Morning and the Evening Star
Hail Inanna, She Who Descended and Arose Again
Hail Inanna!

Great Lady, look down on Your devotee with favor
I who come to you naked and humbled
praying You will make me as You are.
Protectress of Harlots, Goddess of Queers
teach me to lust, help me to desire
awaken my spirit to the joys of the flesh.
You who sing the praises of Your own body
and take such delight in the bodies of others
teach me Your dances and Your songs.
In return I offer You my blood
that red river which flows with the cyclic moon;
may its monthly resumption honor Your fiery passion
and renew the unbreakable bond between us.

Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven
Hail Inanna, the Morning and the Evening Star
Hail Inanna, She Who Descended and Arose Again
Hail Inanna!

[ TMI explanation: I recently decided I need to do something about my low libido. Maybe I can’t change it, but I feel like I at least have to try for my sake, my partner’s, and our relationship. To that end, I’m starting to work with Inanna in the hopes of nourishing that little seed of lust that sleeps (very) deep inside me. My first step on this journey was to stop taking birth control. I’ve been on hormonal birth control for many years to ease my period symptoms (and cut down my period to 4 times a year), and I think it’s time to go off it and see how my body does without it. I don’t know if my birth control has any effect on my libido, but I think it’s worth trying. When I made that decision, I realized I could, and should, offer the restarting of my natural cycle to Inanna. What better to offer the goddess of war, sex, and raw female power than menstrual blood? So above is the prayer I wrote for this dedication. It could also easily be adapted to the use of any blood, for those who may not menstruate, or to any other deity, should anyone else be considering something similar. ]