Panic with purpose; or, that man is clearly trying to slip me a Quaalude!

Part 3 of… “Being vulnerable in the face of sexual assault (when you’re pretty sure it was your vulnerability that got you assaulted)”

This past Friday, I had what can only be described as a “beneficial panic attack.”

I had to flee a location. That alone was not unusual. Since I confronted the loser who sexually assaulted me this past May, I have fled more rooms than I have entered. Yes, it’s a paradox that violates all rules of space/time. I know that. I’m not here to explain quantum mechanics to anyone, but I live in a constant state of Schrödinger’s Panic Attack. Every room can contain a variable that will trigger me OR it may not. It’s completely random; I can never be sure until I open the box. And I never stop opening boxes.

PTSD messes with your sense of space and time. I’m told it’s the amygdala.

Entering new rooms has pretty much devolved into the same multi-point kabuki of driving around the block, breathing exercises, looking for exits, etc. Over and over again.

Once that is all done. I can how scan the horizon like a meerkat looking for that single point of information that I can extrapolate into a dire threat to my person.

Extrapolating from single points of information is what gives each panic attack it’s own nuances, it’s own notes. When you extrapolate from a single point, you can go anywhere. Literally. That’s how geometry works. Each panic is different, which is why each one imprints itself on the palimpsest of my PTSD brain. “Indelible on the hippocampus,” as the wise woman said. Continue reading

A phenomenological exploration of what happens to me when I see a Bad Drag Show.

…in which I lay bare my internalized homophobia and other stuff I’m not allowed to talk about.

I didn't want to offend any actual drag queens, good or bad. So, I figured no one likes Rudy Guiliani.

I didn’t want to offend any actual drag queens, good or bad. So, I figured no one likes Rudy Guiliani.

I had the honor of seeing a Bad Drag Show the other night. Before I begin, I want to say that it was for a worthy cause and I applaud this. I also enjoyed the company of the person with whom I attended the show. Heck, I even tipped the performers. That said, I most definitely did not enjoy the show itself.

Also, I am not calling all drag “bad.” This is not that.

My knowledge of phenomenology has been entirely gleaned from an article I used to assign to my students in a class I taught called The Mechanics of American Retro. The article was entitled “The Dislocation of Time: A Phenomenology of Television Reruns.” All I really remember about it was the notion that even the most serious television drama devolves over time into “an intense comedy of obsolescence” where the viewer just mocks funny lapel widths.

But basically phenomenology is looking at how a something affects the subject, who in this case is me. Therefore, I’ll be looking at what goes through my body and mind when I see what I consider a Bad Drag Show. I will not be analyzing any specific show; instead I will be constructing a generic show for the purposes of this exercise. However, it should be noted that all Bad Drag Shows are pretty much the same.

I will be the first to admit that a drag show needs to clear a pretty high bar with me before I will consider it something more than really bad. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some amazing drag (and gender-fuck, etc.), but I feel those folks were entertainers first and foremost. For example, I am sad I will not be in Provahncetown to see the legendary Dina Martina this week.

Here goes:

  • When I enter the venue and I realize that there will be a drag show, my shoulders slump, I sigh, and I feel a tightness behind my sternum. When I am not expecting a drag show and then realize there will be a drag show from which I cannot escape for whatever socially-mandated reason, I feel trapped. I begin to do breathing exercises. I continue to focus on my breath throughout the evening.
  • When I see the tackily hung rainbow PartyCity detritus, I ask myself, “We’re in a gay bar, is anyone really gonna forget that they’re gay? Do they think I’m stupid?” I try to remember all those other things that remind me I’m gay, like the dude-lust, the coming-out struggle, and furniture with the clean modernist lines.
  • I cringe when the mistress of ceremonies grabs the microphone and shouts into it in a voice that naturally does not require amplification. The tightness behind increases due to the physics of the soundwaves upon my person.
  • Minor anger wells up behind my left eye when she welcomes the crowd by calling them “BITCHES!” I wonder where all this hostility is coming from.

Continue reading

Thus endeth the experiment in decorative spandex…

My friends Damian and Mirch throw a monthly dance party for your homosexual element called DIRT, and it’s held the first Friday of every month at The Eagle, NYC’s premiere leather-themed bar. One does not hold a monthly dance party for your homosexual element at The Eagle and call it Orange or Chamomile. Maybe Cammo-Squeal would pass muster, though. I like attending their party because instead of soulless, wordless gay techno that’s only ever existed in a machine, they play actual rock-n-roll. If you’ve ever wanted to hear Judas Priest in a gay bar, where frankly it belongs, then you should go to DIRT. These are all songs that existed in the air as actual sound waves before hitting the tape, and they RAWK. Also, Damian sometimes takes my suggestions and plays songs he’s never heard before. That’s how I got to hear both “Ah, Leah” and “Freedom at Point Zero” in a gay bar. This week he was going to play a song that I had found by The Moving Sidewalks, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top’s first band.

I wanted to go, and I wanted to give back. So when I saw on the Facebook invite that the theme was one of wrestling singlets, I called my friend Greg and asked if I could borrow one of his multiple wrestling singlets. Multiple. The layperson would be surprised at how often the gays throw parties where the theme is wrestling singlets. But with a little thought one realizes that a) they leave little to the imagination in both the twig department and the berry department; b) a lot of us spent a lot of time in high school and college watching wrestlers punish their bodies to get down to some ridiculously low body fats; and c) when the wrestlers stopped wrestling, they put on some real weight and began to drunkenly tussle about shirtless on beer-soaked fraternity multi-purpose floors.

Only problem is… I hate spandex. Continue reading