PRIDE!

Well all you lovely peeps, Pride season 2014 is upon us in earnest, and as tomorrow is the Dublin (which yours truly is marching in and stewarding in a rather sexy fluorescent vest) I have made a celebratory playlist on 8Tracks. Its a selection of my favourite tracks from my favourite LGBTQ artists like Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainright, Katastrophe and Mary Lambert…

So have a listen, and if you like, follow me on 8Tracks!

Happy Pride everyone!!!!

Cyclical style

Hello, you sexy sexy lovelies.

Sexy Wink. Oh yeah.

I have realised recently, that I might have been a bit arrogant in choosing the name of this blog, and my twitter name- “dapper” is quite a label to put on oneself, right? I mean, what does it even mean? Why would I think I can call myself “dapper”? Well, the way I look at it, it started as a bit aspirational- you know, something to aim at. “I WILL be dapper. I will. Some time…” Then I changed my hair to a more classic, clean-cut kind of look, started embracing collared shirts, clean lines, bow-ties… I feel like my style is always evolving- or at least I want it to be. But why? Why do I aspire to ‘dapperness’?

I’ve always had a fascination with menswear, and grooming. I never had room to explore it when I was a kid, except via smelling my Dads aftershave (Old Spice FTW!) or borrowing my brothers shave soap to shave my legs as a teenaged girl. (It was lime scented. DIVINE). My Dad was very particular about how we presented ourselves, and he himself was always impeccably dressed. Not necessarily in suits, since his job didn’t necessarily require him to be dressed like that, but shirts were always ironed, shoes always polished… I learned quickly that the devil was in the details. Even to this day, my Dad is a stickler to the traditions of menswear- no black tie before 6pm, never another knot other than a full windsor for his tie, always a tie bar… He knows what he’s at.

I recently was given, by my Dad, a box of old family documents and photographs. I’m a social historian by training, so this was like Christmas for me! I had a look through, and not only did I find some amazing letters from family who emigrated overseas in the 50′s from Ireland (hello to my relatives in Canada, btw!), but there were included some truly amazing photographs of my family from the early 1900′s. And you know what? They looked SHARP. I mean, seriously sharp. So I decided to show them off, and you can really see that a lot of the styles of hair and clothes that are back ‘in’ at the moment were all ‘in’ 100 years ago- and my great great grandad was rocking them with the best of them!

 

With family heritage like that, how could I NOT claim some dapper in my life?

Til next time, stay… well… DAPPER!

Finding a barber (again!)…

Ok, guys, after the last few posts being mostly based on slightly philosophical subjects and ending in a bit of naval gazing, it’s time to get back on track a little, and start talking about hair and style again!

YAY!

(A very excited turtle, via CuteEmergency)

You may remember, from one of my first hairy posts, that I was getting my hair cut in the Waldorf Barbers, in Dublin. Unfortunately, I started getting reports that they were refusing to cut women’s hair. Now, I understand if a woman was going in, looking for a ‘trendy’, faux-hawk type style, that you’d rarely see coming from a really old-school barbershop like The Waldorf. (Side note, are we in 2005? JK, I love all you faux-hawkers!!) Or a very feminine cut, that you might get from a salon like Toni & Guy or Peter Marks. But it seemed odd to me to be actively turning away customers based not on the style they wanted (which the barbers there may not be trained in) but on their gender. It’s a real shame, because I got some of the best cuts of my LIFE there, particularly from Katherine, who is an absolute lady and a world class barber.

But even though they hadn’t asked me to leave or denied me a cut, I didn’t feel right about using a barbers that wouldn’t cut my friends hair. So the hunt was on to find a new barbers. Easy, right?

Well, yes and no. My first choice to try was Sams Barbers, who I had recommended to some folks here and on my Twitter feed as a great place to buy pomades in Dublin, although I’d never had a cut there. They are a pretty large Irish owned and run chain of barber shops across Dublin. So I went into the shop closest to me, Dame Court, where all cuts are €17. Which is nearly half the price I was paying in the Waldorf- I wondered what the quality of the cut would be like.

I didn’t actually get that far. I was refused service, being told they did not cut women’s hair, but that if I went to their flagship branch (on Ormond Quay, right by the river in Dublin), they cut women’s hair there- for €25. Even though I already had short hair, and wanted the EXACT style the guy that was getting cut there at that exact time was getting.

Needless to say, I was pissed. And I let Sams know, via Twitter. Ah, armchair warriors, unite!

ANGER TWEET!!!

ANGER
TWEET!!!

Now, I thought no more of it, shook the lesbian Facebook tree, and got a recommendation to visit the Star Barbers (where I hasten to add I got an great cut, and a great chat from Mark, the owner. Definitely recommended.) and kind of wrote off Sams.

BUT! Within a few hours, I had a private message awaiting me. (I like that they didn’t just reply to the public tweet. Shows a bit of class. Always good.) They apologised so profusely, and really wanted to impress upon me that it is 100% NOT their policy in any way to refuse business from anyone, and definitely not by reason of gender, whatsoever. After messaging back and forth for a little while, I got a phonecall from the manager in Ormond Quay, again apologising, and offering me a complimentary cut, and some pomade to make up for being refused.

I gotta say, guys. I was impressed. They dealt with a situation which frankly made me feel like sh*t at the time in a very professional, fast, and magnanimous manner. And it wasn’t like I was gonna say no to a free cut and some pomade, right? Who’d do that?

So, off I toddled yesterday to Sams. Whilst I was impressed and pleased with how they treated my complaint (which I admit I felt slightly sheepish about sending after the dust settled a bit…), I was reserving a bit of my judgement to see how they cut my hair. I really needn’t have worried, at all.

Elle gave me a very, very good cut, taking note of the way it flowed over my head and has oddly started to grow in about 5 different directions since I got a bit of a bad cut in Waldorfs a couple of months ago. (Seriously, I have cowlicks where I never had them before!!) What I really enjoyed was the little details they include with a cut there, like a 2nd wash after finishing the cut to get the tiny hairs off your scalp. Small touch, but appreciated.

After I was finished, I got talking to James and Sam, and again, they couldn’t have been nicer. We got to talking about pomades, and they showed me their range, which is usually more stocked than these pics show (and apologies for the not-so-great pics, it was a really bright day and the cabinet was really reflective!)

 

The cabinet of wonder!!

The cabinet of wonder!!

They stock the classics that I’d always recommend (Murrays Super Light, Sweet Georgia Brown Blue and Black & White) along with a lot of WB’s like Layrite, Sauvecito, Steadfast, Uppercut… The WB’s do sell better, so they have a bigger selection of them, which I can totally understand. I did, however, get a hold of their last tin of High Life VooDoo Island, which I have in my hair at the moment!

Dat shine! (Voodoo Island in the hair...)

Dat shine! (Voodoo Island in the hair…)

I’m also stoked to hear they’re developing their own range of pomades from the ground up- I can’t WAIT to try them out.

All in all, I was very impressed with Sams. After an initial bad taste in my mouth, I now have nothing but respect for these guys, and the barbers they have working in their shops. My cut was really great, and the service is cracking, with a really good range of pomades in stock to try at any time. And I wanted to tell the women out there who are thinking of getting cut in a barbers to try Sams out. I know that this is a pretty popular look at the moment, particularly in the queer community here in Dublin, but it might be scary to just walk into a barbers and get refused- you won’t have to worry about that with Sams.

Oh, and before I go, some news. I’m going to start reviewing pomades here in the next few weeks. I know there’s tons of guys out there reviewing at the moment, and I don’t necessarily think I can do any better. But these reviews will be a bit different- I’m co-opting my girlfriend in to do reviews too. So both of us will be reviewing the same product, but for very different styles. I’ll be styling my usual contour/ mini pomp and she’ll be… doing whatever it is femmes do to make themselves look fabulous. It’s a mystery to me, folks, but I guess I’ll learn, eh? We’ll present the reviews side by side(or as ‘side-by-side’ as WordPress let’s me!) at the same time. It could get weird, but hey! I guess we’ll soon find out.

Until then, stay dapper peeps!

 

Gender Discombobulation: What Conchita Wurst’s victory means to me.

Ok, ok, ok. Hands up. Who here has heard of Eurovision?

 

If you’re European then you definitely will have. If you’re not but are on the queer blogging/ twitter-verse then you probably will too, simply because of the act that won on Saturday night. But first, an explanation.

The Eurovision is a song contest that has been going for nearly 50 years, and is watched by an annual audience of well over 100 MILLION people. It is run by the European Broadcasting Union and according to Wikipedia:

Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. Eurovision has also been broadcast outside Europe to such places as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Suriname, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, although these countries do not compete.

It’s also been heartily adopted by the queers of Europe as an annual camp explosion and party of epic proportions. Seriously you guys, it’s immense. Acts in my memory include ice-skaters on a rink the size of a childs paddling pool, psychopathic looking sad clowns, a cowbell solo, multiple cake baking attempts, and more gayness than you could shake a stick at. Actually, to illustrate what I mean, I’m going to leave a video here. It’s from a YouTuber called SazzyAgain, who makes Star Trek: Voyager fan vids, usually slashing Captain Janeway and the glorious Seven of Nine together. Here, it helps you understand gay BOTH of these TV shows are.

I don’t just love Eurovision for it’s innate and unshakable queerness, either. I am Irish. And I grew up in 80′s & 90′s Ireland. Not, perhaps, the best environment for a baby gay (since homosexuality was only legalised here in 1993), but by GOD! Did we rule Eurovision. Johnny Logan. Linda Martin. More Johnny Logan, More Linda Martin. We’ve won the contest a record SEVEN times, with a classic winning streak in the mid-90′s, which incidentally also gave us Riverdance and Michael Flatly. (We’re sorry for Michael Flatly. Honest.)

So there’s the history of it. It’s a song contest. It’s like a family party where everyone does questionable karaoke and choreography after a few too many sherries. It’s camp as a row of tents. But it’s not really taken seriously by many people. Until this year, apparently, when a drag artist by the name of Conchita Wurst entered for Austria, and suddenly the world went mental. Why, I hear you cry? It’s not like there haven’t been gay people, or songs with gay undertones (and overtones!) before. A trans artist from Israel won in 1998, and went on to become one of Israels top recording artists (so Wikipedia tells me anyway). Surely drag, in this day and age, isn’t a big deal?

Well, it is if the drag queen has facial hair.

Behold! The magnificence of Conchita!

(via ibtimes.co.uk)

And my goodness, hasn’t she been causing a stir? The Russian politicians have been going MENTAL about her winning, with some of these lovely quotes coming from various sources (these quotes are taken from a article on The Journal, an Irish online news service. The full article is available here.):

 “ (Conchita winning) showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl”

-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

“There’s no limit to our outrage. It’s the end of Europe. It has turned wild. They don’t have men and women any more. They have ‘it’,”

- Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky

I mean, I get Russia not liking her performance. I’m pretty sure that by showing it, the national broadcaster probably broke their own laws! But- and this is important- the Russian televote gave her THIRD PLACE. The Russian public obviously had no problem with Conchita. In fact, they quite liked her. And here’s the point- she won. She was declared the winner before the final countries had voted. She consistently got points, usually high ones. Obviously, both the public and the national juries (made up of music industry experts in each country) liked her and the song. So why are some people freaking out about it?

I think (and here comes my completely unsubstantiated, purely from my own head opinion), that people are fine with drag, for the most part. It kind of makes sense to people. It’s a man dressed as a woman, and acting like one. That’s ok. It’s weird for some people, but they can understand it. But a drag queen with a beard? Is she male? Female? Is she acting? Is this how this person looks all the time? WHY ARE THERE NO BOUNDARIES?????? People dearly love putting other people in boxes, and doing it to themselves. Hell, just by calling myself “butch” I do it. every day. We all do. We all want to understand who we are, and most people like to label ourselves. Some of us like to label ourselves so much, that we label ourselves as “unlabel-able”.

I have lost track how may times I have heard someone say “But is it a man or a woman?” “Why doesn’t he shave off the beard if he wants to be a woman?” “What do I call it?” “It‘s just a man in a dress” in the last few days. The amount of “it’s” being thrown around is astonishing. The amount of vitriol that exists for someone like this who lives or performs outside the gender binary is astounding. An awful lot of people have no real idea of the differences between transvestism, transgenderism and drag. I have had to explain it to an awful lot of people. When I mention that most transvestite men are heterosexual I just get met with blank stares and crickets chirping.

When I was watching the voting on Saturday night, I felt something flicker inside me. A little jolt of recognition. Here was a person so proud of who they were, being themselves, being who they want to be, and doing it fabulously. Here was a very visible representation of what many of us feel like on this inside. I know my life would be easier if I had no boobs, or more facial hair. People would understand that. They’d read me as male. I can’t be read as male, not when I turn around. Oh yeah, from the back, and on a passing glance I get “sir”ed quite a lot. Then I get that delightful double-take, which many readers will probably be familiar with, either directed at themselves, or perhaps someone they love. The eye-flick down, to check the boob situation. The second look to see why the face and the hair and the clothes don’t really match the boobs. (To be honest, I don’t actually WANT to be read as male. But sometimes it would be preferable to being read as “weirdo freak”)

Each time a point was given to Conchita, it felt like I was getting a point. I started cheering her on. I’m not Austrian. I don’t speak German. I’ve only been to Vienna once. But on Saturday night, watching Conchita edge closer to winning, I felt part of a new, separate country. A Nation of Queers, all banded together by willing her on. Watching her stand up and get that trophy made me feel a bit more normal. A bit more like I could fit in.

Conchita seems, on paper, to be an exercise in contradictions. A beard and lipstick. Shaving and eyeliner. A masculine woman, or a feminine man? Or how about just a person. A talented, lovely person (by all accounts she won over legions of fans at all the Eurovision events), whose words in victory were not a “F*ck You!” to her detractors, but a rousing call for equality and unity.

“This night is dedicated to anyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity, and we are unstoppable.”

I really wanted to end this post with that quote, but I think it’s important to actually show you the song. It’s brilliant. The next Bond theme for sure. But listen to the lyrics- no-one’s been talking about them. To me, from start to finish, Conchita’s entry and participation in this contest has been about freedom, equality and being who you are. How can any of that be a bad thing?

Thank you, Conchita. Your win means more than you know.

 

Confidence… and a lack thereof.

Howdy all!

First off- I am self-flagellating for being so darn remiss at posting. I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t been, since I’m unemployed, and not really doing very much. I guess it’s down to motivation and confidence, which is what I want to talk about in this post. But first, since it’s my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want, here’s my latest favourite tune.

Now that that’s done, I wanted to talk about motivation, confidence, and queerness.

I was out for a walk on Dun Laoighre Pier the other night with my GF, and we got to chatting about self image, fitness, confidence, and lots of other topics. Had  a few friendly debates, disagreements… the usual. But one thing we did agree on is that I am notoriously bad at noticing when a girl is interested in me, or flirting with me.

No, really. My GF was lying in bed with me playing footsie before we got together and I actually asked her if her feet were cold.

So yeah. That’s what you’re up against trying to chat me up, if you ever wanted to!

I was thinking how bad at dating I would be if I ended up single- I would literally have no clue if I was being flirted with. None. Nada. And I don’t know how people go up and just ask people for numbers or whatever. Maybe that’s my Irishness coming through, but it doesn’t seem to be done here. ESPECIALLY in the lesbian community. I seem to know a lot of lesbians who would shudder at the thought of asking a girl out.

Why is that? Is it so ingrained in us that ‘the guy’ does the asking, so if it’s two girls, well…

If there is a ‘butch one’, do we have to do the asking? What if- like me- the thoughts of someone finding you remotely attractive is just an alien concept? It’s not like I think I’m a minger or anything but it seems… a bit bigheaded to think “hey, I think she fancies me”. (That is probably by Irishness coming out there for sure. You’re quickly stopped from having notions of that kind when you’re Irish!)

This confidence, and lack of it sometimes, is a big factor for me in how I style myself, and how I move through the world. Like I said earlier, I’m currently unemployed and finding it really tough to get work- Ireland is not a fun place to be right now as an academic researcher in disability! So most days I don’t leave the house for fear of spending money I don’t have, and consequently I don’t dress any sharper than jeans and a tee shirt. Which bums me out.

So, my question to all of you who have stuck through this rambling post- how do you guys sustain your confidence? Does the way you present as butch/ femme/ whatever have a part to play? Is a lack of confidence in the queer community a thing you have noticed, or is it a non-issue?

Oh, and by the way, do come check me out of Twitter- I am a lot more regular there than I am here! (@DapperZo)

Love is in the air…

Ah, that time of year… the time of year where my pockets are completely empty thanks to Christmas, New Years, my girlfriends birthday (this year was 30 you guys!!!), our anniversary AND Valentines Day. And did I mention this year I’m unemployed?

I like this guy. He’s dapper AND broke. Possibly from buying hat shining equipment, who knows?

So anyway. On top of the usual madness that accompanies this time of year, this anniversary was our 10th. TENTH! I’m still in shock that we’ve been together 10 years, I mean that’s just about 1/3 of my life! To celebrate, we went for dinner in a rather lovely place (The Rustic Stone, in Dublin, if anyone’s interested…) and then on to watch the ever fabulous and gorgeous Panti Bliss in action. You might have heard of her?

While we were there (in our pre-booked front row seats!) I was invited up on stage, to play Pictionary with the glorious Panti. Now, I suck at Pictionary, so I didn’t win BUT I did get a hug, and she sat on my knee TWICE so I feel like the real winner. I also got to announce that it was our 10 year anniversary, and after the performances finished, a great number of people came up to us and congratulated us, which was just lovely. I hadn’t really thought about it being such a big deal, being 10 years together. I mean, I love her, and she loves me, so of course we stayed together. But listening to people tell us it was “an inspiration” to see a couple happily together after 10 years made me realise- this is a heck of an achievement! And one that kinda flies in the face of the “gay people can’t commit” and “they’re not real relationships” arguments.

So you know what, I thought, let’s have a think about how we managed it. We’ve managed to get past multiple long distance stints (the China- Dublin time difference is no laughing matter, people!), being completely broke students, battling depression, cancer scares, coming out to our families… and more besides! And of course it being the run up to Valentines Day… what better timing than to share some “pearls of wisdom*” that might help? Some you’ll recognise, some  might surprise you…

(*NB: these pearls of wisdom are not pearls. They’re mostly really f*cking obvious rocks which in all fairness you should have well copped onto by a few years in. But hey, it takes some of us a while to catch on…)

1) TALK.

You guys, I can’t stress this enough. If you can’t talk to the person you’re with, well… it won’t end well. If you’re scared to talk about something that’s bothering you, it’s not a good sign. Nerves are fine. Waiting for an appropriate time is fine (pro tip: grocery shopping is not an appropriate time to talk about a recent fantasy you had, even if the cucumbers make you remember it). Being a bit scared you’ll say something dumb is ok- I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a horrible conversation with a loved one that made you cringe so hard you pulled a muscle. And if you’re REALLY not good at bringing up awkward topics, create a code for it. If you know you’re about to bring up something serious or a bit out of left field, preface it with a pre-arranged “safe word”. Like BDSM but for feelings. It takes the sting out.

“So when I say kumquat, it means we’re gonna talk about boobies. That cool?”

2) Dislike each other

Now, I know, I know. If you were to believe half the crap out there, you’d think stuff like “Learn to love each others faults”. I call bullsh*t. Nobody can like someone ALL the time. I don’t even like MYSELF all the time! There is no way in hell I’m ever going to love all my girlfriends faults. Snoring like a dumper truck? Leaving half empty Coke cans all over the place? A seeming unending obsession with Pinterest? No. But I have learned that some things will never change, and I better just deal with it. Just like she has to deal with my bizarre habit of collecting hair pomade like I’ll never be able to get more ever again. Or my skill at stealing 90% of the bed cover EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. And there are times when you just have to say “you know what? You’re really irritating me right now. I’m going to go for a coffee outside because if I look at you much longer today I might smother you in your sleep tonight”. Weirdly, it’s not personal.

3) Find out what romance ACTUALLY means to the other person.

For a good few years, I used to randomly turn up with flowers. And jewellery. And make mix-tapes. (well, CD’s if we’re being pedantic!). And I thought that was what romance was. Doing the stuff that Hugh Grant or someone would do, because that’s what I thought romance was. Until I actually asked her what was romantic. Turns out, playing Guitar Hero and letting her win was romantic. Turns out, I didn’t need to buy flowers, but I could buy her craft supplies and spend an evening painting shot glasses. And I know I find it romantic as hell when she drives me out to the beach, because she knows I need air. And when she bundles herself up in a massive coat to come on a walk even though she’d much rather be drinking coffee in Starbucks. Don’t assume you need to buy everything pink and heart shaped to show someone you love them.

4) Laugh

Because seriously, laughing is sexy and real. Especially if you can laugh in bed. Maybe because you fell over doing a striptease? (Not that that ever happened to me, mind…)

5) Move in together twice.

Ok, this one is a bit weird, I grant you. But hear me out. We moved in together about 4 years in to our relationship- and in many ways it was a bit of a disaster. We were relatively young, I had some major family concerns… there were just a lot of things happening. So once our lease was up after 1 year, we moved out, separately. We stayed together as a couple, and I honestly think it helped us understand the types of people we are. We have since moved back in together again and we know what we need now. Time together, time apart, out own space and we know what we have to do to make life a bit easier for the other person. I think often women (and I do think many females are like this) want to rush in, head first. There’s a reason the lesbian U-Haul joke exists!

Pic from Love And Cake

 

I don’t see the reason to rush things- if you’re going to stay together, you will be able to without living together at the beginning. What’s waiting a year or two in the grand scheme of things?

I could go on and on and on, but that’d just be me loving the sound of my own voice. Do any of you have any tips? Anything I’ve written that you reckon is complete rubbish? Let me know in the comments!!!

Stay dapper, and in love with someone (especially yourself!).