Come follow me…

Hey everyone! Man, it’s been a while, huh? Over a year to be exact. God, I’m rubbish at this.

(Not sorry for posting that AMAZING version of one of my favourite songs of the last few years. So much love for both versions.)

So what, you might cry, has been happening with me?

Well, I’m still working. A lot. Hence the lack of posts here. I’m still super active on Instagram, and to be honest it’s where I prefer to hang out these days. So come on over and follow me. I promise a relatively steady stream of hair, style and cat related posts. I’m going to try and get better at Facebook too. Although I can’t promise anything!

What else? Well, I’m getting married this year.

MARRIED YOU GUYS! And amazingly, I won a fully bespoke tailored suit from the amazing folks over at A Hand Tailored Suit. Obviously I can’t let the cat out of the bag as I’m trying to keep the details from my fiancee, but I can tell you there will be peak lapels, velvet and copious details.

I was also honoured to have been featured on DapperQ’s 100 Most Stylish Dapper Q’s 2016 (No. 38, if anyone’s wondering…).

There I am there. On the featured pic!!

 

If anyone’s wondering, that photo featured of me was taken by the incredibly talented Elisha Clarke, who shot our engagement shoot this time last year and who I’m so excited to have shoot our wedding in November. You can check out her work here.

Oh, and I made my stage debut! It’s a little project I’ve always wanted to do, and if you happen to be in Dublin on 7th April 2017, do come along to the Sugar Club, to the amazing Bella Agogo’s Steampunk Burlesque and Variety Show– I’ll be strutting my stuff on stage once again!

 

So I promise to TRY and update the blog a bit more. I’ve found my style evolving and changing over the last few years- to be honest as I have more disposable cash, thanks to the whole job thing- which I’d love to talk about. Maybe that can be my next post…

What would you guys like to see on the blog? Let me know in the comments!

I am still alive

*waves*

Hello!

Yes, I know, I haven’t posted since this time last year.

In my defence, we bought a house, I started a new job, had some health issues and well… I just couldn’t think of what to say. However, I have been replying to comments and messages as best I can- if I haven’t replied to you, I am sorry, please try again! 🙂

Now, this blog seems to shift and move and drift from it’s original purpose, I guess as I figure out who I am. I know, I know, navel gazing alert! But I’ve noticed since embracing my “butchness” I’ve been embracing that side of me that loves the 1940’s & 1950’s, burlesque, and all things related. So much so, that this weekend I am heading to my 3rd straight Dublin Burlesque Festival. A yearly 4-day extravaganza of all things burlesque, cabaret, performance and style. Hell, there’s even a vintage fashion show on Sunday that I need to PROMISE myself I won’t buy anything at.

Good luck, right?

Hopefully I’ll get back to writing my meandering thoughts again, but until then- toodle-pip!

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)

The Real Cost of Homophobia

Hello to all my readers.

As I said in a previous post, I want this blog to be about more than style, or fashion. I want to make it about real life.

Recently, my Irish readers might have heard about a controversy surrounding RTE (the Irish national broadcaster), a Dublin businessman (and drag artist known as Panti) called Rory O’Neill and various commentators from the more conservative side of Irish life- namely John Waters, Breda O’Brien and The Iona Institute. I will let my readers catch up on the controversy themselves, but I wanted to publish a letter I recently sent to RTE, and to a number of Irish national newspapers. I have no belief that anywhere will print it, or even answer it, but I am so incensed about the entire thing, I had to write something.

Dear Sir,

I am primarily writing this to the complaints department in RTE, however I feel it necessary to include a number of other media outlets, to maximise the possibility of my story being heard. I think it’s important for you, and others across Ireland, to understand the real consequences of RTE’s handling of the Rory O’Neill/ John Waters/ Iona Institute story.

For many years now I have listened to the lies being pedalled by John Waters and the Iona Institute- and mark my words, they are LIES. They are lies about me, my personal life, my habits, my morals, my friendships, my relationship and my intentions. Oh, not by name. You see, I’m a lesbian. I am in my 30’s, I’m well educated, I work hard, I have paid my share of taxes, I have never broken the law. I volunteer my time with disability groups, I give money where I can to those who might need it, and I have a wonderful relationship which I have maintained for 10 years. I would LOVE to get married some day, yet according to John Waters ‘difference of opinion’, I only want to do that because I “want to destroy the institution of marriage because (I’m) envious of it”. That is a lie. And yet, apparently it’s ok for him to not only hold that opinion, but to publish it, to be given a microphone for it, to give it legitimacy in the public domain. And if someone was to call him out on it, then he gets to be protected.

I’m also one of those lesbians that everyone can tell is a lesbian. I don’t fade into the background, I don’t ‘blend in’. I can’t ‘pass’ for straight. I have no desire to, most of the time. I say most of the time, because there are times that I wish I didn’t look so darn gay. Those are the times that I get yelled at in the street. When I’m called a “f*cking dyke” by passers-by. When I get asked to leave the ladies toilets because I apparently don’t look like a woman. When mothers with children give me suspicious looks, like I’m going to suddenly try and ‘indoctrinate’ their daughter. Probably the worst I’d do is pull a funny face to make them smile. Comments like John Waters being given legitimacy means that people feel fine doing those things. Hey, if respected people in the media can say things like that, why can’t I?

So, he (and the Iona Institute et al) lying about me and others like me by saying we’d make unfit parents, that we want to make a mockery of marriage, that wanting to be equal in the eyes of the law is somehow us ‘getting above our station’, is fine. Obviously, since RTE apologised and have granted damages to those people after Rory O’Neills correct assertions on the Saturday Night Show.

John Waters IS homophobic. So is The Iona Institute. There’s really no two ways about it. Homophobia does not just mean being ‘afraid’ of gay people. It encompasses intolerance, a lack of respect, feelings of superiority. I think we can all see that given Waters (et al) comments on the subject, he IS homophobic. But by all means, apologise to him. Apologise to him for creating that “debate” you say is so important- so long as it’s not a debate that might get some ‘important’ people like him upset.

But so long as you’re apologising, try apologising to the thousands of gay people who are actively discriminated against here in jobs and housing every day because of who they fall in love with. Try apologising to ME because the comments written and condoned in the media allows people to think it’s ok to yell obscenities at me in the street. And hey, I’m lucky. I’ve never been beaten up or KILLED because of who I love, but there are hundreds of people who are, every year. Try apologising to them, RTE.

Role models…

When I was a little baby gay, just emerging from her chrysalis of rural Ireland into the bright lights of Dublin city, I had no idea who I was. I mean, I knew I was gay. I knew that. I just had no idea how to be gay.

Back in 2000, when I first came out and came to the city, Dublin was a different place. There was one, maybe two, gay bars, in which lesbians were hard to find. I never really saw any, except in my college LGBT society, which for a long time I was too chicken to join. You would see the butch women in their 40’s just inside the door of The George, but they scared me. They were rude, bullish, and oddly sexist. I didn’t understand, and I was terrified of becoming like them. I only saw two options- be super femme in skirts and makeup or super butch with (frankly) bad hair and ill fitting mens clothes. Neither felt right for me.

Everyone had money, even the students, and drugs were literally everywhere. The fact I didn’t do them, nor really drink all that much, meant that I didn’t have much of an ‘in’ into the scene. And back then, the scene was the community, and vice versa.

I couldn’t see anyone older than me who looked or seemed like me. As much as I wanted to be able to get drunk, pick up a girl and have a one night stand… It wasn’t me. So I never did. I saw girls my age who were skinny, pierced, and “cool”, or middle aged desperate women who both loved and hated women in equal measure.

So now that I’m in my (gasp!) 30’s, I feel like its important to be visible to younger lesbians in particular. I’m me, and I’m pretty happy with how I look and dress, and act. I’m in a successful, happy, long term relationship. Sometimes when I’m talking to younger lesbians at events, I see their surprise when I say I’ve been with my partner for 10 years. It’s unusual in many circles. And after the surprise dies, I can see longing. Not for me, but for my situation. Out, happy, loved. Young lesbians need to see more of that, and not just the butches who treat other women like shit or who end up squaring up to each other for a pissing contest.

I’m not saying my life is perfect. Far from it. But I firmly believe that I have a responsibility to the next generation of queers to say “Look. When I was your age I hadn’t a clue who I was either. You’ll figure it out. But in the meantime, don’t be a dick.”

A momentous few days…

This week has been monumental for a couple of different reasons, hasn’t it? I’m not American, but I have really loved the news coming over the last while.

First it was that epic filibuster… Then came the news that DOMA and Prop. 8 are unconstitutional. It doesn’t directly effect me, but I was so happy to hear it. Whether we like it or not, where the US goes, most other countries follow.

I know there is a big debate within our community about marriage equality, and if its even something we queers should be worrying about, or fighting for. Just because you’re married it won’t mean you’re not living in poverty, or with no healthcare, nor does it mean you are magically happy in your life. But I still maintain that the lack of equality, in whatever form, is something that needs to be addressed. In my life I am working for equality for people with disabilities. I’m not directly effected by the inequality they suffer, and I don’t think that by working towards equality for them in education, for example, that their housing will fix itself. But it’s something.

The same is true of marriage equality. Me being able to marry the woman I love, and to have that recognised by the country I live in, wont stop trans men being called ‘madam’, or stop gay youth committing suicide in scary numbers. It will though, for many people, give recognition to their relationships. And that can very quickly make a difference to their self esteem, their mental health and how others view them. How is that a bad thing?

Even with all the good news, however, I was saddened to hear that one of the most influential people in the gay rights movement here in Ireland, Sen. David Norris, is very ill with cancer. If it were not for him, the landscape of many many lives in Ireland would be radically different- and not in a good way. Sen. Norris does not work only for gay rights but is passionate about human rights across the board. I really wish him a successful and speedy recovery.

And to end, I’d like to share a picture of myself with an adorable puppy. Just because I can.

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