A late breaking Thursday-morning update… alert readers have written to me pointing out that clearly the creature pictured next to me is actually the THING, not the HULK, a distinction so obvious I’m mortified to have failed to comprehend it. Thing, all rocky; Hulk, green. The Times regrets the error ….and to be serious for just a fraction of a second, this THING is actually one of my favorite gentlmen in the world, Ox Freeman, who is a stalwart of SoCo as well as the trans community, and I have tremendous respect for him. Ox needs no disguise to pull off superhero status, not in my book anyhow. …also, please note the just-arrived photo of Mara Kiesling and herself at the bottom of this page, taken at the NCTE reception. … more photos as they arrive.
Original post: Okay, so I’m back from Atlanta, where the PORCUPINE WOMAN show went just fine. Very different to perform that material for a trans audience. Felt like a home game, as opposed to, say, an away game. A few photos of the whole debacle are now trickling back to me from friends. Above, for instance, observe my dear friend, The Incredible Hulk, who always only wanted to be a girl. To the Hulk, what could I say, but, Man. I know exactly how you feel.
Later, I was drafted at the last second to sub as the co-host of the talent show, a duty I performed at the behest of one Mara Kiesling, head of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Here we are, in the photo below right, on stage together, moments before singing “You are my Sunshine” in two part harmony, with me on autoharp.
Southern Comfort is its own deranged, delightful world, a place where I spend the first ten minutes thinking, whoa, this is really strange, and the rest of the time thinking, Ah, if only the world were like this. There’s a lot of hope, and jubilation, and fear, even, in the air there, and I always leave deeply moved. The most poignant moment for me is always Sunday morning, when I see all those trunks and suitcases going by, being hauled by men (and women) of many sizes, none of whose private selves you might guess at from looking at them. And you realize that in those trunks and suitcases are so much of what these good people value, and is kept secret from the world. What’s the Paul Simon line? “People singing songs, that voices never share.” I feel lucky to live my truth out in the open. But I know that this comes at a price, and I do not expect that everyone need, or even ought, to pay the price that I had to pay, or that my family did. And does. Anyhow. All of this notwithstanding, it’s a gas. And I send my love out to everybody who said hello to me, or who was touched by anything I managed to say, or do, or, uh, sing.
I left SoCo with Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” upon my brain– “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree.” That poem, famously, is the story of a vision of an enchanted place, but which fades when the vision is broken. But were we able to summon back that song of the dulcimer, we might build that dome in air. Those caves of ice.
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
Weave a circle round her thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For she on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.