Tuesday, July 26, 2011

“Closer Than You Know...”

by Adrian Fernandez Morrell

I stand at a bus stop with two friends, the Chicago night air is refreshing after the day’s 96°F heat. There is a subtle and perpetual ringing in my ears thanks to of Montreal's deafening performance at Lollapalooza where my friends and I had just attended. I am wearing short shorts, my face is coated with red and blue paint, I am carrying my friend’s purse, and, as I lean on the bus stop with my right hand, I unwittingly have my left arm akimbo in what I suppose is considered a feminine pose. At that moment a motorist deems it appropriate to roll down his window and emphatically declare that I am a ‘faggot’. With a nonchalance, I diffuse the snide remark by casually joking with the verbal man, then the man in the vehicle directly behind him decides to follow with his own proclamation and, too, refers to me as a ‘faggot’ before driving away as the traffic light turns green. My friends and I stand incredulous, momentarily speechless.

Photo by flick user LaCabeza Grande, 2009

I understand why my orientation was questioned that night. I deviated from a few of society’s contrived expectations based on gender. However, I still cannot understand why my orientation and gender, actually everyone's orientation and gender for that matter, is constantly under scrutiny. We must always be aware of every minor action or display lest we be criticized and categorized. 

With a few lapses and exceptions, I rigidly adhere to the designated gender roles. I have a beard because that conveys to the populace that I am a man. I do not like asking for directions unless necessary. I consume all of the food on my plate even when I am well beyond sated because I need to prove my masculinity. I ignore the fact that this way of thinking is irrational. That it makes no sense. That in our youth we are conditioned into following specific gender roles.   

"Here comes Dick, he's wearing a skirt / Here comes Jane, y'know she's sporting a chain / Same hair, revolution / Same build, evolution / Tomorrow who's gonna fuss" 

This is the opening verse to the Replacements’ song, Androgynous, from their 1984 album, Let It Be. Later on in the chorus, Paul Westerberg sings, 

"[Dick and Jane are] closer than you know" 

referring to their relation romantically, but more importantly and implicitly to the fact that though one is male and the other female they are closer in their gender identities than society leads us to believe. This is because gender is fluid and not a binary.

To each their own. 

  Photo by Laura Moreno, 2011