Laureen says I am the most elusive of the people she’s photographed. I guess because my relationship to gender, my body, and sex is still unraveling, even at this reasonably late point. Like so many things in my life, I often don’t know where to stand or get a frame of reference.
It was interesting to me the shift I felt from the first photo session to the second. In the first, I was largely just “a guy in a dress” even though I did my best to twist myself into interesting, if not attenuated shapes that would make my body look more traditionally feminine. I think I was out to prove it was OK for me to be here doing this. I did the shoot mainly as an experience experiment.
Walking into the second shoot, it was still a question of “let us see what happens,” with the question of whether the process of doing this had started anything that would go anywhere. I really didn’t walk in with any expectations.
Apart from the shoot being much more relaxed than the first, I really felt as more “myself,” that I didn’t have to prove I could do interesting things dressing across gender. It felt natural; photographer and model were working together arranging the shots. The thing that immediately struck me was the thought that I like being looked at, not in as a sexual object but as creating sensual form, an energy presence before the lens that can be part and parcel of making something visual. Part and parcel to this, was it felt very much to be possibly one of the only time where the feminine component of my personality found itself speaking loudly in the present of another person and additionally feeling very natural, even finding approval and validation as Laureen said of this purple circus-like outfit covered in tiny sparkles: “You look very good in that.”
My primary hope for these images is that the portrait is not a lie; that what I was feeling internally is telegraphed through the image. Will I do more? Why not! I might as well push the envelope while my body still has some form left to it. Would I go for an all-out transvestite look? Yes, if nothing else than for the experience. Whether I would step out in public that way is another issue.
As of this writing this is still a very undigested experience. I’ve only let feelings like this play out in private, often in my own art or photography. My public persona, I realize is in many ways a mask or an incomplete version of myself. So the question I ask myself and will surely be asking again is “How to I become whole?”
It’s become clear over the last few years, that even though I don’t hate my body (though I’m not in love with it either for the most part), I am transgendered, at least in mind. But if I had been born female, I would surely have been a lesbian. So, does that make me a male lesbian? The term brings roars of laughter in many circles or is totally eschewed in others, but I think it’s significant that nearly all the women I’m friends with and the majority I’ve have had as lovers were bisexual or ended up with women as partners. Damn, even the therapist who really put me back together in my late 20’s ending up with another woman…