Thursday, May 6, 2010
I do confess to taking a certain pleasure in making a spectacle of myself--it amuses me, and it pleases me when I amuse others. Still, nothing had prepared me for the sensation that would result when Mr. Trilobyte Zanzibar, co-proprietor of BlakOpal Designs, presented me with one of his clothier company's gorgeous peacock-feather suits. From the very first occasion I appeared in public wearing this ensemble, I have garnered amazing reactions--many compliments, certainly, which I found intensely gratifying, but beyond that a flurry of humor I have found both entertaining and thought provoking.
Some of the humor results simply from my looking like a great big bird in this outfit--the community's catgirls, nekos, and other feline-aligned persons simply can't resist batting at my coattails, especially when I disport on the trapeze at the Blue Mermaid Cafe on Wednesday nights. I will own to stoking this reaction by doing my best peacock-call imitations.
But beyond that, this outfit seems to increase the volume of whimsical comment concerning, for lack of less clinical terminology, my gender expression. Once again, I will be the first to admit I have made no secret of my affectional orientation and effeminate tendencies--in fact, I am often gleefully guilty of queening it up for humorous effect (see opening remark about making a spectacle of myself). And there is also no denying that this outfit's feathers and colors do push envelopes of male gender expectations, notwithstanding the flamboyant tendencies of the Steampunk interpretation of Victorian style.
Still, even I have been a bit startled at how my wearing this outfit has "upped the ante," so to speak, on all this business. I rush to add that all the comments directed my way have been uniformly good-natured (in fact at least a few have come from certain "birds of a feather," if I might apply the metaphor at hand). Yet the sheer volume of them has made me feel at least a little overwhelmed--as if I had created a bit of a Frankenstein's monster with my image, and that it was getting a little out of my control.
So I have retired the Peacock Suit to my wardrobe except for special occasions, and switched to slightly less flamboyant outfits for everyday wear. And I find myself pondering this whole business, including my reaction.
Some of it is that, while it is true that I am quite comfortable with, even fond of, my orientation and gender expression, I am also more than those aspects of me, and am now concerned that I shall be known only for those things and not all the other things that I am. Another point to ponder is why such beautiful clothing is seen as a cause for comment when worn by a male. In response I can only reach cross-time and cross-dimensions, to quote a popular song from a timestream a century ahead of the Steamlands:
"I would just like to say that it is my conviction
That longer hair and other flamboyant affectations
Of appearance are nothing more
Than the male's emergence from his drab camouflage
Into the gaudy plumage
Which is the birthright of his sex
There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage
And fine feathers are not proper for the male
That is the way things are
In most species"