53, by Ray Rea


Yes, 53. What comes into your head when I say that? Probably a lot of things, a lot of assumptions. The weirdest thing about being over 50 is having to deal with younger people’s assumptions of what that means. This is as true in the gender non-normative crowd as it is elsewhere. The assumptions about age are all there in the trans* world.

Last night I sat through a college production of the musical Grease. I’m not really familiar with it, but I remember that I used to be around a big crowd of second wave Butch/Femmers who loved Grease. The movie with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta was released in 1978, when they were in high school, and so it was both nostalgic and romanticized for them. The film’s policed versions of gender informed their own takes on it.

That group was a few years younger than me.

In 1978 I was listening to the Sex Pistols, Tom Verlaine, Brian Eno and 801. Grease was of no interest to me. In 1981 I was bartending in a seedy punk bar in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. At the time I thought I was a straight girl.

The “straight” crowd that I lived in was bent. I had more bandwidth around how I performed gender in that punk/ new wave scene than I had years later in the B/F scene of the queer 1990s.

Now, 2013, I’ve heard every possible assumption about what my background is. The funniest by far was when a young FTM guessed that I had been a lesbian feminist separatist. I have never been separatist in my life, a lesbian only for a bit.

I’m not saying that I am an “elder”. That word connotes wisdom, and I still make a lot of mistakes.

Making an assumption about what an older queer type has been through in earlier life is also a mistake, just as the same is true for younger queers. We had a lot of different lives. We are still having a lot of different lives.

Want to go to the movies? Anything but Grease.

Context: This piece is from a play that is currently in development.

More information: prodcoor (at) gmail (dot) com

Freddy, from Crooked Parts, by Azure Osborne-Lee

FREDDY. (black queer trans man) I had an idea before then, I guess. But this trip…something shifted for me. We were on the BART, Terrence and me, after this long-ass flight from New York to San Francisco. I get on the train, and it’s like I’m in shock. Like I couldn’t trust my senses. There were trees and mountains and this super fresh air, and my body just couldn’t take it all in. Spending too long in New York City will do that to you, I guess. So we were there on that train and when I finally started to relax, I had a vision. I saw two paths open up before me, two possibilities of the future. One was Winifred and the other was Freddy. I saw her, Winifred, 20 years in the future, working hard as ever and making a real difference healing her community. But she looked so serious, so full of responsibility. There was no joy in her face or in her body, at least not that I saw. She was in her home all alone. After all her clients left at the end of the day, there was nobody there with her. No lovers. No children. Nobody. Just her sitting in silence. Then I saw him. Freddy. I saw him 20 years in the future, wearing vibrant colors and smiling brightly. He was laughing! And I knew that he, too, had community. And he was doing the work. Of course he was! But he was joyful. He was at ease. And he was having great sex. I could just tell from the way he held his shoulders. He had opened up and he had somebody waiting for him. So I decided that that’s what I wanted for myself. I decided it was worth the risk. I guess…that’s when I knew for sure.

Context: Crooked Parts is a family dramedy set in yesterday and today. Freddy, a black queer trans man, returns to his family home in the South after his fiancé breaks up with him. Once there, Freddy must navigate the tension created by his transition and his brother’s serial incarceration. Meanwhile, in his past, 13 year-old Winifred struggles to balance her relationship with her mother with her desire to better fit in with her peers. Crooked Parts is poignant, queer, funny, and definitely definitely black.

More information: https://newplayexchange.org/users/10285/azure-osborne-lee