“Well, I never killed a man

because I haven’t got the guts

and that won’t get me to Heaven

but it’ll keep me outta jail

because there’s no law against self-repression.”

– “Self-Repression”, Friendly

Richmond, VA, was a hub of a very weird and tragically unknown underground music scene in the early ’90s, and Friendly was part of it. I looked for the video for “Self-Repression” to post it here, but it don’t appear to have made it to the interwebs, which is your loss. I have the cd. I was involved in that scene. Hell, I lived with one of the founding members of Eeyore Power Tool, who was also one of the founding members of Eerie Materials, the record label chiefly responsible for documenting the scene. That’s not quite true – the scene was mostly self-documenting: weirdos from all corners making strange music, recording themselves on boomboxes and mailing dubbed cassettes to anybody who would have ’em. There was an insane amount of creativity in that scene – musically and visually – and the people involved displayed no desire to be famous or “successful” in any monetary way. It was beautiful. I could’ve been more of a player, but I was too drunk, angry, depressed, chaotic, unreliable and afraid to participate much. I was included in a recording session or two, but mostly I was just lurking around. Anyway, “Self-Repression” would’ve been a good song to put here.

I work at a homeless shelter. Part of the job is enforcing discipline, maintaining some degree of order. I find it very difficult to do this. Like I struggle with it. And I’m in total awe of the women who work there – no-nonsense women who won’t hesitate to yell across the room the instant someone is doing something they oughtn’t be doing. I love bitches who ain’t havin’ none of that shit, always have. T’other day, some dots connected and I realized that my timidity and my love of bold women are connected. See, I made a decision many moons ago to allow people to think that I’m just another cis-het guy because that seemed easier than being out about being trans-lesbian, and that decision had consequences which I’m still figuring out. The fact that I’ve started creeping out of the closet certainly is why I’m now figuring things out.

On some level, I feel like I can’t be direct and forceful because I’m not perceived as female. That seems counter-intuitive, I know, because the stereotype is that women aren’t direct and forceful, but the stereotype is bullshit. A lotta women are direct and forceful and I’ve been attracted to them all me life. “Attracted” like I see them and want to be nearer to them, not sexually attracted, though sometimes that too. Deep down, I feel like if I had tits and a vagina, I’d be able to stand up and confront any situation. When I was writing that intro bit about Eerie Materials, I wondered if tits and a vag might’ve made a difference in my ability to be actively involved in that scene, and the answer is blatantly “yes”. Most of the weird punk/noise bands I like have female singers – or are all female – and I have a very clear sense that female singers are better, that if I was perceived as female, I could be a terrifying screamer in a noise-punk band.

The decision to play the part of a cis-het male has caused me to be unable to do a lot of things. I’m just now understanding this. And this isn’t about blaming myself or regretting what coulda/woulda/shoulda been – that’s poison. This is just me coming to an awareness. It’s like how I believed for years that drugs and alcohol were helping me deal with my problems and then, after I got clean/sober, I realized that drugs and alcohol were actually causing most of my problems and were preventing me from fixing the rest.

This doesn’t mean I’ma start hormones or change my name to Lutie – which I am making up as the female version of “Luther”. Reacting is not the same as acting and I aim to be somewhat deliberate in how I express my trans-lesbianity. But self-awareness is liberating in some ways even if we don’t make obvious changes in how we present ourselves. Being conscious of our motivations and fears helps us to choose wisely, and to live the best lives possible.

I think of that long-haired punk I was, stoned, drunk, confused, angry, unable to comprehend why everything was so scary and difficult…. I can’t blame that dumbass for not being able to announce to the world that s/he was a queer woman with a dick. People in Virginia just didn’t do that kinda shit back in them days.

This is now. And in this now, I’m a Christian, on my way to seminary. As I’ve stated here numerous times, my ministry will be based on three key concepts – A) Everything works out better when God is in charge; B) God wants individual relationships with individuals; and C) Help the poor. A and C are pretty clear. When I’m drilling down, I’m usually focusing on C because that one wants attention.

God likes diversity. We can infer that from God’s creation. Humans display more diversity than other creatures. The properest relationship a human creature can have with God is total giving of self. Just let God have it all. I’m learning how to do this, but I took a major step early in 2020 when I just gave up for Lent. I was experiencing an episode of major depression and I just let Jesus take the wheel. Things got better and I’m not stupid enough to say “Okay, Lord, I’ll take it from here.” I’m perfectly content to be in the passenger seat of my life. But as I let Jesus call the shots, I’m still supposed to do what He instructs me to do, and right now, that’s homeless shelter work. I’m supposed to actually dote job, learn from it and carry what I’ve learned into my next assignment. I’m very aware that my job is training me for future work, in addition to paying my bills.

So. I’ve learned that taking the “easier” way regarding being trans-lesbian is not helping me to do my job well, or to live my best life. The self I’m giving to God is a somewhat self-repressed self. The Parable of the Talents comes to mind – Matthew 25:14-30. That one seems a bit harsh, but my take on it is that God has given us gifts – talents – and we are to use them. It follows that God doesn’t want us to repress what He has given us.

I’m a Lutheran, so I believe in grace. I believe that God understands our limitations and doesn’t hold it against us when we aren’t aware of our shit. I also believe that He continues to speak to us, to teach and reveal. To lead us closer to Him. (I’m using male pronouns – God is beyond gender.)

So, I’ll be thinking about this and trying to figure out how I can better use the talents God has given me, and how I can become more fully the self I’m giving to God.

But first, I’ma get some sleep.


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