November 12, 2009

"Oh Hell No! Grrl, hold my earrings."

I wear earrings. Not studs. Not diamonds. Earrings. Big gold hoops, loud peacock feathers, pearls, the stuff you see hanging from the ears of prostitutes and high-fashion models (or at least that’s what I channel when I wear them). They are flashy, gaudy and, in a word, extra. Do I wear them for attention? Maybe. But do I genuinely believe that they are hot and that I look fierce as hell in them? Hell yea. They are how I want to present myself to the world. However, they are not how many in the world believe I should present myself. I get the most glaring of stares from many people on campus.

I never understand this. If, as a society, we are so attached to gender roles why would we cast out the gay individual who identifies with a non-normative gender? In an odd way, that almost completes the circle and normalizes the individual. I am attracted to men. I have a gender expression that is largely feminine. That is fairly normative within the crazy bounds that society is enforcing. While I find this intriguing, I am simply stating an observation and not making an argument for the normalization of non-normative sexualities and gender expressions as long as they still uphold traditional male and female roles. I personally believe that gender and sexuality are not linked in any way and that both are fluid and do not fit into any kind of binary. I sense that the general public is beginning to grasp an understanding of sexuality outside of the binary that we have created and to not believe that one sexuality is more "natural" than others. Yet gender is still seen as a largely biological category. That it is not. Gender is a performance, and I for one am no back-up dancer who is relegated to the standard role.

Everyone on campus knows I’m gay. I am very vocal about it and anyone who’s talked to me knows that my gay identity is central to my personhood. While I do hear disparaging remarks and slurs directed at me on a fairly regular basis, they are usually unoriginal and uninspired and I simply brush them off. However, the attacks I receive about my gender expression are much more extreme. These are difficult to ignore. These are the ones that make me lose sleep at night. These are the ones that make me second guess myself in the mirror every morning, pondering whether or not to “butch” up my image.

When it reaches that point of the day that I have had enough of the stares and the snickers and I am seconds from calling out the person on the C-1 for giving me their stank face, the sorority girl turns to me and goes “cute earrings, where did you get them?” Then I talk to the cashier at Chick-Fil-A who compliments me on my new pair and we have a short conversation about fashion and shopping. At the end of the day many people see me as the raging homosexual who is deviant from the natural laws of the penis that define the boundaries of my masculinity. However, there are also many who see me as a trend-setting genderqueer with a social message to bring to the Duke community. It is these conversations that come out of the most unlikely of situations that reassure that progress is being made and that despite all of the negativity in the world, we can construct communities of positivity and love.


  1. I. Love. You.

    And your earrings. And the huge statement they make. And I hope you keep wearing them proudly, as often as you want to. Because really, why's it anyone else's business?

  2. Chantel said what I was going to. Love you Jack and I miss you!

  3. Wow, I just randomly came upon this. That was fantastic. I sure as hell ain't gay but I really enjoyed how well you articulated yourself.

  4. Wow. Just from the way you choose to express urself and ur individuality makes me feel that i would absolutely love u if i actually met u :) Keep wearing those awesome earrings. cuz, personally, i think theyr awesome