From Salon. An excerpt from the memoir of Jon-Jon Goulian, a man who defies – and refuses – categorisation. Yes, he seems to be fairly privileged (a private income seems to be required to sustain his jobless lifestyle), and yes, he calls more traditional cross dressers ‘deviants’ (but it seems obvious to me he’s being ironic). But still.
‘For the great bulk of my adult life, beginning roughly when I was sixteen, and continuing, off and on, until now, at the age of forty, I have fallen short, sometimes dangerously short, of the conventional ideal of masculinity.
‘From my taste in clothing (skirts and high heels and women’s underwear), to my taste in cosmetics (pink lip gloss and eyeliner), to my taste in sex (I can’t get aroused unless I’m submissive, and it helps if the woman looks like a boy), to my distaste for body fat and body hair and competition of any kind, to the two hours it still takes me to get ready to go out at night, I have behaved, in many respects — and I have gotten no end of shit for it — like a vain, prissy, neurotic, body-obsessed “woman.“‘ (love those speech marks!)
And yet – and here’s the thing – the man just gets on with his life. However uncomfortable it makes people.
‘One thing I’ve learned over the course of twenty-four years of behaving and dressing androgynously is that people hate to be confronted with indeterminacy. The uncategorizable is unsettling.
‘If I were a man in drag, people would know exactly what I am, or at least they would believe they know exactly what I am, and have fewer problems with me: “Oh, yes yes yes, that man is definitely gay, and he has a very strong identification with women, he probably thinks he is a woman, and that’s why he dresses like one, and a sex change is probably in the offing, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if his own special vagina is being made to order as we speak.”
‘But that’s not what I was, that’s not what I am. I have a penis, and I am attached to it. My androgyny was, and is, more subtle and confusing, less womanly, say, than boyishly girly, or perhaps girlishly boyish better captures it, or perhaps epicene is the word we’re looking for here, but epicene’s not very helpful because what the hell does epicene really mean? And this difficulty in summing me up drives people crazy. They won’t have it. Whether I like it or not, they’ll find just the right label for me — homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, polysexual, metrosexual, metasexual; autosexual, cryptosexual, crypticsexual, protosexual, extraterrasexual, gender-bender, glam-boy, player, poseur, flaneur, slut, aesthete, dandy, lebenskunstler; lotus-eater; bohemian nymph; bourgeois nymph; bourgeois nymph masquerading as a bohemian nymph! — and, whether they like it or not, they’re determined to make it stick.
He’s one in the eye for gender rigidity. And I’m all for that.