Flamboyant comes from the French word meaning “to flame.”
What was it that The Christophers used to quote? “It is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness.”
That’s what TBB knows, why she succeeds; you cannot create good by fighting darkness, by being focused on sickness, rather you can only create good by spreading light, by expanding health.
So, this is the question: when you go out into the world, how bright & how hot are you willing to be?
How much are you willing to just say, “Yeah, I know I’m bright and hot. Go ahead and look. I am a candle, and that’s good.”
For me, the question isn’t how much I want to be seen as flamboyant — I really don’t want to choose to act in an affected manner — but rather, how much I try to avoid being seen as flamboyant, for whatever reason.
I suppose there are a list of reasons, including a desire to be seen as serious & elegant, worthy of credibility, a resistance to being a clown, a fear that being too visible will bring too much crap down on my head.
I remember The Oprah, on one of her makeover shows, talking of how women of size have a higher obligation. Because you are noticed, she told us, you have to be more perfect than women who are average — the hair, the shoes, the depilation, everything. Fat women have to be more polished and more together, said The Oprah.
Now, Oprah was probably playing out some of her internal fears and self-talk, being a woman of size herself and clearly striving for perfection, but her injunctions resonated with me.
As a transwoman, I always feel on the cusp of slipping back into being seen as a guy-in-a-dress. That is always part of my self-talk, that sense that if I slip, even a little bit, I’m just another sloppy fat woman, just another guy-in-a-dress, falling over the edge into icky stereotypes.
One some level, I know this isn’t true. People respond to our energy and behavior choices more than they respond to some external look. After all, the final trans surgery is when you pull the stick out of your own ass, when you loosen up, open up and let other people in.
Yet, seeing my own energy is almost impossible. The moment I slip from participant to observer, from performer to critic, my energy slips, becoming tainted by my own fears. I stop trusting my own instincts, my own rehersal, my own training, and that lack of trust reads as a moment of fright, which conveys fright to others. People respond to confidence and authority, and when that slips, so does their confidence & trust.
Reynolds Price in A Whole New Life (highly reccommended), talks about people feeling that illness entitles them to demand answers and offer opinions that they never would about someone’s normal life. As I write this, I have another window where commentators on fundamentalist sites feel entitled to comment on the case of a twelve year old in Germany who was offered gender transition. I understand that people feel entitltled to express judgements about me and my choices, to the point of imposing their own opinions in ways that they would never allow others to judge and impose opinions on them and their life. After all, they are normal, not sick.
I went to one church and talked to the co-pastor and she started offering me some of her opinions about what makes people trans, and how they should handle it. If she was talking to a black person, would she have the arrogance to define their life, their experiences and tell them what the right choices for a black person should be? Well, maybe she would, but it would be wrong, and no one would blame the black person for being offended.
I know that it is easy to slip into the assumptions, ignorance and arrogance of others. That’s one reason I have learned to keep my head down, to work hard at stifling my own natural flamboyance.
I know lots of flamboyant drag queens and even flamboyant crossdressers. And I know that I am not one of them, no matter how much I like music from Broadway musicals and false eyelashes. I’m not the only woman who loves showtunes & lashes, but the moment people know about my biology, that gets recast, deciding I am showing my “male energy.”
I know what kind of woman I am. I am a power femme, a ballsy broad, but I fear that when I show that side, all people will see is balls. Not at all what I want.
The question is, of course, how I trust that people will see the health, the goodness, the light in my presence, how I stay in the moment and be just let myself bright & flamboyant, rather than always being suspect and ready to pull back & quench the light. It’s about how I pull the stick out of my own ass and let myself flow, trusting that my essential nature is beautiful when I just dance.
In other words, it’s how I learn to have a deep faith in my special kind of flamboyance — in my own special FlamGirlAnce.