David Wojnarowicz’s Jacket —
Photo taken by Bill Dobbs at ACT UP’s FDA Action
October 11, 1988
Take everything you know and imagine about Freddie Mercury: the iconic British rock star, the philandering partier, the serial maker of testosteroned-anthems, and flip it around to something less familiar: Farrokh Bulsara, a demure, bucktoothed Indian boy in a Bombay boarding school, listening to Lata Mangeshkar, playing cricket.
Curiously enough, the one thing Freddie Mercury was never asked, nor spoke openly about, was his Indianness. […] There were no Indian rock stars in England, sure. But there were also no Indian rock stars in India. Or Tanzania. Let alone gay, Indian, Parsi, third-culture-kid rock stars in either India, England, or Tanzania.
Freddie could not refer to any identity or trajectory other than his own. It is clear from interviews with his family and friends that he was not self-hating, not the type to try hard to be “white-washed.” His silence or dismissal about his cultural background—and one so formative and dramatically different than British life at that—can be interpreted as a political and social symptom of his time:
Freddie lived in the same Britain that has given the world its Victorian feelings about desire, sex and gender. Perhaps he rejected British Victorian taste at the same time he rejected his Indian Africaness. Even American liberal Lester Bangs was made uncomfortable by Mercury’s bare chest. What we call ‘queer’ now with feelings of empowerment, then, was still scary and threatening even on the music scene. Did he consider himself British? Or like Bowie who came after, an alien altogether?
[…] But this is the Freddie we all know: Take, for example, September 1978—his prime. He was handsome, with an angular though slightly bovine jaw, and vaguely ethnic features. Even as someone unfortunate enough to have never witnessed his performative tenacity in real life, the visual archives of Freddie Mercury make certain things apparent: he was magical, soft-spoken, and—to complicate and contribute to his paradoxical bustle—clear that he was the toughest, coolest queen the world had ever seen, whose work, as effeminate and genderbending as it was, is still considered pretty manly today. V.S. Naipaul once said: “write every book as though it is your last.” Freddie, with vatic intuition, took a page out of that book, and sang every song with the same sentiment. It is universally agreed upon—I think—that it is seldom one finds artists who exalt both abandon and irony as debonairly as he.
Despite the fact that he seemed to dismiss categories, reject a slew of social norms, he was ironically, a creature of caricature, of extremity, and high-Victorian causticity: “There’s no half measures with me,” Freddie said in one of his last interviews, unintentionally referencing an apt musical notation. From the dramatic flippancy of his costumes, to his 8-octave baritone perusing vocal extremes with relative abandon, to the fact that he—without doubt, and to the agreement of nearly everyone who lived in his era—defined what it meant to “party like a rock star, “ Freddie was not one for subtlety when it came to his artistic tastes.
And it is also possible that Freddie was not “stuck” in multiple worlds—though he was rejected from most— but liberated. And maybe he had the right idea about culture—that he was not Indian, Zoroastrian, British, or Zanzibarian—but quite simply, he was all that became of his passion: just rock ‘n’ roll.
From “Freddie Mercury: Out on Stage, Brown in the Closet,” by Janaki Challa at Brown Town Magazine
Rest in Power, azizam
That’s my angel.
Baby rat nursing on his own foot
Illustration module work for school
Some examples of how “men’s rights activists” are threatening and intimidating feminists. There is absolutely no justification for this kind of behavior, and I urge all anti-feminist men (and anti-feminist others) to at the very least not stoop to the level of threatening atrocities or publishing someone’s personal information. I may not agree with your points of contention when it comes to the feminist movement, but that will never cause me to harm you or your family. AVFM and similar MRA groups need to be stopped, for the safety of society as a whole.
From “A Good Men’s Rights Movement is Hard to Find” by Jaclyn Friedman
i am writing an essay called “Sex And Gender Determinisms” that explores some of the things i’m discussing here, but its thesis is that patriarchy relies on the idea of a generic/gendered (the words have the same root) human being with a determinate gender and sex (role and body) and gender/sex (role versus body) trajectory which is perfectly predictable from its initial state. this is “cis determinism”. as trans people we live outside of this, and the project we are pressured to take on by cis people (sympathetic, friendly cis people - doctors, psychologists, family members, loved ones, allies) is creating a new determinism that favors cis people and upholds cisness while accounting for our existence in some meager and hostile way.
we are pressured to say: “this, and this alone, makes what i’m doing with my life valid. if i had not had this, you should have felt free to treat me like dogshit, because i would indeed be a freak and a pervert”.
attempts to come up with a new, better thing to be the sole reason that lives outside of cisness have value is understandable, but insufficient
sorting through my old school shit to see what I can put away in my father’s office to make space for current school shit. find ripped out diary pages from when I was 15, and its all “why can’t i just be a girl oh god i hate myself i should be dead” and it’s the most validating and cheering thing ever. turns out depression and gender dysphoria are in fact not crap i made up in college to make my life more interesting! woo! and like there was evidently a lot of shame and repression and things, bc apparently i repeatedly felt the need to document my horrible gross feelings to have some sort of justification for getting professional help once i had the opportunity (thats what it says in several places. also thats why i made this tumblr a few years later), but then felt bad enough about it to tear out the pages and shove them away into drawers and between the pages of year middle school textbooks. all my old diaries are 80% torn out pages, so there’s probably a lot i actually threw away. idk, i just feel really good abt this, and i think this is the sort of thing i needed rn to not kill myself, bc things have gotten worse again with the family and everything. but now i get to feel like a person with a history and ~valid experiences~
for anyone interested in reading more about how schizophrenia moved from being a diagnosis assigned to white, middle-class women to one used to pathologize and institutionalize noncompliant black men in the 1960s, jonathan metzl’s the protest psychosis: how schizophrenia became a black disease is a good place to start. i have a PDF scan of it, too — just ask.