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Category Archives: Gender

Capricorn in Cuba

 

I was almost to my casa particular, the Cuban home I was staying at while in Trinidad.

I went out. Listen to Cuban music and watch beautiful Cuban men flirt with white foreigners.

I even had a drink, although I nursed it for an hour and did not finish it.

But the point remained, I went out for my 30th birthday.

As I approached the street my casa particular was on. I saw Andres. Andres hair was in a long ponytail and they wore a short dress showing off their legs. I had been on an unofficial search for queer people in Cuba.

I had not seen many in Havana and when I did I was not in a place where I could approach them. But here alone at 10:30pm on an empty street in Trinidad, I ventured to speak.

Andres walked past me and I turned around and stop them. My Spanish was not helped by the nervousness that is accompanied by stopping a stranger and assuming them queer. I am from the U.S. it is not always safe for people that are perceived as masculine to express femininity in clothing and in acts.

“Hola. Yo estoy in Cuba para tres dias, no mirrar mucho gente de diferente. Pero tu. Tu es muy bonita. Como se illama?”

That was me shooting my shot. It worked. Andres then responded to me in English. They asked me where I was going and told me that it was too early to go back home. There were many parties in Trinidad, they invited me to join. As we walked back to the party era we met up with one of Andres friends. He was a young cutie who later told me that he was 19. As we walked Andres asked me was I gay? Andres seemed determined to find me a Cuban girlfriend. We return to the House of Music, the venue I had just left. Andres introduced me to all the queer folks there. The crowd had grown since I left.

I was struck by how popular Andres was as we walked through the city. Everyone greeted Andres. I did not apprehend mean looks or stares. Andres took me to 3 clubs. Reminding me to stay quiet as he paid (with my money). Cubans paid less than foreigners and I look Cuban. I just do not sound Cuban. Pero mi Buenos Dias es muy perfecto. Hence, I saved money.

At the end of the night Andres and the friend. Walked me back to my casa and we made plans to meet the next day to go to the beach.

I am Black and Queer.

Consequently I seek out other Black, Brown and Queer Folks.

I tend to travel to countries where the majority of the population is Black or Brown.

I have not cared enough to travel to Europe. I can stay in the US and see white folks in power.

Over the past 4 months, I have traveled to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Bahamas and Cuba. Without a doubt Cuba appears to be the most hospitable place for queer folk.

I ask the 19 year old was it easy being gay in Cuba.

Si, es muy facil.

But easy is relative. His 19 years looked and felt very different from Andres 33 years. Cuba is complicated in ways my Black American self will never understand. The next day at the beach Andres told me more about their life and what it meant to be queer in Cuba. I was reminded that life for queer people of color is rarely a crystal stairs.

My time in Cuba forced me search beneath the surface and remember that things are rarely as they appear to be. In this next decade, I plan to be more intentional about taking time to listen to other’s stories.

~JustTab

 

Also Andres is also a Capricorn, the best sign out there

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2016 in Gender, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Sleep Deprivation, Misogyny and Thug life.

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Around 3:30 am, Tuesday morning I pulled into a 7-11 somewhere in Maryland.

At this point, Mercedes and I had been driving for a couple of hours. She had to work that day so I told her she should sleep some.

Perhaps I should explain why I was in Maryland at 3am. I spent the previous weekend in Montreal for a Theatre conference. I should have been home Sunday night but due to bad weather, I missed my connecting flight in Toronto. I ended up at the hotel the airline got for me at 1:30 am, after landing in Toronto at 8:30pm. This meant no dinner for Tab. I have a lot of unkind things to say about Toronto’s airport and AirCanada but I can do that later. My new flight left Monday at 8:30am. Which meant I needed to be up before 6am to catch the shuttle to the airport.

Still wearing the same clothes from the previous day. I landed in Columbus at 10am.

Great. Tab can rest! Naw. Mercedes and I previously decided we would take her three nieces back to Philly on Monday. They had been staying with us for two weeks.  So I rented a car and drove to Philly, leaving a lot later than I originally planned. Remember I was supposed to be home Sunday night, in bed by 11pm. But since I am thug and driving long distance runs in my blood, the 8 hour drive (with kids) was not a problem.

Three kids, three different mommas meant I was playing bus driver making multiple stops. The run also included getting some of Mercedes stuff from her old place to bring back to Columbus. I had to pretend like being in a basement at after midnight didn’t scare this never had a basement Florida girl. Plus, I gotta impress my lady and show off my Crossfit strength.

Tab: “Don’t worry boo…what box you need? I got this.

You know I still aint really had meal since brunch the previous day. The thing about the drive to Philly, it is really expensive, $60 in tolls roundtrip. Damn, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. However, your girl was feeling bold and cheap. So I decided to take another route. Technically it was 45 min longer but would save $30. That’s like a lap dance and a half. We got on the road around 1 am but for some reason all the entrance to the highway was blocked. We spent almost an hour trying to get on. Remember, ya’ll I still haven’t really eaten or slept. The plan was to stop get some fruit for me during the drive. The first place was some rest stop type place. It was $5 for thing of grapes. Hell no. I ended getting a banana for free because the lady didn’t know how to charge me for it. So, since I was still hungry I stopped at the 7-eleven, I figured it would be cheaper.

Yeah. That was long intro. Hope you are still with me.

When I pulled up I notice this black man playing music in his car. He looked about 30ish. Nice beard and good build. I walked in and got what I came for. Mercedes is still in the car, half sleep. As I was in line, I noticed him talking to this woman. She was paying for her stuff and she appeared to either be going to work or just getting off.

She was clearly not interested in dude.

W: I’m married.

M: How long has that been a problem?

W: It’s not a problem for you, it aint a problem for me.

The man continues his advances.

Tab is in line behind them. And of course she has to say something.

Tab: “Yo, clearly she isn’t interested. Chill man”.

M: “Who the fuck was talking to you? Mind your fucking business.”

Can we just say that went from 15 to 100 real quick! I am not letting anybody talk to me like that. So me and dude went back and forth until he left. During this time he told me I was lucky the police was across the street and that I was a female. He also mentioned going to my car and getting at my girl. I pretty much told him he wasn’t going to do a god damn thing and he was an ignorant ass motha fucka…among other things. When I left he is staring at me smiling from his car. I pulled off and he attempts to try to follow me and scare me. He got stopped at a light and I sped off to the highway. I guess I will never know if he was really trying to follow me and do me harm or was just trying to scare me.

What bothered me the most about this situation was the (lack of) response of the other two Black men present. When the guy left, the clerk asks me if I knew him. I tell him hell no, I have never seen that man before. The clerk tells me I am “a tough lady.” He tells me that guy has been bothering every women that walked in and he should have left her alone because she said she was married. I told him even if she wasn’t married he should have left her alone.

As I drove away I reflected on how vulnerable women are in this world. This man watched another man verbal harass several women and threaten to assault me. Yet, he did nothing and said nothing. He could have easily asked the man to leave the store or even called the cops (who were camped out in the parking lot across the street). But he didn’t. Him and the other employee sat silently by despite knowing the man was wrong.

I am left wondering where are the men who will interrupt patriarchy and misogyny. Who will say not on my watch, not in front of me. Who will make it their business to speak up. I want my brothers to know that their silence makes them complicit. That their silence will never protect them.

Until then I guess I will have to stay on my thug life swag.

While I can joke about this now. I do want to acknowledge how scared I was. In that moment, I didn’t have the luxury to show fear.

I have never directly experience such aggression from a man. The reality was I had no clue where I was, what this man was capable of and despite the other men presence, I was alone.

I drove away fully awake but oh so tired.

~JustTab

 

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Is you a boy or girl?

“Is you a boy or a girl?” I have been asked this question several times by young children. While, I doubt very few of them- if any actual think I am a boy, the question is more about my lack of adherence to their “image” of what a woman looks like.

My hair is cut low and my clothes might not always emphasize my feminine features. I never get mad or upset when children ask me this question, since usually it’s out of curiosity.  However, what does annoy me is being CALLED (different from asking) a boy or any type of male. As a child I detested being called a tomboy. Even now it irks when children who don’t fit others perception of what a “girl” is supposed to be or like or whatever is called a tomboy. Or currently in certain communities the term “boi”, has gained popularity for more masculine gender-queer/ androgynous people. My friends have trouble understanding how and why “Oh, Tab you are such a cute boi”- highly upsets. Yeah, I joke about looking like a 12- year old boy, but those are jokes.  The gender that I identify with is “woman”, no matter what I am wearing or who I am dating that’s what I am- a woman, so to be called a “boi” even by friends is to me calling me out my name and associating me with something I do not identify with. Simone de Beauvoir famously said “One is not born a woman, but becomes one”, this quote was further popularized by Judith Butler in theorization of gender. It speaks to that fact that gender is not a biological fact rather it is a construction. Whereas sex: male or female can be considered a biological fact; which is why people can be born a certain biological sex, yet identify with another gender or no gender at all. . Yeah, it’s kind of tricky but you don’t have to agree with me about this.  Knowing how strongly I feel about my gender identity and the power of being called or haled something you do not identify with I can’t imagine what Caster Semenya had to go through.

If you can recall Caster was the South African runner who was “gender” came into question after she won the 800m World Championship in Berlin in 2009. Her gender as well as her sex became a subject of debate around the world. Was she biological male or female? If she was female, why did she look so masculine? Why didn’t she wear “girls” clothes? Is she gay? Does she take testosterone? Is she intersex? Are just some questions that surrounded her. At some point she got a make-over, but did a dress make her more of a woman then she was before?

Caster story is fascinating to me…who decides what makes a woman? This woman had an 11- month investigation launched about her gender. I just get questions from children. To her grandmother who changed her diapers as a baby, to her friends, to her community, to herself she’s a woman…yet it took a whole organization and 11-months for a decision to be made regarding was she woman, enough. If you have time I would strongly encourage to watch this documentary made about Caster by the BBC. It was filmed during the 11- month wait to receive the results of her “gender” testing. After hearing so much about Caster, it is refreshing to hear from her. It also opens up dialogue on the construction of gender in today’s society, as well as the gender inequalities in sports. Anyway, the doc is dope and I think I might have low key crush on Caster. I admire her strength and her courage. Watch it. I promise it is worth your time.

I would like to ask what makes you a “woman” or a “man”?  Is it dictated by your clothes, your attitude, you’re sexual organs? What is it?

~ Just Tab

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Gender, politics, Rants, style, Them Black people

 

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