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Close your Eyes and Think of England

Please note that the post I had planned (a short description and historical context for the phrase above, and then a classy segue into talking about The Gay Adventures, did not end up happening. Instead, it became a rather long segment about gender inequality, and my experience as a trans person, seeing gender bias from both sides of the fence.

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Close your eyes and think of England is an old “reference to unwanted sexual intercourse – specifically advice to an unwilling wife when sexually approached by her husband.”

To me, this is horrifying. I was socialized female, and I honestly don’t believe I’ll ever completely get over the multitude of misogynistic and often conflicting messages I received about how women apparently feel (or “should” feel) about sex, sexuality, and specifically sex with men.

  • I learned—in a thousand subtle and not-so-subtle ways—that women did not or should not like sex or pleasure…and if she does, she is a slut.
  • I learned that men cannot—and should not be expected to—control themselves around women.
  • I learned that a woman dressing or dancing a certain way—or even existing—makes unwanted sexual advances, or even RAPE “understandable” or “excusable.”
  • I learned that women want to have sex with men
  • I learned that, during sex, it is the woman’s job to please the man, first and foremost, and if he has time he might try to reciprocate
  • I learned (mostly from women) that many men either don’t understand, don’t care to understand, or believe they already know how a woman’s body works or what she likes
  • I learned society and our legal system is set up to be distrustful towards women who come forward about sexual abuse
  • I learned that it was the wife’s “duty” to lie back and think of England if she doesn’t want sex but her husband does
  • I learned that women don’t necessarily know that they “want it”
  • I learned that saying “no” is somehow not clear communication that of discomfort with the sexual situation. In fact, shouting “no” and actively struggling and fighting back is often not enough
  • I learned that a woman should feel grateful/special to be “claimed” by a man
  • I learned that it’s somehow romantic when a man simply “can’t keep his hands off” her. Or when he follows her, grabs her roughly without her consent, watches her sleep without her knowing, or peruses her relentlessly dispute constant rejection.
    • This, of course, communicates a deeper message that women don’t know what they want, and therefore women are unintelligent, foolish, flighty, and apt to change their minds at the drop of a hat.
  • I learned that women love that chase, and verbal or physical rejection is merely an invitation to try harder
  • I learned that women’s bodies are not their own, but are owned by men, through:
    • The origins of marriage as the woman becoming the man’s property, including forsaking her own name for his, and wearing white to symbolize her virginity
    • Men thinking it’s fine for them to just come up and touch you

…and so much more. If many of these ideas seem old-fashioned, perhaps we should be asking ourselves why they are still so prevalent in our culture. Just musing here, but maybe that’s a PROBLEM. close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england

“This is recorded in the 1912 journal of Lady Hillingdon:

‘When I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, open my legs and think of England.’ “

Lady Hillingdon, I’m sorry.

So why am I posting about this? First of all, because it’s important. In relation to The Gay Adventures, however, the phrase ‘close your eyes and think of England,’ got me thinking about Captain Hook. The phrase was born in the era of Queen Victoria, (and often attributed to her), and James Hook would want nothing more than to be a loyal subject.

quote-just-close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england-queen-victoria-91-90-74To Hook, the equivalent of unwanted sex would be sex with a woman. Pretending to be straight. Pretending that was what he wanted, what he was attracted to…and trying to shut out the unwanted thoughts which disclosed his true desires.

I’d like to write a Scene with Captain Hook and Smee, where Hook uses this phrase in his own way. However, Smee is unfamiliar with the saying, gets confused, and then he and Hook attempt together to understand it.

One of the ways I get inspired to write is by taking something simple that already exists (like a phrase, a Patron Saint, or Pickleball), and then take it and twist it into a different context or meaning.

The way I currently have The Gay Adventures written, the cast is primarily male. I believe I wrote it that way because I identify as male and crave the a male community. But I often reflect and think about the disproportionate representation of men within media, and what my role is within that.

For the longest time I was running from all things ‘female.’ I didn’t want to hear about it, I didn’t want to think about it, I even harbored a resentment towards women for a while, somehow blaming them for my being socialized as the wrong gender.

Now that I’m working through those thoughts and feelings, I find my anger towards what women have to go through on a daily basis growing exponentially, and I hope to become a very strong ally. I’ve grown to deeply appreciate my unique perspective into what it feels like to be treated as a woman from birth, and on a daily basis. I believed I was less intelligent and competent that those around him. I was dismissed more easily. I wasn’t listened to. I found it harder to speak up. My space was invaded regularly.

It’s an ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless, that a privileged group is more likely to listen to someone they perceive as one of their own. Part of the reason it’s so fucking annoying to be female is because when you try to tell men what you’re up against, they tend to pat you on the head and inform you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know your own experience. They know what you go through better than you do. All that pesky gender inequality is over and done with now. Men saw to that. Men saw that women were being fussy about “rights” and silly things like that and they stepped in and fixed it for the girls.

Essentially, I plan to use my “passing” privilege to talk to men as a man, and tell them that gender inequality is NOT in women’s heads. Of course, I shouldn’t attempt to speak for women either. But I can speak truthfully about the experience of being seen as female, treated as female.

So I implore all those who believe that gender inequality is either “over,” or “not as bad as women think,” to no longer lie back and think of England. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

So sit up, and open your eyes.

Watch out for the Homo-sexuals

When I told my mom I was going to see AIDS: It’s In Our Blood in Gay City, my mom gave me some sage advice: “Just be careful– there might be homo-sexuals there.”

Her concern was valid: there almost certainly would be homosexuals in Gay City. The good news is, my mom has long-ago accepted that she has a transgender, pansexual (or something along those lines) son, and was 100% kidding.

pirate gay
“Arg, thar be homosexuals!     …Awesome.”

 

I just wanted to write a lil’ somthing to appreciate the parents who DON’T hate or abuse their children over gender or sexual orientation (which, by the way, their children have no control over). My parents weren’t thrilled when I told them I was a guy, but after many tough discussions and some long-ish bouts of NOT talking, we’re closer than ever. Intimacy is always aided by authenticity, and them relating to me as their daughter just…wasn’t working.

I was lucky, though. I’m not saying it was ‘easy,’ per say, but I felt like I could come out to them, and throughout the whole process I always knew there was a fair amount of hope.

A lot of queer people start of from a very different place with their parents, friends, and general community. I am a big advocate for self-care, which includes making the tough decisions to not interact with people who don’t support you, even your biological family. Sometimes taking some time apart from them (if you have that opportunity) can provide some much-needed perspective for both parties.

A lot of the queer people I know deeply treasure their “chosen family,” usually consisting of more queer people who they don’t have to constantly explain themselves to and correct pronouns like a skipping record.

I’ve always loved that the word queer means ‘odd,’ but there’s absolutely nothing odd about being authentic, choosing your community, or choosing love.

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Trans MAN

I’ve never been one for standardized testing, or indeed, school in general. But I might change my tune if school was used to teach topics which are actually relevant, taught in a complex and open-minded way.

But I’m kidding, really, because I know that’s one of the least likely things to happen in the wide universe.

Here is a list of things I’d bet good money will happen before that does:

  • Aliens contact the Earth
  • Donald Trump voluntarily steps down as President
  • Coffee prices decrease
  • People who can’t carry a tune stop auditioning for televized singing competitions

Still, if we can’t rid of those pesky standardized tests, we might as well start asking better questions. For example:

“Dying for Acceptance” Article

This is [most of] an article from Psychology Today, written by John G. Taylor. It was posted in 2013, but concerns issues we’re absolutely still facing today.

See the full article HERE.

“Dying for Acceptance: Suicide Rates in the LGBTQ Community

When disclosing the truth of your reality exposes the harshness of others.

Often times in our lives we find ourselves wondering: “Who am I and what would happen if people knew the real me? Would they leave me, stop being my friend, or would they embrace me and accept me as I am?” These are the million-dollar questions that are plaguing the lives of so many people in America, and even across the world, today. The reality is that people may not accept you. So do you hide yourself. Do you commit suicide, run away from home, turn to drugs and alcohol to cope? Or do you say I don’t care it’s my life and I’m going to live my best life.

Source:

As a therapist, these thoughts represent many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and adults that I have counseled as well as those that are living in our communities. I decided to write this article because of the alarming rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth and adults—all because they aren’t being accepted for who they are. This topic is considered by some as controversial and negative. It’s pressing up against the definition of marriage, it’s finding itself wrestled in our politics, and it has made its presence known in our legal system and our military. There is also a group of people that feels it shouldn’t be discussed, that we should just ignore it. These conversations happen every day in our churches, communities, homes, political arenas, and schools.

But the reality is that there are LGBTQ youth and adults filling up our schools, teaching our children, playing on our favorite football or basketball teams, providing security for our cities, serving our food, and cutting our hair. The fact is that the LGBTQ community is everywhere.

I’ve heard story after story from parents about the difficulty of understanding that a son or daughter is gay or lesbian. In equal numbers, I’ve also heard from youth and adults about their difficulty in disclosing their sexual orientation to their parents and friends because they fear being ridiculed, abandoned, judged, hated and isolated. This difficulty has led many to take their own lives. The statistics are:

● 5,000 LGBTQ youth now take their lives each year with the number believed to be significantly higher if deliberate auto accidents and other precipitated events are counted.

● 500,000 LGBTQ youth attempt suicide every year.

● Homosexual and bisexual junior high and high school boys are seven times more likely than heterosexual boys to report suicide attempts.

● Lesbians are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than heterosexual women.

● A majority of the suicide attempts by homosexuals take place at age 20 or younger with nearly one-third occurring before age 17.

● Gay male, lesbian, and transsexual youth make up about 25 percent of the homeless living on the streets in this country.

The LGBTQ youth and adults often talk about the judgment, hatred, insults, negative comments, and violence that are part of their daily lives. This daily abuse may result in youth and adults experiencing mental health problems such as: depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), agoraphobia (fear of being outside of the home), dissociative disorder, eating disorderspersonality disorderssleep disorders and adjustment disorders. Some also experience drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, and self hatred.

There have been many horrific stories in the media about LGBTQ youth and adults who commit suicide because they were being harassed. In New York: A 26-year-olde black youth took his own life and wrote on his Facebook page the day he committed suicide: “I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful towards those of us who live and love differently than the so-called social mainstream”.

Another story is Tyler Clementi’s, a student from Rutgers University who jumped off a bridge after being videotaped by his roommate while having a sexual encounter with a man. And there are more stories such as that of a 13-year-old student who shot himself in the head after being teased and harassed at school.

I recount these stories to show that these were real people that had real lives and because they were not accepted or feared being rejected, they decided to end their lives.”

On Writing in Public Places, the Benefits & Pitfalls of:

I like to write at coffee shops, because I actually get things done there. If I’m at home, I get distracted way to easily.

Today, however, I was typing the closest thing to a sex scene that I tend to write. Let’s call it an “almost sex scene.” To add a layer of excitement, there was somebody sitting behind me, who I don’t think was looking at what I was writing,  but it was kind of hard to tell.

The bottom line is: there are some scenes which may be preferable to write in the privacy of one’s home, where the only witnesses are cats. (Unless, of course, you enjoy the added layer of excitement of a stranger watching you write).

tyujtyd.jpgMy ideal sex scenes are both awkward and humorous. (And maybe sexy, too, if there’s time.) For fans of Arrested Development, that kiss Lindsay and Tobias share in Maggie’s shower when they’re trying to steal her pee is exactly what I imagine Hook and Smee’s first kiss to be like: a tender moment for those participating, but terribly awkward when you take a step back.

 

Trans Actors

It’s a bit tricky to plan a multi-season TV show which includes a cast of children who are not supposed to age…

However, I have an easy solution (which was actually my first choice anyhow). I had always imagined adults playing Peter, John, Wendy and the lost boys.

The story itself is not meant to be taken literally, so age doesn’t need to be taken literally either. It doesn’t hurt that every one of the principal ‘child’ characters has gone through tough experiences which in many ways forced them to grow up mentally, if not physically.

But how to not confuse everyone watching it? Have a consistent difference in height and build between the ‘adults’ and ‘children’ on the island. Peter is almost always portrayed by a woman in stage plays, because they tend to have smaller frames.

 

So…which men tend to be shorter, with smaller builds? Trans men.

Now, before you yell at me, I’m aware that not all trans men or short or skinny. Not at all. And when I first had this idea it worried me that it might be weird to cast trans men as children. Would it send a message that we were infantile or somehow not ‘real’ men? That is in NO WAY what I want. Trans men are men. As a trans man myself, I’m very aware of this fact.

I was not at all surprised to discover that trans actors are few and far between. And I would conjecture that short trans men who are trying to break into acting don’t have too many opportunities to play leading men. So obviously, any and all trans actors would be welcome to try out for any role, but I thought that Peter and the lost boys would be a perfect opportunity to put a call out SPECIFICALLY for trans actors to come and audition.

Let’s actively CREATE rolls for trans men and women, instead of having an occasional movie about the struggles of being transgender, where the lead is played by a cis actor.

I would personally love to play a lost boy…

…except I absolutely hate being in front of a camera. So never mind.

“Hook’s Mother”

Lately I’ve been working on Episode Two of The Gay Adventures. Hook has just come face-to-face with Wendy, and although she’s roughly 30 years younger than him, she is the first “female” he’s seen in two hundred years, and he immediately projects all his ideas of Mother onto her

Unable to return to or even fully remember his real mother, Hook is desperate to get Wendy to fill the void his real mother never filled.

This episode is not only inspired by text from the book Peter & Wendy, but also my research into JM Barrie’s own past, and his eternal quest to get love from his mother which she never quite gave him.

[note: within the script I’ve capitalized the word ‘mother’ every time, since it’s representing the IDEA of Mother, rather than a specific person.]

Check out the first few scenes here [which includes excerpts from Barrie’s writing]:

“Hook’s Mother” – beginning of episode

 

Finding Neverland lyrics

I like to listen to music while I write. And while I still don’t agree with what the story of Finding Neverland did to Peter Llewelyn-Davies, I did kind of fall in love with the soundtrack of the musical adaptation:

It’s also rather inspiring to hear some of the lyrics while I’m working…

Song: Believe

  • “It’s so frustrating when no one else sees everything you see.”
  • “Prefix ‘ordinary’ with ‘extra’ “
  • “Our life’s calling was never meant to be boring.”

Song: We’re all made of Stars

  • “If I could write ev’ry single day I would write all my cares away!”

Song: When Your Feet Don’t Touch The ground [I would HIGHLY recommend listening to this song]

  • “When did life become so complicated?
    Years of too much thought and time I wasted
    And in each line upon my face
    Is a proof I fought and lived another day.”
  • “When your feet don’t touch the earth
    You can’t feel the things that hurt
    And you’re free! There’s no need to come down…”

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On a slightly separate note, in the song The Circus of Your Mind, Barrie’s financial backer, expresses his deep dissatisfaction with the play Barrie is creating:

“You say I will adore it, but I’m paying for it
A little more reality and less of this insanity.
How am I gonna to face it?
Such a disgrace, yet
Here we go again and again and again!”

It’s a good reminder that sometimes when you’re trying something new—something that means a shit ton to you—not everyone is going to think it’s a good idea. Some may even think you’re off your head…

Nearly everyone involved in the original staging of Peter Pan thought is was going to be a critical and financial flop. Even the actors.

How wrong they were.

 

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EXT. NEVERLAND JUNGLE – DAY

In the spirit of transparency, I’m posting my latest draft of Act One of the Pilot of The Gay Adventures. 

Go to the Pilot Episode page, or click here to read it: Pilot – The Gay Adventures (Act One)

I know it’s not perfect, but I had a lot of fun writing it. If you’re familiar with the book, look out for bits n’ pieces from that! I hope I didn’t disrespect the ghost of JM Barrie by trying to emulate his style. Please forgive me, James.

Complete Honesty!!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t know what I’m doing. Now I’m going to get a little more real:

I’m a huge introvert, and part of that means that it’s really hard for me to post things online, especially something which seems self-serving (like promoting a TV project). I’m afraid that everyone will hate me and think my writing is terrible, and believe it or not, that doesn’t sound appealing.

So why do I have a website? Well, because I really love writing, I really, really love this project, and I really want to make something happen with this if at all possible. But I’m still learning how.

So here’s what I’m planning to do: Share my writing process and what I’m working on BEFORE IT’S PERFECT. I guess that’s necessary, because nothing is ever perfect. But I want so badly to be perfect, (not unlike Captain Hook).

Long story short, I won’t ever feel like what I do is good enough, so I might as well share my “shitty first drafts,” and even my shitty second drafts!

I want to invite you into my process, rather than focus on product. It may be slow going, because it’s not really in my nature to post what feels very private. But it’s also really important to me to share, because I do want to make something of this, and at the moment I feel very isolated.

I’m trying to find a community of writers, as well as connect more with the queer community, and—of course—queer writers.

With that in mind, here’s something I’ve been working on:

As a queer person, it’s not unusual to have struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts. I certainly have. Because of that, I have what I like to call an “intimate relationship” with Death. We’re on speaking terms. A first-name basis.  We sometimes meet for tea and scones. Conversing with Death

I’ve always thought that death is something not to be afraid of, but to be curious about. Death is a very curious thing, and something we will never understand fully.

To make sure I’m not confusing anyone, within The Gay Adventures, Neverland is a type of purgatory, full of queer people who have murdered or committed suicide.

I know, I know…it sounds cliché. Ever since Lost, it’s been a big trend to have the super-mega-twist be “And they were dead the whole time!” It’s become so common that it’s not surprising anymore. Parks & Rec could very well have ended that way.

But for the story I want to tell, and how I want to tell it, it actually makes sense for them to have been dead the whole time. So I’m not going to change that plot point. I will, however, change HOW the story is told.

First off, it’s a comedy instead of a drama. A comedy which takes death seriously, but doesn’t take humans too seriously.

Second, within the first few episodes the audience will probably pick up on the fact that they’re dead. It’s never going to be a secret (or “What a twist!”). What will make the show interesting to watch is the character arcs and relationships, as well as the unique perspective of observing the behavior of someone you know is dead, but who himself is unaware of that fact.

One of the topics that fascinates me within the show is: what happens when the characters inevitably suspect and later realize they’re dead? How did they react? What do they do? How do their priorities change? Does it immobilize or motivate them?

This, of course, got me thinking about what might do if I suddenly noticed I was dead.

I started writing an intimate scene between Hook and Smee, after they know they’re dead. I don’t mean intimate in a romantic or sexual way, I mean intimate in an emotionally exposed way. What’s more intimate than being honest with someone, especially concerning the things you fear? And no one’s better at being afraid than Captain Hook.

A scene like this would not happen until much later in the series:

EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY

The sun sets on the horizon. Hook stands, straight-backed, watching the sun disappear. Smee approaches, and stands by his side.

HOOK: I’m afraid, Smee.

SMEE: Afraid of what, Captain?

HOOK: And if there’s nothing? Nothing at all?

SMEE: What do you mean, Captain?

HOOK: After this? Suppose we just go to sleep and then…nothing? Only darkness.

Smee comes to Hook and puts a hand on his shoulder. Hook doesn’t move away.

SMEE: I don’t think it’ll be so bad, Captain. Look what you got the first time.

HOOK: What did I get, Smee?

SMEE: Sandy beaches! Beautiful sunsets! (then) Me.

HOOK: No, Smee. I got mildew. Pythons. Just more uncertainty.

SMEE: Think of it this way, Captain: if what comes to you after your after-death is nothing, there will be no more uncertainty.

Brief silence.

HOOK: No more uncertainty…

***

Within the series, I’m not, nor will I ever be trying to provide answers. What I will be supplying are questions and wonderings, because I have a lot of those.

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