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.

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:

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

 

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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Why I Don’t Identify with “Gay” TV

This is a personal thing. I’m most definitely NOT trying to say that all TV made by queer people for queer people is the same, or that it’s not good or not worth watching.

I’m really glad it’s out there.

But you know how sometimes one extreme leads to another? I think queer people feeling the need to HIDE who they were from society for so long made our TV shows into a kind of one-trick-unicorn.

At the moment, it seems like Queer TV can–for the most part–be broken up into two categories:

  1. Over-the-top reality shows (contests, drag race, hunky hunks, etc.)
  2. Ensemble casts in the big city having-lots-o’-sex and dancing at night clubs

I don’t happen to identify with either of those types of shows. I’m sorry to say it, but glitter gets everywhere. And one of my favorite colors is gray.

drag-race-2017-billboard-1500

I’m not really interested in sex, and would much rather spend the night in, reading a book, rather than going to a club. As a not-very-sexual (or romantic) person, I find myself thinking “Isn’t there anything else in the world we could focus on right now?” There’s more to the queer experience than relationship drama.

Isn’t there?

All I’m saying is that I wish queer TV embraced variance among queer people a bit more. We’re not all the same. Shocker.

My whole life I’ve felt like an outcast both with the popular kids and the outcasts. And that’s still true. That’s why I want to make a show for us betwixt-and-betweeners.

I didn’t fit before and I don’t fit now, and I’ll probably never fit.

I’ve always wanted desperately to make the kind of media I want to see. And what I’m most fascinated by is the human experience as a whole.

I want to write about the experiences we humans have which make us feel the most alone, yet which are arguably the most universal:

Why does no one love me?

Why do people seem to like me better when I don’t act like myself?

Why is every single person in the world happier and more successful than me?

Why do I feel so alone?

What is the meaning of it all?

As I’m writing these down, I’m realizing you need to have a certain amount of luxury to worry about these things. I’ll definitely take that into consideration.

I also realized that I might be trying to make entertainment for the introspective. The overly-introspective. The introspective-to-a-fault types. Which is most definitely not everyone.

I love the idea of making mindless entertainment which is not mindless. You can enjoy it without thinking, but if you want to think, there’s plenty to sink your brain-teeth into.

What’s more, the highly dysfunctional characters remind you that you’re not alone. If you can learn to love and empathize with characters who are so imperfect, maybe you can empathize a little bit more with yourself.

So let’s keep being ourselves, in our many, many forms. Let’s begin to recognize that while it’s absolutely fantastic to embrace our sexuality, there’s also people out there who don’t really relate to that.

Yes, I did take time out of my usual gay agenda to complain about the overuse of hunky, shirtless men on TV.

the_hunks

I hope I’m not alone here, or the show I’m developing will have no audience whatsoever.

It’s a very tricky task to represent everybody. And there certainly are shows out there which portray a variety of queer identities and types of people, and do an amazing job with it.

But I want more…

“It’s so Ass”

You know when an old white man tries to write a script where the protagonists are teenage girls? It’s unintentionally hilarious. And I’m now following in those footsteps.

Even when I was a teenager I never understood what people my age were talking about. I’m currently trying to write a bunch of child characters, and I want to try and capture that beautiful mixture of imagination and self-centered-ness. Unfortunately, I never spend time with kids.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now and two teenagers (I’m guessing they were 13?) sat down next to me. Just for kicks, I took off my headphones to see how they talked to each other.

I heard a lot of words I didn’t understand. Let’s face it: I’m 25 now. My glory days are over.

That’s when one of them said that sports were cool, but sport video games were “so ass.” First, I tried not to laugh, and then I thought, Wow. I have no idea if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

“So ass” could mean something is “shitty,” or it could mean, “it’s the shit.”

In conclusion, I will never be cool. Ever.

I Recently Got Back into Writing…

For the past several months, I had a lot of difficulty getting myself to sit down and write. A big part of that was dealing with the rejection after attending conferences where you can pitch your TV Show ideas.

But I’m happy to report that I recently got over myself and started writing again, encouraging myself by remembering that no one else cares. Essentially, I’m pretty sure the people who didn’t like The Gay Adventures most likely forgot me (and my project) five seconds after reading it.

I remember them, of course…but they’re not welcome to be a part of my writing process. That’s for me, thanks.

Here’s an Excerpt from Episode Two, which I’m writing now:

EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY

Hook and Smee stand together by the railing. Hook holds a battered pistol with gold detailing.

HOOK: …and if Peter still refuses to take me seriously, that’s when I fire the warning shot.

Hook aims, then hesitates.

SMEE: Go ahead, Captain, I’m right here.

Hook misunderstands, and aims the pistol at Smee.

SMEE: (CONT’D)  No, no, Captain! I mean to say that I’m here for moral, emotional, and physical support.

HOOK: Oh, of course.

Hook aims towards the aft of the ship. Pause. He lowers the pistol.

SMEE: Is it the loud noise, Captain? I know you have sensitive hearing.

HOOK: (who wasn’t listening to Smee)  I’d plug my ears myself, Smee, but last time I did that I ruined my sensitive hearing.

Hook glances down at his pointy hook, which does not make a good earplug.

Smee Smew

Once upon a time, when I was looking for pictures on Google Images for people who looked more or less like the characters I was seeing in my head, I simply could not find anyone who looked like Smee!

This was surprising, since my picture of him was similar to the “Smee”s I’d seen in the movies. But nothing I found felt quite right.

That’s when I stumbled upon Lars: a man who embodied Smee not only in face & beard, but in spirit:

erger

This sweet, ginger-haired man jumped into freezing Norwegian waters to save a duck which was trapped under the ice.

noruega-e1539303999523.jpgerger (2)

I asked myself, what kind of person would do that?

Well, Lars, of course, but also…Smee.

A large part of what defines Smee’s character is that he’s the type who would help others before himself, almost to a fault. It’s why he’s put up with Captain Hook’s antics for so long with a smile on his face.

And part of what draws Smee to the Captain is that Hook is, in many ways, a duck trapped under ice. The only difference is, a duck knows when it’s drowning, and Hook doesn’t.

But the similarities didn’t stop there!

On a completely separate occasion, I was looking up if the word “smee” meant anything. It wouldn’t have surprised me if JM Barrie gave him that name for a reason, and since those who arrive in Neverland don’t remember their own names, I needed that reason.

Well, I’m not sure if the one I found was the one Barrie intended, but I did discover that a ‘Smee’ or ‘Smew’ is a type of duck not dissimilar to the one Lars saved:

Smew_duck_ma

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if Smee was nameless for longer than average in Neverland (because no one cared enough to name him), until one day he saw a duck struggling in the water—trapped somehow—and jumped in fully clothed to rescue it, without a second thought?

Smee_parrot_crop

 

Then, of course, he would be named after the type of duck he saved, and keep it as a pet and let it ride on his shoulder.

 

Naturally, Hook would disapprove, since the proper pirate shoulder decoration is a parrot.

main-qimg-a1f957bed36902f9a6983edfce1535d7
If this isn’t classy, I don’t know what is