Last Saturday, the school (or some people at school) hosted a back-to-school dance. It was the weekend and there are barely any sober events going on in this small town small college, so it was all so exciting. And it was a perfect excuse to dress fancy. I always try to look nice – and I tend to overdo it – but there’s usually no point in it because there’s no point in outdressing everybody when it’s always a regular school day or weekend and the school is so small that everyone you meet has seen you in shorts and a T-shirt or almost naked. I had stuff that I had been saving in my closet for a while for a special event, and this happened to be the night where I bring those stuff out. I have this white shirt with black floral patterns and black skinny pants – a tight-fit shirt and skinny pants make for a good party costume. My nails had been painted rose red with gold glitter just one night before, and I had two new items in my closet: a black blazer – nice soft fabric, extending only toward my ribcage and a little too tight (coz it’s a women’s blazer and I don’t have the right body for it); and nice silver-glittery pumps, my first pair of pumps since I’d never worn them before.
The dance started at 9:00 or 9:30 but I got there around 10:30 because I was over-grooming myself. I usually have 2 problems at dance parties:
- I want disco music, which is very rarely played at this school;
- I don’t appreciate humping AT ALL.
Maybe it’s a gay stereotype thing that I love disco. It’s the first ever musical genre I learnt to love, and the first artists I heard were ABBA, BoneyM and Madonna and they’re still among my favourites. My current favourite disco/dance artist is Kylie Minogue. But people around here probably don’t even know her. I can settle for Lady Gaga and other Red One, Max Martin, Dr Luke productions but their music is too mainstream for college atmosphere and we don’t play old dance-pop around here (stuff from the 80s and 90s at public events). We roll with hip-hop, which I’m ok with listening to but don’t want at all to dance to. I’d rather have some thumping disco beat. “Your disco, your disco, your disco … needs you!“
About the humping, it’s kind of related to the subject of mainstream American pop music. The content is sexually suggestive more often than not and the beat is fit for moving your body rhythmically as if in some sexual conduct. Well, lots of music have steady rhythms you could move your body sexually to, but the raunchy lyrics added to the beat makes things more icky for me. And it looks to me like hip hop and rap (and American dance music) are revolving around the themes of reckless partying and casual sex. I am, by nature, a very touchy person but I get extremely uncomfortable when I have to press myself against somebody or if somebody presses themselves against me during a dance. The dancefloor is like a stage for me, where I should be showing off my costume and my moves, not secretly creeping up on somebody with sexual intentions. I also get uncomfortable when I see other people humping or grinding.
Oh, ok, the main subject: my heels. They’re pumps with 4.5″ stiletto heels. They have silver glitter all over with a strip of black velvet on the sides. They’re simply fierce! But I had so much difficulty wearing them and it’s so much harder walking in them and don’t even get me started on the dancing. The fact that I’d never worn pumps didn’t help. The part around the heels kept falling off and my balls (the balls of the feet, not the stuff between my legs, thank you very much) and the toes hurt like a bitch. But they are gorgeous. And by the way, I met this opinionated feminist friend who objected my wearing of heels. Her statement was: it’s ridiculous of me to want to temper with products that are meant to hurt the body, when my norms of my male gender does not dictate me to mutilate my own body in the name of beauty. Yes, come to think of it, it is really sad that (almost) all clothing, accessories and even cosmetics are never designed for functionality or comfort but for beauty, looks to attract men with. It’s all about the MEN, shit! SEXISM!
Just as I’d expected, my silver pumps made a scene. Quite a number of girls and some guys complimented on them. Many of them happened to be strangers – freshmen and upperclassmen I had never seen before. I could keep track because: people who know me on a personal level call me by my full name and give me a hug upon meeting; those who just know me call me by my first name (actually, the first half of my name) and would say hi … And the sad thing: strangers who complimented me on my outfit, especially my shoes, didn’t even ask for my name or even bothered to care at all who I am. My shoes were more important to them than who I am am and why I had them on. There are serious reasons why I do gender-bending activities, why I dress in an androgynous fashion. In short words, I do what I do for queer liberation and feminism – and, of course, personal fancy.
Those little people who were inquisitive about my glittery silver pumps, they complimented on my shoes, they asked me where I got them. But I, the person who was wearing them obviously for a reason unknown to them, didn’t matter. That was the first time ever I felt bad about how I express myself through my clothes. My clothes took on a greater value than my identify. I didn’t realize it at the dance, but the more I think about it, the sadder I feel – being debased to a lesser status than a pair of pretty shoes. I am a grown ass man out in public dressed in a way not even every gay man would feel comfortable with. There is a reason behind it. Yes, I am seeking attention and I want you to be inquisitive – about what’s going on in my head, not where I got my heels. Ok, I’m not saying you can’t ask where I got my heels. You totally can. But you should know what my priorities are – or you should want to know. I still feel a little devastated about that night.