Unicorns and Faeries: The Scourge of humanity?

The picture that launched these thoughts! Shaft, obvi the photographer.

The picture that launched these thoughts! Shaft, obvi the photographer.

My old friend Shaft was in town and being that he is a unicorn, and that I used to be one with him, we obviously got our horns on together.  After a delightful day of catching up and talking shop, we went over to his lovely friends house in the FIDI and sat around making Unicorn horns. It was such a lovely way to connect with an old friend and welcome in the spirit of Samhain.

But this morning I awoke to an innocuous Facebook message in a thread of comments about a picture of us dressed as unicorns from the night before. “NOOOOOO shelton, not you too!!!! (crying image of a puppy) PS, if you have to be a stupid dumb-ass unicorn, you do look sorta super-cute, for a unicorn.” While i’m glad that i look cute, (obvi) I find this idea, that once would feel empowered to yell at some one else for their costume choices, to be a fundamental example of why I celebrate people like Shaft who have decided to claim their identity as other that human. Shaft I love you. I love that you are unashamedly a Unicorn. I think it’s both sexy and fun.

My friend who posted this response, was probably not expecting it to touch a raw nerve of mine, but it did. It got me thinking about all the negative response that Shaft received as comments from his Vice documentary, from death threats, to vague ‘he’s worse than a terrorist’ racist comments. To comments I get for being a faggot, to those comments anyone gets who falls outside of the expected boundaries of being ‘Human’ See my ‘ Facebook friend’ is not alone, my friend is one of thousands of people, whose response when they see something different, is to make fun of it and belittle it. While I welcome freedom of expression, am not looking for an apology, and I understand in a way what they were saying, it inspired me to ask, well if you hate me for being a unicorn, what’s so good about being human? What am I missing? I think probably, the answer is nothing. For if humanity was so great it would not have to police its boundaries so strongly. It would not have to make sure that those who transgressed it ’s boundaries were brought back into the folds of conformity. Well I’m sorry humanity, yelling at me for not being like you, does not make me want to be like you. 

Here is me being an Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna for a day, because why not.

Here is me being an Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna for a day, because why not.

All that we are doing is exploring our own psyches. I know that our freedom of expression must serve as a harsh reminder of all the ways you self-sabotage, deny, and occlude your truest expression of self. But join us rather than hate us. I want you to come play with us!

I’m sorry to all those who find it so easy to hate those who are different. It must be hard being you. You must be sad often. I too am often sad. But that is because the world is a cruel place. And yes their are many ways which I fail at being fully me, but at the end of the day, I do make a concerted effort to support myself. To love myself, to forgive myself. It’s cute. It’s Werk. It’s actually a lot of werk. Between that werk, and work, and you know trying to WERKKKK IT, I really don’t have the time to absent-mindedly hate others for being different. I mean it seems like a pretty obvious waste of resources and time.

One of the tricks, and it’s TOTALLY a trick that I have used in attempting to understand myself is to begin by just discarding humanity as a term I identify with. (I mean obvi, in a biological way i’m a human, and culturally too.) It’s a thought experiment I play with while biking around the city, or sitting on the subway. What would it mean to discard all those signifying terms from gender, nationality, race, ect… and just be what ever the fuck I felt like. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing it for me. To heal my own wounds, to be more fully myself, to just have fun.

Me as a willow tree, the whomping willow tree in fact. Shot by Santiago Felipe at the culture whores CHAMBER OF SECRETS party, for Paper Mag http://www.papermag.com/2015/10/

Me as a willow tree, the whomping willow tree in fact. Shot by Santiago Felipe at the culture whores CHAMBER OF SECRETS party, for Paper Mag http://www.papermag.com/2015/10/

I often play with this in a real way by trying to embody the traits that I have self selected as defining a ‘faerie’, or a ‘witch’, or a ‘tree’. I like to dress up as these things, and for the duration of that performance, or time I am in that outfit, discard my own humanity. YAY for liminal spaces of liberation, yay for different modalities of seeing yourself, YAY for questions without answers, yay for trial.

That said, I’m sorry for all the hate we attract for being different. I often wonder what about our disavowal of human as how we define upsets so many people on such a fundamental level? When I think of what defines ‘humanity’ it is a long list of modalities of oppression. Contemporary and historical conversations on queer rights, women’s rights, POC rights and environmental protection, leave me mortified. How we have as a collective of souls allowed war, capitalism, the patriarchy, religious intolerance and national pride to ruin and fuck not only our planet, but each other.  It seems what humans are exceptionally good at is fucking things up. Hurting each other.

What is so good about being human. What is it that we do well? What is it about our species that is worth saving? Oh sure perhaps it is our kindness and compassion, perhaps it is our capacity for love, or our desire to tell stories. (all things which I love about humans.) Yet I fear that even those traits are eradicated by our species deep and unfortunate inability to process our own bull shit internally. Instead we project, we yell, we belittle others, we even do such things as innocuously make fun of people for dressing up like unicorn’s on the night before Halloween. What is it that we do right? I’m not sure we do anything right.

My first Unicorn moment oh so many years ago.

My first Unicorn moment oh so many years ago.

We are like a plague. We are trapped in our history, we rarely make smart choices. We are driven by greed. (I’m including myself in this, I often fail and I too can be cruel and unjust.) I often experience this hate directed at me when people choose to go out of their way to let me know that they don’t approve of my choices. Firstly, let me say that’s on them. I’m actually rather pleased with my life, and the choices I have made, and I am happy to have you tell me why you think I’m a failure, ugly, weird, stupid, ect… I don’t expect you to be nice to me, because people are not particularly nice. But I hope that I can be your mirror. I hope in hating me, it makes you question why you hate. I hope our interactions ultimately lead you to question yourself. See, in my experience people who truly like themselves rarely go out of their way to insult others.

this outfit made BRO's GAG. WERKKKKKK.

this outfit made BRO’s GAG. WERKKKKKK.

(Extraneous example: a few weeks ago I was walking on the streets and these BROS saw me and started pretending to vomit on themselves. I’m not sure they intended to make me laugh, but it was a pretty golden moment. I think the best part of the interaction was that when I laughed at them, because it was funny, they got super awkward. when I asked them what about my outfit they disliked, they got really uncomfortable. and then mumbled lots of stuff and looked sheepish. I mean watching to adults fo-vomit on themselves because of what I was wearing was totally a bucket list moment even if I was not aware of it till it happened.)

Anyway, really what I am getting at, is that costumes, and play, outfits, and performance, embodiment and channeling, unicorns and faeries, dress up and make believe are actually super powerful tools we can use to reshape our world. So much of humanity is shitty, but I really honestly believe we could wake up and live in a different world, a world much more peaceful and glorious, if we all stopped seeing ourselves inside the context of human history and started writing a new narrative. The old narratives are not working, they no longer serve us. Our greatest tool as human’s is language. So lets utilize it and see what happens. Let’s all for a day discard all old oppressions and modes of relating to each other that tell us that we can’t and should not like one another.  One to many wars, genocides, acts of enslavement have happened to humans at the hands of humans. Lets all just become mythical. For a moment for a day, witches, faeries, unicorns, fauns, nymphs, dryads, creatures of love, creatures varied and different who see the difference in others as something to learn from, to love, rather than something to hate. I want everyone to be a freak. It’s Halloween. Let’s don more then costumes tonight, let’s all become something new. 

Happy Halloween.

(these are rough thoughts written over a cup of coffee, I will inevitably return to them. I’d love your thoughts peoples, if you want to share them with me so i can craft a more articulate piece in the weeks ahead about this theme, but I just woke up wanting to share. Really xx)

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‘Expressions of Self Love’, An excerpt from a larger piece I am working on, called ‘My life’: Sauna

The flyer for their AWESOME show

The flyer for their AWESOME show

Once Upon a Dixon place I read this story at Dust Tea Shoulders and World Famous *Bob*’s Queer Campfire Story. They will be hosting another Campfire in November and it is totally worth checking out.

Below is my story. It is a story of drama and intrigue and umm drama… sort of.. It’s about falling in love in a bathhouse really…

Prologue

When I think about the campfire, I think back to my summer camp times at Flying Moose Lodge, lovingly referred to by its campers as F.M.L. It’s there that I learned to be a faggot, camping in the woods of rural Maine with 50 other boys, no showers, no running wanter, no electricity, only tents and stars and bonfires. We often told stories late into the night, while we drank hot coco and ate burned blueberry pie right out of the dutch oven. The stories we told were of conquest and terror, of creepy happenings and the campers who a mythical number of years ago were sucked into a hydro – electric dam and spit out in pieces. I don’t want to tell those stories tonight, I want to talk of when I first fell in Love… Perhaps in its own way its a horror story, for love, often is, a tad bit horrific. Here is my story, I am titling it;

‘Expressions of Self Love’, An excerpt from a larger piece I am working on, called ‘My life’.

This specific entry is called ‘Sauna.’

An example of a chariots interior.

An example of a Chariots interior.

We met in a Sauna in East London. Which sounds classy I know, but I promise you, it was not. It was the Shoreditch Charriots. For those of you who have never been, Chariots is a rather successful brand of Gay Bathhouses that dominate the U.K.’s Capital. They specialize in a faux-Grecian theme, you know painted ivy and gladiatorial porno-wresteling mosaics on the wall. What I remember most was the smells, a delightful mixture of pre-cum and poppers mixed with chemical cleaning solvents and that light metallic scent, which I have come to recognize as desperation. it’s the scent that lingers around burnt out lights, and those duct tape patches holding  red pleather mats together.

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Here is Chariots almost burning down… Awkward.

I had just turned  20 when this story takes place. I had recently lost 50 pounds, grown out my hair and begun dancing regularly. When I looked in the mirror I was a stranger to myself. My body had become alien and yet delightful, and I was deeply enjoying exploring it with the help of others. That said I still had a lot of hang ups about sex.

I looked a lot like this at the time.

I looked a lot like this at the time.

It had a lot to do with how I viewed myself. Like mainly everything. I was deeply uncomfortable in my own skin. It’s not just because of the aforementioned fluctuating weight. I think it had everything to do with being uncomfortable with self pleasure. I’d jerk off nightly into a tissue because i never wanted to see the cum. I thought it was messy, and yes, a bit shameful. My gay cum was a symbol of my continued failure at achieving heterosexuality. I was this really faggoty, glitter wearing, queen by day, and a huge internalized homophobe in the sheets. My sex was timid, and vanilla and never beautiful.

However I had begun to work through this issue of self love, of in all places, the Chariots Steam room. The first time I went to a bathhouse at all i sat quaking in a toilet stall for almost an hour, listening to the sounds of men shit in the cubical next to me, Petrified, that they were going to sense my presence, kick down the door and drag me out and laugh at me. Shame me for my body and let me know that I would never be like them.  It was only when i got to the steam room, dim lights, misty air, hidden hands, that i exhaled, relaxed and allowed myself to be present.

I first noticed a big change in myself, the third or forth time I visited the chariots steam room. I was blown to competition, and yet still kept sucking some other man’s dick. It was in that orgy room that I began to be okay with orgasming. to still feel sexy, to still love my body in the moments after climax. I know that sounds simple, but for me it was really hard.

It was there I learned I could walk into a room filled with men, who all had that hungry look in their eyes, that desire to touch taste and lick one another, and simply by the virtue of not being terribly British about it, but just taking off my towel and standing in the center of a room pulling my own nipples and moaning in that fake it till you make it sort of modality, I could convince any number of men to join me and rub my body.

It looked nothing like this... lets pretend it didi

It looked nothing like this… lets pretend it did.

It was heaven. I became addicted. it was a delightful feedback loop, they wanted me, I wanted them, we wanted eachother, BAM it was sex therapy at 11 pounds a session. I would show up in that Sauna room on extended lunch breaks, on weekends, when I was meant to be at a friends art show, and I would indulge in the caresses of a hundred unknown men. I began to feel sexy. Actually sexy, for the first time in my life. Yet the visit this Tuesday was different. When I paid my 11 pounds, and walked into that locker room I did so with the predetermined decision that I was going to fall in love.

Fall in love you say? yes! LOVE OH LOVE. the most noble of pursuits. The subject of good poetry and prose! How I wanted it. I had up until then, never really been in love. Not even with myself if I am honest to you. But on that Tuesday, from the moment I had awoken, I felt that I was fated to fall in love in the steam room. I was ready! Ok I was hardly ready, Love is Scary and Messy, but I told myself my future love was going to see all the fear in me, and be ok with it. He was going to be a guide to me. My gateway drug to love. This handsome hunky gay bearded self possessed daddy billionaire, just looking for an awkward, not a boy not yet really a man, expat with half a degree in film theory.  Yes I was going to fall in Love that day I just KNEW IT.

At first, when I got there it felt like any other time I had been to the bath house. I slipped on a pool of cum, some one had definitely shat all over the dark room if the smell was anything to go by, and so far the only person who had displayed any interest in me was quite clearly crazed. Not crazed like askance from the normal, or crazy like he’s probably a really good poet, just, you know, your average crazy.

But un-daunted I found my way to the sauna steam room, found a nice place on the second tier of the bench, up between the muscle daddy, (Likely candidate) and the twink (Not so much, but you never know.), and I relaxed into the orgy I knew was coming. I breathed in, breathed out, let my towel slide from my body and offered myself up as sexual tribute.

I mean he just looks like the kind of man who would want to spend his time with a semi-self aware 20 year old, right?

I mean he just looks like the kind of man who would want to spend his time with a semi-self aware 20 year old, right?

Often, to make the experience of a largely anonymous orgy more enjoyable, I close my eyes. I like the feeling of being pleasured by faceless individuals. I l love not knowing who is touching me of feeling greedy hands grab me as if only my body can satiate their hunger.

At some point I had slid into the arms of the muscle daddy, woof, and found myself contorted around his body, my tongue licking its way across his pecs and up to his shoulder, while his calloused fingers pulled at my flesh. As he slid  his finger into me, wet off my own sweat, I discovered his arm. Not the muscle daddies arm, his arm, my lovers arm. My eyes were still closed, the sounds of moaning all around me, I kissed it once and it felt like home. I kissed again. deeper. More intense. with ferocity and hunger. I moaned. Some where he moaned. WE MOANED. It felt as if we were falling into each other. And if by magic while I was kissing his arm, he was kissing, and licking and biting mine; it felt so divinely circular. Me biting him, him biting me, it was… completion.

In a sea of sweaty men, in an orgy largely of my own devising I opened my eyes to gaze upon my love. I traced the contours of his flesh up his arm, and to his face, where with horrifying actuality, I realized I was in fact making out with my own arm. My love, the man I had gone to meet in the steam room, the man I had felt all day fated to find, was in fact myself.

Orgies are not normally where one looks for spiritual and personal development, but sometimes its where you find it.