Proud at The Marlborough
A piece by Kuchenga
Last year I wrote for Vogue about feminist solidarity between cis and trans women. It was easy. A cup of coffee and a quiet moment in the evening was all I needed. I gave a scant overview of the trial and tribulations that led to my feminist political awakening, but I made sure to sketch lightly. Sometimes I feel guilty for what I hold back. Why didn’t I report it? Why have I let them get away with it? It’s too complicated a narrative. I can’t bleed on stage or on a page without a promise from those around me that they have the bandages necessary and will stay with me until I am fully healed. It’s hard to have pride whilst I’m still bleeding inside.
All things considered it’s quite useful to have a medical transition to focus on. I am of the opinion that passability is objective. You either pass as cisgender or you don’t. You either conform to heteronormativity or you don’t. Violence is either a part of your life affecting your wellbeing, choices and access or it is not.
I can now take my dog out,with no makeup on, and walk past a group of teenagers smoking weed and drinking from lager cans and they will leave me alone. I can go and select dresses in Marks & Spencer, queue up with everyone else and try them on with no bother. Do I feel pride? Not quite. After these experiences I walk away and sigh with the exhaustion of a lifetime. The war to be listened to, paid attention to, respected and finally to be left alone to live freely battered the shit out of me. When I was more visibly gender non conformist my embattled position on the queer frontline was so rough it can silence my therapist to hear about it. Often, I feel guilty that I’ve fashioned a peacetime out of my existence. We are all aware the fight isn’t over but my passing privilege has gained me a nice admin spot in the reserves. My desk is my new frontline. From here, I can write the truth of my life in articles and books as well as letters to trans girls in prison just like Sylvia Rivera did.
I used to balk at the respectability politics of the men of The Mattachine Society. I wrote them off as prissy reformists more concerned with showing how well raised and normal they were by ironing their shirts and ties perfectly. I saw myself more in the Screaming Queens that Susan Stryker depicted in her documentary. The three day old regal beehives and crashing crockery that held tea and sticky doughnuts at Compton’s Cafeteria turned me on so much more. The recently told story of Anna Madrigal in Tales of The City of The City compelled me to question my own value system in my too neat romanticisation of the past. This queen screamed at the screen for Anna Madrigal to stay safe at home with her boyfriend, surgery around the corner and compliments from the wives of his colleagues about how lovely her tits were to feed on. In times of hardship, my first inclination is to choose safety. I wanted her to just be proud of how fucking far she had come.
All this has made me realise that if I were at Stonewall I doubt I would would have thrown the first brick. It’s much more likely that I would have chosen nice potted hyacinths and thank you notes on my best stationery to send to Stormy Delavier and Marsha P. Johnson once everything cooled off a bit. I’m actually not a natural revolutionary and I most definitely was not born radical. It takes me a little while to muster up my own courage.
Last year I was a transsexual princess in a tower in middle England. My ex boyfriend came to play with me when he wanted and in trying on a stealth jacket for size I found I couldn’t breathe. I watched Trans Pride on Instagram stories and and mused on what it would be like to live out loud again. This year for Trans Pride I wore slutty pink lingerie and a silk lavender bonnet waving at those below from my bedroom window. What a difference a year makes!
The reality that this pride weekend, living at The Marlborough, fifty years after the Stonewall has caused me to marvel. With David Sheppard as Professor X and Tarik Elmoutawakil as Magneto in a harmonious creative environment I have become truly in control of my powers as a black trans woman. I’ve not got my superhero name down yet. Regardless, with my writing powers, I know for certain that I will always shine brightly in this universe.
p align=”left”>Source: https://www.marlboroughtheatre.org.uk/proud-at-the-marlborough/