August 30, 2005

When I Knew...

Over in LJ-land, our friend goodboi talks about a book he's reading. Called When I Knew, it's a collection of anecdotes from famous queer folk describing when they first realized they were queer.

Among my favorites (of the ones goodboi posted):

"1959. When my name was Hadassah Rosenblum and my father was an Orthodox rabbi, a friend from high school took me to a gay bar in the Village. I didn't know what to expect or exactly what was behind those doors, but I knew a lot of gay bars were mafia run back then. It had red lights everywhere and was real sleazy, but pretty soon a handsome man came over and handed me a red rose with such the same time that I was feeling thrilled and flattered, I was also feeling that this was no man; it was actually a really butch woman named Bobby Alvino. Then it hit me - that made it even better." - Harriet Zaretsky
"I knew at seven. My favorite pastime was shutting my eyes during The Dating Game and listening to the guys' voices to see if my pick would match that of the female contestant. I couldn't wait to grow up and be on the show myself, picking my own bachelor number one, two, or three." - John Bartlett
There's also a real tearjerker from Eddie Sarfaty, but it's long, so you'll have to read it there.

As for me, well ...

I was in two plays at once, and working on my senior thesis to boot, so I had no time for love; I had no time, in fact, for anything. But I found time - by ditching a tech rehearsal for Play #1 - to go to a workshop on bisexuality being held at my university. I was, of course, going because I was a great straight ally. It had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about a castmate from Play #2. A female castmate.

The workshop facilitator mentioned that, when she was in first grade, she followed another little girl around school, wanted to be around her all the time, and was crushed when the other girl didn't want to be her best friend forever. She smiled, looking back on the memory, and said that now that she has adult terms for it, she'd call that girl her first crush.

And, well, it hit me. There was a girl in summer camp - her name was Cat, short for Catherine, but in my head I called her Isobel, too. Within a few days of meeting her, I was dressing like her, emulating her trademark red and black as much as my pre-packed summer-camp wardrobe would allow. But I didn't want to be her; I wanted to be with her. I picked the same activities she picked; I offered to carry her books; I couldn't stop thinking about her even when I left camp at the end of the summer. I wrote poems and stories about her: Quench readers will recognize her as "Catherine" from Issue 1, and the subject of "Snapshot," forthcoming in Issue 3.

And it wasn't just Catherine. There was Diana. And Inna. And Jen. And this castmate of mine. I knew, by the sick feeling I felt in my stomach as I thought about the end of the show, that I didn't want to lose touch with her. And I didn't want to be friends. And the girls in the show who kept looking at me funny and saying "I thought you were supposed to be the straight one" were both more wrong and more right than I had known.

I went after her. And I haven't regretted a single moment since.

Et vous, dear readers? When did you know you were whatever you are?

August 29, 2005

Garden party and Gayville, USA

Hidey-ho from exile! Your fearless correspondent is battling her way through suburbia, where she recently braved that great ritual of the wild bourgeoisie:

The Summer Garden Party!
(cue creepy music)

Don't worry, I survived. I got to wear my pretty new corset and heels - see?

And I chatted up old men about the weather conditions in various American metropoles and grade inflation at Harvard. (Grrr... I wish.)

I will note, however, that this was the only garden party I've ever heard of with a live klezmer band. ('Cause bourgeois doesn't always mean WASP.) It was combined with a bar mitzvah party in honor of one of the hostess' 14 grandchildren - 10 of whom were the offspring of one daughter, a Lebovitch Chabad housewife who moved to Israel to be fruitful and multiply. You'd be proud of me, dear readers - despite all the folks running around in orange bracelets (in opposition to Israel's pull-out from Gaza) your half-Palestinian correspondent managed to keep a civil tongue in her head. (Unfortunately, mine was the only tongue in there.)

In other news, when I was uploading the garden-party photo, I ran across the following:

The logo of the Mass Commission Against Discrimination, spotted in emily0's bank. Further proof that Massachusetts is the gayest. state. ever.

August 26, 2005


no new issue of quench yet. but i need to thank wookiepocket, aka. "mr heathen", for her blinding display of fabulousness. may this brighten your day as much as it did mine.

today at work i am currently wearing:
  1. steel-toed black grinders with red laces, in bad need of a little bootblack attention
  2. dark denim, cuffs rolled bootboy-style to display my boots nicely
  3. red hanky, right pocket, messy presentation
  4. white wife beater with a nice black bra on under
  5. 40s style bib apron with lace touches at the pocket
  6. leather cuff, left wrist
  7. cat's eye glasses, for squinting at computers

watch me as i fuck your archetypes right in the ear.


August 24, 2005

Fetish, much?

So, Em0 was right about us being tortured by our natal families, but Raine and I have agreed that there are perks to being around the Moms. One of these is, well, being bought things. *smile*

Yesterday, my corset fetish ... and my high-heel thing ... got a huge boost. Mumzilla was dressing her little filial Barbie-doll for a garden party this weekend, at which I am supposed to make my society debut and stick it to a snobby friend of her mother's. Which means two new corsets and a pair of four-inch black sandals for me.

More photos will follow, hopefully involving the second corset (off-white, with black lace inset at the bust) and me. ;-)

Anyway. That's the upside. The downside being that I'm apparently only bi to piss her off. (Trust me, dear readers, there are easier ways - although this way has some lovely, kind, intelligent, dead-sexy fringe benefits. *smile*)

August 19, 2005

issh 3 disinfo: ACCVBITVS & other lINgikr`i

[crossposted at w4d ("waiting for dorothy"]

for the pleasure of maudite entendante and raine, who will publish a piece about a fun word, accubitus, which means "to share a bed without humpery", in issue three of QVENCH. (go away, we haven't even finished it. we've only got like 1/5 of the pages we need and everyone is away being tortured by their natal families except for me, so their pages will come via post and or in the beginning of the next month when they get back. so go read issues one and two closely, okay? there's a lot there. subtle, and such. and we spent an awful amount of energy putting them online in superhirez scans anyway.)

first, the actual word and its closest relatives:
  • accubitalia, accubitaliae N F [XXXFS]: a covering spread over dining table couches
  • accubitatio, accubitationis N F [DXXFS]: reclining (at meals), lying (at table)
  • accubitio, accubitionis N F [XXXEO]: reclining (at meals), lying (at table); couch (L+S)
  • accubitorius, accubitoria, accubitorium ADJ [DXXFS]: pertaining to reclining (at table)
  • accubitum, accubiti N N [DXXFS]: couch for large number of guests to recline at meals (triclinium/3 seats)
  • accubitus, accubitus N M [XXXEO]: reclining (at meals), lying (at table); couch/seat; place for a couch (L+S)
  • accubo ADV [XXXFO]: in a prone/recumbent position
this may explain its origin as meaning "without carnal contact": originally, it meant to share a "roman chair" at a banquet, which frequently ended with the whole room sleeping "accubitus" (in their couch-chairs), and hence each couple was not normally to be found in flagrante delicto.

although the greeks had a bad history for orgies with their couch-friend, who was always another male since women could not be around nonfamilial men, and the etruscans had a similar penchant but with women or men, having no fear of their women being around "alien" men.

etruscan tombs usually show the enclosed and loving couple accubitus, sometimes in flagrante delicto. (i was in firenze, sue me for going all etruscan-psychotic.)

compare to the forms in com-:

  • concubatio, concubationis N F [DXXFS]: lying/reclining upon
  • concubeo, concubere, concubui, concubitus V DAT [EXXDW]: lie with (sexual and not); have sexual intercourse with;
  • concubina, concubinae N F [XXXCO]: concubine; kept mistress, one living in concubinage; (milder than paelex L+S)
  • concubinalis, concubinalis, concubinale ADJ [DXXFS]: lascivious, lewd, wanton; voluptuous
  • concubinarius, concubinaria, concubinarium ADJ [EXXFE]: of/related to concubines
  • concubinarius, concubinarii N M [EXXFE]: keeper of concubines
  • concubinatus, concubinatus N M [XXXDO]: concubinage; cohabiting when not married; illicit intercourse;
  • concubinus, concubini N M [XXXCO]: catamite; male paramour; kept man, one who lives in concubinage
  • concubitalis, concubitalis, concubitale ADJ [XXXFO]: relating to sexual intercourse
  • concubitio, concubitionis N F [XXXFO]: sexual intercourse, coitus
  • concubitor, concubitoris N M [XXXFO]: fellow sleeper; sleeping partner; bed fellow/mate; cohabitor; concubine
  • concubitus, concubitus N M [XXXCO]: lying together (sleeping/dining/sex); sexual intercourse, coitus; sexual act
  • concubium, concubii N N [XXXCO]: early night/first sleep/bedtime; sexual intercourse
  • concubius, concubia, concubium ADJ [XXXCO]: of lying in sleep [nox ~ => the early night/first sleep/bedtime]
  • concubo, concubare, concubavi, concubatus V DAT [XXXFO]: lie with (sexual and not); have sexual intercourse with
yeah. slightly different meaning when you change the prefix from "à" to "avec" (or, as we métissantes says, avIk).

oh, and here's the root(s):

  • cubans, (gen.), cubantis ADJ [XXXDO]: lying, resting on the ground; low lying; sagging, sloping, liable to subside
  • cubatio, cubationis N F [XXXFO]: action of lying down
  • cubator, cubatoris N M [DXXFS]: one who lies down
  • cubi ADV [XXXEO]: at any place; on any occasion; [w/ne necubi => lest at any place/occasion]
  • cubicularis, cubicularis, cubiculare ADJ [XXXDO]: of a bedroom, pertaining to a bedroom
  • cubicularius, cubiculari(i) N M [XXXDO]: valet-de-chambre, bed-chamber servant; chamberlain, head of chamber servants
  • cubicularius, cubicularia, cubicularium ADJ [XXXES]: of a bedroom, pertaining to a bedroom
  • cubiculata, cubiculatae N F [XWXFO]: ship equipped with sleeping apartments/staterooms
  • cubiculatus, cubiculata, cubiculatum ADJ [XWXFS]: equipped with sleeping apartments/staterooms (ship)
  • cubiculum, cubiculi N N [XXXBO]: bedroom; sleeping chamber/apartment/suite (as scene of marital/other sex)
  • cubiculum, cubiculi N N [XXXBO]: bed (any sort); any room; Emperor's box; inner shrine of temple; tomb/sepulcher
  • cubile, cubilis N N [XXXBO]: bed, couch, seat; marriage bed; lair, den, nest, pen, hive of bees; base, bed
  • cubital, cubitalis N N [XXXFO]: elbow cushion; cushion for leaning on (L+S)
  • cubitio, cubitionis N F [DXXFS]: reclining/lying down
  • cubitissim ADV [BXXFS]: lying down?
  • cubito, cubitare, cubitavi, cubitatus V INTRANS [XXXCO]: recline, lie down, take rest, sleep; lie down often; lie/sleep (sexual)
  • cubitor, cubitoris N M [XXXFO]: one who lies down; (on the job); (of an ox refusing to work)
  • cubitorius, cubitoria, cubitorium ADJ [XXXFO]: suitable for reclining in at dinner; of a reclining posture (L+S)
  • cubitum, cubiti N N [XXXBO]: elbow; forearm; ulna; cubit (length - 17.4 inches); elbow bend/pipe
  • cubitura, cubiturae N F [XXXFO]: state/action of reclining/lying down/taking rest; bed, couch
  • cubitus, cubitus N M [XXXCO]: state/action of reclining/lying down/taking rest; bed, couch


August 17, 2005

August 16, 2005

VIRGINS, Part the First:
the Virgjineshtë & the Tobelija

so. i've been wrestling myself into circles trying to find a handhold on the seemingly un-pinnable conglomeration of subjects i've been wanting to post about.

i decided to start at the beginning, and the beginning i chose - this being a circular collection of issues, remember - is about the sworn virgins.

you are now wondering what the fuck ms zilch is talking about, right? i mean, what the fuck is a "sworn virgin"? a nun? oh no, my darling quench readers. not nearly.

let us now segue to the balkans. culturally, the balkans is a patchwork of seemingly disparate groups. the clan-based, isolationist, highly sex-divided, highlander culture of what was once the roman empire's wildest province is divided linguistically (albanian, croatian, bosnian-serbian-montenegrin; rroma, greek and rumanian minorities) and religiously (roman catholic, russian orthodox and muslim; also the now-extinct bosnian church).

however, in truth, there is a shared common social culture among albanians and the slavs of the croat, bosnian, serbian, montenegrin and potentially other forms; all of these speak languages related to more familiar languages like english and french (though albanian is probably most closely related to greek and armenian with a significant overlay of ancient latin borrowings and more recent slav ones). beyond common social culture, the ottoman empire held sway over this region for quite a while, and found it a great source for its ruling class, which was composed of children taken from their homes at an early age and raised in groups.

here's the thing: ancient clan law presumes no state. using albanian traditions, for example, the generally accepted social norms are derived from the canon of lek dukagjini, which is in modern terms a brutally barbaric system that prefers death as a punishment for even seemingly small offenses and expects blood-debt. that is, if a member of clan a dies because of clan b, clan a is entitled to murder a random member of clan b in return. let me emphasise that the actual murderer being caught and killed would just be a coincidental; any member of clan b is an acceptable victim.

this code, which is often just called "the Kanun" for short, is lex talionis at its best. while communist leadership kept an iron fist on the country to stop the kanun law from continuing, the fall of communism meant a near-instant return to its standards.

so - what the hell is a "sworn virgin"? well, to be fair the kanun, not everyone is subject to blood-debt. the underage and women, for example, are not permissible targets. they are untouchable. the reason for this, of course, is that only full, adult males are actually people under the law. as is so tiresomely common in eurasia's traditional cultures, women are property.

which brings us to the situation of the virgjineshtë "sworn virgin" - the picture at left of a slav tobelija (their term for it) was published in 1907 by a doctor e schultz in Die Woche – Moderne Illustrierte Zeitschrift, 40. you see, when clans were feuding - and when were they not? never. - adult males were subject to punitive death. that means that a clan under blood debt (as adjudged, mind you, by the other clan) had to secure its adult males else they be murdered. beyond blood-debt, open warfare was also endemic, lack of healthcare was appalling, and the various levies by the ottomans further sapped the families of potential adult males. the result of this situation was that families could be sharply short-handed of adult males to fulfil their social and work roles - a family whose men were all dead had no patriarch as required by the kanun and had no men to do the men's work and defend the homestead from dacoits.

"sworn virgins" were a solution to this problem, one so ancient that the 12th century duke lek dukagjini just took them for granted as part of the natural order of things. either in childhood or later in life, a biological woman had the right (one of her few rights, incidentally) to declare herself publicly a virgjineshtë. henceforth, the vow-taker would take on the rights and responsibilities of a male - except that they did not marry women or engage in sexual contact, nor were they subject to blood debt. they could not be murdered in vengeance, and hence were an excellent solution for a tapped-out clan.

motivations and reasons aren't something i care to speculate about. i dunno how many girl-children were tomboys who donned trousers and started smoking and shooting and running around barefoot because that was their nature and how many were forced into that role. i don't know how many people were gender dysphoric and chose a life of celibacy as a man over a life as someone's woman after they entered puberty. i don't know these things; few tobelija or virgjineshtë have been interviewed about this issue. partially this is because they are a dying breed; partially this is because men don't talk about their emotions; partially, this is because they may not have the words and tools to talk about what they feel or might not want to talk to an outsider about their most sensitive of issues.

the point of this discourse is not just to show that there are transpeople in premodern europe, or a third sex. rather, it is to highlight the role women played in eurasia in general: as property. women are a bottle of wine whose cork must not be popped; this ensures their vintage is untainted - that their wombs aren't carrying another man's baby. sworn virgins could have their freedom once they declared themselves asexual - but they were killed, often by their own kin, if they transgressed these rules. i thought that perhaps i could start talking about the idea of the virgin if i teased out some of these ideas with the strange but also strangely familiar idea of the woman-as-man. we'll see. for now, i'm going to pause in my diatribe, which i hope to continue soon in part the second.

*gasp* Clothing! Awesome clothing!

This post is a direct result of my previous lesbian swan post. Y'see, I was poking around at BrutalWomen, where I got the Boston Globe link, and I clicked on her cafepress button.

Now, we here at Quench Central have been having a lot of fun looking around cafepress lately. For instance, several of us are very fond of:

and simply

But we're wetting ourselves over Brutal Women:

for example, or
or the kick-ass
I know Christmas isn't for a while yet, but ... well, this site will make me easier to shop for. *smile*