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Cultural Criticism on the Empire Builder Trans-Continental Train

I sit in the observation car for a long time, because the scenery is fantastic.  I’ve been on this train for a day and a half–two days and a half if you count the trip from New York to Chicago.  Now I’m going from Chicago to Seattle and there are great stretches of land that look almost flooded, with spines of trees reaching up and what seem to be the remains of shacks or broken boats, but I realize that in fact these are bodies of water, probably the Great Lakes, because we’re coming up on Minneapolis.  It makes me aware of how coastal I am–I know the geography of California and New York, but confronted with Midwestern lakes and rivers I’m–excuse me–all at sea.  When we got onto the train there weren’t two seats open for me and my boyfriend, and I had to sit next to this terrifying piece of cissexuality who made me acutely anxious, but now everything’s ok.

An Amish family has overtaken one of the car’s tables; they play various card games and smile at everyone.  I have the image of the Amish that I guess most people have–quiet, insular, and unfriendly to outsiders–because I’ve seen them once or twice, plus the Harrison Ford movie Witness, so I expect them all to be ice queens of the Kelly McGillis type, but these are friendly and chatty.  They borrow phones, or ask others to talk on the phone for them, so they can communicate with drivers who’ll take them from the train station to their final destination.  There is apparently a large industry of people who drive the Amish.  The more you know.  This particular family has several small girls who traipse around the car smiling under their white bonnets.  The combination of white bonnet and dark-toned simple dresses makes the girls look more delicate than they might look in the jeans or sweats worn by the other little kids on the train.  A boy who I assume is their older brother looks around with the guarded expression of your average male adolescent, and I can’t help wondering about his sexuality, because he’s at the age where he’s just starting to have one, or know that he has one.  Plus I have the well read urban queer’s lust for the rural and straight, where you think about them squirming and gasping and rolling in hay.  This boy’s blond bowl cut unfortunately forestalls the fantasizing I’d normally do with such a Flannery O’Connor-ish ruddy and suspendered masculinity.

After a while, the kids go to bed, and a teenage girl is left sitting across from the bowl cut wearing boy.  They talk occasionally in very quiet voices, and at the table across from them a group of young men are playing cards.  The card playing men have names like Frank and Jim, curse often, and drink from little travel-sized liquor bottles.  They’re playing Texas Hold-‘Em because they figure everyone in the country knows how to play it.  I hear them say this and am acutely aware that I don’t know how to play Texas Hold-‘Em, so much so that I almost want to turn around and say so.  I’m writing a short story about a trans boy in a notebook, though, and our worlds don’t intersect at this time.  The juxtaposition of gambling and cussing and drinking with the Amish adolescents strikes me as funny, in the way that the world organizes itself into tableaux that seem to be establishing scenes in novels.  It’s like the Amish kids are having it explicitly modeled for them just how vain and sinful the world of “the English” is.  (I know from Witness that they call us the English, but on reflection it is very very probable that this is inaccurate.)

We’re late getting into Minneapolis, and I try to get off the train for some air.  The card players do too, and one of them at least is very drunk.  His name is Frank and he keeps trying to get the other one–Jim?  Tad?–into an argument about the 49ers vs. the Green Bay Packers.  We’re in close proximity, waiting for the train doors to open, so we start to talk and I try to make a joke about how little I know of sports–it’s all Greek to me! etc–but it gets subsumed in Frank’s drunken happiness.  He’s pleased, I think, that he’s managing to pass so much of this train ride drunk, playing cards, talking to people he vaguely knows.  This is a kind of happiness specific to the cross country train–just overjoyed not to be bored and insular.  For me, that’s a distillation of what happiness basically is–a loss of interiority, getting to watch lakes go by with other people instead of by yourself.  This might be why I like trains so much.

I’m used to happily drunk straight cis guys on trains, and I actually mind them a lot less than I mind straight cis guys in any other form.  On my last cross country ride, this pair sat across from me–one English guy and one American–and I didn’t even get mad when the American guy suggested I become a magician’s assistant.  “You’d just have to dress up in a cute little outfit,” he said.  This was before testosterone, and I said, “You don’t think I’m a girl, do you?  I’m just a really pretty guy,” and he said, “Can I take a picture of you?”  I said sure, for some reason.  Probably because I was charmed by him–he offered me drinks, though I declined, and his conversation was great–earlier he’d intimated to me that he will never in his life go hungry because of he is willing and able, if needed, to kill and eat deer, squirrels, and other animals.  So somewhere out there is a picture of me taken by that man on his disposable camera, because he was interested in something of what he saw of me from under the bill of his faded blue cap.  Still, at Union Station in LA I walked away from the train fast, made my dad practically run with me to the car, because I was worried he might follow me.  The cis straight guys I talk to on trains are a lot more threatening off trains then on them.  We all deal more easily with what’s liminal when we’re somewhere liminal ourselves, in flux, traveling.

Now, we step off the train into the Minneapolis chill.  Thank god for free air.  Train passengers exchange first names, hometowns, points of origin, destinations, always.  Frank is from Montana, and that’s where he’s traveling home to, to visit his hometown.  He goes to school in Wisconsin, where he’s coming from.  A mom is carrying a kid into the station, and the kid is looking out over her shoulder with the disturbed delight of the very small person.  He points out how cute the kid is, and I completely agree.  He says he’s a kid fanatic, which is a bit creepy until:

“What are you studying?” I ask.  He says, “Elementary education,” which makes it slightly less creepy, although he is still a very drunk man cursing copiously in front of kids, but who can judge upon first acquaintance, so take from all that what you will, I guess is the moral of that story.  “And Native American studies, because in Montana–” he hitches up his whole face and talk-laughs out, “We got a lot of Indians.”  I have no idea what my face did when I heard this remark, but I’m pretty sure I looked exactly as angry as I felt.  He was too drunk to notice.

It’s important to note that he’s also white, as far as I can tell, and working class, as far as I can tell, and I am very aware of my expensive blazer that I’m wearing, and of my expensive education which has helped me learn to feel weird about white guys studying Native American studies because of having “a whole lot of Indians around.”  And then I feel uncomfortable about my brain thinking that my social class has taught me how to interrogate my whiteness, because that plays into classist ideas about the racist “redneck,” and I basically fall into a black hole of thought, and before I know it Frank is talking about his tattoos, because he’s getting an owl tattooed on his side because “the Indians–it symbolizes wisdom, and for them that’s actually a female trait.”  He has more, religious stuff, Catholic, a cross on his arm that he shows me, and a big back piece featuring the Virgin which he doesn’t.  He’s getting half his back done in Catholic iconography and half Native American.  He says “Northeastern,” and that’s as specific as he gets.

After I ask what he studies I tell him I study poetry, and he says, “I fucking love poetry!” with lit up eyes and a huge smile.  It is very hard for a poetry student not to enjoy someone who reacting to their studies like that.  And at tattoos, I mention how much I enjoyed watching my ex-boyfriend get tatted with a tarantula.  I look away from him as I say it, not deliberately, but my unconscious motivation is I can only assume not to see his hypothetical flinch at the word “ex-boyfriend.”  The conversation continues and we talk about the tattoo my ex got and its meaning, and whether or not he flinched when I looked away he doesn’t seem discomfited.  Which leaves a variety of options, including but not limited to a) he is drunk, so my queerness didn’t, ahem, penetrate; b) he is totally down with queer stuff; c) he is homophobic and hiding it well out of tact, kindness, or one of the other many possible reasons.  My guess is it’s some combination of options b and c.

I came out to a woman on my last cross country train, while we stood in the dusk somewhere in Indiana, and she assured me everyone in my life would come around.  She was middle-aged and kind and had long dirty blonde hair; she was moving back West to live with her well-monied daughter because she had lost her own job, and she could help take care of her sisters’ kids.  She also served as a buffer between me and the more rambunctious able-to-kill-and-eat-deer photographer guy.  I have done her a great disservice in forgetting her name.

I get back onto the train when Frank goes in to buy chips at the station.  It’s dark inside; they’ve shut down power so as to connect with another car, and my boyfriend is asleep.  I sit down next to him for a while and write.  During my layover in Chicago, where I have just left, I got to see Jamie, who mentioned that he loves watching movies with cultural studies people.  I would like to tell Jamie–and probably will, when I see him again on the Chicago layover on the way back–that taking trains is Candyland if you’re into cultural studies.  People just open out to be dissected, like Frank, with his appropriative tattoo plans and affection for poetry and willingness to accept the fact that I have an ex-boyfriend; like the guy who wanted to photograph my body because he’d misread it and luxuriated in that misreading.

Or–here, I’ll tell you a really good one–one time, there was the guy I talked to for like an hour and a half, and his daughter.  He was in agriculture, and disparaged me for spending all my time on the coasts.  “See the middle of the country!  All that stuff you call flyover,” he said.  He’d been in some vaguely colonial line of work in South Africa which he did not explain to me fully, but when I told him how I was reading Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi he went into a long diatribe about how Africans didn’t know anything about agriculture and how that was the reason for famine in postcolonial countries.  I was fresh out of my first real education on postcolonial discourse, and I lit into him for that, but his daughter–probably about fifteen, and interested in studying sustainable agriculture–wanted to talk about the Vampire Chronicles.  This guy, splendidly enough, turned out to be way into Anne Rice, and his favorite was The Vampire Lestat, and he had only the first knuckle of his left middle finger.  I cannot recommend trains over airplanes highly enough, if you are into people.  Everyone has these infinitely complex lives, and a lot of them are incredibly fucked up, but on trains you end up talking to them about Lestat of all things, and as I remember it all three of us found common ground in talking shit about Twilight, which might actually be in this day and age the great equalizer.

I know that not everyone has the privilege to let this stuff roll off their back.  I am white; Frank’s talk of his tattoo does not make me unsafe.  Some of it does not roll off my back–the people who are looking at my body and staring at my gender, for instance, but a lot of it does.  I try to be Isherwood-esque about it–a camera, because these privileges enable me to see and record certain things–I’m trying to give you some idea of the lens of this camera, and where the photographer’s privileges enable him to place it.  I guess it’s worth noting how disability works with trains, too–they’re way better for my anxiety than planes are.  Although as far as I can tell trains aren’t accessible to people who use wheelchairs, a guy who uses a cane and deals with seizures tells me that his disability prohibits him from taking planes, and he’s grateful for Amtrak in this regard.

It’s possible that Frank will go out to Alaska, where he tells me they’ll pay for his college if he goes to teach, and have some revelatory educational experience with something he reads or someone he meets, and get a clue about why saying “I love Native Americanism” is a problem.  Hopefully he won’t get the tattoo.  It’s possible that the sustainability-loving daughter of the agriculture worker who loves Lestat will read Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance and start huge fights with her dad over the Thanksgiving dinner about his bullshit racist colonial ideals.  It’s possible that the guy I ran away from at Union Station will have a niece or nephew or brother or sister come out as trans, and will go to an ally workshop and really internalize it, and will join Trans Youth Family Allies and spend time saying to other cis people, “Hey, how the hell do you think that person felt when you told them they were in the wrong bathroom? Have some respect.”

And I will keep going, doing this, whatever it is: noting the people around me, careful to be critical of what I see and what I think and feel.  I will remember that the train I ride today, will ride tomorrow and the next day, is called the Empire Builder, and as I look at the beautiful country I travel through I will remember by what violence I came to look at it.  I like living at the intersection of literature and social justice; after all, I’m in damn good company here, and I get that cool understanding of everyone as an infinitely complex human being that I think literature offers like nothing else.  I think that this is probably what I am supposed to be doing, meeting people and talking to them.  I didn’t talk to Frank about his tattoo or his ideas this evening, because he was awfully drunk and awfully cis, but we will be on this train for two days more.  I don’t think I can change those ideas, to be honest, but I can keep on talking to people, so I will.


Queer Failure & Anxiety

It’s May, and I’m traveling cross country on the Amtrak, sitting in the observation car watching what is probably Wisconsin go by.  In the past year, I’ve finished my sophomore year of college, decided that I’ll be getting my first apartment come fall, become a writer whose work people actually read, and published what is by my standards almost nothing.  This blog, let’s be honest, can hardly be called a blog.  I post every few months if that.  And before we get back to our regular program–doesn’t it seem like I’m always saying that? what the hell is our regular program?–I want to talk a little bit about fluidity, anxiety, and failure.

It’s not a phase; I’m really like this; I really do identify this way; this identity is valid because of its stasis–those sentiments have been my refrain ever since I came out as queer.  My first coming out, incidentally, was as bisexual, which I’m not.  I knew something queer was going on, and I misinterpreted a desire to articulate as male with a desire to kiss girls.  You can see how that might happen, in an aggressively heteronormative world, right?  And there I am, trying to justify myself, and my whole point here is that no one should have to justify their queer identity.

When I came out as bisexual as a barely-a-teenager, I was told I didn’t know what my sexual orientation was and I needed to take more time to figure it out before I “came out.”  It was the first obvious manifestation in my life of an important lie: that any true stasis is possible in terms of identity.  That lie has affected me enormously; you can see it in how I write, my obsessive use of qualifiers: maybe, enormously, quite, really, actually–it’s as though I feel the need to tell my reader I might be wrong and please not to be offended if I am.

There are a couple silent messages embedded in, “You should wait to come out until you’ve thought more.”  Firstly, that I shouldn’t come out unless I absolutely had to, because the consequences of coming out would be ruinous if not.  Why would you let people think you were queer if it still might turn out out that–thank God!–you weren’t?  Keep the secret that you’re unsure and maybe it will all go away and we’ll never have to talk about it.  Secondly, it carries the message that anyone‘s identity is totally static.  I feel pretty secure in my identity as a gay trans man–I mean, I’ve plastered it all over my bio here and my friends all know it and both “gay” and “trans” are important signifiers for me in my social life–but I’m not so arrogant as to think that I know myself completely.  There may yet be unplumbed depths in my young self!  Identity is fluid–in the millennial queer world, that’s a truism, but it’s one we forget almost because we say it so often.  As so often in radical political discourse, it’s as though we’ve decided that repetition of a concept exempts us from its practice.

What the hell harm does it do a person to come out as something and then eventually come out as something else, something contradictory?  I haven’t noticed any harm done me by it.  This idea–that we have to know exactly who we are before we speak on anything–exists in infinite iterations, though I think it hits young queers particularly hard because of preconceived notions adults have about young people’s sexual and gender identities.  There’s the version of the idea that says that a queer teen isn’t allowed to say they’re bisexual until they have double triple checked (and probably not even then), or that a trans person isn’t allowed to ask for respect in their gender until it’s been a certain amount of years since they first came out, or that–and obviously this is different–you can’t really say you enjoy an author’s style until you’ve read his whole body of work plus all the articles you could find on JSTOR, or that you can’t publish blog posts until you’ve worked out all your political thoughts because otherwise they’ll be bad and people will think you’re a dilettante kid whose work is only being read because his mom and dad are famou–oh hey.

So there you go.  I’ve been completely freaking out due to an irrational conviction that I have to develop a complete and static set of opinions.  Which is impossible, and which no one ever does ever.  Especially not smart people.  I was going on about this on Twitter (I go on about a lot of things on Twitter) one day, when Reina Gossett pointed out to me the value of queer failure.  Specifically, she said, queer failure is anti-capitalist.  That made me think of how much I hate the contemporary images of queer success.  It made me think about how I evaluate my success.  Capitalism demands we produce consistently, and it demands we produce simple ideas, because complexity takes time, and time is money.  I don’t make any money off this blog, but I’m not so naïve as to think that this blog isn’t part of what will some day be a “career,” or at least will be called one.  I mean, it’s on my résumé for certain jobs.

These days, I don’t believe in the “career activist,” but it would be foolish for me to assume that my political work didn’t inform how people understand me as a professional entity.  And since my professional life is probably going to take place in universities, where I’d try to teach and research in an activist way–well, it’s all complicated, and guess what–I don’t have to decide what I think right now!  It’s still good for me to talk about it, to get it out there, to allow ideas room to grow and change.

Capitalism tries to silence complexity so that the cycle of production can continue uninterrupted, and queer failure is complex.  My failure to know my sexual identity fully at fourteen–but is that really failure? and then again, what exactly would constitute a real and complete failure? are there any one doesn’t grow from?–was complex; it involved the oscillations of my gender identity and also a poignant story of two Conan Doyle-fixated adolescents at Shakespeare camp and in love which I’ll maybe tell you one day but not right now.  My failures now are complex: I fail to produce definite opinions about the Haas convening and what my place in it was; I fail to decide not only what I think but what I will always think about Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage; I fail to eliminate nuance in my thinking, and the only solution I can come to in my anxiety is silence.  So I don’t write the blog post about Haas; I don’t write the blog post about Obama’s endorsement and what it means for the US’s neocolonial pinkwashing; I stay silent and occasionally natter on Twitter.

I’m over that now, or I want to be.  That review of Speakeasy that I promised you forever ago?  It’s coming.  That post on Obama?  Will come to you probably directly after this one, both whenever I’ve got wifi on this cross country train trek.  I’m sick of being silent because the world tells me that queers have to have one set of ideas, one identity, or none at all.  I’m buying various lip tars, reading Portrait of a Lady, and embracing the fact that stasis is a lie.  I hope you find a way to do the same–I mean, with the last one.  The lip tars and the Henry James are strictly optional.


I have nothing valuable to say here other than that you should click here.

Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald is a young African American transgender woman who is charged with two counts of “second degree murder” after an incident that began when she was violently assaulted because of her gender and race. We say NO to racism and transphobia, and call on HennCo Attorney Mike Freeman to DROP THE CHARGES!

Her trial starts today.  Be aware; try to help.

Transparency, Ms. Magazine, and the Media

Hey everyone!  It’s been a while–as it turns out, being a college student requires a great deal of time and intellectual energy!  But we have something we need to talk about.

Recently, I was approached by Avital Norman Natham at Ms. Magazine about being included in a series of blog posts she’s creating for Ms. called “The Femisphere.”  She’s highlighting the oft overlooked sections of the feminist blogging world–mama bloggers, for example–and plans to create a post about trans feminist bloggers soon.  She’d like me to be included.  We would be doing a roundtable discussion with other trans bloggers about trans feminism on the internet, as far as I can see.

Now, I’m a fairly intelligent trans guy with a blog who has read a lot of bell hooks and Judith Butler, but there are a lot of those, and let’s be real: if I weren’t the son of actors, I probably would not receive an invitation to participate in this.  (Or maybe I would and that’s self doubt talking, but either way, that’s the feeling I get.)  I don’t want to behave in an entitled manner.  I don’t want to strut into the world expecting people to listen to what I have to say when I am working my thoughts out and unlearning my fucked up shit just as much as the next white guy.

I have other concerns about working with Ms, or indeed most outlets that aren’t my blog–on top of not wanting to appear entitled, with Ms. there’s a long history of transmisogyny to consider.  (To be clear–in our correspondence, Avital has owned this fact about the magazine and expressed the desire to fix the problem.  The last thing I want to do is be unpleasant about Avital, who was very kind even to ask me to participate here.)  One of the magazine’s cofounders, Gloria Steinem, was and to all appearances still is a committed transmisogynist.  I say this as someone who’s valued her non-trans related work over the years, mind you, but the woman said stuff like this:

Instead of serving more lifesaving but often less lucrative needs for their surgical and hormone-therapy skills, some physicians are aiding individuals who are desperately trying to conform to an unjust society. It’s a small group of successful physicians she [Janice Raymond] names ‘the transsexual empire’.

And that essay’s still out there, being published and distributed in editions of Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.  Of course, institutions can move beyond their roots, but it’s hard.  For example, my now heavily granola crunchy college was founded by a committed sexist and racist, and while much has changed, it’s still a place where students of color are frequently erased, ignored, and disrespected; it still remains economically inaccessible to many due to (I’m not kidding) the explicit and profoundly fucked up intentions of our asshole founder.  So you see what I mean about institutions, participating in them, and considering critically to what degree one should participate.

More recently, Ms. published this blog post about the apparent “conundrums” in trans feminism.  It’s written by a cis woman–WHY?!–and, as I remarked on Twitter, one only finds conundrums in trans feminism if one admits the possibility that trans women may not be women, in which case HI YOU’RE A TRANSMISOGYNIST do not pass go do not collect 200 anti-capitalist intersectionality points.  But then!  They published this dazzling rebuttal by Julia Serano, so there is room to grow in terms of Ms. dealing with their transmisogyny and unfucking what’s fucked up.

So what do you think?  I really want to be transparent with my readers and have a symbiotic relationship with you all.  Avital has been very kind to me in terms of how much I insist on thinking about doing things like this, and I appreciate that.  (She was referred to me by the sparkly Avory Faucette, who organizes #transchat and #queerchat on Twitter, and is absolutely magic.)

Right now, here’s what I’m thinking:  Am I the voice that’s needed here?  Can I maybe be just one voice among many?  The majority of those voices need to be trans women, because those are the voices that need to be heard in trans feminism most.  (If there aren’t more trans female voices involved in this roundtable than people of other identities, I am not okay with doing it, to be totally clear.)  So tell me what you think.

Can I help here?  What should I do?


ETA: I’ve ended up deciding to participate, based on my own thoughts about it and your input.  It looks like the trans female voices are going to way outnumber the male ones, thankfully, plus some non-binary representation!  Thank you all for being so affirming and willing to help me out with decisions!

Bill O’Reilly’s comments on Miss Universe as an object lesson on transmisogyny

I have posts coming down the line–one about the Haas convening in Houston, a movie review, and so forth–but this sparkling example of transmisogyny just came into my field of vision, and I’ve just got to talk about it.

You’ve heard that Jenna Talackova wants to compete for Canada in Miss Universe, and that she’s been rejected because of her trans status.  I don’t want to judge women who choose to compete in pageants–it’s their right to do anything they choose with their bodies.  Nonetheless, it’s inarguable that pageants are patriarchal.  The judges examine women’s bodies in a way that’s often compared to cuts of meat.  They judge women’s worth on the basis of how well they perform a certain constricting femininity, one that is designed to please men.  The contestants aren’t just asked to mold their bodies to please men, but their personality, their way of speaking–there are categories in pageants to determine whether a woman has an “acceptable” conversation style or “acceptable” opinions.

Under these circumstances, you may not be so surprised to hear that Bill O’Reilly favors including trans women in Miss Universe.

This is what transmisogyny looks like.

O’Reilly has mocked trans folks before, comparing us to ewoks, saying in reference to gender presentation in the workplace, “If your name is Fred, you can’t look like Dolly Parton.”  But when a trans woman seeks to involve herself in a patriarchal project like a pageant–O’Reilly is all over it.  All of a sudden instead of comparing trans people to aliens, he’s asking, “What right does the Miss Universe pageant have to violate this lady’s right to be a woman?”  Of course, the moment Talackova’s performance of womanhood dissatisfies O’Reilly again–the moment she thinks for herself–mark my words, he’ll be on the air saying that she’s gone too far.

This is because O’Reilly believes that women should not have autonomy, and trans women even less so.  What he has proven here is that trans women can only get even a particle of respect from him–oh, he still mocks Talackova’s identity in the clip, mind you–if they perform femininity to exact patriarchal specifications.

God forbid, though, that trans women present in too feminine a style–as indicated by O’Reilly’s older comment on “Dolly Parton”–then, they’ll be the object of O’Reilly’s disdain again.  This is part of the misogynistic pathologization of femininity on a larger societal scale, but especially, and in its most deadly context, when femininity appears on a male-assigned body.

And this is how most people think about trans women’s bodies and lives!  How insidious.  I hope this helps you to understand how transmisogyny works–that it is different from cissexism or transphobia.  To me, O’Reilly seems like a good object lesson.

UPDATE: According to Jenny Boylan’s tweets (and I trust her), Miss Universe has decided they’ll include Talackova after all.  This will be very interesting to watch!  What if I livetweeted Miss Universe?  I’m pretty sure that would end in tears.


UPDATE, the revenge: They’re considering including her again, but haven’t decided.  Donald Trump apparently has strong opinions.  Strange bedfellows.

We Happy Trans 7 Questions Video!

Houston Queer Blogging Meet-Up!

This year I’m attending the 3rd Annual Haas Convening of LGBT journalists, editors, and bloggers, which I’m excited about!  We’ll be hearing and talking a lot about the GOP election, with I think a strong focus on combating the idea that visible queerness harms children.  I’ll probably write something about the experience, and will certainly be livetweeting many of the events, if that interests you.  It’ll be particularly interesting because I’ll be interacting with a lot of smart and experienced queer folks whose politics are pretty dissimilar from mine, which I figure will be a good growing experience.

If you’re in Houston or the surrounding area, the Bilerico Project is co-hosting a meet-up with Joe.My.God, and you should come on over!  It’s on Saturday, March 24 at 8 PM, at JR’s in the Montrose district.  (I don’t know where that’s at, because I’ve never been to Houston before and am winging it directions-wise.)  I’m guessing that the tone of this meet-up, like other online meetups, is informal and chill–we’ll chat about blogging and queer issues, get to know each other outside of the internet, that kind of thing.  If you’re going to be there, I’d love to meet you and talk!  I will be the awkward brunette guy in workboots.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Like I said, I’ve never been to Houston before, and as it turns out, JR’s is a bar.  So I may not be able to attend, seeing as I’m only twenty years old.  (I was the youngest person at Haas, haha.)  I’ll keep you updated via Twitter!