What I Learned From Coming Out As Androgynous

For those of you that follow my antics on Twitter, you may be very well aware that I recently came out as androgynous. And honestly, it’s been a long time coming.

I’ve always known that this was a critical part of myself since I was roughly five years old; I recognized parts of myself that were equally masculine and feminine. I questioned why boys and girls weren’t allowed to dress or act in certain ways and didn’t buy into the excuses they gave. I envied androgynous celebrities like David Bowie, Prince, and Joan Jett for allowing themselves the freedom to be whatever they wanted. In fiction, I naturally gravitated to characters that danced between or outright rejected the gender binary.

Part of me is still fluid in terms of gender identity; I just feel more girly or more macho on some days than I do others. But the case remains that whether I look like a host(ess) at a swanky club, …

… your oddly hip-and-with-it aunt, …

… or like someone spliced the genetic material of Daria Morgandorfer and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, …

I feel the most ‘in-my-element’ when I can play and toy with gender roles.

And, like any person exploring their identity freely for the first time, I’ve been quick to take notes on what things feel like and how to get the most enjoyment out of myself as I come into my own. So today, I’ll be sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned about myself over the last few weeks as I continue to explore myself.

But, before I start, I realize that my experience may not match your own. You could do all of the things I do and get a completely different result. But that’s what identity exploration is all about. It’s about finding out where the best you lies and expressing it. So, I hope that sharing my personal reflections will encourage others to begin exploring and find their ideal self.

So, let’s start with the most obvious realization I’ve had since coming out…

I feel WAY more confident in social settings

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course you’d feel better and act more confidently when you like who you are. But what took me off guard was just how much of a confidence boost I got from being open.

I’ve been smiling a lot more often, my stride is taller and more powerful, and I have almost no problems confronting people with problems. It’s as if those few brushes of eyeshadow and lipstick are the much-needed war paint to give me the physical presence I need to march on to the social battlefield with pride.

Of course, confidence CAN be a double-edged sword, because…

I’m more tempted to tell people what I ACTUALLY think of them

With an untempered boost in confidence comes a feeling of indestructibility. And with my new found confidence, I’ve had to work much harder to keep my attitude in check.

This isn’t a wholly bad thing; my freshly unchained savage self has done a good job of removing many of the more toxic elements of my social life that have been plaguing me for years. However, I realize that there are still some bridges that need to go unburnt (at least for now) and I find myself straining at my self-imposed leash wanting nothing more than to verbally destroy the poor unfortunate soul by telling them all the ways they’ve been screwing the pooch for as long as I’ve known them.

It’s almost as if my ego was a puppy whose owners – negative influences in my life if we’re continuing this metaphor – beat and abused me trying to make me act like the dog THEY wanted. Now, I’ve come out as a 120-pound Rottweiler that just wants to stop the abuse. Of course I bit you as soon as my kennel was opened; YOU WOULDN’T STOP HITTING ME WITH THE GODDAMN NEWSPAPER.

But let’s be real, those people are thankfully few and far between. Because much to my surprise…

People actually ADORE the “new” me

I’m thankful to live in a time where androgynes and androgynous people – androgynous women, in particular – are seeing a level of acceptance in media not seen since the 80’s (seriously, have you noticed how many women in film and television are rocking shaved/buzzed heads, minimal makeup, and plain clothes in the last decade or so?). As a result, not only have most people accepted me for what I am, they’ve ENCOURAGED me to keep exploring myself.

They love seeing me in full makeup, they tell me that they appreciate how tastefully I dress and carry myself, and they even share styling tips – offering to give me makeovers.

Even the people that weren’t accepting at first often come around when I confront them and force them to ask me questions rather than make assumptions and/or gossip with others behind my back (I’m actually quite open as long as you’re respectful; ask me anything).

Of course, one of the biggest questions I’ve been getting is the old stand-by, “are you a boy or a girl?” And in reflecting on that question, I’ve discovered that…

I really don’t put much stock in gender pronouns

I’ve never really seen myself in terms of gender. I’m far more likely to label myself as ‘human’ before I do the same with ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

Plus, there’s the aforementioned fluidity issue. There are some days where my masculinity takes dominance and others where it steps aside to let my feminitiy shine. So settling on a black-and-white man or woman label just feels disingenuous.

So, while I do respect that some non-binary people have preferred pronouns and I try to avoid misgendering wherever and whenever possible, I personally don’t get hung up on them. If you see me as a dude who just happens to be good with makeup, you’re correct. If you see me as a six-foot-four, 250-pound amazon of a woman, you’re correct. If you see me as a very pretty Lego brick, YOU. ARE. CORRECT.

Basically, I’m the closest you’ll likely ever get to seeing NiGHTS in real life (Yes, NiGHTS was meant to be gender fluid).

And seeing as how I’ve been rambling for longer than I think I ever have here on The Archive, I now turn the floor over to you. Share your coming out stories and the realizations you made as you explored your own identity so we can encourage and inspire more in the future.

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Archive News: EVERY DAMN THING IS PAIN

Oh my twonking little pig, I think I’m dying.

I literally just woke up about an hour ago and I can’t remember being in this much pain. I have a searing headache so bad my vision is blurring, I can barely keep my morning coffee down through my churning stomach pains, and I still have painful muscle cramps from a losing fight earlier this week with a snowblower.

Bottom line, It’s taking all my strength to even SEE what I’m typing let alone form a cognizant thought. I’ll be back next week after I get better from this case of Oh-God-Please-Have-Mercy-On-My-Soul.

Much love. See you next week.

The Agent on The Florida Shooting and Gun Control (AGAIN)

I’m getting really sick of having to look at this same image every few months in this country.
Source: New York Times

Well, here we go again.

I know I already made my statement on where I stand on gun control some time ago… multiple times, as a matter of fact. But given how the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida is one of the most lethal in recent history, I feel we need to bring it up again.

Yes, I understand that this is still a very recent tragedy and that the emotional wounds are still raw. However, I honestly believe that we owe it to the 17 innocent kids from Florida and the hundreds of others in our country that have been brutally cut down in a hail of gunfire in recent years to have this talk to protect future lives.

As I’ve made clear in the past, I’m not for gun bans – I’m for gun CONTROL. The gun, especially the modern assault firearm, is a very useful tool that has the unfortunate capacity to claim multiple lives in a near instant. The incident at Stoneman Douglas High School is just the most recent example of how we have too many people who lack too little empathy to be trusted with such a massive responsibility.

I feel I can safely say that I have yet to hear a sound argument against tighter gun laws.

“But places with strict gun laws have higher homicide rates.”

Yes, some of them do because of factors like economic status and general education levels. But this isn’t about stopping murders altogether because that would be logistically impossible. This is about denying those with an inclination to kill a means of doing so more efficiently. I think we can all agree that stopping a single victim knife-murderer is both easier and more preferable than a shooter with an AR-15 that destroys lives numbering into the double digits before anyone can respond.

“But Switzerland has mandatory gun laws and they never have mass shootings.”

Not true on multiple counts. Firstly, guns are only mandatory with military service; you have to have served first before they hand you a firearm. Otherwise, you must obtain a ‘weapon acquisition permit’ that requires a valid ID, a residence address, and a clean criminal record no older than three months. And even then, automatic firearms are still prohibited.

As for gun violence, despite having much lower gun death rates than the U.S., Switzerland still struggles with its gun culture. Much like us, Swiss historians believe that it was an armed citizenry that discouraged direct attacks during World War II. But they are struggling to keep track of military-issued weapons which contributes to gun violence in the country.

“But owning a gun is an American right.”

Yes, and that’s what we’re arguing about. You think it’s an inalienable right, I think it’s an earned privilege. And if someone abuses that privilege or are inclined to abuse that privilege, they should have it taken away for the safety of those who know how to handle that kind of power properly. It’s a simple system that every movie geek like myself is familiar with – “Bust a deal; Face the wheel.”

Look, I get that gun culture is a proud American tradition. But the thing about traditions is that they grow stale and outdated as time passes and our understanding of the world changes. As such, it’s our duty to call traditions – major and minor alike – into question when they can be used to the detriment of another. Remember; public executions and slave ownership used to be traditions.

So, while you all heal from this latest tragedy, I hope you continue to find the strength to make your voices heard – to stop the violence for the memory of those lost and the future of those we don’t want to lose.

The Agent Reviews a Game: Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack

This blank, boring promo offend ALL of my senses as a graphic designer. But as for the game…
Source: Google Play

Well, color me surprised. Here I am, hunting for the ONE good mobile I can enjoy, and it was hiding right in front of me.

In my defense, everything about Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack screamed, “don’t play this; it’s garbage and we REALLY didn’t care about it beyond a paycheck.” Every piece of promotional material attached to this game is some of the most bland-looking, generic marketing wank I’ve ever seen. Even the title is so generic, I had to review and analyze screenshots like they were courtroom evidence just to make sure I wasn’t looking at footage from a different, equally generic looking game.

That said, when I actually got to playing it, I was surprised at how well it held up.

As the title ham-fistedly tells us, Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack is a space-themed shooter. You may recall my frothing at the mouth rage towards the last mobile shooter I played. Well, I was able to detect a trace of enjoyability through my fury-blurred vision and decided to look for other shooters to try in the hope that they would correct the mistakes of Fastlane. And, for the most part, Space Shooter nailed it.

The controls are AMAZINGLY responsive. My main problem with  Fastlane was that it didn’t actually track your finger which led to a lot of easily avoidable deaths. Space Shooter wins by default by having your ship lock to where ever you tap your finger, allowing for tight maneuvers and rapid response to threats.

And by god are their threats to be had. This game is just shy of a Touhou Project level bullet hell shooter – especially when you get to the boss fights and SUPER ESPECIALLY in Boss Fight Mode when they get amped up to eleven.

Oh yeah, there are multiple modes to play. There’s a ‘story mode’ (in the loosest sense as there is no plot) with three difficulty levels -Normal, Elite and Veteran. Boss Fight Mode has you rechallenging the bosses in the story with new ridiculous firing patterns that put your skills to the test, the Arena and Trial Modes give you a chance at snagging glory on a global leaderboard, and Endless Mode gives you a chance to grind some coin out of the alien menace to upgrade your ships.

Honestly, speaking of Endless Mode, that may be my only hang up with this game so far. Endless mode is WAY too easy. With a fully powered-up ship, I can cruise through over 200 waves while barely even touching the screen to steer. It’s pretty obvious that it exists only for level grinding.

Really, the thing you’re going to want to play this game for is the PvP. Yeah, this has a competitive multiplayer mode where you and a friendly rando from around world race against the clock to snatch the highest score. I thought it was totally mindless at first, but there’s actually a fair amount of strategy involved. What the fastest way to clear this wave to pull ahead of your opponent? Do you stick with your favorite ship to clear waves faster or grab the ship change power-up for a quick point boost?

As for the ads and pay-to-win shenaniganry I railed against in my Fastlane review, they are all completely optional here. Yes, there are buttons urging you to buy other games everytime you die, but they’re incorporated into the game over screen directly so as to be as unintrusive as possible. And if there ARE long video ads to watch, the game gives you the option to ignore them if the promise of extra coins or reviving your ship doesn’t appeal to you. Even the prices in the in-game store were more than fair; the starter pack is a steal at 99 cents.

This isn’t the sort of game that will hold me for long periods of time and it doesn’t compare to the big budget or even indie PC games I prefer to spend my time on. That said, I can’t state enough just how amazed I was that this seemingly hokey game that looked like it was made just to rake in a quick buck turned out so good. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good mobile game to hold you on a long road trip or waiting room visit.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that the ol’ chestnut of ‘less is more’ really does hold true in the mobile gaming market.

Archive News: Buy Me A Cup O’ Ko-Fi!

Sorry, field operatives. It seems I’ve hit a bit of a creative slump this week in terms of writing. I knew I shouldn’t have wasted all my creative energy on making that HUGE ground sirloin burger stuffed with mozzarella and bacon and topped with fried pastrami, a parmesan cheese crisp, and pickles.

To be fair though, it WAS an intensely delicious burger.

That said, I DID vow that I was going to try to find new ways to grow and expand this little project of mine while better supporting myself. And by gum, I’m making progress.

See, I’ve been wanting to set up a way for readers to support my writings for some time without having to strongarm them into a subscription service or forcing me into a rigid schedule – both directly opposing my laissez-faire approach to business practices.

So, I’ve finally decided to go a different route; you can just buy me a coffee!

Ko-Fi is, in essence, a digital tip jar. If you enjoy reading my brain droppings every week, you can go to my Ko-Fi page at ko-fi.com/awkwardagent to leave some scratch to show your appreciation. You can give as much or as little as you feel my weekly thought dumps are worth (in three dollar increments) as often as you deem appropriate. No subscriptions, no hassling, just direct support for the kind of semi-serious, occasionally geeky, thought-provoking writing you enjoy reading and I enjoy writing.

We’ll be back on schedule next week. In the meantime, please give my other articles a look-see. Last week’s offering on the horrible misunderstanding between the drag and transgender communities got a lot of love, so I encourage you to give that a look. And if you enjoyed that and other articles, please consider donating to my Ko-Fi page to support more good stuff.

Thank you all for your continued support!

The Agent on Trans-Visability, Drag, and a Horrible Misunderstanding

In the words of the photographer, my home state is primarily, “…covered bridges and drag queens.” (Side note: the model’s name is Porcia J. Chanel and she is gorgeous)
Source: American Society of Picture Professionals

So, you want to know something that’s been eating me alive for the past week or so?

I have a lot of very close friends in the transgender community. Like, A LOT of very close friends. They made up some of my most trusted confidants in college, one of them is an amazing teacher/writer, and I still try to keep them close even after graduation made us part ways. I would break myself to do anything for them if they asked me personally.

I also have close ties with the drag scene. I got started in early college doing drag for charity for the American Cancer Society (you speak to a two-time Mz. Relay winner, for the record). It then carried over into a later college acting career where my role in the dinner theatre mystery Murder at Rutherford House as the bubbly maidservant Ruby Pinkbottom was widely regarded as my best work ever. It allowed me to acknowledge the fluidity of my identity as well as a repressed feminine side of myself that, if I can be honest with you all, I feel I’ve been neglecting the last few years and really want to get back into the show.

So, considering my undying affection for these two factions of people, you can imagine how hurt I was to be told that drag shows hurt trans-visibility by delegitimizing transgender issues.

I won’t lie; when I first heard that, I had an existential crisis. I broke down crying because I cared so much about both of these aspects of myself that seemed to be at odds with each other in the eyes of those I cared for.

But, after a few days of rest and a daily regiment of herbal stress relievers and vitamin D supplements, I was able to sort out the information and I think (keyword: THINK) I understand where the confusion lies.

On a quick glance, I will grant you that the average drag show does look like a bunch of straight cis-gender dudes imitating and, by extension, mocking the trans community to someone viewing the action with no context. But thinking like this disregards the hefty number of transgender women that comprise a large section of the drag community. To demonize drag in this way is to throw many of the very same transgender folks you’re defending under the bus.

And even if there were absolutely no overlap between drag and trans, you still have to consider the number of non-binary and gender fluid people that use drag as a means of truly free self-expression – non-binary performers like the incomparable Jinkx Monsoon and gender fluid people like, you know, ME.

Drag should always be about inclusiveness regardless of how you identify yourself. To me at least, it’s about separating femininity/masculinity from gender identity and viewing it as something wholly beautiful and even artistic. That’s why there’s a big hullabaloo about whether or not cis-gender women should be allowed to perform in drag shows (I’m personally for it, even though I feel it’s a bit redundant).

And before anyone says anything, yes; I’m well aware that the queen of queens RuPaul said some rather dishearting things about transgender people claiming that the only thing that separates them from drag is, “about twenty-five thousand dollars and a good surgeon,” – a statement that totally insults the trans folks that can’t afford hormone replacement and gender reassignment surgery. But let’s be brutally honest with ourselves here; Ru is NOT a good role model for either community. She’s a shock jock that says horrible things and throws shade at everyone because she knows it will keep her in the spotlight for a little while longer and stave off the effects of being an outdated antique in the drag world. You hear me, Ru – you are the Daniel ‘Keemstar’ Keem of drag queens and you’re making the rest of us look bad by association.

So, in closing, no – drag is not, nor was it ever meant to be, a slanderous statement against trans-people and if something should happen in the future to change its meaning for the worse, I will burn my dresses, throw away my makeup, and flush my nail polish down the drain never to return. Until then, let us all take pride – not in who we are – but in who our brothers and sisters are. For we are all works of art that we have spent years crafting through the torturous trials that life uses to impede the creation of our magnum masterpiece and we need to take the time to appreciate each other’s amazing artistry.

Be proud, be fabulous, and #GodBlessTheFreaks.

Why Ed, Edd, n Eddy‘s Rolf May Be One of My Favorite Characters In Fiction

… Not that I want to do a few bars of ‘That’s My Horse’ or anything, but still…
Source: Know Your Meme

So, I’ve been reanalyzing and reevaluating some long-neglected mementos of entertainment media from my childhood.

… which is the Double D way of saying, “I’ve been rewatching old cartoons from the 80’s and 90’s with a heavy focus on Ed, Edd, n Eddy.

But in all seriousness, every time I look back at these old shows, I’m always surprised how much the stories and characters imprinted on me as a child. Even more surprising though are WHICH characters contributed to the formation of my psyche.

Case in point, I was amazed at how relevant to my life the token strange foreign kid Rolf was and still is.

There was so much to love about this bizarre son of a shepherd from an undisclosed old world country (more on that later) and so much that I never realized influenced me as a child. But now that I’m older, I can truly appreciate how…

Rolf had an AMAZING work ethic

If a pig got into my chicken coop, I’d be a bit miffed too.
Source: book-o-scams.tumblr.com

One of the things Rolf and I have in common was that we both came from farming families that found their way into suburban settings. And like Rolf’s parents, mine were quick to impart the value of hard work.

You don’t often see kids like Rolf in media these days. It’s not to say that the modern office drone doesn’t labor vigorously in their own right, but it’s much easier to convey the idea of ‘hard work’ when you can see the sweat they put into it.

All of this taught him to respect the effort that went into producing something as well as the person providing it – a certain level of common decency that any retail worker will tell you is sadly absent today.

Rolf believes in cultural exchange

It ain’t easy to become a ‘man of the world.’
Source: Gfycat

As mentioned, Rolf is an immigrant child from a place only described as “The Old Country.” This is a big deal as series creator Danny Antonucci is a child of Italian immigrants and based Rolf’s actions and interactions on his life growing up (Side note: he kept Rolf’s nationality intentionally vague so as not to offend anyone).

Rolf struggles to integrate into his new home but still tries to regardless. To make the transition easier, he still maintains his own traditions and actively shares them with the other neighborhood kids who – despite being weirded out most of the time – still love him and enjoy having him around. In fact, they seem to enjoy his traditions most of the time.

Which brings me to…

Rolf’s just a really friendly and courteous guy

It’s the thought that counts.
Source: Imgur

Despite his many missteps in learning the culture of… whatever country the city of Peach Creek is in (I suspect Canada given the show’s production), Rolf is deeply respected among the neighborhood kids. That’s because, at the end of the day, he genuinely cares for them, helps them whenever he can, contributes to the neighborhood as a whole (remember, he leads the Boy Scout-esque Urban Rangers) and celebrates their achievements alongside them even if he doesn’t quite understand the significance.

Of course, like any healthy human being, Rolf can only take “the burden of hospitality” for so long without recompense. And when that happens…

Rolf had some of the best one-liners and insults EVER

Even when you don’t get it, it still hurts.
Source: pi-la.tumblr.com

One of the inspirations Danny Antonucci took from growing up with immigrant parents while making Rolf was the heavy use of proverb in their speech. Almost every line where he’s putting down an offending person or offering sage advice to another is steeped in metaphor. It then becomes a game of wit and intellect to decipher.

This results in one-liners and insults that not only cut deep but bewilder the minds of opponents; Which is what you want when you throw shade at someone. After all, the worst way you can follow up an insult is to be too taken aback to respond.

I would dare say that Rolf’s insult game is borderline Shakespearian. And before any of you try to tell me that Shakespeare would never write a line of dialog where someone tells another that, “your garden is overgrown and your cucumbers are soft,” (no translation needed, I hope) go back and read/watch The Taming of The Shrew and you may find out why Katherina was so insulted by Petruchio’s talk of tongues and tails. Or consider that Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus may have been the deliverer of the world’s first ‘Yo Mama’ joke.

Rolf basically taught me how to appreciate ‘the gentle stab’ when it comes to snarky put-downs.

In conclusion, the reason why I love Rolf is this: with his rich family tradition, well-meaning heart, and sharp tongue, he’s basically a kid-friendly version of Sophia Petrillo from The Golden Girls.