Okay, so I admit, this post was mostly promoted by two things-
many of the comments on this
blog hop post and a comment in a Facebook sexy
romance writers group I'm in on a promo for my "cleaning
in The Queen's house"
post. What it comes down to, whether
the language used to make the point is polite or rude (and I've seen
both), is someone has an issue with a "male named The Queen."
Yes, "Vala's Story" as a whole is my "book baby"-
my first love as far as my writing is concerned. And The Queen is a
fictional character, albeit based on two men who've meant a ton in my
life. But these don't really explain why I get so angry about people
struggling with The Queen's name.
You see, a person's name is a very important thing in my real
life, my offline life. I come to the conversation bringing 1st and
2nd hand experiences from multiple marginalized identities.
As a queer person (UUA's Queer
provides more explanation of how I use the word), I long
ago moved past understanding sexuality and gender issues in the
male/female, heterosexual/homosexual binaries that are still too
prevalent in this culture (if you're asking my opinion). "That's
a girl's name," "that's a boy's name" are less
relevant in my word. However, I am a cisgender (born that way and
comfortable in that gender) female so I cannot speak directly to the
transgender experience around name. I've seen transpeople decide on a
post-transition name that's close to their birth name (like going
from Michael to Michelle, as a male-to-female transgender person); as
well, I've seen people, including close friends, pick names very far
from their birth name (like moving from Sandra to John, as
female-to-male transgender). Of course, within the transgender
experience is also the question of pronouns- while I'm not perfect on
it, I try to use a variety of "created pronouns" that I've
seen transactivists use- like ze or hir. In a recent vent on someone
being confused about The Queen's gender, I angrily typed at a friend-
"I said HE. Repeatedly said fucking HE. His boy! Him!" To
me, around issues of sexuality and gender, the only reasonable choice
is respect what the person indicates. A transgender person asks to be
called "he"- it DOES NOT matter what *you* think of his
gender presentation- that person is male, is a he. Back to The Queen,
I have conceived of him as a cisgender male who identifies as queer
in the UUA's usage of the word. Yes, he has long hair that reaches
down to the middle of his back and he has sex, makes love, engages in
BDSM activities with people of varying genders (I say genders because
I don't accept the societal construction of there being just 2) and
sexual orientations. That does not mean someone else gets to say he's
anything but male- he says he's male!
The next piece of naming for me is around BDSM. Now remember for
me, BDSM is about identity, not something "I just do in bed."
That's not to say that people who keep their BDSM just in the bedroom
are necessarily less, but I find sometimes there's a very different
outlook to someone like me. With BDSM, whatever your specific
identity (top, bottom, sub, dom, Master/Mistress, slave, etc), there
are multiple levels of risk to being open about "how you are."
People have lost jobs, custody of minor children, housing, and more
due to having a kink identity. I'm very involved in Leather and Grace
UUs for BDSM Awareness because even amongst the "affirming &
welcoming" Unitarian Universalist faith moment, often hard to
have a kink-oriented identity. (Read here
for our moderator's telling
of a case of discrimination that
recently came to us from a couple who have experienced horrendous
discrimination in UU circles.) Beyond these worries around keeping
anonymity to avoid discrimination, there is also the fact that for
some (maybe even many) people, they come to BDSM bringing different
pieces of themselves- they want a new, different name for this piece
of themselves. So naming 2 reasons that people might use "scene
names" as they are called, let us consider The Queen. Now do
please notice the capitalized The. Every time. Both words. The Queen.
That is how the name was given (by a loved one) to The Queen and
that's how he chooses to use it. That started in part as his scene
name, the name he used as a dominant just learning his trade. He
chose it; it's *our* job to respect his choice.
Thinking on the ideas of "abuse/re-creating oneself," my
first thought was about my friend Patricia Logan's character "Trick,"
in her "Master's Boys" series. Another character (variously
called Ivan, Phoenix, or Master P, depending on who's speaking and
the situation- names, see?) who I'll call by her character name of
Phoenix works to give "Trick's" self-respect back by
refusing to use that name and instead using the man's birth name of
Wade. Summarizing his back story (without giving away too much,
because you really should follow the link attached to Trick's name,
buy the book, and getting to reading Ms. Logan's works because her
books are among the small group of BDSM books I'll personally
recommend)- as a teen, he's found in a sexual situation with another
boy by closed minded parents who then throw him out, and he finds
himself engaging in survival prostitution- so he names himself Trick.
I've had friends who were thrown out for this reason (being
non-heterosexual) and many more saddening reasons. I've known the
archetypal "Trick"- the boy thrown to the street by
uncaring parents. Throughout my "Vala's Story" series, The
Queen's back story comes out- sometimes in drips, sometimes in
floods, as in an early scene in "Gates of the Garden: Book Two."
His was not a good childhood, a happy, a loving one. It was not a
childhood to wish on any human being. The thing is, I've known people
who've gone through similar crap to what The Queen's parents did to
him. So he ran away; he escaped... and in escaping he went through
different ways of calling himself until his dear friend Lady Audrey
gave him his new name, The Queen. Far from the abused boy from
Michigan, moving away from the street kid who ze found having been
beaten up by a "john." In that moment thinking of the abuse
back story I wrote for The Queen, thinking of people who I've known
who've gone through that lack of love- how is someone who hasn't
experienced any of that hell to see it's not his right to chose a
name other than what his parents named him at birth?
Finally, there's nicknames. Sometimes they become even more
important than a given name. My Master was given- I don't remember
the details of who/how exactly- but by friends. For a long time, He's
followed a shamanic spiritual path. So "Shaman." That's the
first name I learned for Him as a person. I didn't know His given
name, the childhood nickname (that His mom still uses and I fight
giggles constantly at His slight irritation- "no one but my mom
gets away with calling me that"- when she calls Him that
nickname... these all took me time to learn. I still struggle to call
Him His given name when for some reason I need to use it. He has
chosen to often use that nickname of Shaman; it is "His name."
Who am I to question it? Different people groups who've had shamans
have allowed for people across the gender spectrum to be shamans- is
that supposed to affect Shaman, the fact that there have been female
shamans, and He's a cisgender male? And so we have The Queen. "Queen"
is normally used for women, yes. Does that mean that people should
question The Queen's choice as a cisgender male to call himself by a
"feminine" nickname? I think not.
The Queen speaks:
Do you want me to pull down my
jeans so you can check what's between my legs? Check if there's a
cock or a pussy between my legs? Gender is more than what's between
the legs- it's also about what's between the ears, what's in the
heart. I am male! I interact with the world as a male, even with the
complexity of what that means in this culture. My name is my own and
you can go fuck yourself if you think I should change it to something