Surprising

Beard Stories: Kids

There’s an after-school program for gradeschoolers that meets in the classroom next to mine.

When I left my classroom yesterday afternoon, there was a girl, maybe 9 years old, hair in high tight pigtails with colorful plastic balls on the rubber bands, standing in the hall with her back flat against the wall, looking bored and chastened while her classmates played inside.

She looked at me, and I smiled at her and locked my door behind me.

“Are you a boy?” No emotion yet, just checking.

“Nope,” in a cheery tone.

“A lady?!” her voice incredulous, quiet and breathy.

“Yep!”

She raised her hand to her chin. “You have a beard?” sounding confused, like she was checking her facts, wondering if I was an optical illusion.

“Yep,” nodding.

She considered this for a moment as I walked by her, towards the stairs. “How?” a straightforward question, curious about new information, the kind of tone I hear in my science classes.

“It just grows there,” shrugging my shoulders.

“You should shave it,” she instructed me, having resolved the issue.

“Nah. Too much trouble. And I kind of like it,” smiling.

Her eyes bugged out a little.

At this point I was at the stairway door. “Have a good afternoon!” I called to her as I left.

 

I forget which trans* writer said that they were friendly towards kids asking them gender questions but drew the line at puberty. The writer felt that after about age 12, a person should know better than to ask personal questions of a stranger (or a family member, neighbor, or co-worker for that matter).
I don’t feel the same; I like it when adults ask me curious and non-threatening questions. But, there’s something particularly fun about having a kid ask me about my beard. Their emotions flicker so rapidly, covering a charming range from shock to decisiveness to wonder as they work to fit these new pieces of information into their world.

A good friend of mine has a two-month old, who I’m lucky enough to get to spend lots of time with. It’s fascinating trying to figure out what her tiny brain is making of the changing lights and sounds that swirl around her. When she’s not sleeping, she spends most of her time wide-eyed, staring intently at the ceiling fan, a nose, a hat, a picture of black and white dots. One minute she’s smiling and then next she’s upset, but she spends a lot of the time in between with her little brow furrowed in puzzled concentration. As children sort out the world around them, they spend less and less time astounded, puzzling through the mysteries of everyday events. Grade schoolers still do it a lot, middle schoolers somewhat, adults almost never.

When I teach science, I get to reawaken that “what the heck?” response. I get high schoolers, who think they have it all figured out, to be amazed. I get to make them curious by showing them something completely perplexing. I love the bug-eyed “What just happened?!” look on their faces when I convince them, for example, that plants are made of air or that a clump of atoms has the information to make them who they are.  (I feel particularly proud of myself on days when they actually, literally say things like “Whoa!” or “Wow!”)

I’m only just realizing this now, as I write, but I think this is part of what I like about having my beard. I get to give adults the experience, rare in their grown-up lives of routines and schedules, of encountering something utterly new and yet not dangerous or even upsetting. Usually if an adult encounters something completely new, it’s a scary situation like a disease or a car crash. Outside, perhaps, of international travel, it’s hard for adults to find new experiences in the daily routine of work and home.

On a kid’s face, the stumped curiosity is more visible, but I like catching glimpses of it on an adult’s face, too. I like when an adult is willing to break through everything in their brain telling them they should understand everything already. I like it when an adult is willing to engage with something puzzling, rather than pushing the experience away under the guise of politeness or dismissing it as unimportant to their life.

I like curiosity, fascination, inquisitiveness, and wonder. I like it in babies, I like it in my students, and I think I like it in the people who go a little bug-eyed as I walk by.

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Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Positive, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beard Stories: Tha’s craaazy!

7 pm. It’s dark and chilly, feeling later than it is, in the early-dark way of winter. I’ve been walking for 10 blocks, trying to find the Chinese takeout place that’s 3 blocks from work. I’ve finally figured out I was going the wrong way, turned back the right way, and then overshot by a block. So I’m feeling sheepish as I turn back and walk up the same street I just walked down. I cross the street, both to be on the right side to get to the restaurant and to avoid walking by the same folks hanging out on the sidewalk and looking silly wandering back and forth.

On the corner, there are four tall black men in baggy hoodies. As I walk by, they stare, craning their necks. I avoid eye contact, so I can’t see what their expressions are. It’s dark, they’re big. I keep walking purposefully forward.

Ten minutes later, I’ve got my food, and I step out of the restaurant. One of the men is standing right outside, leaning on a parked car. I make eye contact, and he smiles widely. I’m surprised, and I beam back.

I keep walking, still smiling. The other three men are still on the corner, standing in a huddle, blocking the middle of the sidewalk. As I walk around them, they again lean my way, to see better. But this time I look at them and see that they’re smiling.

“How you grow that?” one asks.

“It just grows there,” I reply.

He tips his head back, in the motion of a laugh. “Tha’s craaazy!” he says, with a smile and a tone of wonderment. He gently backhands his buddy, in a “will you look at that!” gesture.

I chuckle as I keep walking. I look back over my shoulder and smile. “Yeah, it just grows there.”

“Wow!” He nods a few times, smiling.

Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Positive, Surprising | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Beard Stories: Moving

I’ve been neglecting this blog for the past few weeks because I’ve been caught up in getting moved. It’s been a bit of an ordeal. The place I was so excited about last time I posted (the cottage in Berkeley) fell through – the landlord had a family emergency and couldn’t get the place ready to rent out. But by the time it fell through, I had already made plans to move, and there was already someone slated to move into my old room by Dec 16. So, I was in a bit of a bind… which is a far more delicate way of expressing it than what I actually had to say about various parts of this moving %$#&%.

So, I ended up putting all my stuff in storage and I’m staying with K for a few weeks, to give me more than just a week to find a new place.

I hired movers from the La Raza Day Labor Program, and, as always, they were fantastic. The two men both had names starting with R, which confounds my semi-anonymity habits on this blog, as calling them R1 and R2 seems either impersonal or Seussian. Both men introduced themselves at the start of the day, but after that, their limited English and my limited Spanish constrained our conversations to “Are these going?” and “Las muebles aqui, si.” They worked for eight hours loading and unloading and loading and playing a fabulous game of tetris with my furniture. My friend V drove them from one location to the other, while K rode with me in the truck. After it was all done, V was asking me where I’d hired them from, and I was explaining about the Day Labor Program. I mentioned that I’d used workers from this program a few times before. My first move, the movers handed me their phone numbers at the end, asking me to call them directly if I had any work in the future. Each time after that, the movers hadn’t done that, which made me worry that I hadn’t been a satisfactory employer. Had I not given them enough breaks, or had they not liked the lunch I provided? Had I been annoyingly unclear in my instructions or hovered too much? Maybe the stairs were too steep and windy, and they just didn’t want to deal with that property again. I voiced these fears to V, and she made a confused, dismissive face. “But R said he worked with you last time, moving you out of Market Street.”

My first reaction was to feel shitty – I had clearly spent a whole day with this man before, and I didn’t remember it at all.  I nervously, with a cringing feeling of guilt, ran a quick “-ism”-check. Did I not remember him because all Latinos look the same? Did I pay insufficient attention to him as a person because he was working in a service job?  It took me a minute to remember my beard, to remember that there were various imbalances in our experience of each other – that we had non-equal positions based on race, class, and employer/employee dynamics, but also on freakishness.

But, I still feel a little sheepish for not remembering him.

Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Positive, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beard Stories: Poker Face

(Originally written August 26, 2009, while I was temporarily clean-shaven in preparation for starting a job.)

 

My aunt A has a better poker face than her husband.
It’s the little widening of the eyes, the tell off a repressed startle. In some people it’s the tiniest flash. In some people I can’t see it at all.

Often I miss the obviously inquisitive ones. D tells me about them.
The waitress at the Chinese restaurant the other day, nearly craning her neck to check my chin for shadow, trying to figure out if I was the same person she’d seen with a beard (maybe 3 times in the past year, but still memorable).
The dyke-looking woman walking down the street towards us who gave me a full head-to-toe scan.
The couple we hiked past, who stopped hiking and turned around to figure me out. D was several paces behind me, so they didn’t realize we were together and that their staring might be reported.

I like watching the eyes though. Seeing if I can see the question, the surprise. Hardly anyone ever comments or asks.

Even when I shaved the beard, almost no one commented.
Joanna asked if I’d gotten a haircut. So did Kyle.
The scruffy guy down at the Lagunitas store asked what had happened to my beard. When I told him, he said he thought it looked good before and I should grow it back.
One of my labmates, Jeff, who I hadn’t seen since April, said “You shaved your beard!” in a friendly, disappointed way. He too seemed happy when I said I was growing it back. Then we asked how each others’ summers had been and he showed me pictures of his newborn son.

I wish I knew what was behind that flash in the eyes. I can see the question but I can’t tell what it is.
I wish I could know what people say and think about me. Not because I want their approval. Just out of curiosity. It’s like a secret. The flash in the eyes is, to me, the little kid taunting, sing-song “I’ve got a secret! I’ve got a secret!” Maybe I’m just nosy. Maybe I spent too much of my teen years with people gossiping about me. Maybe I’m bad at reading people’s expressions and that fires my curiosity more. I want to know who sees me as a woman with a beard and who sees me as a guy with tits and who’s just confused and whose mind works in a way that they see me without an instant label. I want to know what my relatives wonder. I can see all the questions people have, that they don’t ask.

I want a little pin to wear on my backpack strap that says “It’s ok to ask.” Saying that aloud when I see the eye-flash seems rude, like I’m calling them out on an impolite moment. But I want people to ask. For my own curiosity about the questions and so I can give them the answers they’re seeking. The questions I do get are often so simple – “How do you grow that?” “Are you a boy or a girl?” Not hostile, just seeking information.

I want more people to know how to ask respectful questions. How to precede a personal question with “May I ask you a question?” How to gracefully accept when a person declines to answer.

I’ve been told, by other queers and genderqueers, that I’ll get tired of the questions. That I’ll get tired of being an involuntary public educator. But I don’t see that yet. I’m not burdened by people asking me questions. It’s interesting for me to see what they ask. I hesitate to suggest, when teaching workshops on gender, that it’s good for people to ask when they’re curious, because I don’t want to increase the burden on the people who don’t want to answer. But I fear that valuable conversations and questions are much too often avoided out of fear of being impolite. It seems like the standard is to politely pretend like the person is normal. To do one’s earnest best to hide the flash of the eyes and to suppress the questions. I worry about this polite silence – how it denies the “clueless public” these tidbit chances to learn about queerness. For the vast majority of people who will never attend a queer-awareness training, I’m happy to do this bit of public-outreach queer-ally education. I know not every queer is, but I am. But no one starts the conversation.

And, to be honest, I’m not very good at starting it either. I don’t want to force queer education on people who’d rather not know. i don’t want to come across as having an agenda or hosting the all-about-me show.

Speaking of the all-about-me-show, I start teaching tomorrow. So, failing to find a tidy conclusion to this pondering, I’m off to bed.

Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Family, Positive, Questions, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beard Stories: Cherry Medicine

…Continued from prior post.
(Originally written August 26, 2009).

D picked me up at the airport at 9am and drove me home.

We set up in the bathroom. Sheet on the floor, sarong around my shoulders.
Got out the scissors, electric razor, electric beard-and-mustache trimmer, and safety razor with shaving cream. Hot towels at the ready.

I’d been thinking about shaving for weeks. Alternately arguing myself into and out of shaving. Getting second opinions, and third, and fourteenth. Thinking about how it would be to be beardless. Trying to answer for myself the questions others asked. Grappling with the harsher, barbed questions I aimed at myself. Would it be denying my identity to shave? Would I be closeting myself – with all the implied queer guilt? Was I missing a chance to find out how wonderful and accepting my new employers really were? Was I being a responsible adult – getting rid of childish, attention-grabbing grooming habits?

I’d been pretty calm about the whole thing. Fretting a bit. Over-analyzing more than a bit. But generally, as usual, keeping it all on the ‘head’ level – analytical, not emotional.
So, with the scissors in hand, I had a last-ditch emotional flash of “shit I don’t really want to do this but I kinda have to and I’m fast approaching the point of no return.” I whined, I pouted, I got wriggly. I was five and didn’t want to take my medicine.
I clenched my jaw, opened my eyes wide with a last ‘please i don’t want to do this’ pathetic look, grabbed the scissors, grabbed a big tuft of beard, and, with a snip that seemed too inconsequentially easy for such a big change, cut off a clump of beard.
Then I did it again. And again. Remember discovering, once the dread medicine is in your mouth, it’s easier to swallow than to spit it out? Once I was committed, suddenly it was easy. I expected to feel unsettled and upset through the whole process of shaving. But after the first few snips, it was just like shaving always was. A non-event. The beard was mangled. The damage was done. All that was left was taking the rest of it off.

My beard is curly. Very curly. The severed tuft stayed together as a unit. We set aside a piece, and D put it in an abalone shell on the altar, between the candles I’d lit in asking for a job.

I trimmed with a scissors, then D took over with a scissors when the angles got strange. When it got too short and I got scared Dossie was going to snip my chin by accident, we switched to the electric trimmer. And, although we had the hot towels waiting to do a barber-style shave, I opted to shave in the shower, by feel, like I’m used to doing after all these years.

Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Surprising, Timeline | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beard Stories: And again

A tall, thin man with stringy blond hair shook a paper cup, rattling a few coins. He wore an oversized nylon windbreaker that once was white, and the creases in his pale face were highlighted by a faint accumulation of dirt from days without washing. “Spare some change?”

“Sorry,” I said. I didn’t have any in my pockets. Pan-handling must have been easier in the days before credit cards.

I turned to enter the store. “Hey!” he called out. “Hey, I like that!”

I turned. Yes, he was pointing to my chin. “Thanks!”

“That’s awesome!”

“Thanks!”

 

I used to be kind of scared of homeless people. They were foreign to me, and, growing up in suburbia, I associated them with a kind of rough urban grunginess that included muggers and pickpockets and people who smashed in your car windows – various kinds of people who were trying to get some tidbit of the relative wealth I enjoyed. The overlap in homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues added to my apprehension. I knew, growing up, that giving money to homeless folks was a complicated issue, because of the potential that they would spend it on drugs. I had seen homeless people (or people I perceived to be homeless – I conflated homelessness and panhandling and dirtiness) screaming and yelling at the sky, or, worse, at passersby. I saw homeless folks as irrational, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous.

As I started to collect the beard stories, I started to notice patterns. Who responds and how, under what circumstances, and with what emotions.

Of all the people I see, talk to, interact with, or walk by on any given day, almost none of them have any visible reaction to my beard. Now and then, someone will ask a question or say something about it. But, out of the hundreds of people I might pass on a given day, typically none of them respond.

Far and away, the group that’s most likely to comment on my beard is homeless people – or people I perceive to be homeless, anyway. Today, for example, I probably walked by a few hundred people who live under roofs, and not one said anything about my beard. I walked by two men panhandling, and one of those two responded.

But, what surprised me more than the number of responses from homeless folks was the quality of those responses. Almost without exception, the responses from homeless folks are enthusiastically, sometimes jubilantly, positive and complimentary.

I don’t quite know why that is. D suggested that maybe it’s because they’re a group of people who are used to living outside of society’s rules and expectations, so they may have more fondness for other folks who are living outside the rules, including gender rules. I wonder if some of the mental health issues might be working in my favor – maybe folks who struggle with impulsivity and following standard codes of politeness are, in general, more apt to blurt out whatever’s on their mind, while others maintain good manners and “appropriate personal distance.”

I wonder what the homeless subculture might be like. I imagine that there’s some subculture there, forged by these groups of people who live and eat and sleep and beg together. I’ve heard of rules of etiquette and territory among those who work the freeway off-ramps. I imagine there are many details of the subculture that I don’t know, and I wonder if I’m seeing a little glimpse into this subculture through these responses to my beard. What is it about homeless subculture that makes folks so easygoing about talking about my beard? What makes them compliment me so enthusiastically?

Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Positive, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beard Stories: Published!

I got an email the other day asking me to write an article about my experience as a bearded woman.

Here it is! http://www.yourjewishnews.com/Pages/23059.aspx

It was interesting figuring out what to focus on in writing this article. I realized I know what’s interesting to me but not very much about how these stories are received. So, I’m interested in your feedback! What do you find interesting about these beard stories? What do you want to hear more about? What do you think of the stories? What questions do you have? What has struck you or stuck with you from these stories? Thanks!

Categories: Beard Stories, bearded lady, bearded woman, Positive, Questions, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beard Stories: Another one of us!

Several friends have forwarded me links to the photo of a bearded woman on reddit, followed by her response and a flurry of internet discussion.
http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/109cnf/im_not_sure_what_to_conclude_from_this/?limit=500
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/balpreet-kaur-sikh-woman-proudly-sports-facial-hair-faith_n_1913355.html

It’s exciting to find another bearded woman. I know of a few of us – women who have decided to let our facial hair grow, for one reason or another. I know of bearded women in New York, Provincetown, Germany, and now Ohio, plus myself in San Francisco. I think it’s interesting that there are a scattered few of us out there, living similar lives in disparate parts of the world.

I’ve had the experience that Balpreet had, minus the internet notoriety. I’ve had my picture taken, with and without my consent. Sometimes I’ve found these pictures online. I’ve had a blogger post snide and mocking comments about my facial hair. I’ve had a blogger make an apology of questionable sincerity when confronted on the issue. I’ve had people call my facial hair disgusting. And, most commonly, I’ve had people compliment me, my beard, and my courage and dignity in letting my facial hair grow.

I admire Balpreet Kaur for having such a clear and strong rationale behind her decision to grow a beard. She articulates her choice and her faith clearly. I was a little disappointed to see her apologize for “causing confusion” or “uttering anything that hurt anyone.” I could find nothing in her post that was hurtful, and I don’t think that “causing confusion” is a problem that any person should apologize for.

A lot of the discussion of Balpreet Kaur’s beard centers around the religious basis for her decision to be bearded. Sadly, many of the negative internet comments have been critical or hateful towards Sikhs, “unusual” religions, religious individuals, and people of color. Similarly, many of those defending and praising Ms. Kaur have focused on her religious conviction. The discussion of gender has been secondary to the discussion of religion.

My reasons for growing my beard are varied, and, to be honest, I’m still discovering some of them. Artist (and part of my chosen family) Nayland Blake (http://naylandblake.net/) has written that he makes art in order to figure out what he thinks – the process of creating art leads him to an understanding of his own thoughts and mind that he didn’t have previously. I feel similarly about my beard. I started growing my beard out of a “why not?” curiosity. I had six weeks between jobs, so I didn’t foresee any real-world consequences to growing my beard. I started growing my beard because I didn’t have a strong sense that I shouldn’t. I was raised to believe that, as a woman, I could do anything I wanted. I was raised to believe that there are many ways to be a woman. My parents taught me I could be a woman who wore skirts or a woman who wore pants, a woman who raised children or a Nobel laureate science geek (or both); either way I was still a valid and valuable woman. My parents never said I could also be a woman who had a beard; I extrapolated that part on my own.

I didn’t expect to keep my beard. I expected to grow it for six weeks, see what it looked like, and then shave it. I didn’t expect a lot of things. I didn’t expect the compliments. I didn’t expect the women who whispered to me that they had facial hair they took great pains to remove, who told me that no one knew about their facial hair and that I was the first person they were openly talking to about it. I didn’t expect the silence – the general lack of reaction from people around me, the collective unfazed shoulder-shrug. I didn’t know I would like how it looked on me. I didn’t guess that people to think it was sexy and to flirt with me because of it. I had no idea that it would feel so comfortable and so right. And I didn’t expect the near-total absence of vitriol, scorn, and mockery. I suspected that it might expand my ideas about my own gender, but I didn’t realize how far it would throw that door open. I didn’t realize it would change how I interacted in the world, to pull me out of a life as a wallflower. I didn’t expect it to teach me about my assumptions, about other people, about race and class and nationality. I didn’t expect that it would teach me about the experience of being disabled. And I certainly didn’t expect that it would give me a special fondness for homeless folk and street beggars.

I’m excited that this story about Balpreet and her beard is getting so much attention on the internet. However fleeting the attention on one bearded woman is, it’s undoubtedly reaching scores of women who have facial hair that they hide. One of my reasons for growing my beard was that I met a bearded woman. Jennifer Miller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Millerhttp://www.circusamok.org/about-us/jennifer-miller-2/) was a visiting artist and scholar at the Claremont Colleges during my time at Pomona. I barely met her, but seeing her was enough. The idea was planted in my head: this could be possible, that could be me.

I hope that there are others out there, the potentially-bearded women of the world, who might see in Balpreet’s story some hint of possibility, some glimmer of bearded ease.

And, for the vast majority who aren’t Future Bearded Ladies of America (or elsewhere), I think Balpreet’s story has been one more tiny step forward in the long march towards women’s rights, queer rights, trans rights, and religious freedom. From what I’ve read in the comments, this story has left most people with a positive impression of one bearded woman. So that now, when they meet another one of us, the first thing that comes to mind with be that nice Sikh girl.

Thank you, Balpreet.

Categories: Beard Stories, Negative, Positive, Questions, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beard Stories: Jump in and swim

A week ago, I went to Slut Walk (http://www.slutwalksfbay.org/). Slut Walk is a rally and march challenging the idea that women (or other people) who “dress slutty” are asking to be raped, or that, if they’re not asking for it, they’re at least being unwise, because it’s “inevitable” that they’ll attract negative attention.

Slut Walk started off with a few scheduled speakers: Carol Queen, some other local notables. Then the crowd marched from Dolores Park, through the Castro, to Officer Jane Plaza, where they held a second, open-mike (open-megaphone?) rally. Some speakers were clearly used to public speaking. Others admitted their nervousness, and the crowd cheered them on.

A handful of years ago, I wanted to get comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. I considered toastmasters, but it didn’t really appeal to me. I considered classes or a coach, but that seemed like too much money. So instead I started teaching workshops. I’d already taught some – training wilderness leaders, mostly – and I was ok in front of a room of people who knew less than me. But standing at the front of a hotel conference room, in front of a mix of people, some of whom knew more than me on the subject, was sufficiently daunting. But the workshop audiences were low-stakes. It wasn’t for work. It was people who wanted to be there to listen to me. It wasn’t a competitive environment like an academic conference. It wasn’t an easy next step, but it was a manageable challenge. And it worked. I started teaching workshops, and along the way I figured out how to teach and how to be comfortable teaching.

Recently, I’ve been wanting to get more comfortable with a microphone. Giving a speech, running an event, doing a fundraising ask. So I figured the same jump-in-and-swim approach might work.

The crowd at Slutwalk seemed friendly. A few speakers admitted their own nervousness, and the crowded cheered their encouragement. The organizers kept inviting folks to speak. I kept chickening out. And then they announced that they could only take three more people. And I walked up and asked to be put on the list, half hoping they’d already gotten their last three in the time it took me to get to the front. But they had  only gotten two, and I suddenly had the honor of speaking last.

As the two ahead of me spoke, I rehearsed in my head. I started off, “I”m proud to be a slut!” and waited for the crowd to cheer. And they did. I continued “I’m proud to be a woman!” And they cheered again. “I’m proud to be queer!” One more cheer. I talked for a minute or so about how slut-shaming acts as a way to control women’s (and others’) options in life, how it acts to restrict their clothing, their movement, their sexuality, their freedom. I talked about how advice that begins, “You’ll be safer if you don’t ___” is still controlling, even when it masquerades as concern for our welfare. I didn’t quite know how to end it. I hadn’t gotten that far in the three-minute rehearsal in my head. I was grateful that the speaker before me had given a lengthy and eloquent speech on intersections of oppression, on how violence crosses all lines, and how being liberal doesn’t protect people from domestic and sexual violence.

I spoke for probably a minute, though I couldn’t swear to that. The stage fright erased my sense of time and my memory of what I said. I said something to finish and handed the megaphone over to the organizer. I had been aiming for “not a disaster” and left feeling like I’d met my goal.

In the last week, three different people have come up to me and introduced themselves, saying they saw me speak at Slutwalk and that they thought I did a great job. One was an attendee, the second was one of the organizers. The third, this morning, came up to me on the BART platform, thanked me for speaking, and introduced herself as the founder of Slutwalk SF.

I’ve had this beard for over four years. And I still forget how memorable it makes me. I need to keep that in mind as I venture into speaking in front of crowds.

Categories: Beard Stories, Positive, Surprising | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beard Stories: Did he really just say that?

I was sitting out on a friend’s front stoop yesterday, waiting for him to come home. It was a sunny afternoon in the Haight. My friend’s place is on Waller, one of the residential streets just off of Haight. As I was sitting there, various people passed by. Some walking dogs, some walking kids, some chatting. I’d been there about 15 minutes when this conversation passed by:

The Characters:

The Guy: 20- or 30-something, white (appearing), hipster clothing, short brown hair, one-week beard, at least six feet tall, broad-shouldered and thin-waisted, man. Walking a bicycle.

His friends: Similar age, coloring, and dress. A small-build woman and a shorter, slender man. Without bicycles.

The Guy: …I don’t see why someone else’s opinion of their gender should trump my own! I’ve seen cock. When I see a cock, I call it a man!…

Thankfully, I they passed by and I didn’t have to hear any more than that.

I’m amazed (but not really surprised) that people still say shit like that. So unabashedly.

Quite a blatant reminder that we’ve still got a long way to go on queer rights and acceptance.

Categories: Beard Stories, Negative, Surprising | 2 Comments

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