The Root of Andrew is Andro

I saw a journal of a vocal coaching organization and was pleased to find one
of my former professors and reading some of that yesterday led me to a Google
search on lisping and effeminacy and code-switching (when a person switch speech
styles as they move among different groups or audiences).

I’m always ashamed when I see videotapes of me as a little boy because I feel
like I come off so feminine and over-sensitive. Queeny. I try to think how I
picked up this behavior and what I sub-consciously learning about myself. I’m
fascinated by the implications that young boys and girls learn cues to differentiate
themselves but don’t totally understand why they’re doing it. We had a Derby
party one year and I was doing Geraldo Rivera style interviews of our guests
and I cringe whenever dad even mentions the video tape. It embarrasses me and
my face warms just writing about it now. (I focus only on my effeminate lilt
– not on the creativity inherent in a 10 year old understanding and doing a
media satire) I think of how much I hate the word ‘gay’ or the whole sexuality
argument or ‘straight-acting’ or any of those terms that can be used to color
my life and opinions as less than worthy of consideration because somehow I’m
that bisexual playwright or that gay activist or that ricequeen geek (‘latina
woman poets’ and ‘disabled painters of color’ I have a small understanding now).
I think of how stupid I feel that I didn’t realize that my lingering over men’s
bodies in fitness magazines was as much in admiration of their physique – of
wanting to be them as that transforming into wanting to be with them. And the
confusion when I still delighted in long hair on falling on my shoulders as
a pair of breasts bouncing next to my mouth or the smell of feminine wiles.
I feel ashamed that I acted like such a girl back then and how that must have
been so hard on mom and dad to endure the knowing glances of others – especially
other dads whose sons weren’t obsessed with playing piano or puppetry but did
normal things like football and wrestling and running for Student Council. That
I was that sensitive kid with the allergies that gets good grades and is so
creative all the time and has that really smarty-pants sister that doesn’t take
shit off any boys. We both had such divergent gender identities growing up –
maybe because they encouraged us to always share and play together and never
let us play with war toys. How when I hear my voice recorded I just can’t stand
to listen to that fag voice. That voice that sounds – as Waylon Smithers would
say – ‘a little fruity.’

I had prank callers my freshman year in college. ‘Andy I saw you in History
class. Man you were so hot,’ a drunk male voice would taunt, ‘I wanna fuck you
like an animal!’ Laughter, hang up. Ah – the tiny little terrorisms of growing
up different.

And I ask myself how I would have had a different life if I was totally satisfied
and secure in sounding perfecting Madison Avenue Maxim magazine monster truck
masculine every second of my existence. Nothing would change. I got tons of
accolades and accomplishments and opportunities and no one seemed to give shit
about how I spoke or how I acted – except me. And the prank callers.

I actually feel like since I came out and about that I’ve gotten less nelly
than I used to be. Maybe I’m deluding myself. I would worry at every audition
that they’d chide me for coming off so… light. Trying to gauge my manner to
be just as expressive but less explosive. The fun of this was my repeated callbacks
for that army training film – jeez – if I could get this maybe I could pass
for real! But pass as what? What am I holding on to? What am I deluding myself
into? Out of?

That’s a fun semantic argument. Pass for real. Because if who you are attracted
to isn’t like everybody else. Then you’re not real. Ouch. (The biggest example
I keep coming back to is Ron watching a film with an all Filipino cast and
he never said it once but you could tell the immense joy in seeing faces similar
to his in a mass media product.)

Then I go to the gym and see guys with huge men’s bodies and little baby girl
voices that ask me in their American Girl lilt:

Can you thpot me on my bench preth?

It feels good to write this out once and for all. Actually I’ve probably said
all of this in bits and pieces over the years. But this is a summation. For
now.

4 thoughts on “The Root of Andrew is Andro

  1. Danny O'Bryan

    we all play “what if “when we grow up.What if I had married a different woman where would we both be.I ask my self want if I didn’t scream and try to control my children’s every activity.Intresting to want control of other and chose no self control for me .We encouraged things that gave you great joy.It is hard for me to understand the lust for another man;no it is impossible.Am i afraid?Could be.I could tell by the time you were 3 that you we going to different—-good -bad- no different.You gave our family Bethoven,Gershine,and More.If you love long hair,bald. scared tattoed..what ever !!we love you- may not understand you.we don’t have to we Ijust love you.So simple it is hard-that what God is that that feeling of love and sharing….We have both side-when I was a child mother and dad wold fight with such terror I never wanted to marry.I wanted Diane to be my mother no yours,I was abondon as a child and want to give my kide have the best childhood ever!.I missed.I tried hard but missed.Why we like people ,color size shape looks like thats in our genes………..your are loved no matter who ever you want to be!!

    COMMENT:
    Andy ) ) ) mmmmmm. as my eyes crept into the morning, you were present. maybe somewhere in my subconscious sleep, you roamed with me, subtracting the distance of our physical placement. maybe it was because i am in rehearsals now and a part of me returns to those days in rehearsals with you–when we would collectively go from room to room in ourselves and you would give permission to flip the switches, turning the lights on. amazement, we could see (!) what was there, inside of us, contents of the world. what we sensed was there all along, only now we could behold it and begin to interact with it, hear it’s stories. our collective story of breathing, of Speaking our truths. each lilt that delivered this was beautiful and brave. the power and gift of being truly seen and heard.

    thanks for bringing your journey into the world, into the light. when each of us gets even a little iota of braveness and then exists with others in that honesty, it opens up others, reminds them they too can turn the lights on and see what is really there before us. it is then that we can interact, grapple, transform and maybe ultimately, embrace what lies there and within us.

    i was touched by the dialogue in the above posted exchange. the connection and reaching. wow. keep the lights on! —beth

  2. Andy

    Andy,

    My name is also ” Andy “. I am really into
    psychology, and studying the effects of names
    upon the behavior of children. Do you feel,
    as a fellow ‘ Andy ‘, that the fact that girls
    also go by a very similar ‘ Andi ” has affected
    your gender identity in any way?
    I would be most interested in your response.

  3. Andy

    Nah – no ‘Andi’ effect here. My full name is Michael Andrew so it wasn’t until my grandmother started calling me Andy that my name sorta changed (she had a brother named Andy). I just remember looking up the definition of Andrew in the dictionary or some baby name book and being surprised that it said, ‘strong, manly’. Those were adjectives I hadn’t really associated with myself. I was very much into reading the Men’s Movement texts of the early nineties (Bly, Keen, etc + the fantastic Myth of Male Power) and my sister is a big scholar on gender studies. I even took a gay studies seminar in college (wasn’t out yet but it was either that or ‘Baseball and American Society’ – Fuck that). I am constantly interested in the construction of gender identity and find it fascinating how biological strengths and developments are filtered by society. Because at the end of the day ‘taking it like a man’ is just another pigeonhole. Being acculturated into the mores of ‘same-gender-loving men’ has been a strange amalgam of the two extremes of effeminacy or delight in all that glitters and a muscular beefcake punishing sense of sexual swagger and bravado. I find the less TV I watch and the more I can not feed myself a daily dose of fitness magazines – the better and more secure I feel in myself and my identity. I’m expecting a big metrosexual backlash once guys get tired of being told to moisturize.

  4. The Republic of T.

    A Boy’s Own Story

    Sam of madlife.net asks: When did you first know you were gay? And if you’re not gay, when did you first know you were heterosexual? An easier question would be when did I not know. I have to think back

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