Let me digress.
I’ve been losing weight. Because:
- I walk to and from work every day
- I drink a lot less
The dreaded middle-aged spread.
My doctor tells me that most people put on 10kg in their 40s. Mind you he also told me my ideal weight was 69kg. When I was maybe 23 I lost a lot of weight and got to 72kg. That was the point my mother started to worry. I was very thin. 69kg? Nah. I don’t think so.
My main weight guide is my belt. Which hole the belt closes at is my read on my health. At the moment the pants are low-riding. Soon I will be able to adjust a notch down. It’s like I’m using a leather caliper around my sausage-like middle.
Which brings me to Richard Simmons. There’s a podcast called Missing Richard Simmons. I’ve only listened to one episode but I immediately wanted to listen to I Am A Bird Now. Why? That doesn’t seem to make sense to me. That album came back into my mind because I found out that the cover art of that album was not, as I had always thought, a staged shot of perhaps Antony channeling the character that sings Hope There’s Someone, but a photo of an actual person – Candy Darling – on her deathbed in 1977.
Which makes the heart clench. Makes my heart clench. In the story of so many trans people is loneliness – deep, sucking, sadness underneath glamour and hyperbolic shimmering frothy fun. Which is how, I think, my brain connected Richard to Antony.
Hope There’s Someone is one of the most moving songs I know. In a way though it is the lyrics of another song, later in the album, that resonate in me.
Losing, it comes in a cold wave
Of guilt and shame all over me.
It’s not the words alone, it’s how they are sung – with the all too painful memory of the cold wave of guilt and shame.
There’s a story inside the first episode of Missing Richard Simmons about a woman who Richard called every week for pep talks. Sometimes he called her after midnight though. She didn’t say much about those calls, but they were different. She said he was “human” like everyone, and like everyone he had lonely thoughts in the wee small hours.
In class we watched parts of Carmen and Georgie Girl. It came out of looking at Takatāpui and pre-European Māori hōkakatanga. Introducing the Māori perspective into my course on the Homosexual Law Reform Bill changed how I framed the whole unit from:
- It was illegal to be gay in Aotearoa until 1986 and then it wasn’t
- Aotearoa had a pretty open mind to sexuality for 1000 years, then the British came and imposed their views for about 150 years, then things opened up again.
Which is a really different story.
The shit bit is that in those 150 years Māori minds were colonised and homosexual relations rejected as acceptable so that by 1986 we end up in the perverse situation of Pākehā explaining to Māori that they should be more liberal about sexuality.
Back to loneliness then. How many crosses do you want to bear? Being Māori, being a woman, being trans? In the war against normal we need Richard, Anohni, Carmen and Georgina. We need them badly. In the war normal wages against people the cold wave of guilt and shame can get you. Am I ok? Am I happy? Am I lovable?
That was queer
how Richard Simmons
Candy Darling died
in order, it now seems,
to perfectly be
Hope There’s Someone.
There was: Peter Hujar
and a camera
and time and me
looking at you, and
listening to Missing