by Guest Contributor Tiara the Merch Girl
I often feel that I’m not taken seriously as a full well-rounded nuanced person when it comes to things related to eroticism, burlesque, sexuality, queerness, and so on. I have grown up constantly being the Other, having everything I do viewed through the lens of the Other, assumed to be the representative of the Other, rather than just a representative of myself and my myriad views and backgrounds. I’d make a piss-poor representative for any other culture or background anyway, given how I stick out like a sore thumb in all of them. Too foreign for Bangladesh, too Bangla for Malaysia, too Asian for Australia, too X for Y.
I have been introduced at burlesque revues as the “Bollywood Princess”- which ticks me off a lot, particularly since I have yet to do a piece that involves Bollywood in any shape or form. Not even a subcontinental song! Anything I wear automatically becomes “exotic” on me. For example, I have a beautiful red dress, with some gold embroidery, that I bought from an op-shop for a performance project. When I first wore it to a rehearsal one of the other girls there said “wow! It’s just so YOU!”. “Me” doesn’t tend to go for dresses very often (it’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve started wearing dresses and skirts more regularly). It only looks exotic because it happens to be red with some gold embroidery and on me it looks like I’m wearing sari cloth. On a Chinese person it’d look like a reimagined cheongsam. On a white person? A Snow White or Red Riding Hood dress. The dress itself isn’t especially exotic; what makes it exotic is the lens brought on by people’s perception of the wearer.
Similarly, I think people in queer scenes are so mystified by the presence of a Racial Other that they fail to comprehend that I could also be a Sexual Other too. I swear, I’ve been to so many queer events with a bevy of straight people, and THEY get the attention. There’s probably been two queer girls in my entire life that have shown even a smidgen of interest in me as more than just a friend. I don’t ping anyone’s gaydar. As my Redhead Girl said one time, here I am proclaiming to the world my sexuality and hardly anything’s opened up, while here she is denying her sexuality until very recently and already she’s got a strong support network and even a relationship or two. I suppose having a boyfriend doesn’t really help (“yay, another barsexual”?) but at least talk to me beforehand and not make assumptions?