Far Out: Everyone has a fantasy
By: Jeannette de Beauvoir, October 25, 2011
So out here on the Outer Cape we’re starting to wind down a little. Sure, there are still large tour buses disgorging small elderly people, some of whom have absolutely no idea what they’re getting themselves into by visiting Provincetown; and the parking lots are still pretty much full, especially on fine autumn weekends.
But most of the tourists have moved on, and the shops are starting their year-end sales already.
This past week marked Fantasia Fair, a weeklong transgender event in P-Town that’s part conference and part social gathering. It’s an opportunity for attendees to spend a week “presenting their gender however they wish,” as the official materials would have it.
Begun in 1975, and the longest-running event of its kind, Fantasia Fair attracts a substantial number of straight men—many of them married and here with their wives—who are happiest dressing in women’s clothes.
I have to say that there’s something really touching about seeing people interact and just be in an open atmosphere where they will not get derisive stares—or worse.
I mentioned in an earlier column what Provincetown represented to me and my then-girlfriend in our twenties: it was the one place where people didn’t stare at us for holding hands. That’s changed; but I don’t think that it’s changed much for the folks who come here to attend Fantasia Fair.
Let’s face it: a man dressed like a woman still looks like a man dressed as a woman, and society at large still doesn’t quite get that.
I’ll admit that I don’t quite get it, either. In fact, I still have mixed feelings about the whole drag-queen scene.
As a feminist, I look at the high heels and makeup and wigs and over-emphasized breasts, and I wonder how these components of women’s attire—the very ones that have helped keep women subjugated—could be a cause for such attraction.
Try running away from an aggressor in high heels. Try teaching your daughter that she doesn’t need makeup to be beautiful. Try having a conversation with a man whose eyes are constantly on your chest. And then go to a drag show and admire the very things you feel are hurting your sisters … you see my conflict.
Even as I’m writing this, though, I’m wearing what might at one time have been considered drag: jeans, sloppy sweater, Land’s End shoes.
The difference, of course, is that women switched to men’s clothing for the comfort and freedom they allow. For the ability to run if threatened. For the possibility of being taken seriously and perceived as more than one’s physical attributes.
I’d love to live in a world where everything is accepted and acceptable. And where there aren’t consequences for how any of us dress.
It’s a complex issue. I still haven’t figured it out for myself. But I’d love to hear your thoughts!
What does cross-dressing mean to you? How does a community integrate different approaches/feelings/beliefs about something as obvious as this?