Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Insights into my very queer interracial/cis/trans relationship
I have an article in Gscene this month, July 2020 issue, please check it out, some fab articles from LGBTQ people on trans, black lives matter, lockdown and more with the gorgeous Yvy Deluca gracing the cover. I've decided to post my original unedited version to this blog as it add's more context.
I first met my partner Carl over 15 years ago Transfabulous, a queer night in Bethnal
Green. He had cheeky sparkling blue eyes, a sunshine smile and was unintentionally hilarious. I also had mad hatter tendencies having nervously chatted him up by informing him “I’m not a normal girl”. I cringed on realising that I sounded like a creepy Michael Jackson in the Thriller video who told his date he wasn’t like other boys. But still Carl asked me out on a date to Regents Park. He said he should’ve known what he was in for when I laughed so loudly, all the birds flew out of the trees. And I should have known what I was in for. He would serve me tea and toast and melodramatically moan about me not doing the washing up while shuffling in his slippers like Baby Jane Hudson. Even today I half expect my toast to be buttered with a canary, but I am better at doing the dishes. Our weird little quirks and faults can frustrate the hell out of us, but we still are able to effortlessly laugh at ourselves and each other.
Carl is trans but I see him first as the kind, funny person who happened to be the man I fell in love with. As for what Carl see’s in me, you’d have to ask him. But I think we have many similarities that make it work despite our different backgrounds. We both shared our horrors of having to go to school. Carls missed a lot of school because of anorexia/anxiety and his refusal to wear skirts. I also was anorexic and missed a lot of school because of meningitis, asthma, and being bullied for being mixed race.Like Carl, I grew up in the 70’s 80s only he was in Swansea and I was in Harlesden. I knew there was something queer about me when I was little. I painted my airfix plane models with glitter stars, wore my mothers’ bra after stuffing water balloons inside the cups, and fixated on the beauty of John Hurt in the film ‘The Naked Civil Servant’. While in Wales Carl was a shy boy in a girl’s body. He would spend days not going to school at his nan’s. He would entertain her by ‘dragging up’ as her lady friends and mimic them while parading around in assorted hats, handbags and scarfs. I was also painfully shy, so much so, my parents signed me up for ballet classes in hope they would give me confidence. But by the time I was 10 I gave up the ballet because I didn’t want to be called the P word that rhymes with woof. I was already suffering racism for not being properly white or properly black. I didn’t need more attention. Apparently, doing ballet meant I was also a P word, which in turn as a roman catholic, meant I was going straight to hell. My fears at the time would have been understandable if I’d been a boy. But I wasn’t. I was a cis girl. Looking back, I was a mixed-race cis queer girl who was weirdly worried about looking too camp. It was also odd that, as agirl, I was being called the P word by other girls for doing ballet. Clearly, my queerness was visible to them as I was mixed race. But now they also seemed to subconsciously suspect differences between mine and their gender formation and burgeoning sexualities. The truth is, I actually did feel as if I was a sensitive boy who liked girly things instead of it as a natural by-product of being a cis girl.
It really wasn’t my fault I had an over-protective Spanish mother who made me wear American tan tights to school under my white knee-high socks. It wasn’t my fault my psychiatric social worker father had a brief identity crisis after coming over from Barbados during Windrush, and insisted we were middle class even though we lived in a run-down flat in one of the roughest and notorious crime hotspots in London. It also wasn’t my fault that I was obsessed with imitating my beautiful black gay neighbour Earl’s wiggle strut and bent wrist. He would defiantly strut down Harlesden High Street in tight red leather jeans and kitten heels, earrings in both ears, and his head shaven. This was particularly rare in 70s Harlesden when every other black man had an afro. Once I was practicing walking like Earl down a school stairwell when I overheard a boy saying to his friend “You see ‘er? She’s a tart!”. In my innocence at the time, I took this as a complpliment, delighted that I was seen as something that was pretty and delicious, especially the lemon ones.
Around the same time, my queerness revealed itself again, my belly would flip at the sight of an older tomboy who lived on my street. Despite, my intense shyness, she managed to initiate a close friendship with me. As for my mother she was getting increasingly concerned, especially after I had asked her what a lesbian was (My new tomboy ‘friend’ had been called one). I could tell by my mother’s reddened face that the word lesbian must be worse than prostitute and almost as bad as the F word rhyming with luck. Then I remember calculating in my childlike head that if a prostitute was a bad woman, and the F word was an unutterable obscenity, then lesbian must be… the beautiful temptation of a badass woman! To be a badass woman and walk like Earl was my new goal in life. But in Harlesden, I wasn’t as brave as Earl so had to do it all the inside. But then as my teens beckoned, I discovered Siouxsie & The Banshees. Our love of goth and alternative cultures existed in parallel life worlds. Back in Swansea, Carl had already discovered them too, and was gloriously being thrown out their tour van with his best friend Terry. When Carl and his friends were going to goth and gay bars in Swansea, at 14 my best friend Louise and I were dressed in our convent school uniforms and heading out with her gay brother Diarmuid to the Mud Club, Heaven, Kit Kat Klub and Taboo. When Carl was dancing to Divine and Culture Club in the clubs, I was at the Mean Fiddler dressing as Boy George and adoring Divine onstage who asked me if I was Virgin before singing ‘You think you’re a man’.
Carl came out as a lesbian at 16 before he ever came out as trans some twelve years later.
Meanwhile I had a very short - lived booze filled affair aged 17 with a drag queen trans woman called Annie Rexia and we got married at Heaven then ‘divorced’ the next day. After that I dated pretty long-haired guys on the rock and goth scene who wore make up before I came out as gay in my mid 20s. While Carl was dating women on the gay then trans scene, I identified as queer femme and mostly dated butch women, and some andro, femmes & transmen. When Carl had been transitioning, I was a blossoming queer burlesque storyteller and performer as Dyke Marilyn, the bastard child of Monroe & Hendrix. It was during one of these performances where our worlds spectacularly collided.
Today we feel especially lucky to have found each other as it’s a rare blessing to recognise one another’s queerness as an ornate natural entity despite our physical differences. I identify as a queer woman and Carl as a man, albeit a queer camp man who is mad about Lady Gaga and Liza Minelli to name a few. Relationships have always been difficult for me as I have mental health and chronic physical disabilities. Carl also suffers from anxiety, but our health issues are ironically fortunate for our relationship because we have similar boundary requirements. We recognise our individual needs around personal space and recuperation, while still managing to support each other. It also helps that we don’t live together, however, we have been cohabiting in lockdown which is at times challenging as I have a more relaxed temperament to his more orderly (drill sergeant) way of running a household. Eight weeks and counting! I was asked to write an article for Gscene article about my relationship dating a transman, but its not as simple as that. I could mention that my fatigue and perimenopause do not always fit in too well with Carl’s teenage like testosterone surges. Or how I can feel invisible as a queer woman because outwardly we look like a straight couple as Carl can’t always be out as trans for obvious safety issues in the wider world. We’ve also managed to support one another through various hospital surgeries we’ve both needed. But this article is more about how we’ve both evolved as queer individuals and managed to find each other and unite eccentrically as a mixed race queer woman who is not greatest at domesticity and a grumpy white welsh (trans)man who sings ‘I’ve written a letter to Daddy” when he thinks no-ones looking.
Maria Rosamojo is a multimedia artist, writer and musician currently studying an MA by Project in Art & Design at The Cass, London Metropolitan University where she is completing a hauntology of her own queer mixed-race identity and mental health through film, memoir and performance.
Carl is a facilitator at The Clare Project, a trans support centre in Brighton. They both share a naughty terrier called Hendrix.