Son of Apollo and some quick thoughts on masculinity
When I see you
I see you running -
your feet slapping against the pavement,
too-big shoes slipping and tripping you,
your arms straight, elbows locked, hands pointed out and down,
two sides of a triangle trying to touch the earth. And your face tilted
straight up, staring directly into the sun.
I’m scared this will destroy you, Phaethon.
-Clymene, Son of Apollo
Wednesday 11/17 starting at 7pm Eastern, my play Son of Apollo will be available to stream for free on Howlround. Son of Apollo is a ten minute piece and will be livestreamed from its performance at Hollins University as part of a larger festival of trans-made and centered work.
Son of Apollo is one of my most popular pieces. I think it’s in no small part due to how many of us, trans and cis, have a fraught and complicated relationship with masculinity. When I wrote it I was just beginning to dig into what masculinity meant to me. I had come out to my family recently and my mother told me it was like I died - that our entire relationship was gone.
I’d really just given it different context.
There’s a trending sound on TikTok that’s full of usually thin, white people dressed in a style too close to mine for comfort saying something like “Woman? Sometimes! Man? Never! I’m just a little guy!!!!!”
I fucking hate it.
Commiserating with some fellow trans people, I was able to focus in on three of my biggest issues with it:
It reads as another attempt by some gender non-conforming people to continue to align themselves (at a distance) with cis, white womanhood because of a familiar safety and, frankly, power
An attempt to use masculinity for presentation but remove the possibility of it as a positive identity marker because Men/Masculinity=Bad
The infantilization of trans mascs as powerless childlike figures, and how that can be weaponized against the community-at-large (including as attacks against trans women)
I don’t want to dive deeper into those topics but I think they’re another lens I’ve used to focus my identity and relationship with masculinity. I mean, I get it. Plenty of men are the worst. But I don’t have to be.
I don’t want to embrace any presentation or identity because it’s “acceptable” - I want to always work towards something closer to me (whatever that is). I don’t think I’ll ever fully find that person. That’s probably a good thing. Continued growth, or whatever.
But right now it’s a deep desire to be the guy who always carries tissues, the Chad who hypes you up, the grandpa who randomly palms $10 to the grandkids. These aren’t inherently “““masculine”””” actions, but through my lens they are masculine traits.
Anyways. Son of Apollo doesn’t end with Phaethon losing control of the chariot and dying, because I couldn’t write that. Because my mom was wrong. I didn’t die. I found myself.
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