2016 10 06
Every year Grand Rapids is blessed with an event where around one thousand five hundred pieces of new art are displayed in one hundred and seventy venues. Places ranging from the city art museum to a picture in the office of an auto body shop. Bars, clubs, a bank, hotels, office buildings, parking ramps, parks, on the side of buildings, on a bridge or two, in the water under a bridge, in the lobby of the city police headquarters, in the windows of a parole office, in the historic Women’s City Club, they all become art galleries for about a month. People come to gawk, photo, and enjoy the sights. About thirty thousand people per day (average) attend. And in the midst, providing free maps, directions, and suggestions on what to see and in what order, were two crossdressers.
Amy Pond and I volunteered to act as guides, welcoming people to ArtPrize and Grand Rapids. Each Wednesday for a month we gave out maps, suggested what to see next, how to see the most in the least time for those in a hurry, and just interacted. We were in hundreds of photos. A few people asked polite but probing questions. The vast majority said things like “oh what FUN!”, “You look beautiful!”, “I like your dress (or hat, or shoes, or purse, or necklace, or outfit)!”. We were usually in out blending mode.
EXCEPT this time.
Every time we had gone OUT enfemme before it was in a manner to totally blend in. Oh yes we certainly were at the well dressed extreme end of that possibility. But never dressed to DRAW attention. Until yesterday. We definitely did draw attention. I could see people smiling, pointing, waving, taking pictures, up and down the street, on both sides of the street, as we walked along the sidewalk. The vast majority had fun with us, only a very few didn’t join in, maybe one percent. This was on a 3 mile walk IN HEELS!
We too were in about fifty to a hundred photos, received MANY “You look beautiful” compliments, and a thousand or two smiles. And maybe six blank stares and one frown. And three people who asked “Why?”. To which we just said we were volunteering and decided to do something different. We handed out a bunch of maps, suggested a route to a couple of dozen groups, and had conversations about we as fairies with probably a hundred groups. Even some discussions about trans and life. Some polite and probing questions. It was a privilege to answer them. There were groups of children excited to see the fairies, so sweet, innocent, it brought out all of my protective instincts. We are ambassatrix for ArtPrize, Grand Rapids, and the LGBTQ community. By and large the result was we made a lot of people’s day a bit more entertaining. Maybe if we were lucky we helped a few people see that what they don’t understand isn’t necessary to demonize. And we had a lot of laughs.
I feel SO lucky to live in Grand Rapids!
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