Sunday, November 9, 2008

One of the Women

I had intended to post about how Matreya went last week, but I found it hard to find the proper thing to say outside of a quick review. Besides, the world has gone through some major changes in the past week.

So it's been a week since Matreya went up. It was well-attended and received and it looks like it's going to have a lifetime with other performances in other venues, so my prosthetic eye stays in my makeup box and my skull paraphernalia are put away with my other costume parts. I believe it was Abby who asked how Kali felt to me as I portrayed her. I replied that she felt like a combination Screaming Death and June Cleaver. I had intended to post pictures, but I have none as of yet. When I have them, up they'll go. As with any kind of production, there were plenty of last-minute kerfuffles, and Jayne and the tech crew wore themselves to a frazzle. She's been down with the flu for the past few days - probably due more to the stress.

The women I was privileged to work with are uniformly dedicated and talented. They are wonderful singers, and all have a deep sense of spirit. As I said in an earlier post, the play concerns a young woman who has been killed and finds herself welcomed into the Bardo (one of the stages of the Buddhist otherworld) by a conclave of goddesses who share their stories and prepare her to return to Earth as Matreya, a Bodhisattva of compassion. I would give names, but I don't feel comfortable without their permission. Isis was portrayed by a writer, producer, and life coach; Spider Woman was played by a marriage and family counselor with a regular column on a well-known news blog; White Buffalo Calf Woman and Magdalene were played by professional singers; Lilith was played by dancer and fashion designer, and Matreya was portrayed by a working actress (there's got to be at least one - it's LA). And, of course, there were Jayne and Gilli and the stage crew. The only men directly involved were the bass player and the sound tech.

The play was presented at The Mint, a venerated blues club, one of the few venues of its kind in LA which has maintained its identity for more than a few years - seventy to be exact. The audience of about 50 (it's ok; it's a small venue) was a combination of familiar faces and total strangers. Melody sat in a conspicuous seat and gave me a single yellow rose as I left the stage. It's still in its bud vase.

It was an exhausting and profoundly positive experience.

So what has this meant to me?

I was one of the women who put this on. If I were transitioned or living full time, these words might not be making me as woozy as they are right now. These women knew me, knew the nature of my life, and yet I was accepted without question. Well... sure, I answered a few questions and did some explaining, but I was one of them. After the show, I was invited to participate in a women's circle that took place on Venice Beach yesterday. Unfortunately, I had to decline because of a family engagement, but the invitation stands. I've also been invited to be a main presenter for another women's circle after the first of the year.

As usual, I have various points of view running through my head:

Pragmatic and self-deprecating: Are you sure? I mean... I don't think I can pass the physical.
Goddess Chick: Why, thank you so much for recognizing me.
Overwhelmed: You like me! You really like me!
Just me: Thank you. I love working with you. This feels so comfortable and so right.

I would say that the biggest conflict is between the first and last. For all my claims to being a "mystical and magical creature," I am still conflicted as to my right to be me.

I'll let you in on a secret: I feel like I haven't paid my dues. I've neither gone through a girlhood, through menstruation, through childbirth nor gone through RLE, HRT, or SRS. What makes this acceptance so profound for me is the nagging feeling that I don't rate it - that I have sisters who have struggled with gaining acceptance, and it's handed to me on a silver platter. That having been said; however, I am also more convinced than ever that being a woman or a man (and perhaps being many other things also) is more about the energy we emanate than it is about our physicality. I don't say this to detract from any of my beloved sisters who have transitioned or are on the way. How could I dare? You bear so much. (Does that sound a little over the top? Deal with it. Right now I'm loving every last one of you.) But I celebrate your (and my) beautiful feminine souls. And I celebrate the souls of these wonderful women with whom I have spent all too short a time.


Shauna said...

See we talked about this acceptance didn't we. Imagine how I felt the first time I came out, I cried for two days because I was missing it in my life. Am I the exception of all the girls?

Doesn't matter you are happy and you know what, that is all that counts. Isn't it lovely being a woman?

Love ya Gillian

Gillian said...

It is indeed lovely. And considering what you've been going through lately, that's a pretty strong "lovely." You've been paying some major dues.

Abby said...

A "combination of Screaming Death and June Cleaver," huh? Now, that's an image it will take some time to wrap my head around. At the same time, it makes perfect sense, for Kali wields her sword with love as she cuts away all that is illusion that we may know the love, the truth, that we are.

You said, "For all my claims to being a 'mystical and magical creature,' I am still conflicted as to my right to be me." But isn't part of the magic seeing the conflict between who we and others see ourselves to be and the truth, the magic, of who we truly are, and then being that magical, mystical creature despite all seeming evidence to the contrary? I think it is. And, although I've never seen you in performance, I'm certain that is exactly why you are accepted as a woman among women -- because you allow the magic of your truth shine through, and you make it real, for all to see. Yes, it is more about who we are, the energy, than the shape of our bodies.

As for not having paid your "dues," none of us need earn the right to be ourselves. We each follow different paths and pay different prices to reach that truth. You need not feel that you haven't paid enough, or as much as any other. Your path, and your price, is to be honored and cherished, just like mine, and Shauna's and all the others who travel the road to knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Oh Gillian, You are indeed a mystical and magical creature!! I love what Abby said in response to your fear that you "haven't paid your dues"..."none of us need earn the right to be ourselves". So you see Gillian, as I fight to be respected as a woman in a male dominated world, you fight to manifest the highest image of your true self. We fight side by side for the same thing in a slightly different package.

Welcome to the sisterhood Gillian. It was my joy to perform with you in Matreya and I look forward to our relationship blossoming over time.

With much love and respect,

Gillian said...

I can say nothing back other than I have been blessed with wise and dear friends.

My love and respect goes back to you all.

Heathercam said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience. We all have our paths, and it sounds like you have truly found yours. Your reflections on the energy we emanate really resonated. I think you have hit on a fundamental truth. Our physical self may be the lens through which the world sees us (and we, the world) - but it is the light within that's at the core of it all.