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As Lynnee Breedlove accepted the Lammy award for the Trans category earlier this year, at the podium he quipped, “People ask me all the time whether I’m a boy or a girl and I say, ‘Why are you asking me? Do I look like I know?’” Delivered with perfect comic timing, it’s also a line from his recent—and now, award-winning—book One Freak Show.
It’s a short book as far as books go—less than 130 pages—and feels more like a poetry length book than a memoir. And it does contain some poetry—some chopped up sentences that read like Tribe 8 lyrics and probably make a lot more sense when spoken.
The whole thing feels spoken. Often I can hear the comic timing in Breedlove’s paragraphing—as if in the margins he’d written ‘pause’ or ‘breathe’ or ‘louder here.’ Early on, one of the short vignettes describes how much Breedlove likes making people laugh, and how the comic timing was infused into the One Freak Show (which is like a one man show or one woman show but genderless, see).
As someone genderqueer, I loved Breedlove’s inner monologue about gender, transitioning, belonging, the LGBTIQQAA communities, binding, packing, f*cking, and girls. Now this—this is my language. These are my own meditations, these conversations about labels and identities and transfeminists on high alert and testosterone and butches who are or aren’t transitioning and getting older and gender police and mentors who came before us.
It might read as a chaotic surprising mess to those who are outside of this culture of gender bending. Sometimes there were so many in-jokes on a page that I felt exposed. And understood. And comforted—to know though my path is not the same, there are many others out there who came before me, and many others familiar with these same questions of gender presentation, identity, belonging, and how to tell our stories.
LYNNEE BREEDLOVE’S ONE FREAK SHOW
by Lynn Breedlove
Manic D Press
Paperback, $14.95, 120p