Saturday, May 8, 2021
Performance Onstage Navigating gender's fluidity in a sea of apps with...

Navigating gender’s fluidity in a sea of apps with ‘#femMASCULINE’

Toggling between drag in the streets and bear in the sheets, Kevin Seaman explores the limitations of online representation.


When San Francisco artist Kevin Seaman walked into the Lone Star or other similar LGBTQ spaces dressed as his outspoken and cartoonishly hyperfeminine drag persona LOL McFiercen, the ordinarily confident performer would suddenly feel acutely uncomfortable.

“I felt so weird, because I was used to being seen as a sexual person in that space, having a brotherly relationship in that space, rather than as my drag queen self,” Seaman says. “I used to be ashamed when people called me by my drag name or by ‘she’ in a leather bar or bear bar.”

Now, he says, he doesn’t give a shit, but it took some therapy to reconcile his more sexual side—which is to say, his attraction to masculine men—with his feminist politics. 

Or, as Seaman puts it, “I healed the rift between my gay side and my queer side.”

After having worked through this thorny dilemma for years, Seaman now presents the fruits of his artistic and emotional labor. #femMASCULINE (at Brava’s Cabaret at Brava Theater Center through October 12), examines the evolution of queer male sexuality from the perspective of someone born in the earliest phase of the millennial generation.

Kevin Seaman

As a high school student during the days when asking “age/sex/loc” was how you met new people in AOL chatrooms, Seaman’s sexual maturation occurred in tandem with the evolution of online dating sites as places of pseudo-enlightened box-checking. Seaman’s gender identity is fluid, and fluidity is—by definition—opposed to fixed categories. Hence, the idea of being “femMasculine,” wherein gender expression isn’t a final destination but a point on a continuing line.

“I wanted people to have to question the process I went through as a young gay boy, having to adapt to what I was seeing around me to be sexually attractive,” he says. 

Seaman doesn’t let his own complicity in this confining system go uninterrogated. 

“Once I got deeper into it, I realized how many emotions, how much history, and how many blocks I had,” he says, noting that he was initially attracted to bear culture because it allowed him “to be chunky” in an environment otherwise dominated by images of thin or fit bodies. 

“I am attracted to different aspects of toxic masculinity,” he adds. “Thinking about dating through media portals and thinking about gay porn—which is stripped of all feminism, of setting rules, of consent—what does it mean to set that up knowing it’s a fantasy, but we’re fantasizing about the idea of patriarchy?”

To help audiences along, femMasculine makes use of its own app (developed by Jolene Engo) as well as a section where Seaman makes the audience “do a dial-up internet orchestra with me” as well as log onto AOL chatrooms with closeted suburban dads who want him to mail them his underwear. 

“When we’re filling out a profile, you can take a picture,” Seaman says of the app, adding that there are menus with options that “you have to conform to in order to gain access to gay male sexuality.”

As most sexual adults with a smartphone know, we can sometimes throw our pocket supercomputers to the side after becoming aware of just how much time we’ve spent scrolling through undesirable options, or feeling sudden stabs of loneliness amid an ocean of options. That powerful isolation is at the heart of femMasculine’s queries into gender and sexuality — but at the end, there’s a way out of the morass.

“At one point as an artist, I realized you can just make new culture — and I feel like that’s what I want to do in this show,” Seaman says. “Give permission for people to own whatever culture they want to make.”

Thursday-Saturday, through Oct. 12, 8pm,
Brava’s Cabaret
2773 24th St., SF.
Tickets and more info here.

More by this author

The curious case of the Gray Lady and the Museum of Sentimental Taxonomy

The New York Times denies awareness of Kija Lucas's ongoing project as it launches a very similar feature. The artist calls BS.

Swaggering legends, thrilling myths at Transgender Film Fest 2020

History, heroism, and even horror meet in an all-digital compendium of seven original programs that tell a community's stories.

‘Rogue’ party uproar shows tech, journalism’s COVID-19 limits

As unpleasant as it is to find out that swans are not in fact mating-for-life in Venetian canals next to frolicking dolphins, it’s doubly...

Bingeing on dystopia: The politico-cultural decade in review

Gore Vidal once remarked that the three saddest words in the English language were “Joyce Carol Oates,” but from the vantage point of late...

Chatting by cell: ‘Uncuffed’ is a prison podcast for our time

As setups to Thanksgiving jokes go, a manic wild turkey that burst into a California prison compound seems almost too on-the-nose, considering how two...

Most read

Can immigration reform be part of Biden’s infrastructure plan?

Advocates call on Pelosi to push the measure -- but that will be a tough battle in this Congress.

Fate of Bayview facility threatens City College funding chances

The school promised $35 million to the community. Now, a battle over an obscure legal concept has the supes and the College Board at odds.

If we don’t have to wear masks outdoors, how will we angrily judge each other?

The CDC rolls back restrictions for activities and small gatherings. Now what will we use to measure our moral superiority?

Tom Ammiano gets his high school varsity letter — with ESPN filming

Special sports segment will focus on a five-minute miler in 1958 who was "'too gay' to get his letter -- and an overdue apology 63 years later.

You might also likeRELATED