Friend of Ask Nicola Angélique Corthals drew this cartoon of me arriving for the first time in this country (in 1988) to go to Clarion.
I know I’ve told this story somewhere, but I can’t remember where (if anyone can, feel free to send me the link and I’ll add it later). So here the Reader’s Digest version: I arrived in this country not knowing it was illegal for dykes (and gay men) to enter. (Didn’t know that this fine country discriminated against us fine queer folk? It was illegal until 1990 or ’91. It’s only just–this year, this year–become legal for people with HIV to enter.) I had a buzzcut, an axe earring, big boots, and an attitude. (Eh, I was young.) The immigration officer started to give me a hard time; I gave him a What-stone-did-you-crawl-out-from-under? look and folded my arms. It turns out that ignorance is not only bliss, it apparently has protective powers. The immigration person didn’t understand why I wasn’t quivering. He frowned, reconsidered the wisdom of his approach (clearly the axe and Radical Debutante t-shirt meant something different to the English; perhaps I had some ace up my sleeve–powerful friends, perhaps?) then waved me through. I slung him an Asshole! look over my shoulder and strolled off, whistling. I shudder, now, to think how close I was to not being allowed in, to never meeting Kelley.
But, hey, that’s my lesson: give good glare. Works for me.