|Me in the lower right - utterly enraptured.|
"I had a good soundtrack," I interjected. I did have a damn good soundtrack growing up. And songs like "Queer," "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)," "Candy Says," and "Bleed Like Me" helped me find my way through gender dysphoria, self doubt, bullying, shame, and fear.
I was in high school in the 90s when I discovered Garbage. Back there, in the Georgia suburbs, I was stuck in an evangelical Christian school, a conservative town, and a family that was Republican and military. It was not a good place for a young queer transgirl to be. Most of the music I listened to was grunge, metal, or industrial. It was loud, angry, and masculine. I was frustrated by life, deeply lonely, and worried I was going to hell for being queer. But then I found Garbage's music.
That first pink, feathered album cover seemed so different. I absorbed every song of that album like the little baby queer sponge I was. I listened to it on repeat so many time. I would tape Garbage's music videos when they were shown on MTV. I clipped every Garbage article or picture from every magazine I could find.
And because of Shirley Manson I started to see that femininity wasn't weak. There was power and strength in femininity. If someone as cool as Shirley could be feminine than maybe I could start to accept my own feminine side. The first women's I every purchased for myself was a pink feather boa. The next was fishnets and eyeliner. I first started letting myself come out to other people. I first started presenting female and going out. I started to become slightly more comfortable with myself and my queerness for the first time in my life.
After the Q&A we went to get our pictures taken. When I came up Shirley said to me "We're gonna have to do a glam pose." She mentioned my skirt again, quite emphatically telling me how much she liked it. And grabbed onto me for the picture. I don't think my pose was too glam. I was nervous and I only had one chance. I would have loved to have taken a few more, a few hundred more. But I think it came okay all things considered. Truth is no matter what I'd probably find something about myself in the picture that I didn't like. That's just how I am.
And so I printed out my picture with a little Version 2.0 style graphic. "Not Your Kind of People" is Garbage's anthem for their fans. Garbage fans tend to be the misfits, the weirdos, and the freaks. But the band gets that because that's who they are too. So I put this up at my desk. When I'm feeling like the only weirdo or freak at my normie-centric office, I can look at that picture and know that, while I might not fit in at work, I do fit in with heroes.