Brown Narcissus: My Leap Out of a Queer White Space

"My big, brown vessel serves to carry me and protect me from obliteration."
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<p>Still from the video “Corpulenxia”</p>

Still from the video “Corpulenxia”

Dorian Wood

She has a name as white as the spaces that have held her. “Dorian” was chosen at random out of a book of names by my late Tia Julieta, my mother’s sister. “Wood” is the surname of my late Irish-American grandfather, who married a Costa Rican woman, my Abuelita Camita. Both my parents are dark-skinned enough to have concocted my perfect shade of brown, yet the combination of skin tone and Anglo name has brought years of third-party, First World bewilderment and inquiry at times bordering on inappropriateness, particularly when Those Who Are Well-Intentioned insist that I could pass for...Samoan. The reassuring smiles and pats on the shoulder that quickly follow are also standard. I have been traveling through white spaces my entire life, where every situation is a context, and rarely one of my own invention. I have learned time and time again that my name is a key that opens white doors.

My particular “exoticness”, it must be noted, contains multitudes of its own. One notable layer is my consistent body fluctuation, which transforms me from one fetish-object to the next. When the arms are especially thick, they can put an interesting perspective on my large breasts. I have proudly referred to these as “tits”, and this has triggered entitled gay men to correct me (during sex, no less): “Men have chests, not tits.” Meanwhile on the other side of Planet Hypermasculinity, bi-closeted men have fulfilled their complex fantasies by seeking to sleep with a chubby man-of-color who happens to have woman-like breasts and curvy hips and legs. I lost my virginity at 25 to an older Chicano gang member who took this type of role-playing to dizzying, confusing heights. This brought an adolescent fantasy of being with a muscled pelon to life in a way I had never imagined but for which I’d always yearned. Since that experience, curiosity and fetish have lived in the same breath. “Fat” and “Femme”, each to varying degrees, depending on what the moment demands. As I have been a blur to some, I have been a stain to others. My big, brown vessel serves to carry me and protect me from obliteration. To merely “exist” is enough to turn the world upside-down for so many sensitive souls out there ― for better or worse. And it is well into my adulthood that I finally feel I deserve to enjoy all of it, as evidenced in the video for my song “Corpulenxia”.

Con nada de sufrir, ni arrepentimiento is the phrase that repeats at the end of the song: “With nothing to suffer, nor regret”. My Edith Piaf moment. Every song I’ve ever written has that moment which beckons a longing gaze to the heavens, hands held out in a desperate plea, fingers boney and tight. In the video, the moment arrives as the word “SUFRIIIR” is “unsmeared” on the wall, and I go bonkers; a one-person fat, brown queer riot. She came to party. She contorts and hides her body, only to reveal more of it. The tangled snarl of ancestral strands converge and melt into a deep, delicious brown. What bliss to exist in this gorgeous skin that rivals only the earth in its absolute perfection; skin that quivers with excitement when in the presence of other brown beings (like my co-star and performance sister Sebastian Hernandez). To weep, to smile, to sweat, to sing, forever darkened by the sun…as if we could be more beautiful than this.

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