These are some photos taken almost entirely (except the last) by Heather Chan documenting the bearded-lady-high-femme-genderfuck striptease I did on Saturday night at Reed College’s annual Drag Ball to India.Arie’s body positivity anthem “Video.” I did this because of Mary Oliver telling me that I just have to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves, that I do not have to crawl through the desert [any longer]. I did this because of Andrea Gibson and her weatherveins, and because this is my body/it is no one’s but mine. I did this for all the years I’ve spent hating flesh, hating embodiment, confused by Cartesian dualism, feeling ashamed of girlhood and all the myriad and innumerable ways I’ve hurt others. I did this because of Dorianne Laux and the lights from the carnival rides that are the only stars I believed in, because I don’t want to be saved. Because I have to save myself. Because I’ve let people that I thought loved me carve tunnels through my ribs with knives I freely gave them. Because I want more than anything to be tough, but I wear my heart on my sleeve. Because to be completely naked in front of strangers, to slide the last article of clothing down over my legs and shake my dappling of cellulite and small breasts and little belly was the most freedom I have ever allowed myself, more than drugs or sex or love or endurance has ever provided. Because there is nothing more femme than my soft body hair and my vulgarity. Because I’m tired of always being in pain. Because writing this out is making me cry from somewhere deep in the past, gleaming faintly from Rilke’s long childhood hours when I was so afraid. Because I am learning to love myself slowly. Because I want everyone to love themselves. Because I am done letting this sorrow melt me into fear. Because I am beautiful.