Donna and I went to see Casa Valentina, the new Harvey Fierstein play. We saw it in previews, so this is not a review. The play is set during a spring weekend in the 1960’s, at a resort in the Catskills that caters to men who cross-dress. There once was a real place called Casa Susanna. It turns out that I have a lot in common with the guys who went there.
Before I knew the words homosexual, deviant, gay, lesbian, butch, queer, or transgender, I cross-dressed. As often as I could get away with it. I did it as early as nursery school, refusing to put on a dress and insisting on wearing blue. I was a stubborn kid. I put on my brother’s clothes. Including his underwear. I had a separate male persona.
In cross-dressing circles there is a lot of discussion about whether the cross-dresser is transgender or an otherwise normal heterosexual guy who just likes to dress en femme. There are distinctions made between straight men who sometimes wear women’s clothing and gay men who do drag. There is an organization, Tri-Ess, dedicated to providing safe spaces for heterosexual men to cross-dress. They have a bill of rights for both cross-dressers and their partners (wives). It is a bit of a 1960’s throwback.