A Prayer For the Human

Dear god,

Please allow me to be the best human I can be today, and please grant me the knowledge to understand and accept the limitations of my small and unimpressive existence, so that I might use these tiny moments in the best way possible before my share of time is over.

-With Love,

KP

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The Rose That Grew From Concrete

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For the past few years, I have written a New Year’s Reflections post because I think it is important to look back on how we have changed and grown in that time period (the 365 days itself is arbitrary, but it serves its purpose as a unit to measure ourselves).  This year, however, I was seriously considering not doing one because of how difficult the year had been, and how many failures I seemed to continuously come by.  However, after thinking it over, I realized, as a writer, it would be wrong to do so, because writing isn’t necessarily about sharing happy endings (if it was, Hemingway would’ve been out of a job).   It’s about trying to express some sort of truth we have come to know through personal experience, and about connecting with others.  Sadness, loss, change, and death are all parts of our human condition.  I had many ideas about how I wanted to do this entry, spanning from comedy to discussion about major world events.  I’ve decided, however, to just share some simple thoughts and reflections.

***

Late January last year I ended a painful relationship, and in a sense most of my major growth this year stemmed from that ending.  I learned that I was not the exception to the rule, and that I was not going to be exempt in life from the lessons that we are forced to learn when relationships don’t work out.  I was pulled into a very bad place due to the vacuum that sprung from its collapse, and I had some very dark days.  Thankfully, my family and my friends came to my aid, and honestly, most of that was just them being there to listen.  The friends who let us cry as much as we need to, who watch us pity ourselves, the ones who see us continually make mistakes and fall, but do not walk away from us: those are the friends who will never waiver in their devotion to us. We do not see the strength of the bonds of friendship and love in the everyday mundane; rather, we see them in the dark times, when we are at our weakest and most pathetic.

I learned that nothing in this life lasts forever, not even the excruciating pain of infidelity and shattered ideals, although for a long time I never thought it would end, and I blamed myself for everything that had transpired.  I lost weight, I exercised furiously, trying to “make myself better.”  I had to be prettier, I had to be thinner, I had to be better.  A voice inside repeated to me: I wasn’t good enough.  I deserved to be treated the way I did because I wasn’t good enough.  I was too demanding, I came with stipulations.  It was all. my. fault.

Those are some of the thoughts that plagued me for months on end.  Jealousy, anger, fear, and sadness made homes for themselves in the broken places of my heart.  It was the complete loss of self in despair.  I went to a very, very dark place.  I wish I could say that I had a magic “ah-ha,” moment (well, in a sense, my run-in with Crazy Internet Mike DID help a few lightbulbs go off, oh Hey Mike!), but really, it was just the passage of time that allowed me to get to the point where I am now.  I also wish that I could now say, on this first day of the New Year, everything in my life is all better, magically fixed by some cosmic super glue.  I can say, however, that I am not in the place that I was five months ago, and that only through this hurt did I experience the true depths of love from others and the true meaning of compassion.

I can also say that I am finally at a place where I recognize the truth that relationships are hard, and oftentimes people will hurt us along the path.  People are complex, and like I discussed in a previous post, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, not everyone views reality in the same manner, and just as they are under no obligation to treat us with dignity and respect, we are under no obligation to keep them in our lives.  I think many of us become hung up on the idea that those who hurt us deserve to experience the “karma” of their actions.  We need to let go of this flawed idea.  In his book Hogfather, author Terry Pratchett writes:

…take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy.  And yet you act, like there was some sort of rightness in the universe by which it may be judged.

We have no business “waiting on karma” for the other person.  What occurs in our lives, versus what happens in our former significant others’ lives are two completely separate and unrelated things.  We must cut ties so as not to constantly compare our journey with theirs.  You aren’t weak for cutting ties; you are strong in that you recognize the path to self-recovery.  

***

I want to say, THANK YOU, to Natalie Lue over at Baggage Reclaim; without her words of wisdom I would have not come to peace with myself.  We must always remain true to ourselves and to our morals and boundaries.  If people challenge those, it’s time to say, “So long!”  Remember, how people treat you is a reflection of who THEY are; not who YOU are.

I chose the Rose that Grew from Concrete by Tupac (one of his poems) as the theme for the entry because the idea of something beautiful coming from an impossible place is how I want to enter 2015.  The idea that life can still flourish in difficult situations is one that I want to hold dear for the next 365 days.

I hope 2015 brings peace to us all.  Weirdmaste, my friends

-KP

Reflections from a Failure

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I started this blog in 2011 because I had experienced something which, at the time, was traumatic.  I was also experiencing high levels of stress at work and had forgotten how to use creative outlets to reconnect with the world.  It’s very interesting to look back on the last three years and see how I have grown, what lessons I have learned, and recognizing that life is very cyclical.

Writing has always been an important part of my life, and it is only recently that I have begun to share that with the world.  I don’t think anything I write is exceptionally special or earth-shattering, but I realized that the reason I was reading books wasn’t only for the sake of reading a book; it was because I was trying to connect with what the author was really trying to say.  I don’t think writing is necessarily a choice; it’s more of a compulsion.  Anyway, what I’m really trying to say here is that I write because I hope that someone stumbling upon this diary can find some solace in the words of a stranger, and to know that as humans we are really very interconnected.  It’s scary and intimidating to lay your inner thoughts on the line, but this isn’t about showcasing emotions like cakes in a bakery display; it’s for those that need the connection.  Somewhere, someone has felt like you.  Maybe I have felt like you–maybe you have felt like me.

I was inspired by author Jo Coudert’s book, Advice from a Failure, when I wrote this journal entry.  I offer up my reflections to anyone else who has felt something similar at some point.

***

11/10/14

I have searched and cried and prayed, and whatever god exists, exists without bias, and without human mind.  At least without a human mind that my simple one can comprehend.  Instead, there is a god–maybe like the ‘god of small things’–who exists somewhere deep inside.  “Here am I,” it says, small and far away.

And here am I, small, and tiny, and afraid.  My tiny life is no greater, and no less than any other tiny life in this world.  And maybe I have failed, maybe I have failed countless times.  I have failed to be so many things, and to have met so many expectations, and I have failed to have continued to see the Way.

Maybe I failed because I wasn’t small and neatly packaged enough.  Maybe I failed because I came with too many stipulations and too much necessity for compromise.  Maybe I failed because I was not strong enough or maybe because I was too strong at times.  Maybe I failed because when I was rejected and turned away I could not leave well enough alone with dignity.  Maybe I failed because I wasn’t something else entirely.

But I am this thing; I have always been this, and to deny it is to deny myself.  And if all else changed in the blink of an eye, I would be left with just this.

It is not love to deny the self, or to feel quashed and trapped because of the desire to quell the self for another.  It is not love to deny what we are.  So, to stop pursuing love is to find it.  To find it in those who have always loved us, despite our faults.  To find it in the small acts of kindness we ourselves can attempt to offer, the compassion we can attempt to give.  In the ability to look at our fellow man and not judge his or her shortcomings, but to feel only compassion and empathy for all who suffer from this human condition.

And, finally, to hear the voice that says, “Here am I,” far away in the depths within, and to answer, “Here I am, I will never leave.”

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In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

Recently, I started reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and, as always, he doesn’t disappoint.  What I like best about Murakami’s writing is that it is filled with philosophic, historic, artistic, and musical references.  Somehow he is able to take things that have struck a chord with him in his own life and apply them to his writing.  His works are also usually laden with psychology woven into them, and subsequently open to interpretation.  Sometimes his concepts are strange, but he is able to showcase the human experience very well, and in my opinion it is by the open-ended aspects and the non-definitive.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking recently, reflecting on my experiences the past year up till now, and a certain part of the book really resonated with me.  One of the main characters, a boy who calls himself “Kafka,” is staying at his friend’s isolated cabin, which is filled only with survival necessities and books.  Kafka begins to read a book about a Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, who was tasked to find the “final solution” for the Jews.  Eichmann was very systematic about it, considering financial costs, the cheapest methods for the transportation and disposal of human bodies.  He was given a situation and mapped out the best possible, practical way to complete the task.  The shocking part is that Eichmann never questioned the morality of any of it, and when he was tried as a war criminal he was lost and confused.  He was just following orders; he was just being a good officer.  The boy, Kafka, finds a note his friend has penciled in the book.  It reads:

“It’s all a question of imagination.  Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine.  It’s just like Yeats said: In dreams begin responsibilities.  Flip this around and you could say where there’s no power to imagine, no responsibility can arise.  Just like we see with Eichmann.”

I thought about this and I realized this concept is a major part of understanding the human condition.  Not everyone shares the same reality.  Our reality is shaped by our own consciousness; this may very well explain the source of all human suffering.  With regard to relationships this can be expressed as: Not everyone views love the same way.  We can beat ourselves up time and time again, we can cling to the past and think of the should’ve-would’ve-could’ves, or we can cut ties with those who have hurt us and accept that the way to heal is to just leave and move on.  Because people experience reality in different ways, we can not expect them to suddenly see and understand our reality.  There are people who will never see things from our point of view.  There are people who will never know how cruel they have been to us.  And it’s not our responsibility to tell them time and time how they hurt us and expect them to magically turn into someone else.

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In Kafka on the Shore, the concepts of God and Karma are very present.  They tie into everything; our relationships included.  Two quotes that have struck me are:

“If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t. And if that’s what God’s like, I wouldn’t worry about it.” 

“Even chance meetings are the result of karma… Things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence.” 

I don’t know if I believe that everything is fated, or even what really exists within the universe, but I know that if we shape our realities from our own consciousness, while I have the faculty to see what would be poor choices for my physical and mental well-being, I am going to try and make the wisest decisions I can.  I am not going to worry about the choices of others.  Maybe my suffering in this life is caused from some karmic debt, maybe not.  Regardless, when it comes to people who treat me poorly, I will do what I know to be the wisest decision in this life I live now:  I will let them go completely.  

If a person treats us poorly, it is their karma, not ours.

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It’s Not You, It’s Them. Yes, It’s Definitely Them.

Guess who’s back?  That’s right, it’s taken me a good while to get my life together out here in beautiful Hawaii but KP is finally back and writing.  These past seven months have been incredibly trying, and I’ve learned quite a bit about myself.  In summary:

1. My 12 week program was a crash-and-burn once I hit Hawaii.  First 6 weeks were great, but life lesson learned: don’t enter into an extensive diet/exercise/fitness program that requires long workouts, very low calorie meals, and very limited foods while in a transition phase.  It simply doesn’t work.  You need to be in a set routine for it to be effective.  Moving is not the best time to do this.

2. New jobs can cause unique stresses.

3. People are stupid.

That’s right people, for tonight’s installment of whatever-I-feel-like-writing-about, I bring you, KP’S DATE FROM HEEEEELLLL!!!!  Cue Vincent Price entrance with appropriately creepy theme-song!  I was pretty miserable over the breakup of my relationship for quite a long time, and I blamed myself for its failure.  However, it took a recent experience to really open my eyes to this fact: It’s not you, it’s them.

Recently, I went out with this guy I met online.  Now, I don’t want to knock online dating because I know some people who it’s really worked out for.  However, I automatically assume everyone on the internet is cat-phishing or a serial killer.  YOU DON’T KNOW WHO IS SITTING ON THE OTHER END OF THAT COMPUTER.  End of story.  Well, I met Mike, and he seemed like your run-of-the-mill-weirdo that you find online.  Okay, cool.  Great, it’s going to be true love.  I tell Mike we can meet for coffee, because I need a quick exit in case he’s 30 lbs heavier in person, or you know, he tells me he fantasizes about wearing my skin or something like that (ala Buffalo Bill).

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Anyway, we meet, and he’s pretty weird in person, too, but I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and not be overly judgmental (note: if you get the feeling in your gut something’s up, you’re probably right).  Mike made a pretty big mistake (well, he made a few big mistakes) on date #1: he didn’t ask for my last name to put in his phone when he got my number.  That automatically alerts me that something’s up.  Like, don’t you want to know who I am?? I could have a criminal record or I could be a crazy internet stalker (cue overly-enthusiastic Justin Bieber fan girl).

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I should’ve asked for his right then and there, but I wasn’t sure if maybe these days asking for a last name is like, a major milestone in a relationship?  You know, somewhere after the decision to be monogamous, but before you’re boyfriend/girlfriend?  I have no idea.  So then Mike begins the text-a-thon.  Gentlemen: DON’T TEXT GOOD MORNING AFTER THE FIRST DATE.  IT’S CREEPY!!!  Like, whoa give the person a chance to breathe!  This guy was all kinds of up-in-my grill.  Also, STOP. ASKING. WHAT. I’M. DOING. EVERY. FIVE. MINUTES.  “Whatcha doin’?”  I’M SITTING HERE WATCHING FORENSIC FILES PICKING MY NOSE AND THIS IS HOW I’M GOING TO REMAIN FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT SO JUST STOP.  His attempts to get me to come over were pretty transparent, so what do you do with a creeper who is trying to creep?  You creep on back!  Example:

Mike: “You’re so beautiful and intelligent.”

Me: “Aww, I’ll bet you say that to all the girls you meet on the internet.”

Mike: “Too bad you’re all the way over in (town name here), all by yourself and scared.”

Me: “Nah, I’m not scared.  I got my discount ginsu knives for protection.  I’m also thinking about investing in some brass knuckles.”

Still, I wanted to give him one more chance.  So we agreed to meet for dinner.  And I had a nice time, he was slightly less weird, but still weird.  He had this thing about infidelity, saying how he was very anti-infidelity.  Well, I don’t know if there’s this weird human thing where people like to think that the more they say something, it must be true (even if it really isn’t).  Kind of like if you know you’re not really a good singer, the louder you sing you think you can fool people into thinking you’re actually a good singer?  So I’m pretty suspicious, and I ask for his last name.  HE STILL DOESN’T ASK FOR MINE.  RED FLAG RED FLAG RED FLAG.  So the date comes to an end and we say our goodbyes, he says he thinks we should go hiking on Saturday.  Okay, Mike.  Sounds great, will the third date be the charm for when you finally ask for my last name and don’t make me feel like just a name in your creepy phonebook of first names?  I get home and immediately commence appropriate google and Facebook stalking.  Sure enough, he comes up.  No criminal record, okay, check.  However, his Facebook profile picture is definitely of him and another girl, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes lovingly.  I find her name and click on it, and her profile picture is of the two of them.  I’m not even mad, I’m honestly  laughing at this point.  Like, are people THAT STUPID?  So I text him what’s up, and he proceeds to tell me they broke off the engagement “well over a month ago,” except not, because, thanks Facebook for date and time stamps, because less than a month ago he writes, “So happy I’ve found the love of my life!”  WHAT.  WHAT.  CUE ALL WHITE GIRLS HERE AND LET’S GET A COLLECTIVE: I CAN’T EVEN.  

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He told me he couldn’t prove that their engagement was off and that contacting her to change things “would just cause more problems.”   Riiiiiiiiiiight.  Because what female in her right mind would keep a profile picture up of your stupid ass if she broke off an engagement with you AND broke up with you?  Just for shits and giggles?  Hey everyone, remember the time I almost married THAT asshole?  Yeah me, too!  Hold on, let me constantly remind myself of how much he sucked by keeping our picture up!  LOLS!!!

Needless to say, Mike and I did not go hiking, and he still doesn’t know my last name (thankfully).

Moral of the story (well, there are a few):

1. The internet is f*cking WEIRD.

2. Gentlemen: if you want to be shady and have a jump-off or a side dish, for god’s sake change the professionally done engagement photo profile picture of you and her.

3. Most importantly: IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S THEM.  IT’S DEFINITELY THEM.  How someone can sit across from you at a dinner table and tell you they have issues with infidelity and then you find out they’re married/engaged/in a serious relationship–IT’S 100% THEM!!!  They’re nuts!!!  

People, look up Occam’s Razor, in the most basic sense it’s a way of deciding between theories–basically the path of least resistance is usually the right one, or whichever way causes less assumptions is usually the truth.  So I could assume this guy is just a cheater and lying.  Or I could assume that he “doesn’t really use his Facebook and just kept up the profile picture because he didn’t really give a crap” and I could just assume that the reason HER profile picture is still of them post-engagment/relationship breakup is because she’s dead or abducted by aliens or converted to the Amish faith and believes the internet will steal her soul so she doesn’t use a computer anymore and it’s the 2nd Tuesday of the month which means half-off on Tacos at the Taco Shack down the road.  Ooooooookaaaaaaaaayy!

As silly as this whole thing was, it made me realize, my ex was going to treat me badly regardless of how pretty/intelligent/unique/whatever I was.  People will treat you how they treat you based on their own selfish desires.   It has NOTHING to do with you, so if someone isn’t treating you how you feel you deserve to be treated (with respect, love, and dignity), LEAVE THEIR SORRY ASS!!

 

-KP out!

On Love

Beware, KP has an opinion post to follow…

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As always, I continue to be a terrible writer and not write as often as I should.  I’ve been doing a bit of traveling within the States, although work keeps me busy and I haven’t really had the time to take some new photos.  We went up to Biloxi two weekends ago and toured the Jefferson Davis home, Beauvoir, but the weather wasn’t good enough to walk around and take many pictures.  Today was Easter, and although I do not identify with any particular religious belief system, it is always a nice excuse to spend a few hours at brunch with friends.

I had an incident that occurred just about two weeks ago that really got me thinking about love and forgiveness, and I think for my own cathartic reasons it needs to be shared.  I am specifically talking about the kind of romantic love in relationships in this entry.  I think we as a whole, both over-use and under-use the phrase, “I love you.”  We over-use it in the sense that it is said for the wrong reasons, whether that is manipulation for some shallow gain (sex, money, material items, etc), or we aren’t thinking about what it really means.  Maybe it’s because as a writer I’ve been cursed with constant introspection, but I can never understand why people can use a phrase of this gravity so carelessly.  When you say, “I love you” to somebody, what you are really saying is, “You are THE priority in my life.”  It is such a massive statement to make, which is why I fully believe it shouldn’t be said or used as carelessly as it is!  Love is ultimately about selflessness; anything other than such isn’t love, it’s lust or infatuation or whatever else.  But love is about someone else.

People often make mistakes, no one is perfect.  Through love, I believe forgiveness can heal wounds and relationships can grow strong, ONLY if both people are willing to put in the proper effort and believe their relationship is worth saving.

I’ve been thinking about this often as I observe others around me.  I see relationships I wish I can someday emulate with someone.  These relationships generally consist of two partners who enjoy spending much time together doing hobbies they both enjoy, such as traveling, cooking, exploring new restaurants, and the like.  They communicate well and are completely open with one another.  They fully respect and appreciate their partner and do not take them for granted.  I also see relationships I hope to never end up in; ones where people do not communicate, are not completely open, do not respect their partner and their partner’s feelings (think: “If he/she were witnessing my behavior/what I am saying to another person, would it hurt their feelings?”).  I see people in unhappy marriages because they rushed into something because “it was time to settle down,” or something of that nature.  I have never understood the concept of “settling” in love.  If it’s love, why should it be considered “settling”?  Love is a CHOICE!  Every day, it is a choice.

As for the phrase, “I love you,” being under-used, well, this one is pretty simple.  If it is love, then sing it strong and proud, because we are never guaranteed tomorrow!  And that goes for all types of love, not just romantic relationships.

I truly feel, deep within my heart, that to be better people we need to think about others.  I am in no way perfect, but I know that there are times when we really need to push our own desires aside and put our loved ones’ needs before our own.  Love really is about putting others before ourselves.

The Stranger’s Always You

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A few years ago I discovered John Cameron Mitchell’s movie adaptation of his stage play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Actually, I first watched it after I had ended something that I now wouldn’t even say had any semblance of a relationship…but at the time I was hurt.  In the wake of everything that has happened recently, I have found myself suddenly turning back to this movie.  I have’t listened to the songs or watched it in about two years, but after watching it again only just recently, I realize how perfect a play and film Mitchell created.

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At first glance, the posters and trailer make one think of the flamboyant glam-rock film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It certainly portrays a lead character who demands attention, but this film and its music are vastly different from Rocky Horror.  The central concepts center on identity, human complexity, love, and understanding what “wholeness” is.  Mitchell created a story based on a character who believes love from another will form the missing other half to the whole.  One of the songs, “Origin of Love,” is an illustration of this, pulling from Aristophanes speech in Plato’s Symposium explaining heterosexuals, homosexuals, and their longing to feel “whole.”  The story is that in ancient times human beings existed as three different types of creatures: male/male, female/female, and male/female.  Much like in other religions, notably Christianity and Judaism, humans made a costly mistake in trying to acquire too much knowledge (similar to Adam and Eve, the story of the Tower of Babylon, etc), and so Zeus sent thunderbolts to split the beings in two, causing them to then forever feel compelled to “find their missing other half.”

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In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hansel is a young man living in Communist East Berlin who falls in love with an American solider.  In order to marry the soldier and leave the country, Hansel must get a sex-change operation to fool doctors that he is actually a woman.  Note: he did not previously feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body.  The operation is botched, and what remains is something in-between male and female.  After moving to the United States, the solider leaves Hansel–now Hedwig, using his mother’s name–for another man.  Alone and devastated, Hedwig picks herself up and begins odd-jobs and writing music, sometimes performing with local military wives.  She meets Tommy Speck, a quiet, very Christian young man, and the two begin writing music together and falling in love.  Hedwig teaches Tommy about rock music and gives him the name, Tommy Gnosis (Gnosis being the Greek word for “knowledge”).  Tommy ends up rejecting Hedwig for her physical deformity from the operation and runs off with Hedwig’s music and claims it as his own, rising to stardom.  Hedwig now has her own band, and is in the middle of a lawsuit to reclaim what is rightfully hers.  She is caught between her desire to be with Tommy, who she believes is her other half, and wanting to destroy him if she cannot be with him.  Ultimately, she receives justice and the fame and recognition deserved for her music.  In the end, she comes to realize there is no “other half,” and that “wholeness” comes from within.  Tommy and Hedwig part ways, and Hedwig leaves behind all the wigs, costumes, and makeup, and comes to terms with who he is.  My favorite song, Wicked Little Town, sung by Tommy to Hedwig as a form of apology in the end, probably boasts some of the most powerful lyrics in the entire show:

Forgive me for I did not know
’cause I was just a boy
And you were so much more

Than any god could ever plan
More than a woman or a man
And now I understand
How much I took from you
That when everything starts breaking down
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
Something beautiful and new

You think that luck has left you there
But maybe there’s nothing
Up in the sky but air

And there’s no mystical design
No cosmic lover preassigned
There’s nothing you can find
That cannot be found
’cause, with all the changes you’ve been through
It seems the stranger’s always you

The line “You were so much more than any god could ever plan, more than a woman or a man,” really drives home the theme of human complexity.  Ultimately, we are not “destined” to be with anyone; we are whole as we are and life unfolds based on the consequences of our choices and actions.  Love comes not from the need to feel “complete,” but by feeling complete as we are.  None of the characters in the show can be easily defined, which makes them so much more human and real.  Not male, not female, not gay, not straight, but human.  This film is definitely highly unusual and non-traditional, but it has one of the best story-lines I have ever seen and the music is wonderful.  John Cameron Mitchell really drives it home with this one.  I highly recommend for anyone who likes off-beat films with a sense of humor and a good message.