Photo Caption: never the same person. never the same water. always the same bodies.
Written by: Kyle Capstick
I know that I’ve always been effeminate. What I don’t know is when I first learned to feel ashamed of it.
I don’t know is when my ex-partner of 5 years and I stopped working as a couple, but I do know that when we broke up I felt overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of my life alone.
I don’t know when, but at some point I stopped calling myself a playwright. Although I could speak passionately about my past work and the importance of theatre, I couldn’t convince myself why any of the projects I wanted to write needed to be plays. Playwriting (at least in my experience) demands an unshakeable faith that once you have built the work, it will find a life and an audience. Over time I’ve lost that unwavering devotion.
In the midst of this I started dating again.
I don’t always appear as effeminate in photos as I know myself to be. There is a feminine quality to my voice, to the way I hold myself, to the way I move my hands. I have never consciously denied my femininity, but revealing my softness to new suitors always felt potentially destructive. In retrospect I realized that fearing my femininity was also suppressing my greatest source of strength. I know now that that in me which makes me effeminate is also that which makes me powerful.
Around this time the lacy white dress came into my life. I’d sourced the dress from Value Village for a production of my show Bodies Strange at the Toronto Fringe Festival. While doing laundry for the show I put on the white dress and took a photo. In that dress, looking in that mirror, I was struck by two truths. First, a reminder that I identify as a cisgender male. Second, a discovery that I felt more powerful in that white dress than I have in any other garment.
I tried to write about a play about this moment, but my attempts were never very good and didn’t get very far. So, driven by the power of my white dress, I created a secret Instagram account called #FemmeKween. I call #FemmeKween a secret account, but it has never really been a secret. Every post I have made to the account has been public. Until now, I have been hesitant to publicize it, even in my own social media circles, because I started the account more for myself than for anyone else (I also wanted to take time to fine-tune it and ensure that it is something I want others to see). Despite this, the account has always been open and accessible.
When I called myself a playwright, I felt that every project I wrote needed to be a play. This dedication was helpful, but could become dangerous. I have been guilty of bending my ideas to fit within concepts of theatricality because writing for theatre is what I know. Working on #FemmeKween is currently taking me farther from theatre but will inform and deepen my practice when I do write my next play.
#FemmeKween has become a way of asking why I previously feared that embracing the power of my hairy body in a white dress would necessitate the sacrifice of my male-identity. As I write, I recalled the voices of well-meaning friends who have told me “you would be prettier if you shaved [insert the name of pretty much any body part here]”. I am driven by a need to know why it feels dangerous for me to wear this white dress (and why every conversation around femininity either alludes to or addresses danger/violence). Working on #FemmeKween is allowing me to put into words something I have felt about myself for a long time. It’s not intended to be a finished product, but rather a work in progress. It is a public excavation of my world and presentation of the man I am in the process of becoming.
Editor’s Note: I met Kyle when he was still a Toronto-based playwright. He’s recently moved home to Cape Breton where he’s been exploring new mediums. He is a genuinely strange and beautiful soul, constantly arranging new artistic ways to explore personal truths with humour and poetics. His work is received with polarity and versatile commentary but, overall, Kyle remains a provocative presence in Canadian theatre.