.journal 2002.11.11

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.org.2: Sean de PoN!

Now listening to: Delerium, Morpheus
Now reading: Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
Now playing: Final Fantasy IX (Playstation)

Urd: Hello and welcome to the five billion fans of seanshannon.org throughout the world! Tonight, in honour of the .org’s two-year anniversary, we’re going to answer the questions you’ve sent in!

Gan-chan: You’ve sent in all these questions for us? Thank you, thank you, you love us, you really love … urk! Urd, these aren’t letters to us, it’s just some cheap stage prop!

Urd: (smashes Gan-chan’s head with a large mallet) Now let’s begin, shall we! It’s Sean de PoN!

(With all due credit to Fujishima Kosuke.)

Ahem. Yes, it’s time to celebrate two years of the .org being up, and as I thoroughly advertised on the site over the past month, I figured it was time for a question-and-answer session with me. So I asked you all to send in questions for me to answer, and the response was …

Let’s just get to the questions, shall we?

Have you registered to vote yet?

Nope, and after what happened in the late fall of 2000, I likely never will. That kind of shattered that whole “your vote counts” thing irrepairably, because your vote doesn’t count if the Supreme Court says so. Sadly, the kind of problems we saw in Florida in 2000 are endemic in the whole electoral procedure; don’t even get me started on how Toledo “elected” Carty Finkbeiner as its first Strong Mayor.

Apart from that, registering to vote would leave me to that wonderful thing known as jury duty. My mother had to serve jury duty about a decade ago, and the experience was excrutiating for the whole family to say the least. This isn’t even getting into the absurdity of the concept of picking people up off the street and making them decide the guilt or innocence of the accused. Just go out driving in the downtown of the nearest city to you for about half an hour and see if you’d like those people deciding whether or not you go to prison for something you never did.

It’s a shame, too, because some of the people I know in Spectrum are very politically active, and it would kind of be nice to join them in their struggles. But I’ve just become too disillusioned of the “political process” to partake in it. Instead I’d just rather handle politics the same way I handle other things in my life: every once in a while I’ll come up on the .org soapbox and make a little speech, and hope that I can get people thinking through that. Better to spend my time influencing two votes than just casting one of my own, right? (Yeah, I know that if I voted too that’d be three votes.)

Now brace yourself, as for the first time in its two-year history the w-word is spoken on the .org …

Do you still watch wrestling at all, or have you given it up completely?

After I got out of “the situation”, I stopped watching for a couple of months, but then I started watching the odd show every now and then. With Jeff around the house/hotel room so much, it was hard not to avoid hearing abour certain developments, and I did make a point of seeing some shows, such as the RawNitro union. But I’d become disillusioned with wrestling long before then, and I really wasn’t getting much out of it. For what it’s worth, I caught a lot of XFL games, and thought Vince McMahon had some good ideas that no one ever really gave him credit for. (I actually defended McMahon at one point in an early .journal entry, though not by name. Bonus points if you can find where.)

We had cable in the hotel room, and I made sure to tape the shows for my mother like she wanted, but I started watching even less and less once I started back at school. We still haven’t gotten cable installed at the house, though, and our local UPN station is too far out of reach for my rabbit ears, so now I couldn’t watch even if I wanted to. (Unless I wanted to hang around UT’s TV lounge on Mondays, assuming anyone else there wanted to watch; Thursdays would be out because of Spectrum meetings anyway.)

I do still check some of the wrestling Websites to see what’s going on, though, and from what I’ve read on there, I’m guessing it’s a good thing I haven’t been able to watch the shows recently. I was also particularly amused at how many sites continued to treat me as part of the community long after I left; doubtlessly the very fact that I’ve even uttered “wrestling” on the .org is going to send a lot of people into a tizzy. Well, I’ll make you all a deal; you don’t talk about me on your Websites, and I won’t show up on your messageboards (and bring half of Spectrum with me). Okay?

While we’re on the subject …

You and Hyatte…..

real enemies or a storyline for the internet wrestling fans?

Thanks.

Started out as something staged, he took things too far, then things exploded. ‘Nuff said.

Of all of your web ventures, which one has been the most enjoyable for you? Which one do you miss the most, if any?

I don’t think there’s any question that the .org has been the most enjoyable site I’ve worked on. I just don’t have restrictions here; if I want to write about picking lint out of my belly button for a few paragraphs, I can do that, because there’s no real overlying structure to the site that says “no talking about belly buttons” or anything like that. Even at the personal Website I used to maintain before the .org (the one at my personal Webspace on glasscity.net, for those of you who remember back that far), I kind of felt the need to build the site under what was then the standard template for personal Websites. It was nice that I could devote whole pages to the musicians and video games I loved, but it just wasn’t as malleable as the .org has been.

Excluding the .org, I think Vulgar Unicorn had the most potential to really be something. I coded the whole site from scratch, and while it was hardly Slashcode or Geeklog, it did the things I needed it to do. And we certainly had our share of ultra-talented writers on staff. But no one ever wrote much (and I’ll be the first to point a finger at myself for that), and it wasn’t long before the site just became Jeff McGinnis’ movie reviews. And then he even stopped doing those when his college workload picked up. If we’d all written a lot more, I think we would have filled a niche and established our own readership. But as it is, there are a lot of personal Websites out there these days doing what I wanted Vulgar Unicorn to do; Don‘s is certainly a prime example of that.

As for which one I miss the most, I’d say Vulgar Unicorn, except that I don’t think Vulgar Unicorn really had the opportunity to develop into what I thought it could be. So instead I’d have to go with the New World Wide Web Order. When we were on our game, we were untouchable. And that little thing with me staring down Time Warner’s lawyers didn’t hurt either.

Do you think there will ever be ANY hope for the Bengals??? (I ask as a Cowboys fan!)

If Mike Brown has a heart attack before the season ends and someone with an iota of football sense replaces him, maybe. I think it’s pretty clear at this point at Mikey isn’t going to turn operations over to someone who actually knows what s/he’s doing, and until that happens, the Bengals are doomed, doomed, doomed.

Honestly, if you remove Mike Brown from the Bengals, and get a new head coach in just for the sake of a fresh start, I think you’ve got a playoff contender on your hands. Corey Dillon has shown repeatedly how awesome he is, and the receiving core is good too; but with Mikey playing musical quarterbacks, no one can ever get into the rhythm of the game, and the whole team suffers as a result. I think Akili Smith has the natural talent to marshal the field, but until the team puts some trust in him and lets him get the experience he so sorely needs on the field, he’s never going to be able to show his skills. The O-line and D-line both need some shoring up, but those are fairly trivial matters.

But hey, I will continue to stick with the Bengals throughout all the stupidity, losing seasons and public humiliation. That’s what being a real sports fan is about, right?

Gee, wrestling, sports, Websites, that’s pretty much it, isn’t it? (But no questions on my private school? Or Popples? Or inflatable buttplugs? Some of you disappoint me.) Well, thanks for coming to the .org these past couple of years …

I have figured out that you are gay from what you have said, but are you also a Trans-sexual, cross dresser or something along those lines?

… oh yeah, that. Well, if I mentioned wrestling on this Website, I can pretty much mention everything else, can’t I?

First of all, you didn’t quite figure it out right, but I’ll grant points for effort. I’m not gay. But I am bisexual, and I’ve known that for about ten years now. (I actually made the discovery around the same time I became a vegetarian.) Then about three and a half years ago I realized I was a transsexual, and over that time I began to make the necessary adjustments in my life to live as the woman I am. (I won’t be getting a sex change operation, for reasons that delve so deeply into the politics of the transgendered that they’d bore you to death if I tried to explain.)

A lot of my online friends have been aware of this for quite some time, but I haven’t really “come out” on the Web until now, I guess. You have to remember that almost as soon as I got on the Internet and USENET I found myself entrenched in the professional wrestling communities that were forming, and as much as popular media may misrepresent wrestling fans as neanderthalic brutes, it’s accurate to say that wrestling fans, as a whole, tend to be very homophobic. The reasons for that should be obvious.

When I was elected as Spectrum’s Webmistress, though, I knew things couldn’t stay concealed for that long. Just as people stumbled on the .org in its infancy and published its existence in fora I really wish would just leave me alone, I figured people would find my name on the Spectrum Website eventually, whether through search engines or word-of-mouth or what have you. So when my first design of the Spectrum Website went up, I advertised it here and let people read into it what they wanted to. It didn’t matter to me what people said about what it meant, because from my experiences working on wrestling Websites I knew that people were going to believe whatever they wanted to believe about me, no matter what I said. (Why else do you think I never bothered mounting any real defence of myself after the situation blew up?)

I guess in the end I just didn’t want it to be an issue. I’m still the same person I was ten years ago, albeit a lot wiser, more experienced, and a good deal thinner to boot. All the reasons people loved or hated me ten years ago are pretty much the same as they are today. In the end, I’m just Sean Shannon, and I don’t think it should matter if I have a penis or a vagina, if I call myself a man or a woman, or whomever I choose to partner with.

Though hints abound, have you ever broached the topic of your sexuality on your site? I realize that’s a very personal subject, but with your involvement in Spectrum and the various other suggestions in your posts, it seems obvious you’re … well, non-standard, I suppose. I imagine you could just be a supporter of those with that lifestyle, but you have a tendency to refer to yourself as a woman in various ways (you once said your father has “two daughters”) and use the female pronoun. That could be taken as a liberated way of viewing our male-dominated society … or it could be you’re gay.

My question isn’t just to prompt a response — wouldn’t you agree that the more positive role models out there for alternative lifestyles, the better?

Not much I can say about that first paragraph, because I think I covered most of that in the answer to the previous question. Why did all of you automatically assume I was gay, though? I mean, maybe it’s just because I’ve been hanging out with Spectrum people, but I don’t think it’s that hard to learn the various definitions of what’s what.

As for the closing question, I’m not sure how to answer it. I mean, certainly role models are a good thing, but I’ve never been one for role models personally. (The closest thing to a role model I have right now is Belldandy from Oh My Goddess!, for crying out loud.) Role models are good, but I think education is more important. Homophobia is being nursed in our homes and schools right now at a wide scale, just as racism and sexism once were. (And still are, but to a lesser scale.) When you’re raised in a family and culture where the queer community is reviled, considered sub-human and viewed with contempt, how can you not help but adopt those beliefs?

I’m not sure how much I can do about that, though. In the past year I’ve worked with Spectrum, I think we’ve done a lot of good things — Coming Out Week, Pride Week, the Matthew Shepard Vigil, going to conferences, bringing in speakers — and that’s where I think I can do the most good. I can see the change in the little micro-community of the University of Toledo that we have made, and while we have not eradicated homophobia on campus by any stretch of the imagination, we’ve raised awareness, we’ve drawn attention, and more importantly, we’ve created a wonderful group of people.

Now that I’m Interim President of Spectrum, and hoping to fulfill the position on a permanent basis, I have more of an opportunity to make that change than I’ve ever had before. I’d be lying if I said being President of Spectrum didn’t scare me — it’s a big job, and a big responsibility. But Spectrum isn’t just vocation for me. The people in Spectrum are my friends, my allies, the people I know I can always turn to. Even if I weren’t an officer in the group, I’d still try to be as involved with the group as possible, just so I had an excuse to spend time with the people there.

That being said, I still don’t like the idea of being pinned down as “the transsexual” or “the bisexual” or anything like that. It’s not that I’m ashamed or embarrassed of either of those things — by no means. But I don’t like being tied down to a label like that. Even as much as I may identify myself as an artist first are foremost, I don’t even want to be known as “the artist”. I’m Sean. I am all of those things — and then some. I am artistic, I am creative, I am twisted … 🙂

So if there is an answer to that question, I’d just say the world needs more role models of all stripes, and more education on the value of tolerance. I can tell you from my own experiences that prejudice and bigotry against the queer community is still rampant, and I’m doing what I can, on the scale that I feel comfortable operating in, to fix those problems. I can only hope that I do make that difference.

And on that note …

Everyone take care and be well. It’s been an interesting two years on the .org, and I hope you all stick around for the next two — and hopefully more.

— Sean

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